It’s hard to fathom why the venerable British director Carol Reed – whose filmography spans the film-noir classic The Third Man (1949) to the Oscar-winning Dickensian musical Oliver! (1968) – became involved with this tone-deaf project, which on the one hand espouses a progressive political platform regarding the mistreatment of Native Americans, but on the other hand insults the very people it’s about by casting most of the principal roles with non-Indians. The three main actors are wildly, even offensively, miscast.
The story concerns modern-day reservation Indians living in the American southwest and protesting the endless encroachment of the US government onto tribal lands.
Anthony Quinn stars as Flapping Eagle (known as “Flap”), the de facto leader of a group of drunken misfits that also includes Eleven Snowflake (Tony Bill) and Lobo Jackson (Claude Akins).
After being hassled by a local sheriff in the latest in a long series of racially charged incidents, Flap gets pissed (in both the American and British senses of the word) and starts a fight with construction workers that climaxes with an industrial vehicle getting driven off a cliff.
Flap’s peers are inclined to take the heat for the demolished vehicle, even straining tribal funds to pay for damages, but Flap transforms the event into the first spark of a revolution. He leads his borderline-inept accomplices through a series of crimes including the theft of an entire train.
There’s a clumsy subplot about Flap’s romance with blowsy prostitute Dorothy Bluebell (Shelley Winters) which is painful to endure.
Released in some markets as The Last Warrior.
Wounded Bear Mr Smith
Ann Looking Deer
Larry Standing Elk
John War Eagle
J. Edward McKinley