Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Apache: Why Did They Fight So Long and So Hard Against Impossible Odds

"Apache" is one of those enjoyable pieces of old Hollywood hokum (back when Hollywood did not let "political correctness" entirely dictate the movies that are made).

It is enjoyable primarily because of Burt Lancaster's energy in playing the title role (yes, a "white eyes" standing in for all Apaches)  As I said in my entry on Edwrd G. Robinson as "The Hatchet Man" (an ORIENTAL enforcer), Burt Lancaster is not so good as to convince you he is really an Apache.  But he is GOOD (you should not miss him on Turner Classic Movies--"Elmer Gantry" alone is the definitive performance of the religious con man).  So could a "real" Apache have played the role as well as Lancanster?  Not in this piece of enjoyable hokum. 

The movie actually has a wonderfully schizophrenic "message".  It can't make up its own mind as to whether the Apaches were better off fighting to the death, or becoming "civilized" (Burt Lancaster as an Apache fighting farmer is not to be missed).

Yes, this kind of casting "covered up" (or made obvious) a real lack of racial opporunity in both America and Hollywood before the 1960's.  However, the movies were just so much BETTER--even if you had to swallow Robinson as Chinese or Lancaster as Apache.  "Teacher's Pet", for example, with Doris Day and Clark Gable, was so much better than essentially ALL of today's "romantic comedies" that it is not even close.  In fact, Doris Day was so much better than the actresses of today that it is not even close.  Almost ALL of her romantic comedies were better than today's, mainly because of HER (plus male co-stars like Cary Grant, Clark Gable, and Rock Hudson--before it became necessary for gay movie stars to "come out").

I bet you think I forgot the title to this entry?  Nope.

Burt Lancaster comes across a Cherokee in his travel back West from his captivity in the East.  By family history, I am as much as one eighth Cherokee.  Cherokees did adopt the "white man's ways" much faster than the Apache.  The Cherokee that Lancaster came across was living in a house, with a wife, just like any white settler.  However, Lancaster's character notes that the Cherokee man is carrying his own water.  Lancaster's reaction:

"You have a woman, and you carry your own water?"  Cherokee man's response:  "Sometimes the ways of the white man are hard."

There you have it.  It was a revelation to me (sexist pig that I am).  Apaches fought to the bitter end because they wanted no part of FEMINISM.  And they were prescient.  I have much more sympathy for the Apache male than I ever had before.

1 comment:

slapinions said...

"You have a woman, and you carry your own water?"  Cherokee man's response:  "Sometimes the ways of the white man are hard."

There you have it.  It was a revelation to me (sexist pig that I am).  Apaches fought to the bitter end because they wanted no part of FEMINISM.  And they were prescient.  I have much more sympathy for the Apache male than I ever had before."

It was a good post, right up until the groaner of a joke at the end :) I too enjoy TCM, but hold no great affection for Doris Day, who I find pretty boring.