Duel At Diablo (1966)

RALPH NELSON

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB

USA, 1966. , , . Screenplay by , , based on the novel by Marvin H. Albert. Cinematography by . Produced by , Ralph Nelson. Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

In this exciting if not particularly dense western, army lieutenant is ordered to transfer a supply of munitions across Apache territory (filmed in Monument Valley) towards another American military fort. Accompanying them is former army scout James Garner, who sets out to recover a white woman ( in her Hollywood debut) who has returned to the indigenous community that had previously abducted her. Garner’s real reason for joining this group is that he is seeking out the man who killed his wife, a Comanche woman, while Sidney Poitier has joined them to supervise the transfer of a herd of mustang horses that he is in the process of selling to the army. As they reach their destination, the danger to them from the enemy increases and they take refuge in a canyon that is as much a shelter as it is a trap. The human drama is shallow (mostly centred around Andersson’s choice of family loyalty), and, as is often the case with westerns of this era the presentation of indigenous characters is lamentable (even for a movie that is fighting the good fight of casting Poitier without ever, surprisingly, mentioning his race).  It’s got some boisterous action to offer, however, plus the colourful cinematography amply displays the exciting and violent action sequences, which director Ralph Nelson accomplishes with great style and energy.

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