on 27 May 2003
This tough and dusty western is an instant classic that slams straight into the action and features one of under-rated James Garner's best performances as a cavalry scout who rescues a white woman kidnapped by the Apache, only to discover that she is then treated even worse by the whites to whom she returns.
A vital supply train of guns and ammo provides the catalyst for the violent skirmishes between inexperienced cavalry troopers and cunning redskins, while Garner tries to save the day and hunt down the man responsible for killing and scalping his Indian wife. Sidney Poitier unexpectedly comes up trumps as a former army sergeant pressed back into service, but Bill Travers as the stolid cavalry commander and the scout's best friend simply looks baffled in his tough guy role.
Director Ralph Nelson, who later found notoriety with the grisly excesses of Soldier Blue, pulls no punches in the fast-moving battle scenes or the tendancy of the Indians to torture and mutilate their captives. This is a truly wild west but buckskin-clad Garner strides through it with a style that leaves little memory of his jokey Maverick character. Garner's perfect, whether outwitting Indian pursuers, taking on a group of town thugs in a bone-crunching brawl or using his knife to persuade a gun-slinging sheriff to reveal his wife's killer.
They really don't make 'em like this any more!
on 6 March 2003
This is a real 'cracker' of a western. Filmed on location in the deserts of Mexico, this is a story of a world weary cowboy
(Garner) who rescues a woman hostage from the Apache, and finds
both he and her ostracised by the local white community and hunted by the Apache who want her back.
Poitier is the soldier at the end of his service forced to become involved one more time in order to help his friends escape from the Apache.
If you like classic westerns, then you shouldnt miss this one.
One of the best westerns ever made and one of Ralph Nelson's superior films, an aperitif for his ultimate blockbuster 'Soldier Blue', a film that stunned audiences five years later for its depiction of violence committed by both the dog soldiers on the Indian side and the U.S. cavalry on peaceful Indians.
James Garner is at his laconic best as a scout searching for the man who killed his wife and who finds himself leading a wagon train through hostile Apache territory. Bibi Andersson plays the woman at the heart of the story (as Candice Bergen did in the later film) , Bill Travers is the officer in charge of the cavalry, Sidney Poitier is an interested gunslinger that joins the group, and Dennis Weaver plays out of character as Andersson's weak husband.
It's a terrific action western enhanced by a wonderful musical score by Neal Hefti which fits the desolate landscape superbly.
It seems to me that Nelson made 'Soldier Blue' using the same basic plot but with the gloves off---this is hugely interesting to watch knowing what was to come.Recommended.
on 2 May 2016
Jess Raemsberg is a army scout who rescues Ellen Grange from some Apaches. He takes her back to Fort Creel where she is reunited with her husband Will who scorns her for been kidnapped by Indians. Jess is then met by his old army buddy Lt. Scotty McAllister who shows him the scalp of his murdered wife, telling him that the man who knows her killer is at Fort Concho. He is then persuaded to help McAllister take a band of raw recruits through Apache territory to Fort Concho.
Although not one of the most popular westerns ever made with films such as Searchers, True Gritt, Outlaw Josey Wales and High Noon usually taking peoples list of greatest ever westerns but in my opinion this is one of the most enjoyable westerns ever made. It was directed by Ralph Nelson who made some great films throughout his career such as Lilies of the Field and the very violent and shocking Solider Blue.
James Garner takes the lead as Jess Remsburg the tough army scout who wants revenge for his wife. His character also seems to have feelings for Ellen Grange the women he regularly goes out of his way to save, first from Apaches, then white men attempting to rape her and finally a charge into a Indian village to save her and her half breed son. Then we have Sidnet Poitier as Toller a horse breaker who is forced to go along with the Jess because he hasn't broken all the horses he was contracted to do. His performance for me is the stand out one in the movie and his relationship with Lt. Scotty McAllister provides the entertainment as his ex soldier buddy holds it against him for quiting the army. Other actors include Dennis Weaver as Will Grange, Bibi Anderson as Ellen and Bill Travers as McAllister.
The action scenes are great, the first major one been a Apache ambush in a desert canyon. Then at the films climax as get a last stand at Diablo as the remaining soldiers attempt to stop the Apaches getting hold of the ammunition they are transporting. At the time the film was probably quite violent with Jess been given the scalp of his wife (best scene in the film), to the screams of a tortured Will Grange been heard throughout the night to inflict fear into the raw recruits.
Neel Hefti composes a great and upbeat music score that is very different to the traditional music heard around the time by composers such as Dmitri Tiomkin, Elmer Bernstein and Ennio Morricone.
Overall it is one of my favourite westerns and one I would recommend to anyone fan.
on 17 July 2008
This multi-layered ,violently staged,intelligent western about an Apache uprising which catches the army by surprise is memorable and an under-rated masterpiece .
Every moment is tense and every character is a real breathing human being whether Apache,black or white.
James garner is great as the avenging scout whose Comanche wife was scalped by a white man,while Poitier is even better as the ex-soldier horse wrangler who dreams of being an entrepreuner one day,together they have to escort the army detail of 30 green soldiers across Apache land where an uprising is in progress.
Bibi anderson is the estranged wife of the indian hater Dennis Weaver ,who was abducted by Apaches and lived as a squaw till being rescued a year ago,they are both struggling to cope as outcasts and she is detested by the community,they both are totally natural in their parts .
The racial interaction is brilliantly played with the fight for survival in an immaculate action drama with great set pieces and the vast vistas of the Utah canyons with beautiful montages and great musical score.
The human drama though outweighs the technical perfection and makes this a must-see .
this is one of Garner-Poitier best ever and Travers as the army officer is memorable too ,but it is Bibi as the victim caught between two cultures and the old wizened indian chief Plata-John hoyt who bring both wisdom and sensitivity to this eternal theme of human strife .
Hugely entertaining and popular art at it's best this is Ralph Nelson at his peak ,
adapted from the Albert book~APACHE RISING,it is a scorching thriller in the heat of the Utah desert where water is more precious than blood and that defines the essential theme of human survival in this fascinating drama.
The dvd is excellent and a must buy for western and action movie fans with a liking for intelligent ,well crafted story telling .
Duel At Diablo is an outstanding western. Full of excitment with a great story line.
This tough western a classic that moves right into the action with one James Garner's best performances as a cavalry scout who rescues a white woman kidnapped by the Apache, then finds out that she is then treated as an outcast by the whites. So she returns to the Apache and her child.
Add a wagon train, Apache on the war path and the great Sidney Poiter, we have a super film.
on 11 November 2010
Yes, it is a classic Western in some respects, the cavalry versus the Indians in some well directed battle scenes by Ralph Nelson with some lovely scenery and good acting, in particular the Cavalry Commander(Bill Travers).
However, there is for the purist, something lacking in this Western. Maybe, it is the way Sydney Poitier is immaculately dressed, without any dust or dirt on him, even in the midst of battle. Then, at the beginning James Garner comes across Bibi Anderson in the middle of the Mexican desert, hardly looking like someone at death's door. I was not convinced by James Garner's role of an ex scout and while i found Sydney Poitiers character as a breaker in of horses colourful, it was also less than convincing especially with that glaring error of cleanliness.Dennis Weaver's performance as the "Baddie" is good but when you compare it to his performance as the Cattle Driver in "Centennial" it lacks depth.
To conclude, i did enjoy the the story theme and will keep the film in my collection.
on 24 August 2011
this is a very enjoyable and puts across a few very good points like "do you think they (the indians) will stop on the resevation" to which the reply is "why should they". this showed that both whites and indians alike can do some horrible things to each other, this is done quite well without turning ones stomach by being over graffic. my wife saw this for the first time after purchasing from amazon and she enjoyed seeing the film.
on 23 January 2013
Dual at Diablo dispenses with the simplistic cowboys vs indians or baddie vs goodies theme of so many formularic Western offerings .
It has at first glance an unlikely cast .However, Sidney Poitier's bronc-buster surely represents a passing nod in the direction of the unsung negro cowboys who existed in the west .British actor Bill Travis as a Scottish cavalry officer is an authentic touch as American regiments were drawn from many nationalities .
The story involves the sad plight of a white woman torn between her culture and the half-Apache child she bore whilst in captivity ,the bitterness of her white husband, Indian's on the war-trail and the revenge trip of Garner's character as he seeks the man who killed his Comanche wife.
The threads of these plots entwine and ultimatly come to a pretty satisfying conclusion .
There are unsurprisingly a few violent moments and one particularly gruesome scene . These seem to evoke more comment today than they did when the film was first screened .
Nowadays a warning tends to precede the film whenever it is shown on TV but I recall that back in the sixties it was cheerfully screened as family entertainment.
Watching it as a child on a wet Sunday afternoon ever did me any harm. Now where's my scalping knife ?.
Duel at Diablo is directed by Ralph Nelson and co-adapted to screenplay by Michael M. Grilikhes & Marvin H. Albert from Albert's own novel, Apache Rising. It stars James Garner, Sidney Poitier, Bibi Andersson, Dennis Weaver and Bill Travers. Music is by Neal Hefti and cinematography by Charles F. Wheeler.
Searching for the man responsible for killing his Comanche wife, Jess Remsberg (Garner) is crossing the desert when he rescues Ellen Grange (Andersson) from the Apache and returns her to her husband Willard (Weaver) at Fort Creel. After a run n with Toller (Poitier), an ex-trooper who now makes his living supplying and breaking in horses for the cavalry, both men wind up joining a cavalry party carrying supplies to Fort Concho. With the Apache angry about their treatment by the white man, this party are at great risk travelling through Diablo Canyon. And so it proves, where joined by the Granges, secrets will out and Apache will attack....
Obviously intended to be driven by a strong racial dynamic between whites and Indians, Duel at Diablo never really follows through on its promise of something more cutting. With full development instead of snatches of politics, both sexual and racial, this could have been thematically as dynamite as the picture is as a Western war piece. However, its strengths are many, and Western fans after violence and reams of action get fully paid up here. Nelson's (Soldier Blue) film barely pauses for breath as the director crams as much in as he can, fisticuffs, pursuits, shoot outs, warfare, torture, explosions and lots of blood, all of which get their respective day in the sun. The stunt work is top notch and the writing at least allows for some intelligent tactical thinking to be shown by both sides during the Diablo Canyon siege.
It's also rich in characterisations: Remsberg is driven by revenge (Garner channelling Randy Scott from the Boetticher movies) : Ellen, once captured by the Apache and taken as a bride and a mother to a half-breed baby, she's treated like a disease by the town folk: Willard, her husband, carries that burden, but not with ease: Toller, a black man who has served his time in the army, he now wears dandy clothes and answers to nobody: Travers, the archetypal hero in waiting officer. All are interesting characters, and crucially they are given very good portrayals by the actors. Wheeler expertly photographs the Kanab, Utah, locale to form a beautiful, yet imposing, backdrop, and Hefti's score is very different, a blending of styles, it's part spaghetti, part traditional and part Hippy Woodstock!
A ripper of an entertainer that's better than the standard Cavalry v Indians Oater the plot synopsis suggests. But you will most likely come away thinking it should have had more conviction thematically. 7.5/10