Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
All-Star Cast, Good Acting Make a Better Western
Cleveland Press 1967
"Chuka" is the sort of low-budget movie that good performers make between big-budget movies. And, because they are good performers, this western comes over slightly better than might be expected.
Good acting and fairly decent dialog overcome a situation that has been overused and characters who are standard types for this sort of thing.
ROD Taylor who co-produced "Chuka," plays the title role -- a tough, hard gunfighter who knows the ways of Indians.
The setting is an Army fort in the middle of hostile Indian country. It is manned by misfits -- deserters, cowards and thieves -- and commanded by John Mills as a strict disciplinarian.
Other predictable types are the cowardly second-in-command (Louis Hayward), the tough sergeant who is all soldier (Ernest Borgnine), the boozing scout (James Whitmore) and the beautiful stagecoach passengers stranded at the fort (Luciana Paluzzi and Angela Dorian).
And then there are all those hostile Indians riding around outside. They're hostile because they're hungry.
CHUKA shows up, sizes up the situation, realizes these lousy soldiers couldn't withstand an attack by a determined troop of Boy Scouts, and tries to show the stubborn Mills how to avoid a massacre.
Meanwhile, he and Miss Paluzzi, an old flame are exchanging longing looks and, before the movie is over, they get past the looking stage.
Anyway, Mills remains stubborn and the massacre begins and none of this holds any surprises for the audience because it is all told in a flashback.
Now that it's over all these good people can get back to making better movies.