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Captain Apache

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    Mark Tolch
    Senior Member

  • Captain Apache



    Released By: Kino Lorber
    Released On: October 6, 2015
    Director: Alexander Singer
    Cast: Lee Van Cleef, Carroll Baker, Stuart Whitman, Percy Herbert
    Year: 1971
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    I was probably somewhere around the halfway point of my first viewing of Captain Apache when I realized that the film definitely needed a second viewing in order for me to review it. My notepad, typically used to illegibly scrawl out plot points, names, and other minor details that I would likely forget by the end credits was empty...I had spent forty-five minutes staring at the screen, dumbfounded. Captain Apache, the packaging of which promised a spaghetti western of sorts, was one of the most bizarre films I've ever seen.

    Lee Van Cleef plays the title character of the film, so named for his Native American bloodline and his rank in the Cavalry. When the Commissioner of Indian Affairs is gunned down by persons unknown, Apache seeks out the one man who witnessed it. The Commissioner had some puzzling last words..."April Morning"...and the good Captain realizes that it may be a clue to who committed the murder. Giving the poor witness exactly 24 hours to decipher the meaning of the mystery phrase works against him when he turns up dead, but sleeping with the deceased's woman uncovers multiple trips that he made to a Mexican cantina prior to the death of the Commissioner.

    A trip to the cantina turns out to be less fun than it sounds, and Apache shows up to find a witchy woman and a bunch of dead men, apparently killed to cover up the secret of April Morning. Following another lead in the form of a man named Rodriguez leads our hero to a church sanctuary and a village steeped in crime and corruption, with American gun dealers and violent shifts of power in the Mexican military. Returning to his roots seems to be his last option, but stripping down to a suede thong to communicate with his elders doesn't do him any favours, as members of his own tribe sell him out to prevent him from pursuing April Morning. With the first of April fast approaching, Apache is forced to team up with Griffin the gun dealer if he hopes to find out the truth of the Commissioner's murder.

    If it sounds like a crazy mess of a film, it's because it is. Captain Apache is the story of a lawman bouncing from resource to resource to resource to woman to resource, to see the majority of them meet a premature demise moments after securing their services. No hint is given regarding the outcome of the film, and its arrival does nothing to soothe the savage waters of confusion. Add to this the removal of Van Cleef's well-known moustache, a make-up job that must have looked "Indian" to somebody at some point, a stunning hairpiece, suede underwear, and a fuzz-guitar soundtrack hallucinogenic freakout...and that's just BARELY scratching the surface...and you have a vague idea of what to expect.

    Wackiness out of the way, Captain Apache is a bewilderingly entertaining film, with a good amount of action and colourful characters, and it clamours frantically from the opening gate to the closing credits some 90 minutes later without stopping to take a breath. That being said, it's about as far from a "Western" as one could imagine, despite the costumes and the setting; it's more like a cross between a 70's exploitation film and the vaguely plotted early works of Hitchcock. No matter how you classify it, though, Captain Apache ranks up there as a good example of a What-The-Hell-Is-This moment in cinema, and must be seen to start the process of understanding.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Captain Apache comes to Kino Lorber blu-ray in a 2.35:1 transfer that is pretty indicative of what KL are doing these days; putting out decent transfers of films that people are just damn happy to see. To clarify, the picture looks solid for the most part, especially for a film of its age, with a good range of colour and just enough dirt, scratches, and other weirdness to maintain the character of the film without making it look like ass, or having to spend a billion dollars to clean it up. It's not going to blow anybody away or be compared to Arrow's Day of Anger, but it's perfectly acceptable.

    The DTS-HD MA 2.0 track fairs about the same, with the occasional noise interference, wavering audio, etc, but the dialogue is largely coherent and carried at a consistent volume. Like the video track, nobody is going to win an award for it, but it functions well enough to enjoy the film.

    The supplements consist of two Trailers for other Van Cleef films, Sabata and Barquero.

    The Final Word:

    There's no sense in trying to understand Captain Apache through a review, because there is no way to adequately describe it. It certainly is an enjoyable watch, and one that will definitely generate discussion.


    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!






















    • Mark Tolch
      #2
      Mark Tolch
      Senior Member
      Mark Tolch commented
      Editing a comment
      Originally posted by George Barry
      Van Cleef singing over the title and end credits of the movie are my favorite parts of this film. In fact, Lee singing April Morning, the end credits song, I think, may be one of the high-lights of his cinema career.
      That and that slow rap-style breakdown he does in the middle! I want what these guys were smoking. :)

    • George Barry
      #3
      George Barry
      Senior Member
      George Barry commented
      Editing a comment
      If Lee had been cast in Paint Your Wagon, instead of Clint Eastwood, Jean Seberg's two husbands would have been Lee Marvin and Lee Van Cleef. How's the girl going to decide? (or) What's a girl going to do?

    • Mark Tolch
      #4
      Mark Tolch
      Senior Member
      Mark Tolch commented
      Editing a comment
      Originally posted by George Barry
      If Lee had been cast in Paint Your Wagon, instead of Clint Eastwood, Jean Seberg's two husbands would have been Lee Marvin and Lee Van Cleef. How's the girl going to decide? (or) What's a girl going to do?
      I'd be automatically inclined to go with Van Cleef, but then I think of Marvin's eyebrows in DELTA FORCE, and I'm undecided......
    Posting comments is disabled.

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