The Scalphunters - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Scalphunters Reviews

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½ May 18, 2015
Por maior que seja o gozo de ver Burt Lancaster e Telly Savalas em confronto a caminho do México, "The Scalphunters" não é muito mais que um simples western cómico de aventuras, com a agravante de um subtexto racial datado aos olhos de hoje.
February 8, 2015
A comical western with more than a hint of social satire.
½ December 24, 2014
Sydney Pollack directed The Scalphunters in 1968 with a strong leading cast, including Burt Lancaster, Ossie Davis, Shelley Winters, Telly Savalas, and a small role with Dabney Coleman in it. And while the material probably reads very strongly on the page, the resulting film is kind of a mess, mostly in tone. It's a movie that can't really make up its mind what it wants to be about, or what kind of tone that it wants to follow through on. There are some obvious character comparisons going on between Burt Lancaster's character and Telly Savalas' character, as both men are strong-minded, bull-headed, and have fierce convictions, but both men are on different sides of the playing field and the movie plays with the idea of their moral convictions. In the middle of all of this is Ossie Davis' character, a runaway slave who wants nothing more than to get away from everyone and be free, and he must play his part with both men in order to do it. The most obvious problem with the tone of the movie is the score, which is sometimes serious, but mostly just silly and cornballish in nature. It's definitely the main aspect of the movie that gives it its identity crisis. It also doesn't help that Burt Lancaster seems to be in the wrong movie. He's meant to be playing a very simple man (more or less admitting that he can't read or write), but yet he spouts that sharp Burt Lancaster dialogue that he's well known for. On the other hand, one could argue that he's the main reason for seeing the film in the first place. And Shelley Winters, as a character at least, is even more pointless. She seems as if she's going to have some kind of an arc, but by the end of the film, she continues to be the woman she's been for the previous hour and a half. There are some good scenes to be had here and there in the movie with some nice dramatic weight to them, but they're all jumbled into a messy story that doesn't know what it wants to accomplish. By and large, a different score would definitely have helped, but a complete re-write from the very beginning (and dare I say, better direction) would have helped even more. It's not a complete waste of time, but it could have been sharper in execution.
September 19, 2014
Pollack directed this western with a sense of INSANE humor unexpected in the genre... A magnificent achievement--Entertaining High-Class Satire on race relations in pre-Civil War West... Intoxicating, funny, exciting, educating, humane (and circular)!!
½ August 19, 2014
Joe Bass (Burt Lancaster), an American fur trapper, is making his way back home with a full cargo of hides when he encounters a group of Kiowa Indians led by Two Crows (Armando Silvestre), who insist on taking his furs. As "payment" they offer him a slave, Joseph Lee (Ossie Davis), who they had previously taken from a group of Comanches. Reluctantly, realising he cannot fight them, Bass agrees to the trade. Bass is slightly bemused by his new companion, who is a well-educated and refined house slave, unused to the ways of the West. Bass orders him to help him recover the furs from the Kiowa. Lee only agrees to help if Bass agrees to take him to Mexico where slavery is outlawed. As Lee and Bass sneak upon the Kiowa, they watch them being ambushed by a group of scalphunters, white Americans and Mexicans who were offered a bounty by the government for each Native scalp they brought in. These scalphunters, led by Jim Howie (Telly Savalas), kill the Kiowas and also steal the furs which Bass had hoped to recover. He and Lee are then forced to track the party, hoping to take back the furs...

"The Scalphunters" is a 1968 American Western film directed by Sydney Pollack, with the score written by Elmer Bernstein. Ossie Davis was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the film. "The Scalphunters" is not an ordinary western, despite the fact that it has the basic elements drawn from a classic western tale. The characters has however several layers (compared to the usual stereotypical western character) and the storyline touches difficult topics such as slavery, race relations, injustices against native Americans and still manages to have a lot of humour in it without becoming patronising. Burt Lancaster is perfect as the antihero Joe Bass and the same goes for Ossie Davis. And there´s great dynamics between them both. The story is entertaining, the performances excellent, the cinematography beautiful and the scenery magnificent.
½ July 28, 2014
OK, this wasn't a great movie, but I am a big Telly Savalas fan, so I am going to go a little easy on it. I am also not a big fan of westerns, but I am a fan of Burt Lancaster. I think he may be one of the best actors of all time. Both he and Savalas are not very good people in this movie. It's hard to survive in the old west, so I guess you have to be kind of a jerk. Even though Lancaster is supposed to be the protagonist and Savalas the antagonist, neither of them is very nice. They are both pretty much scalpers. Savalas and his gang steal Lancaster's booty and Lancaster tries to get it back from him. Shelly Winters, who plays Savalas' girl, is also in it as her flamboyant typical self. I would only recommend this if you are a fan of the actors and of westerns in general. I don't think it was a very big budget movie and probably kind of a quickie throw-away movie. You can probably find it free on demand or online so if you hate it, at least all you wasted was time.
May 1, 2014
131212: This must have been quite the movie in 1968. Obviously someone put some money put into it. I would've loved to have seen its opening. Great stars including Telly Savalas, Burt Lancaster and Shelly Winters. Entertaining story, humour, action you name it. Ossie Davis, as Joseph, plays so well off of all the cast he almost steals the show. He adds some great humour. Especially loved his mimicking of Lancaster's character Joe Bass. This film is due for a remake. Smiles all around.
October 8, 2013
I enjoyed the movie, a good clean movie that you can get for the kids to watch
May 21, 2013
Fifty percent comedy. Fifty percent western. One hundred percent fun! I stand by my words that almost any movie with Burt Lancaster in it is worth your just so you can here Lancaster speak, and this movie provides him with ample dialogue. Simple plot push forward by stellar performances.
½ September 28, 2011
A reasonable comic western, pretty throwaway but watchable all the same.
½ June 13, 2011
It's as much Ozzy Davis's movie as it is Burt Lancaster's. I guess at that time a black man was not allowed to get more than 4th billing, after Terry Savales and Shelley Winters. It's still a nice movie, has aged well except for Lancaster's style of acting. A Little old school.
February 16, 2011
I'm simply amazed at how many of these old westerns turn out to be great movies. Writers back then understood things like character arcs, story, plot, dialogue and pacing. The only special effect in this movie is Telly Savalas - and Shelley Winters is equally great!
Super Reviewer
½ January 12, 2011
Semi comic western offset by a little too much violence. Shelley Winters is amusing as a shady lady who rolls with the punches and Burt Lancaster and a very young Ossie Davis have a nice rapport.
½ January 6, 2011
Uneven but fun western that relies on the starpower of Lancaster-Davis-Savalas and Winters. Not a full blown comedy western like "Skin Game" or "Support Your Local Sheriff", but enjoyable to watch.
November 22, 2010
Fun comedy/western featuring Burt Lancaster as a no-account fur-trader and Ossie Davis as an escaped slave who are forced to join forces against both Indians and a band of sleazy marauding thieves led by Telly Savalas and his cigar-chomping floozy-girlfriend, Shelley Winters, here both exhibiting their sizable comedic chops. With good characterizations, quick dialogue and tight scripting, some decent action sequences, and a protracted and hysterical knock-down-drag-out battle in a mud-hole between Lancaster and Davis.
½ June 9, 2010
Good cast, mediocre western. I like the movie. Burt Lancaster was greedy all he want the fur. Don't get me wrong I like the movie.
½ September 5, 2009
Average late-era western with an above average performance from Ossie Davis. A little thematically stilted.
½ July 17, 2009
Good cast, especially Davis, but only a mediocre western comedy. The attempts at action, comedy, and social commentary were sometimes successful, but not enough to make this that good of film.
½ March 5, 2009
Before it's time and still profound today
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