Daily Archives: November 5, 2019

Richard Brooks’ THE LAST HUNT

THE LAST HUNT (Richard Brooks, 1956, 108 min.)

A very dated but absorbing – and, in its own terms, effective – liberal CinemaScope western, all the more interesting for its dated qualities. In anticipation of Jim Jarmusch’s DEAD MAN, an explicit correlation is made between genocide of Native Americans and the decimation of buffalos, personified in this case by a racist and wanton killer played by Robert Taylor -– contrasted with the humane, reluctant buffalo killer played by Stewart Granger, who grew up with Native Americans and respects both them and their own respect for white buffalos, unlike Taylor. Lloyd Nolan plays the Walter Brennan part, a drunken old geezer who also comes along on the last hunt and winds up siding more with the good guys (i.e., everyone except Taylor, a dyed-in the-wool villain throughout).

The politically incorrect monkey wrench tossed into this scheme, at least by today’s standards, is the fact that the two major Native American characters are played by Russ Tamblyn (a half-breed) and Debra Paget, who function as Granger’s son figure and romantic interest, respectively. In short, no real Native Americans to be seen anywhere, making this movie a good target for the kind of conservative, anti-liberal scorn that a critic like Manny Farber might have had towards such a film.… Read more »

The Last Hunt

From the July 1, 2002 Chicago Reader. — J.R.

thelasthunt19561790001

Overrated in France and underrated in the U.S., writer-director Richard Brooks thrived on sensationalism (Blackboard Jungle, Looking for Mr. Goodbar) but generally faltered when he tried for art (The Brothers Karamazov, Sweet Bird of Youth). One of his better 50s efforts was this 1956 CinemaScope western with Robert Taylor and Stewart Granger, about the disappearance of the buffalo in the 1880s. With Debra Paget, Lloyd Nolan, and Russ Tamblyn. 108 min. (JR)

THELASTHUNT