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The film's closing credits include the following written acknowledgments: "filmed on location in Nogales, Arizona and on lands of: Coronado National Forest, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture/U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management/State of Nevada, Department of Conservation and Resources, Division of State Parks." The film was loosely inspired by an actual 1885 raid by the Apache Indian Ulzana.
Although an December 8, 1971 Daily Variety news item stated that Robert Lipton was set for a role in the picture, he was not in the released film. Although the CBCS attributes the role of "Mulkearn" to Chuck Courtney, Larry Randles is credited with the role in the screen credits. According to 1972 news items, the American Humane Association objected to the treatment of horses within Ulzana's Raid and rated it "Unacceptable" because of "alleged cruelty to horses during the making of the film." Although a LAHExam article reported that Ulzana's Raid was the first film to have been rated "unacceptable" by the AHA since Jesse James in 1939, several other films had received an unacceptable rating within the past two years, including the 1971 release Valez Is Coming and the 1972 release The Culpepper Cattle Co. (see entries below and above). Specific objections were raised against scenes of "horse tripping," a controversial practice that involved the use of a thin, virtually invisible wire that would cause the galloping horses to fall forward violently in action scenes. According to a January 15, 1975 Hollywood Reporter news item, the AHA praised NBC television network for airing the film with the objectionable scenes excised when the picture was aired on the previous Monday. The Hollywood Reporter article also stated that the horse tripping scenes had been edited out of the film before it could be released theatrically in Great Britain.
Many reviews and a production article in Los Angeles Times discussed the theme of "McIntosh's" obsession, comparing the character to Captain Ahab in Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick and "Ethan Edwards" in the 1956, John Ford-directed film The Searchers. While some critics denounced the film for having a hackneyed plot and excessive violence, others, such as New York Times critic Vincent Canby, praised it, writing "the very ordinary plot does not do justice to the complexity of the film itself." Canby also wrote a New York Times feature piece entitled "How the West Was Brutal" on the film on December 3, 1972, in which he analyzed the picture's subtext in relation to violence, racism and the settling of the West after the Civil War.
Robert Aldrich previously had directed Burt Lancaster in two 1954 films, Apache and Vera Cruz, both of which were co-produced by Lancaster. Aldrich and Lancaster worked together on one more film, the 1977 production Twilight's Last Gleaming.