Ulzana's Raid


1h 43m 1972

Brief Synopsis

An aging Indian fighter and a green Cavalry officer join forces to head off an Apache attack.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Action
War
Western
Release Date
Nov 1972
Premiere Information
New York opening: 15 Nov 1972; Los Angeles opening: 23 Nov 1972
Production Company
Universal Pictures
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures
Country
United States
Location
Coronado National Forest, Arizona, United States; Nogales, Arizona, United States; Nevada, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

In 1880s Arizona, Maj. Cartwright of the U.S. Cavalry is faced with capturing Apache Ulzana, a renegade warrior, who has left the reservation. The pragmatic Cartwright asks aging scout McIntosh to go with a small contingency of soldiers to find Ulzana, and assigns idealistic, green young Lt. Garnett DeBuin to lead the troop. Working with McIntosh is Ke-Ni-Tay, a young Apache scout, who knows Ulzana well because their wives are sisters. Trooper Horowitz is sent to warn "Dutch" Rukeyser, who runs the Indian store, that the cavalry cannot protect his homestead and ask him to return to the fort. Rukeyser refuses to leave his home, but sends his wife and son along with Horowitz. Later, as the trio is riding toward the fort, they are attacked by Ulzana's men. Mrs. Rukeyser and Horowitz are killed, but Ulzana spares the boy before riding off. Meanwhile, following Ulzana's trail, McIntosh and Ke-Ni-Tay find his tracks and inform DeBuin that Ulzana is only a day or so ahead. When the troop later come upon the Rukeyser boy cradling his mother's body, DeBuin wonders why the Apache would leave him unharmed and sends him back to the fort with two of the soldiers. A short time later, Ulzana and his men observe Rukeyser from a ridge above his cabin and silence his barking dog with an arrow. When Rukeyser discovers the dog's body, he barricades himself inside the cabin and shoots through peep holes while the Apache attack and set his roof ablaze. Just when they are on the verge of breaking the door down, Rukeyser hears a bugle blowing the Cavalry charge and the sound of horses galloping away. In the silence, Rukeyser thanks God for saving him, then opens the cabin door. Some time later, when McIntosh and the troop arrive at the cabin, they find Rukeyser's mutilated corpse tied to a tree. That night, the horrified DeBuin, who, like his Philadelphia minister father has always espoused Christian treatment of the Indians, asks Ke-Ni-Tay why Ulzana would torture and kill a man yet leave his son unharmed. Ke-Ni-Tay explains that the Apache gain power from a man's death, and even more from a lengthy one, but do not gain power from a boy's death. Ke-Ni-Tay also admits that he might do the same, then adds that because Ulzana is aging, he needs more power. Later, DeBuin confesses to McIntosh that he now hates the Apache for what they have done. The next morning, DeBuin and the troop follow Ulzana's trail. When McIntosh and Ke-Ni-Tay find horse droppings indicating that they are less than a day behind Ulzana, DeBuin wants to speed up, but McIntosh urges patience and reminds him that the first to make a mistake will "wind up burying people." Further along the trail, Ke-Ni-Tay reports to McIntosh that the tracks now indicate that Ulzana has divided his men, and that the tracks they are following are of a smaller group of men riding alongside rider-less ponies. McIntosh explains to DeBuin that having most of their horses unfettered will provide the Apache with fresh horses when they need them. McIntosh then suggests that they send two two-man teams out in opposite directions to find which is the main group and report back. When McIntosh and his partner locate Ulzana's trail, he sends the trooper back to DeBuin. Later, McIntosh sights two young Apache with the fresh ponies, and in a gun battle, shoots them off their horses, then uses the carcass of his own dead horse as a shield. McIntosh kills one of the Apache but lets the other, who is wounded, run away. When the rest of the troop arrive, DeBuin wants to track the young Apache who has escaped, but McIntosh refuses, saying that the young Apache has merely run off to die. That night, when he learns that some of his troopers have mutilated the corpse of the Apache shot by McIntosh, DeBuin is horrified at their brutality. After ordering a proper burial for the boy, DeBuin confides in McIntosh that he has difficulty understanding the soldiers' brutality. Meanwhile, after the second scouting pair, the sergeant and Trooper Miller, are attacked in the hills, Miller dies and the sergeant returns to the main troop with Miller's now badly needed horse. The next day, the troop comes upon the Riordan homestead, which has been attacked by Ulzana's men. Riordan has been killed, but Mrs. Riodan, although brutally raped, was left alive. Sympathetic to the catatonic woman, DeBuin wants to send her back to the fort, but McIntosh warns that Ulzana left her alive knowing that DeBuin would divide the troop again by assigning some men accompany her. Using that knowledge to their advantage, McIntosh and DeBuin set in motion a plan to thwart Ulzana's next move. The next morning, one of the soldiers leaves with Mrs. Riordan but only pretends to return to the fort. McIntosh and the sergeant then ride ahead through a rocky passage in the hills while Ke-Ni-Tay and DeBuin stay behind with the rest of the troop. As Ulzana observes from the hills, Ke-Ni-Tay takes DeBuin's binoculars and rides toward McIntosh after telling DeBuin that when he sees a flash of light reflected from "the long glass" he must go back to McIntosh. The plan is to make Ulzana think that McIntosh and the sergeant are down to their last bullet. Then, at the crucial moment, when Ulzana's men are on the attack, DeBuin's larger group will blow the cavalry charge and ride in, overwhelming the Apache. At the same time that Ke-Ni-Tay is looking out from the hills, one of Ulzana's men, who also has binoculars, looks through them, creating a flash of light that DeBuin thinks comes from Ke-Ni-Tay. DeBuin then leads his men toward McIntosh, but the timing is not right and a melee ensues during which the sergeant and the soldier who accompanied Mrs. Riordan are killed and McIntosh is mortally wounded. DeBuin and his men soon arrive and rout Ulzana's men, after which DeBuin orders that all of those killed, whether soldiers or Apache, be given proper burials. Ke-Ni-Tay now chases the fleeing Ulzana into the hills and confronts him. Realizing that he has lost his power, Ulzana kneels on the ground while Ke-Ni-Tay shoots him. At the site of the battle, McIntosh, knowing that he is on the verge of death, refuses to return to the fort and asks only for a cigarette. After McIntosh calls Ke-Ni-Tay "Scout," the two men nod to each other before DeBuin and the troop depart. Moments later, McIntosh dies.

Crew

Bob Aldridge

Key grip

Jim Alexander

Sound

Larry Barbier

Stills

Sass Bedig

Special Effects

Joseph Biroc

Director of Photography

John Black

Dolly grip

Howard Brandy

Unit Publicist

Rich Brehm

Wrangler

Lee Brendle

2d grip

John Buckins

Wrangler

Nick Chiarolanzio

Loc auditor

Frank De Vol

Music

Carter Dehaven [iii]

Producer

Bob Eels

Lamp op

Patty Elder

Stunts

Terry Flanigan

Prod Secretary

John Flannagan

Best Boy

Bob Gary

Script Supervisor

Alan Gibbs

Stunts

Paul Gilbert

General op

Jim Gilmore

Wardrobe man

Jerry Grandey

Director trainee

Jack Hagard

Special Effects

Gil Hamison

Assistant Camera

Bill Hannah

Gaffer

Malcolm R. Harding

Assistant Director

Chuck Hoffman

Lamp op

Roy Hogstead

Assistant Camera

Jack House

Projectionist

Ray Hutchinson

Night wrangler

Joe Jackman

Camera Operator

Tom Joyner

2d Assistant Director

Beverly Kilburn

1st aid

Joe King

Assistant Camera

Richard Leon

Swing gang

Jack Lloyd

Driver capt

Tony Lloyd

Makeup

Michael Luciano

Film Editor

Mel Lyell

Swing gang

George Maley

Recording

John Marinez

Assistant Props man

Buster Matlock

AHA man

John Mccarthy Jr.

Set Decorator

Gary Moreno

Lead man

Mike Moschella

Makeup

Buzz Newhouse

Loc Coordinator

Ron Ortega

Caterer

Ken Peach Jr.

Camera Operator

Lorraine Robertson

Hairstylist

Paul Schwarke

Company grip

Ignacio Sepulveda

Props Master

Alan Sharp

Writer

Alan Sharp

Associate Producer

Don Sharples

Mike man

Rudy Ugland

Livestock Supervisor

James D. Vance

Art Director

John Walker

Camera mechanic

Waldon O. Watson

Sound

Ernest B. Wehmeyer

Production Manager

Ward Wolton

Painter

Glenn Wright

Wardrobe man

Dan Young

Time keeper

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Action
War
Western
Release Date
Nov 1972
Premiere Information
New York opening: 15 Nov 1972; Los Angeles opening: 23 Nov 1972
Production Company
Universal Pictures
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures
Country
United States
Location
Coronado National Forest, Arizona, United States; Nogales, Arizona, United States; Nevada, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

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.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1994

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1972

Released in USA on laserdisc June 1991.

Released in United States 1994 (Shown in New York City (Walter Reade) as part of program "Apocalypse Anytime! The Films of Robert Aldrich" March 11 - April 8, 1994.)

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1972