THE APPALOOSA is an appalling loser from 1966, with Marlon Brando digging himself further into a critical and box-office hole that lasted from 1960 to 1972. This border-hopping western is 98 minutes of tedious, indulgent twaddle that adds up to nothing beyond a lot of camera razmatazz that lenser Russell Metty was forced to arrange to suit the artsy whims of director Sidney J. Furie, who could take a picture of a door and make a Picasso puzzle out of it. Obtuse angles and meaningless closeups work ceaselessly to disguise a Nowheresville plotline that seems half-improvised, with no emotional pull, logical behavior, excitement, humor or payoff.
Brando dicked with Furie, as was his habit with almost every director he crossed egos with, and (according to his friend and co-star John Saxon) was too distracted by personal issues with his father to pay attention to a project he didn’t care about in the first place. Saxon gleefully tears into it like industrial Tabasco as a mean-streaked hombre who steals Brando’s prized horse and gives him a bad time in general from one end of the foolish story to the other, including slamming Marlon’s hand onto a scorpion during an arm-wrestle.
Backing the Italian Saxon (flashing the most dazzling and perfect teeth in the hemisphere) is one real live actual Mexican, the legendary Emilio Fernandez (looking degenerate and dangerous—which he certainly was), Tex-Mexican veteran Alex Montoya (136 credits from 1938 to 1969), Miriam Colon (Puerto Rico), Rafael Campos (Dominican Republic) and Frank Silvera (Jamaica). Fernandez and Silvera are fine as ever, but Campos overdoses it like he’s on meth. He was always high-strung, as far back as his debut in Blackboard Jungle, but this make you want to throw water at the screen to cool him off: maybe it was fallout from being one of Dinah Washington’s eight husbands.
The leading lady in this saga, bartered between mumbling Marlon and jeering John, is alluring and comely Anjanette Comer, in her brief run at top billing. This job didn’t help her much, coming in at 72nd place of the years grossers.