ARROWHEAD proves one thing: Charlton Heston was strong enough to pick up Jack Palance and carry him in his arms. Was this Hest-heft because in this cheerless 1953 cavalry vs. Indians flick Jack’s overdone performance as a seething ‘Toriano’— one of those six-four Apaches the movies are so fond of—was even grimmer than Chuck’s bitter, Indian-hating scout? Between them they chew enough scenery to denude the parched Brackettville, Texas locations of cactus and scrub brush.
Written & directed by Charles Marquis Warren (later to sic Charro! on Elvis) the 105 minutes are not helped by several noisy, unconvincing skirmishes and numerous teeth-gritting faceoffs with other disgruntled characters.
Heston’s character is modeled after the famous Al Sieber, but it’s a half-baked conception, as Sieber, who brought in Geronimo (and survived 29 arrow and gunshot wounds), unlike the character written by Warren and snarled by Heston, didn’t care for white men and preferred the company of Indians.
The script also has Palance teaching his Apache braves the ‘Ghost Dance’, something that turned up 1000 miles north among the Sioux. But as Toriano/Jack feverishly pants ” In my thoughts there have been visions. The Great One put us here on earth first. He is displeased with those who have come second. To please Him, we must rid the earth of the second-comers. The ghosts of our Fathers demand it and they have shown us a way. To please the Great One, we must dance before we kill. We must dance so the ghost of our Fathers know that we obey their wishes. We must dance the Ghost Dance! And I will show you how it is done as it was given to me in my vision.”
Best work here comes via the first featured film role from 31-year-old Brian Keith, solid as a humane officer. Katy Jurado is once again a fiery mixed-blood woman who deserves better, but her wounded dignity is best displayed elsewhere.*
It limped into the stockade at #103 for the year, tagging $1,200,000. With Milburn Stone, Mary Sinclair (only film of a then-busy TV actress), Frank De Kova, Robert Wilke, James Anderson, Peter Coe, Pat Hogan and Kathryn Grant.
* Jurado, with her extraordinary eyes, so beautiful and expressive, always makes an impression, but instead of this boring entry seek her out in Bullfighter And The Lady, High Noon, Broken Lance, Trapeze, One-Eyed Jacks and Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid.