Based on the novel Arrow in the Sun by Theodore V. Olsen, the screenplay by John Gay is a major failure. The film is book ended by two major set pieces, and in between these bloodthirsty moments there is very little to recommend. The bulk of the film is a journey across the American landscape by Cresta Lee (Candice Bergen) and Honus Gent (Peter Strauss) as they make their way to the relative safety of Fort Reunion. After seeing his company massacred by a band of Cheyenne, whose leader is intent on reclaiming Cresta as his wife, Honus is not particularly well disposed to the indigenous peoples. He also has an absurdly idealised vision of the conflict between the military and the Indians which borders on gullible. Cresta on the other hand has lived with the Cheyenne, knows their customs and values, and is sympathetic to their cause. Her character traits as a result of this close interaction with the Indians includes a foul mouth and a general coarseness - very progressive. The journey across the land is basically a device by which Cresta indoctrinates Honus into her pacifist and pro-Indian sentiments. This wouldn’t be a bad thing, were it not for the fact that part of the reason for ‘soldier blue’s’ eventual change of mind is that he wants to fuck Cresta. This whole middle section of the film plays out like a romantic comedy, with a series of misadventures that includes a duel to the death with a Kiowa brave which oddly is played for laughs. A cameo by Donald Pleasence as the ridiculously named Isaac Q Cumber is mystifying, and although the film raises the issue of arms dealing, it fails to follow through with any meaningful conclusions. The tone is wildly uneven which results in the final massacre of a peaceful Cheyenne village feeling as though its been tacked on specifically for the purpose of shocking the audience.
© Shaun Anderson - 2010