Duel at Diablo (1966)

Old Paint

It is absolutely amazing to me how badly a movie can age. I saw this one in the theatres when new.

I remember thinking it was acceptable at the time.

There was an actress that I knew from Bergman. There was the surprise of the Indian baby, which I saw in the segregated South. It had what seemed to be explicit torture scenes. But most of all I actually thought the setups made sense: the mirroring of the miscegenation, the mirrored revenge, the dual showdown.

Seeing it again now, I have no idea how I could have been that person.

This time around I noticed the amazing shot at the beginning, of some Utah landscape. But everything else was flat. The acting and script are worthy of Ed Wod. Even the Swedish actress was lost. The score is from the studio library. The dialog is dubbed. The narrative devices seem artificially constructed.

The interesting thing though, was how engaged I got in my own narrative about the horse cruelty. There are many Indian fights, and most of the effects depend on tripped horses among the dubbed whoops. It is a parade of horror that got more and more disturbing: the fake deaths and torture fading, the blond woman bringing back the “Seventh Seal”.

Posted in 2009

Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.


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