Chato's Land (1972)
Starring: James Whitmore, Charles Bronson, Simon Oakland, Jack Palance, Ralph Waite, Richard Jordan
Company: Twilight Time
My Review and Thoughts:
My Rating: 4 out 5
This is another fabulous choice for Twilight Time’s Special Edition Blu-ray’s. I was again utterly happy when I learned this was going to be a choice pick. I have seen this film so many times. If you read my reviews, you know I grew up with my Uncle Earl who was a fanatic of westerns. He baby-sitted me a lot and there were two things I was always guaranteed, home cooked country meals and a western always playing on the boob tube. If it wasn’t a western it was Baseball. Charles Bronson was a part of many westerns that stand out, and continue to be as good as they were when they came out.
Charles Bronson is my boy. One of my all-time favorite tough guys. I am a huge Charles Bronson fan. My favorite will always be, the Death Wish saga. I own every one of his films on VHS, and DVD, and now many of his films are coming out, or have already came out on Blu-ray. Bronson came from a time of cinema when, Manly men owned the camera. The tough guy persona ruled, and operated a no holds bar attitude of dominance in film. There was a time when the male figure demonstrated a control of the character they were playing. Now days the white ghost teeth, slick hair, metrosexual, male figure becomes somewhat laughable in cinema, compared to the brutes of men in the 40’s, all the way to early 90’s cinema. What happened to the days of the sophisticated tough guys like, Richard Burton, Yul Brynner, James Cagney, James Coburn, Bronson, Eastwood, Hackman, Lee Marvin, Gary Cooper. How Hollywood has missed the mark in not creating the tough guy persona, just amazes me in all its stupidity. Don’t get me wrong there are still tough guys, but the style, and approach has changed. The original tough guys did not have to demand your attention, they already had your attention, and Charles Bronson was that style.
Chato’s Land is a 1972 action western that stands out and sticks with you. Your main character is Chato played by Charles Bronson. Chato is half Apache. One day Chato is minding his own business as he enters a bar and try’s to order a drink. The bartender ignores him and continues to serve the sheriff. The sheriff then goes about calling Chato a redskin, and that they don’t serve his kind. Sheriff goes about taunting and making fun of him. Soon the Sheriff pulls his gun saying he is going to kill Chato. Chato quickly shoots the sheriff killing him. So begins the plight of Chato. Soon there is a posse to hunt down Chato. Hired goons. The posse is made up of some justice seekers, but also those who just want to kill for the fun of it.
This is at times a brutal film. It mixes racial hatred and rape, murder and sadistic persons all weaved around a tale of a single man named Chato, who was minding his own business, yet brought smack in the middle of a game of death. Chato is pushed too far. His friend is murdered in brutal cold blood; his wife is ganged rapped. Soon Chato has no peaceful desire, for his ultimate desire is justice and causing death upon those who have wronged him.
This is actually directed by one of my favorite director. Michael Winner has done some of my favorite guilty pleasure films, starring one of my favorite tough guys, manly man actors, yes Charles Bronson. Winner was responsible for making the one and only 1974’s Death Wish. Death Wise is a golden ticket of revenge perfection. Winner also did the two sequels, Death Wish 2, and 3. I love this series and Winner is a priceless director in that regard. I loved his no holds bar style of film making with these three films. The Death Wish series is a perfect example of exploitation, grindhouse style main stream movies. Solid director behind a series of violent films is always an eye opening experience. Winner and Bronson worked together many times. Winner always had away with capturing his characters in a brutal fashion. Bronson became somewhat a stable in Winner’s films. Now Winner’s career was a vast array of movie genera’s. From action, to thrillers, to comedy, to drama. He directed one of my favorite, underrated horror films of all time, 1977’s spooky, and disturbing The Sentinel. If you haven’t seen The Sentinel, I highly recommend.
This also stars the one of kind Jack Palance as Captain Quincey Whitmore who is out to get Chato for killing the sheriff, and also leads the band of thugs that want to kill Chato. Palance really needs no introduction. He was truly a manly actor that left the world of cinema with a shining example of stardom. Also starring Richard Jordon. Jordan was one of the great stage and screen actors. He plays anything from Shakespeare roles to television roles. I will always remember him from three of my favorite films, Logan’s Run, Dune and Gettysburg. He was a brilliant actor. Also starring Victor Edwin French, he was an actor that never got his just due. I have often thought he was truly a brilliant performer, I had forgotten he was in Chato, it was wonderful seeing him. I will always remember him in one of my favorite TV series I grew up with Highway to Heaven.
Something that is hard to believe the majority of everyone in this movie is dead. All those I mentioned is dead. That is something so hard about watching older films, most everyone in them have passed away. I also have to mention Sonia Rangan who plays Chato’s women, who is brutally attacked in the film. She made you believe her horror. It’s shocking that this was the only film role she ever did. She aced the part.
Something that has to be mentioned is the cinematography in the film. It is done by a master talent that sadly is no longer with us. Robert William Paynter had away with capturing pure gold on screen. He worked many times with the director of Chato, Michael Winner. He was the cinematographer on one of my favorite horror movies of all time 1981’s classic An American Werewolf in London. He also worked on 1980’s Superman 2 and 83’s Superman 3. But the one big part of my childhood that he worked on, was one of the greatest music videos of all time, Michael Jackson’s Thriller. His work stands out in Chato, just another wonderful reality to this film.
Sadly, this film was mainly hated and was tore apart by critics. Over the years the movie has garnered a better following and also better reviews. The best way to describe this film is it’s a Western, Exploitation, Revenge style film.
Twilight Time has done another wonderful job, creating a new positive outlet to this classic revenge film.
My Rating: 5 out of 5
Spot on. A great transfer to Blu-ray. Amazing sound. The movie looks new and fresh. Sounds fresh. An excellence job, in my viewpoint.
VIDEO: 1080p High Definition / 1.85:1
AUDIO: English 1.0 DTS-HD MA
SUBTITLES: English SDH
1972 / Color
My Rating: 2 out of 5
The all-important isolated score track that most all these Twilight Time Blu-ray’s come with. The man behind this music needs no introduction, the one and only Jerry Fielding. He has done countless important pieces of cinema. The Peckinpah masterpiece, The Wild Bunch, and also Peckinpah’s great, Straw Dogs. Not only was he a Jazz master, but he was a brilliant, and flawless composer of music. Sadly, he was one of those blacklisted for many years during the crazy witch hunts of Communist red scare with hunts. Thankfully after many years of this foolishness, he returned, mastering many great pieces of cinema, both great and small. He was nominated for 3 Academy Awards which he should have won all three. One for The Wild Bunch, which needs no explanation. He should have won for Straw Dogs, and the amazing The Outlaw Josey Wales. He did however receive an Emmy Award in 1980 for Outstanding Achievement. He deserved so many awards for his expertise, and flawless beauty in music. This special feature was a lovely listen to. Twilight Time honored this master with this special feature.
Screenwriter Gerald Wilson on Chato’s Land
Original Theatrical Trailer
A fantastic new outlet. Awesome transfer. Wonderful sound quality. A high end Blu-ray, vibrant in color and sound. Awesome transfer of the film to High Definition. Twilight Time has done it again in creating a flawless outlet to an older film. A lovely Blu-ray that I feel is a must own.
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