Every once in a while I try my hand at a western. I love the newer revisionist westerns like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, True Grit and 3:10 to Yuma. But I still have a lot of problems watching the older entries in this genre. I watched John Ford’s Stagecoach with a young John Wayne and thought it was good, now it was time to watch Michael Curtiz’ The Comancheros, because a western made by the same guy who made Casablanca can’t be bad right?
I was pleasantly surprised by The Comancheros. The tone is very lighthearted, while maintaining a great pace. John Wayne is Jake Cutter, the gruff lawman who spouts his Wayne-isms left and right. These great lines don’t go unused. They are often parried and returned with great skill by Stuart Whitman, who plays Paul Regret, a gambler and Cutter’s reluctant partner in taking down The Comancheros, a gunrunning gang.
As with a lot of westerns from these earlier periods, the chronology often is not really accurate. These are things like the Yuma prison not existing at that time, while the characters say it does, and a lot of the guns used in the movie weren’t even introduced at that time in history. Also there is the issue of the Native Americans, these are still portrayed like savages. This is something that has been fixed in the modern westerns. Do these mishaps hurt the film overall? No, not really. This is a harmless and fun western with a great John Wayne. It still didn’t convince me that westerns were the great movies some people say they were. Maybe I’ll have to watch some more.