5.8/10
1,145
39 user 11 critic

Custer of the West (1967)

George Armstrong Custer's love of the heroic traditions of the Calvary and his distaste with the coming of industrialization leads him to his destiny at the Little Big Horn.

Director:

Robert Siodmak
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Shaw ... Gen. George Armstrong Custer
Mary Ure ... Elizabeth Custer
Ty Hardin ... Maj. Marcus Reno
Jeffrey Hunter ... Capt. Benteen
Lawrence Tierney ... Gen. Philip Sheridan
Marc Lawrence ... Gold Miner
Kieron Moore ... Chief Dull Knife
Charles Stalmaker Charles Stalmaker ... Lt. Howells (as Charles Stalnaker)
Robert Hall Robert Hall ... Sgt. Buckley
Jack Gaskins Jack Gaskins
Jack Taylor
John Clark John Clark ... Fort Doctor
Fred Kohler Jr. ... (as Fred Kohler)
Bill Christmas Bill Christmas
Luis Rivera Luis Rivera ... Indian Scout
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Storyline

The story of U.S. Army commander George Armstrong Custer, a flamboyant hero of the Civil War who later fought and was exterminated with his entire command by warring Sioux and Cheyenne tribes at the battle of Little Big Horn in 1876. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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Taglines:

The action picture of the year...NOW AT POPULAR PRICES! See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

UK | France | Spain | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 January 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Custer See more »

Filming Locations:

Colmenar Viejo, Madrid, Spain See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) (Westrex Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Whilst this film was still in production, Philip Yordan and his company (Security Pictures) had production designer and special effects expert Eugène Lourié (as Eugene Lourie) design and shoot special effects footage for Krakatoa: East of Java (1968) even though there was no script. This footage would also be shot in large format for Cinerama presentation. Those who were shown the early footage began ignoring this film and asking when "Krakatoa" would be ready. See more »

Goofs

At c.14 minutes the roads are far too modern in construction for the film's late 1860s setting. See more »

Quotes

Gen. Philip Sheridan: If there's any doubt about the policy of my command, I'll give it to you in one sentence: The only good Indian is a dead Indian. Clear enough?
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Alternate Versions

35mm prints released in both complete and shortened versions. Some shortened versions were titled "A Good Day for Fighting". See more »

Connections

Remake of They Died with Their Boots On (1941) See more »

Soundtracks

MARCHING SONG
Music by Bernardo Segall (as Bernardo Segáll
Lyrics by Will Holt
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User Reviews

 
Disingenuous locations and tedious scenes, but several highlights
8 April 2018 | by WuchakkSee all my reviews

RELEASED IN 1967 and directed by Robert Siodmak, "Custer of the West" is a French/Spanish/American production starring Robert Shaw as the titular hero who becomes the youngest general in the Civil War at 23 and then goes on to fight in the Indian Wars of the northern plains, eventually dying at the Battle of Little Bighorn at the age of 36. Mary Ure plays Custer's wife while Ty Hardin and Jeffrey Hunter play his subordinates Major Reno and Capt. Benteen. Lawrence Tierney is on hand as Gen. Sheridan.

"Custer of the West" both stresses the mistreatment of the plain's Indians by the U.S. and portrays Custer as a tragic American hero who was a puppet of government policy. The film is usually lambasted for its inaccuracies, particularly its depiction of the closing battle. For instance, in real-life Custer's soldiers surprised the Native encampment, they didn't ride up and dialogue with the waiting Indians; moreover, the battle was a chaotic one, moving toward Last Stand Hill. Yet it's not like previous films were any more accurate, e.g. "They Died with Their Boots On" (1941), but audiences apparently demanded more accuracy by the late 60s.

Regardless, the gist of events is true: Reno and Benteen were real-life subordinate officers at odds with Custer and reportedly failed him on the day of battle, although they supposedly had justified cause. If I were Benteen, I would've probably done what he did in the face of Custer's glory-hound rashness and a formidable foe: Dig in, face the enemy, and survive to fight another day. In any case, if you want historical accuracy (to a point) see "Son of the Morning Star" (1991).

The main problem I have with this movie are the Spanish locations substituting for Virginia, the Dakotas and Montana. Fortunately, the creators at least tried to find a setting with trees for Virginia and some of the locations they used for Dakota/Montana occasionally work (just occasionally). But there's a long desert sequence when nothing of the sort exists in the region. You'd have to go far south to New Mexico/Arizona or way further west to eastern Washington to find such deserts. Yet it could be argued that the desert sequence is substituting for the Badlands of the Western Dakotas, which is certainly desert-like.

If you can ignore the disingenuous topographies, there's a lot to appreciate in "Custer of the West." But the film's overlong and bogged down by tedious or useless sequences, like the capture/imprisonment of Sgt. Mulligan (Robert Ryan). But there are some gems, like when Dull Knife (Kieron Moore) pays Custer a visit at the fort (which in real life didn't have a timber stockade). Custer bluntly conveys to the Chief the simple (awful) truth about conquerors and those they conquer: "The problem is precisely the same as when you Cheyenne decided to take another tribe's hunting ground. You didn't ask them about their rights. You didn't care if they had been there a thousand years. You just had more men and more horses. You destroyed them in battle. You took what you wanted and, right or wrong, for better or worse, that is the way things seem to get done. That's history."

FYI: Deviating from the original script, Robert Shaw made the character of Custer over to suit himself, turning him into a "sadist of Shakespearean depth." He also directed the battle scenes with Siodmak staging everything else.

THE MOVIE RUNS 2 hours 21 minutes and was mostly shot 30 miles from Madrid, Spain, except for the Battle of Little Bighorn which was filmed in Costa del Sol near Almira. WRITERS: Bernard Gordon and Julian Zimet with additional work by Shaw.

GRADE: C


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