http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049432/The Last Hunt (1956) 7.5/10Cast, courtesy of imdb
Robert Taylor ... Charlie Gilson
Stewart Granger ... Sandy McKenzie
Lloyd Nolan ... Woodfoot
Debra Paget ... Indian girl
Russ Tamblyn ... Jimmy O'Brien
Constance Ford ... Peg
Joe De Santis ... Ed Black
Ainslie Pryor ... Buffalo hunter #1
Ralph Moody ... Indian agent
Fred Graham ... Bartender
Ed Lonehill ... Spotted Hand
STORY: Stewart Granger and Robert Taylor play two long-time buffalo-hunting partners, also Civil war veterans. Taylor is ruthless: whether killing soldiers in war or buffalo-hunting, he enjoys the kills; and he hates Indians on a level equal to that of John Wayne's character in The Searchers
. Granger doesn't want any part of hunting any moreh, but economic realities force him to agree to go on a hunt with Taylor.
To help with the skinning the buffalo, they bring along an old drunk (Lloyd Nolan) and a half-breed (Russ Tamblyn), which causes considerable friction, as Granger is kind to Indians but Taylor hates them. Taylor comes upon an indian raiding party and kills all the males; the only survivors are a girl (played by the always-beautiful Debra Paget) and a baby; be brings her back to their own hunting party.
Eventually, things come to a head, as tensions over the girl, and Taylor's increasing paranoia, ruthlessness, and racism soon boil over.
I saw the movie on TCM; the picture quality wasn't all that great; not sure how the dvd looks.
This movie starts out as a run-of-the mill, nothing interesting, but it picks up pretty quickly. This ain't for the feint of heart or for animal-rights people: (as noted in the opening titles), they filmed the annual actual gov't-run thinning of the buffalo herd by gov't marksmen (the editing is very good; it really does look like Granger and Taylor are doing the killing), and you will see many, many buffalo actually shot and killed. Unlike the amazing buffalo hunt sequence in Dances With Wolves
, it's all stationary here: the hunters use a technique whereby, when the buffalo are standing around, they pick off the buffalo standing on the outside of the herd, one at a time: as long as the marksmen are accurate and the buffalo are killed with one shot, none of the other buffalo will run away; if, however, one of the herd starts stomping around in pain, then the whole herd will get spooked, and stampede. So marksmanship is essential, and the marksmen are perfectly accurate.
What makes this movie work are Taylor and Granger: two very strong personalities, equally tough, neither giving an inch. Too many Westerns have a great "good guy" but a terribly annoying actor play the "bad guy"; but here, there are two very strong actors doing terrific work, and the movie is enjoyable throughout. Just don't tell PETA about this one.