Chato’s Land (1972)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Chato’s Land first was on the site on November 10, 2021. You can get the blu ray from Kino Lorber. It has a brand new 2K master of the film, as well as new audio commentary by film historians Howard S. Berger and Steve Mitchell, an interview with screenwriter Gerald Wilson and reversible cover art. You can order it from Kino Lorber.

After shooting the racist sheriff in self-defense, Apache Chato (Charles Bronson) heads back home, far away from the affairs of the white men. However, former Confederate Captain Quincey Whitmore (Jack Palance) has put back on his uniform and brought together former soldiers demoralized by the end of the war — look at what year this movie came out and you can see what this movie really is saying — and begins hunting down Chato, who much like the Vietcong knows the land better and is fighting for his family, not for pride or because he’s been peer pressured.

That means he kills every single one of them.

Also, this is when you realize that Michael Winner directed this movie, because not only do four of the posse — Elias (Ralph Waite), Earl (Richard Jordan), Hall (Victor French) and Lansing (William Watson) — gang rape and leave Chato’s wife for dead, they also string up his best friend and set him on fire.

Yes, Michael Winner, the man who brings you the patriarch of The Waltons assaulting a woman.

The first victim afterward is Earl, who is obsessed with Chato’s wife. Like a slasher villain, Bronson’s character dispatches the men one after the other and leaves their bodies to be found. He’s gone full Apache, no longer wearing the clothes of the Europeans and the men begin to turn on one another, even killing Whitmore, who has long become disgusted by their actions.

Still, the odds are against Bronson. Then again, that’s usually how it is.

The first of six movies that Winner would make with Bronson, this was shot on some of the same Spanish sets as Once Upon a Time in the West. Winter would say, in the book Bronson’s Loose, that this was the only of their films that Bronson enjoyed watching.

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