Taza, Son of Cochise (1954)

Rock Hudson, Barbara Rush, Gregg Palmer, Rex Reason,
When peacemaking Apache chief Cochise dies, the Chiricahua Apaches are torn between following Cochise's peace loving son Taza and following the warlike renegade Apache warrior Geronimo.
  • 5.7 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • George Zuckerman, Gerald Drayson Adams, Writer:
  • Douglas Sirk, Director:
  • Ross Hunter, Producer:

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6 / 10

Better to break a promise than your heart.

Taza, Son of Cochise is directed by Douglas Sirk and written by Gerald Drayson Adams and George Zuckerman. It stars Rock Hudson, Barbara Rush, Gregg Palmer, Rex Reason and Morris Ankrum. A Technicolor production with the Music scored by Frank Skinner and cinematography by Russell Metty.

In 1872 the long bitter war fought between the United States Cavalry troops and Apache bands led by Cochise came to an end. The peace treaty signed by Cochise and General Howard brought peace to the Arizona Territory. But three years later the mighty leader of the Chiricahua Apaches grew ill and come to the end of his days....

....the torch was passed to his first born son, Taza, who wants to follows his father's ideals and peace brokering ways. His second born son, Naiche, however, has different ideas, as does the mighty Geronimo.....

Douglas Sirk's only venture into the Western realm was originally shot in 3D around the gorgeous Arches National Monument Park. Following the pro-Indian theme that was becoming a feature of 1950s Westerns, it's a film that suffers primarily because of the casting of none Native Americans in the important character roles. Which is a shame because it's a gorgeous production that features action scenes full of vim and vigour. Story isn't out of the ordinary and the dialogue is often clunky as the Indian chatter is of the Hollywoodisation kind. Yet picture is never dull, the interest is always held as Taza attempts to hold on to peace for his people, whilst simultaneously he's trying to court the hand of Oona (Rush) against the wishes of her father, the war mongering Grey Eagle (Ankrum).

Hudson, badly cast as he is, can't be faulted for commitment in the title role. He clearly feels at ease working for Sirk (it was a coupling that would work together on a total of 9 movies), and at least he has the physicality for such a character. Unlike Ian MacDonald as Geronimo, who looks too old, is too staid and sticks out like a sore thumb. Russell Metty's photography is top draw, both in capturing gorgeous frames of the locale and in choice of colour lenses. Skinner provides a breezy, if standard Indian tinted Western musical score, and Sirk's direction is simple and effective with only minimal 3D moments part of the action. It's hardly an essential picture in the pantheon of pro-Indian Westerns, but it's better than it has a right to be, and with Pegasus' DVD release providing a lovely print, this is worth seeking out if only for Russell Metty's fine work. 6.5/10

6 / 10

Decent cavalry-Indian western

Universal joined the parade of film studios that wanted to cash in on the popularity of Indian chiefs during the 1950s. This western followed the familiar formula of war and peace, reservation vs. warpath story lines, trigger happy soldiers and renegade Indians. Rock Hudson stars as the obedient, peace-loving son of Cochise in this Arizona saga but his brother opposes the chief's death-bed wish and schemes with other Indians to break free to raid and plunder. That is essentially the plot here, with nothing new to offer fans of this genre. The movie has enough action and scenic vistas to maintain interest but also looks like it was filmed on a shoestring budget. Hudson and Barbara Rush make a fetching couple and the supporting cast is good but the film lacks the polish of other Universal westerns of this period.

6 / 10

Hudson--wigged, shirtless, and sunburned Apache in 3-D

Jeff Chandler reprises his role as Cochise (in "Broken Arrow") and, in the first ten minutes, dies after instructing his youngest son, Hudson's Taza, to keep the Apaches on the path of peace. Taza's half brother Nache (Rex Reason), however, wants to slaughter all white eyes. Barbara Rush is the Apache princess torn between the two brothers. On location, brutal desert sun, despite body make up, severely burned Hudson, mostly shirtless to exhibit his physique. Film was shot and released in 3-D with expected effects of rocks, spears, and arrows flying from the screen. As a churning Western, the Apache POV places "Taza" in a group of early 50s Westerns, such as "Broken Arrow" (James Stewart) and "The Savage" (Charlton Heston), that sided with Indians and culminated in "Apache" (Burt Lancaster). Moral score card is reckoned by pairing white and Apache villains. With brisk direction, handsome cast (notably Rush and Reason), and Technicolor capturing expanses of red-orange desert, "Taza" is respectably good of its kind. In dealing with Indians vs. whites, "Taza" may be a bit cavalier, but tongue-in-cheek? No. Hudson here was only one stair tread away from achieving major stardom in "Magnificent Obsession"--and looks it.