original movie poster by Tom Chantrell
|Directed by||Edward Dmytryk|
|Produced by||Euan Lloyd|
|Written by||J.J. Griffith
|Music by||Robert Farnon|
|Editing by||John D. Guthridge
|Distributed by||Cinerama Releasing Corporation
Anglo-Amalgamated Film Distributors
|Running time||113 min.|
A hunting party composed of European aristocrats is led into Apache territory in 1880 New Mexico by their guide, Bosky Fulton. When a French countess, Irina Lazaar, wanders off by herself, she is confronted by Indians, only to be rescued by Shalako, a former Cavalry officer sent by the Army to guide the party off Indian land.
The hunting party's leader, Frederick von Hallstadt, refuses to go, which leads to an Apache raid. Their lives are all now in grave danger, but Fulton strands the rest of the party, making off with their stage coach, ammunition and supplies, as well as Sir Charles Daggett's unfaithful wife, Lady Julia.
Shalako tries to lead the group on foot to an Army fort and safety. The chief's son, Chato, attacks the stagecoach. Lady Julia is killed when the Apache sadistically makes her swallow her jewels. Fulton flees, but when he returns to the others, he is shot dead by Daggett.
Chato catches up to the party but is coaxed into a one-against-one fight with Shalako, using spears. He is about to be defeated when his father, the Apache chief, rides up, offering Shalako and the others safe passage if his son's life is spared. Shalako goes off alone, but Countess Irina elects to join him.
Producer Euan Lloyd was introduced to Louis L'Amour by his friend Alan Ladd. Over the years as Lloyd dreamed of becoming an independent producer he kept in touch with L'Amour with a view of filming his 1962 novel Shalako. At one time Lloyd had lined up Henry Fonda and Senta Berger for the film to be made in Mexico but the reluctance of many film distributors to financially back Fonda and changes in the economic situation made filming in Mexico more expensive than planned.
During a meeting with L'Amour, Lloyd related stories of the large queues at the cinemas in New York for the latest James Bond film. L'Amour remarked that Sean Connery would certainly "look tall in the saddle". Lloyd met Sean Connery who was a Western fan since childhood and was keen on doing the film as he received $1 million out of the $5 million budget. Connery was available as he had turned down playing Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Lloyd also obtained that film's planned original co-star Bardot, Bond cinematographer Ted Moore, and Bond stuntman and action scene arranger Bob Simmons.
With Connery on board, many European and other film distributors were keen to finance the film that was made in Almería, Spain. Whilst scouting locations when he was planning to film in the United States, Lloyd noticed that many real Native Americans were overweight and did not look menacing. Simmons recruited a war party of lean and mean gypsies that he trained to ride and act like vicious Apaches. Simmons also talked Connery into shaving off the droopy moustache he had grown for the role to look more "realistic". The investors perhaps remembered Gregory Peck's moustache in The Gunfighter that was believed to have made the public stay away from that film and feared the same might happen with Shalako.
Many spaghetti westerns were filmed in Almería, but at the same time as Shalako, Harry Saltzman's Western Desert war film Play Dirty was being filmed on the same locations. One film crew had to wipe out the tyre tracks in the sand before filming the Old West whilst the other crew had to pick up the horse droppings before they began shooting. Once the gypsy Apaches mounted on horseback made an error and attacked a Long Range Desert Group by mistake.
- Sean Connery as Moses Zebulon 'Shalako' Carlin
- Brigitte Bardot as Countess Irina Lazaar
- Stephen Boyd as Bosky Fulton
- Jack Hawkins as Sir Charles Daggett
- Peter van Eyck as Baron Frederick Von Hallstatt
- Honor Blackman as Lady Julia Daggett
- Woody Strode as Chato (Apache chief)
- Eric Sykes as Mako
- Alexander Knox as Sen. Henry Clarke
- Valerie French as Elena Clarke
- Julián Mateos as Rojas
- Don 'Red' Barry as Buffalo
- Rodd Redwing as Chato's Father
The film premiered in late 1968 to mixed reviews. Many felt the movie was not as good as the other Westerns imported from Europe at the time, in particular, the Italian westerns that were making names for Sergio Leone, Lee Van Cleef, and Clint Eastwood. It also marked Sean Connery's first attempt to go mainstream in film and to distance himself from the James Bond films. In the end, it almost worked for Connery, but he had to keep on trying other roles, even after he did one more Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever. Later on, it became a cult classic as it had been regarded as having the hallmarks of a European Western.
According to Variety, the movie recorded a loss of $1,275,000.
||Constructs such as ibid., loc. cit. and idem are discouraged by Wikipedia's style guide for footnotes, as they are easily broken. Please improve this article by replacing them with named references (quick guide), or an abbreviated title. (July 2010)|
- "ABC's 5 Years of Film Production Profits & Losses", Variety, 31 May 1973 p 3
- Euan Lloyd Interview Cinema Retro #1
- p.123 Herzberg, Bob From Shooting Scripts: From Pulp Western to Film 2005 McFarland
- Simmons, Bob & Passingham, Kenneth Nobody Does It Better: My 25 Years of Stunts With James Bond and Other Stories 1987 Blandford