The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, September 14-20

ulzanas-raid

Ulzana’s Raid (1972)
Directed by Robert Aldrich
A woman and her son are being escorted across hostile terrain when a group of Native Americans ride up on them, murder in their eyes. The cavalryman assigned to the hapless civilians turns tail and flees on his horse. The woman, fearing death or worse, screams after the retreating white man. He hears her, turns his horse around and returns, only to shoot her between the eyes to spare her an imagined fate. Then the soldier is killed and scalped for his bravery. This you might call the Aldrich touch. A bruiser of an auteur, Aldrich fried up American masculinity like his subjects were ants under a microscope. No film of his was more scorching, less forgiving than Ulzana’s Raid. Burt Lancaster, looking so tired he makes you want a shower and a glass of water, leads a party of green army officers on the trail of a war chief out for blood. Nothing goes well for anyone. Violence only succeeds for one side because they fully abandon humanity for the sake of a more righteous cause. Ego doesn’t enter into it. Aldrich sympathizes, mercilessly toying with John Ford’s pilgrims a thousand bloody miles deeper into the desert than any American filmmaker had yet ventured. Tie a yellow ribbon around a wound and it may stop the bleeding, but it can’t hold your scalp on. Scout Tafoya (September 15, 2pm, 9:15pm; September 16, 7:15pm at the Metrograph’s Aldrich series)

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