By HOWARD THOMPSON
Published: October 28, 1971
Two Spanish-made Westerns, "Captain Apache" and A Town Called Hell, make for hard, double-bill sitting, take it from us. Thundering, clanging, spilling blood like catsup, they run for exactly 189 minutes. Neither amounts to a hil of beans. One of them, the least painful, doesn't even try.
This is "Captain Apache," whose mean, funny opening line, not suitable to a family newspaper, pegs the entire jape. Anyway, this slapdash slaughterfest has Lee Van Cleef, as an iron-jawed Indian captain in the Union Army, trying to solve an officer's murder. Peering in, under the broiling sun, are such artists as Carroll Baker and Stuart Whitman, who must have been hankering for Hollywood greenery.
Generally, under Alexander Singer's direction, the film simply lets fly, as the chips and bodies fall. In the last reel the story rather snugly works in a surprise or two aboard one of those old-time trains, carring the principals. You can't criticize a choo-choo.
"A Town Called Hell" could have used one. Simulating Old Mexico, it looks even more sun-baked than the other picture, with some revolutionaries, soldiers, civilians and a priest murderously bunched up inside a fortress. With Robert Parrish's direction trying to add tone and dignity, the film lumbers uneasily between allegorical drama and bang-bang adventure.
How a fine actor like Robert Shaw got trapped into this stumps us. It's a strange cast, indeed—Stella Stevens, Martin Landau, Michael Craig, Fernando Rey, Telly Savalas and Dudley Sutton, all of them looking about as Mexican as Fifi D'Orsay. The wonder is she didn't turn up in it somewhere.
CAPTAIN APACHE, directed by Alexander Singer; screenplay by Philip Yordan and Milton Sperling, based on the novel by S. E. Whitman; produced by Mr. Yordan and Mr. Sperling and released by Scotia International Films. At neighborhood theaters. Running time: 94 minutes. (The Motion Picture Association of America's Production Code and Rating Administration classifies this film: "GP—all ages admitted, parental guidance suggested.")
Captain Apache . . . . . Lee Van Cleef
Maude . . . . . Carroll Baker
Griffin . . . . . Stuart Whitman
A TOWN CALLED HELL, directed by Robert Parrish; screenplay by Robert Aubrey; produced by S. Benjamin Fisz and released by Scotia International Films. At neighborhood theaters. Running time: 95 minutes. (The Motion Picture Association of America's Production Code and Rating Administration classifies this film: "R—restricted, under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.")
The Priest . . . . . Robert Shaw
Alvira . . . . . Stella Stevens
The Colonel . . . . . Martin Landau
Don Carlos . . . . . Telly Savalas
Paco . . . . . Michael Craig
Blind Man . . . . . Fernando Rey
Spectre . . . . . Dudley Sutton