Watch War Paint
- 1 hr 26 min
War Paint is a tense Western drama released in 1953, directed by Lesley Selander and cast with Robert Stack, Joan Taylor and Charles McGraw. The plot follows an army patrol led by Lt. Billings (Stack) during a time when conflict between Native American tribes and settlers is at its peak. The film opens with a tense and action-packed sequence, depicting the siege of a wagon train by a group of Apache warriors. Lt. Billings and his men arrive on the scene in the nick of time and save the settlers from being massacred. The lieutenant is then ordered to escort a wagon train carrying rifles and ammunition to a nearby fort. Along the way, Billings must contend with threats from both bandits and hostile Apache warriors.
As the journey progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that Billings and his men are in a race against time. The Apaches are gathering together in larger and larger numbers, and rumors of imminent attacks on nearby settlements loom large. Billings is forced to make tough decisions, including leaving the wounded behind and ordering the rest of the wagon train to press on without him.
Throughout the film, tension between the Native Americans and the settlers is palpable. The Native Americans are portrayed as neither wholly good nor wholly evil, but rather as people who have been pushed to resist against the settlers' encroachment on their land. Meanwhile, the settlers are shown as people who are initially frightened and suspicious of the Native Americans, but who are ultimately willing to work together to defeat a greater threat: the marauding bandits who seek to prey on both groups.
The cinematography in War Paint is excellent, with wide shots of the desert landscape that give viewers a sense of the vastness and isolation of the American West. The action sequences are well-choreographed and fast-paced, with plenty of gunfire, horseback riding, and fistfights.
The performances of the main cast are also strong. Robert Stack delivers a convincing and stoic portrayal of Lt. Billings, a man charged with protecting his men and completing his mission despite overwhelming odds. Joan Taylor plays the role of Olie, a young girl who is rescued from the Apaches by Billings and his men. Olie provides a window into the emotional complexity of the conflict, as she becomes attached to the soldiers who saved her life while also grappling with the fact that they are part of the same group that has taken her family's land.
Charles McGraw plays the villainous leader of the bandits, a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. His performance is menacing and adds an element of danger to the film, particularly in the latter half as the tension between the settlers and Native Americans begins to dissipate, and the true adversaries are revealed.
Overall, War Paint is an excellent Western drama that stands up well nearly seventy years after its initial release. The film offers an unflinching portrayal of the conflict between settlers and Native Americans in the American West, without resorting to oversimplification or stereotypes. The action sequences are thrilling, and the performances of the main cast are top-notch. If you're a fan of Westerns or just looking for a solid action drama, War Paint is well worth watching.
War Paint is a 1953 western with a runtime of 1 hour and 26 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.7.