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Based on an Alan LeMay novel, as was John Ford's "The Searchers", "The Unforgiven" presents the flip side of the search for a missing sister. Here it is an Indian looking for his sister who was abducted as a baby by a white man and then adopted by his family. The obvious complaint is that the Indians are the villains in both films. But there is a distinction as the little girl in "The Searchers" was abducted when she was nine years old and she retained a desire to be reunited with her white family. The girl in "The Unforgiven", Rachel (played by Audrey Hepburn), has only known her adopted family.
John Huston once said that a good story should have "excitement, color, spectacle and humor, adventure, high drama, tragedy, good conversation, truth and irony". Even the studio cut of "The Unforgiven" does a pretty good job of bringing all these elements to the screen. The most obvious sign of studio tampering is the inconsistency in John Saxon's character (Johnny Portugal), a half-breed who is often harassed by the local cowboys and is meticulously set up to be Ben's (Burt Lancaster) rival for Rachel's affections.Read more ›
Audrey Hepburn is elegant and beautiful in the role of a sister who may have a "questionable" birth. Audie Murphy is her somewhat simple-mindedly prejudiced brother, Burt Lancaster is her older brother, whom she quietly adores. (And we soon see, the feeling is mutual.) Lillian Gish is just fantastic as the matriarch of the family, and Joseph Wiseman is excellent, as always, as an enigmatic stranger. Also, look for John Saxon in a small role as a Native American ranch hand.
A must-see. Incredibly well done, with wonderful performances by Hepburn, Lancaster and Gish, especially.
John Huston directed THE UNFORGIVEN in 1960, one of the last of the `message' westerns of that era which includes such notables as BROKEN ARROW (message = practice racial tolerance) and HIGH NOON (message = McCarthyism is bad.) I'm not a big fan of message westerns. Too often the sermon drowns out the story. As they used to say, if I want a message I'll call Western Union.
Still, Huston was one of the smartest directors around and the cast - Audrey Hepburn, Burt Lancaster, Lillian Gish, and Audie Murphy - are all first-rate.
Audrey Hepburn, the luminous Audrey Hepburn, plays the young woman was a foundling and now is the subject of an increasingly acrimonious dispute over her pedigree. Gish plays the foster mother and Lancaster and Murphy the Kiowa-hating half-brothers. Murphy a little top heavy with hate, Lancaster a little light in the keel when called on to remember the brother part. They aren't really kin, one coyly tells the other early on.
The first half of THE UNFORGIVEN is pretty interesting. There's a wild, one-eyed wraith, dressed in torn and faded Confederate gray, claiming to be the `sword of God' and warning any and all of Hepburn's true heritage. A young John Saxon plays a half-breed wrangler named Portugal who... well, rather mysteriously disappears rather early on. It has nothing to do with the plot per se, it's just that his character suddenly just isn't in the movie anymore. And that's the rub.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good old movie---Audie Murphy's acting was a bit overdone in his supposed hate of IndiansPublished 1 day ago by R A
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
*Plot and ending analyzed*
When I first saw The Unforgiven in 1960 at the premiere film opening, with John Huston in... Read more
Glad I found a copy of this little-known, but interesting western.Published 1 month ago by Andrea Lancer
too bad there weren't any extras. Only the trailer is included. Interviews or commentary would have been great additions.Published 3 months ago by daemon0
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