Taras Bulba

1962

Action / Adventure / Drama / History / Romance / War

4
IMDb Rating 6.4 10 3072

Synopsis


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Cast

Yul Brynner as Taras Bulba
Tony Curtis as Andrei Bulba
Paul Frees as Narrator
Brad Dexter as Shilo
1080p.BLU
1.85 GB
1920*1080
English
NR
23.976 fps
2hr 2 min
P/S 1 / 4

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by ragosaal 6 / 10

Entertaining (but not in the "pampas")

I've seen the reviews here and a couple of comments set "Taras Bulba"'s location in the Argentine pampas. As a native Argentine I must say that's not correct; the pampas run all through the middle part of our Country but this film was shot in the Province of Salta way up in the northern part of Argentina (some 1400 miles from Buenos Aires); the pampas are a huge flat ground very fertile, but Salta is uneven with not too high hills ("cerros") very different from the pampas. Another reviewer says Tony Curtis declared once that when he and co-star Kristine Kaufmann got mixed up during the filming he was already divorced of Janet Leigh; I don't know about that but I can assure you that Leigh came to Salta with him (a friend of mine has a photo with her on the "cerros").

As to the picture, I really enjoyed it -also because I lived in Salta a couple of years and the landscape is very familiar to me- but I think a real classical epic could have come out of Nicolai Gogol's famous novel with a more elaborated script (as a reviewer correctly stated here).

J. Lee Thompson's product seems sort of "cheap" and lacks spectacle (except for some real good battle scenes) although I admit if has some very good moments. A somehow impressive one is when the big doors of the sieged city open slowly and André (Curtis) appears in a frontal close shot wearing a Polish armor and helmet for he will make a run for food too feed the starving citizens inside in a clear treason to his country and father for the love of a woman. Also the final dark atmosphere Thompson achieves when Taras (Yul Brynner) confronts his favourite son after a treason he can't possibly understand and even less when André just explains "I did what I had to do".

Brynner's performance though a little overacted is good enough and he fills the role of Taras easily. Tony Curtis makes a great effort and gets some good moments as André though he clearly lacks the appropriate "physic du rol". The rest of the cast gives a good support, among them Sam Wanamaker, Brad Dexter, Guy Rolfe and George MacReady. German actress Kristine Kauffman shows her beauty.

All in all "Taras Bulba" comes out as an entertaining and amusing film in its genre and a decent intent on Gogol's book, but no much more than that.

Reviewed by thefinalcredits 4 / 10

'Zaparosti!!'

'I gave you life. It is on me to take it away.'

In an era where historical epics were received well both in the theatres and critical circles, this one failed to resonate, and ended costing United Artists the considerable shortfall of some $4.5million. Described by it's star, Tony Curtis as a 'Ukrainian Romeo and Juliet', this feature marked a turning point in the fortunes of its director, J Lee Thompson, who had previously enjoyed an unbroken chain of box office and critical successes from 1958's 'Ice Cold in Alex' onwards. One wonders whether he had this specific project in mind, and, in particular, the memorable scene featuring a test of courage of a deadly crossing of a ravine on horseback, when he mused: 'I've learned by experience that it's fatal to accept a poor script because it contains one or two good scenes which you long to shoot'. Originally slated as a Robert Aldrich project, with Anthony Quinn set to embody the titular character, financial constraints led to it being bought by the independent production company headed by Harold Hecht and Burt Lancaster. When this company dissolved in 1960, Hecht continued alone and his former partner relinquished the starring role which would pass to Curtis. As for Brynner, whose mother was said to have both Russian and Mongolian roots, he was at the height of his popularity and held out the highest of expectations for the production. Very loosely based on a short story by Nikolai Gogol, one major change in characterisation had Andrei transformed into the oldest brother to more easily enable the casting of 37 year-old Curtis in the lead role. In fact, Curtis was just five years younger than Yul Brynner who played his father, the eponymous Cossack rebel of the Ukrainian steppes. There can be no question that Brynner gives a barnstorming performance, while Curtis lacks both an appropriate physique and accent to be convincing in the slightest. Friction was constant on set as a result of Brynner's disatisfaction with not having received top billing. The offscreen antics of the cast also included the well- publicised love affair between Curtis, whose marriage to Janet Leigh was on the rocks, and his leading lady, Christine Kaufmann. On the evidence here, it is astonishing to believe that just twelve months earlier she was awarded a Golden Globe for Best Newcomer for her eye-catching role in 'A Town Without Pity' alongside Kirk Douglas. The overtly saccharine love- story she shares on screen with Curtis lacks enough depth to heighten the tragedy of the final father-son fight to the death. One wonders whether much of the film's weakness in terms of the plot was largely the result of the studio's comprehensive cuts imposed on the director.The studio had baulked at original screenplay writer, Howard Fast's wishes to bring much more historical accuracy to the story-line, especially concerning the Cossacks' anti-Semitic purges against Polish Jews. Consequently, the writing team of Karl Tunberg, Oscar nominated for 'Ben Hur', and previously blacklisted Waldo Salt, later to enjoy much greater critical success for the likes of 'Midnight Cowboy', produced a sub- standard bland vehicle for the heart-throb Curtis. By contrast, Thompson's direction is much more assured in capturing the spectacular battle scenes set in the expanses of the Argentinian landscape, substituting for the steppes. These scenes also benefit from the skilled hand of cinematographer, and three times Academy Award nominee, Joseph MacDonald, who a decade earlier had majestically shot his native Mexico for Kazan's biopic, 'Viva Zapata'. However, the picture's greatest feature has to remain the stirring score provided by Franz Waxman, which utilised Russian folk music, and was hailed by Bernard Hermann as one of the greatest scores ever written for the screen. How indelible an impression is made by the rousing accompaniment to the Cossacks' banding together on the 'Road to Dubno'.Yet, so disappointed at the final product was Brynner that he is said to have broken down and wept at his first private screening, and his belief in the artistic integrity of Hollywood irretrievably crushed.

Reviewed by Martin Bradley 3 / 10

No one's finest hour

A look at the behind-the-camera credits of "Taras Bulba" and you might think you are watching, if not a masterpiece, then at least one of Hollywood's greatest and most intelligent spectaculars. So what went wrong? The director was J. Lee Thompson, fresh from a trilogy of terrific action pics, ("Ice Cold in Alex", "Northwest Frontier" and "The Guns of Navarone"), and one great thriller, ("Cape Fear"). Waldo Salt was one of the two scriptwriters, Joe MacDonald photographed it in Panavision and four of Hollywood's top editors had been merrily snipping away. In front of the camera we had Tony Curtis and Yul Brynner; okay, neither of them was Olivier but Brynner had an Oscar under his belt and Curtis had done "Sweet Smell of Success" and "Some Like it Hot" so we knew they could act and yet this rubbish is, if not quite a total disaster, neither memorable nor of interest. In fact, the best you can say of it is that it's no better, and probably a lot worse, than many a large-scale and totally anonymous western with its large cast putting on funny accents and pretending to be Cossacks, (except, of course, for the Brooklynese Curtis). It just about gets by as entertainment and is certainly no-one's finest hour.

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