Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Captain Apache" Rides Between Action, Laughs

Cleveland Press October 7, 1971

"Captain Apache" is a low-budget western starring Lee Van Cleef, who specializes in low-budget westerns. But the movie just might be a sleeper.

This is a western that makes fun of westerns, a spoof of espionage pictures, a put-down of recent racial dramas, a movie that steers a narrow course between action and laughs.

Lee Van Cleef plays an Indian who is a captain in the U.S. Cavalry, a West Point man in fact. But he isn't averse to saying "How" when Carroll Baker makes speeches about noble savages.

The intricate plot has Van Cleef trying to find out the meaning of the phrase "April morning," the last words of a murdered man.

In true mystery story fashion, every person who might offer him a lead is killed before he can say anything. It gets to the point where the good captain is maneuvering would-be informants out of the possible line of fire whenever they hold conversations. But it's always too late.

Everyone wants to kill the captain, of course, but he is incredibly fast with his guns and totally unperturbed at all the attacks.

Few western movie cliches are overlooked. But because they are used so continuously they become funny rather than boring.

If all of this sounds ridiculous -- well, it is.

Van Cleef and Stuart Whitman as a sometimes-villain have sense enough to play their roles straight, deadly serious during most preposterous scenes.

Miss Baker is so bad an actress that most of her speeches sound funny anyway. This time she's an asset to a movie instead of a liability.

"Captain Apache" is a lightweight item but it's fun.