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True mystic in Bronson's screen presence…
Nazi_Fighter_David5 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"Chato's Land" was well suited to Bronson's evolutionary screen persona, that of the strong, relatively silent avenger—a solid figure of firm intention but few words…

As Pardon Chato, the vengeful Apache half-breed, Bronson enjoyed the most vocally reticent role of his starring career, speaking but few lines—and most of those in Apache!

Again, Spanish locations represented the American frontier West for this post-Civil War tale about a white posse's search for Chato, who, in self-defense, had killed the sheriff of a small New Mexico town… As the pursuers forge deeper into Apache country, the situation shifts around, with hunters becoming the hunted… Failing out among themselves, the posse members gradually become victim either to each other's violence or to Chato's well-justified vengeance, after they rape his woman…

In the non-U.S. countries where Bronson enjoyed his greatest popularity, "Chato's Land" was well met and highly successful…
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In Chato's Land, Manhunters Can Easily Become Wild Game
Michael Winner's "Chato's Land" of 1972 starring the great late Charles Bronson and the equally grand Jack Palance, who also passed away recently, is a tough-minded and violent English Western which should not be missed, and a must-see for every Bronson fan. Director Winner, who is most famous for his violent 1974 cult classic "Death Wish", is certainly one of the masters of uncompromising revenge cinema and "Chato's Land", Winners first collaboration with Bronson, is one of the movies which have rightly earned him this reputation.

When half-breed Apache Pardon Chato (Bronson) shoots a racist Sheriff in self defense in a Saloon, local men form a posse to catch him, in order to hang him as soon as possible. The posse is lead by former Confederate Captain Quincy Whitmore, who is more keen on the manhunt just for the good old times than out of hate towards Chato. The sadistic Hooker brothers who have also joined the posse, however, hate Indians of any kind, and they don't have the slightest scruples of doing anything to make the fugitive pay for defending himself. As the posse members get deeper and deeper into the desert of Indian territory, however, they have to find out that they might have underestimated their opponent. This is Chato's land, and in Chato's land the hunters can quickly become the hunted...

The acting in "Chato's Land" is great, Charles Bronson, who hardly says a word fits perfectly into his role. Jack Palance is superb in his role of Capt. Quincy Whitmore, and I couldn't imagine anybody else but Bronson and Palance to play the leading parts in this. Simon Oakland and Richard Johnson are also great in their ugly roles of Jubal Hooker and his psychopathic little brother Earl, and the cast furthermore contains Richard Basehart. The film is very well photographed in the Spanish Almería, certainly the best location for European Westerns.

"Chato's Land" is a brutal, tough-minded and great Western, which should not be missed by anybody who likes revenge movies. The performances are excellent, and the movie is stunning, raw and atmospheric from the beginning to the end. A must-see for Charles Bronson fans, Chato's Land is a great film. Highly recommended.
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A most excellent western!!!!
mjhalta3 June 2008
Once again this movie review sight has given a superb movie a lousy rating, and once again I blame the morons that write these reviews. Clearly the coming of brain transplant surgery will be none to soon. This movie is what westerns are supposed to be like, gritty, tough, sweaty, with no holds barred and plenty of action and blood. The plot is simple but works well and does not treat you as if you're a dummy, everything that happens makes sense. Bronson definitely looks and acts like he is an Indian living off the land, he does a superb job and I defy anyone to think of another actor who could play this role. The ending while immensely satisfying also leaves you feeling quite empty as the hero may have won, but why did it have to happen in the first place. Hatred, discrimination and overconfidence were the root causes which drove the posse to chase this fugitive into country he called his own, and in the end they paid for it with their own blood. So I guess you could say this movie also makes you think a little as it does have a moral to the story, which most of the new movies do not.
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One of My Favorite Bronson Flicks
wmecca-14 October 2006
A tale of western revenge, "Chato's Land" has a cast of many well known actors including Jack Palance, Richard Basehart, Simon Oakland, Ralph Waite, Victor French and James Whitmore as well as Bronson in the lead role as Pardon Chato.

Chato is a half-breed Apache who makes the mistake of visiting a town that is hostile towards Indians. Being set upon by the sadistic town Marshall, Chato kills the lawman in self defense and must run from a posse of the town's people led by Jack Palance as Quincy Whitmore. Palance is excellent as Whitmore, an ex-Confederate officer who still longs after the excitement that comes from waging war. Leading the town's men in pursuit of Chato, Whitmore is decked out in his Confederate officer's jacket and plummed hat. Along with Whitmore is Nye Buell (Basehart) dressed in top hat and frock coat offering his whiskey laden salty commentary along the way. Simon Oakland also does a fine job as Jubal Hooker, the vicious elder of the degenerate Hooker clan who takes control of the posse from Quincy and ultimately cause the death of several of the posse members.

This movie has some beautifully set scenery that captures the harshness of the desert land that Chato takes refuge in. Whitmore comments that the harsh land is something that a white man would just damn off to hell and forget, but to Chato who doesn't ask much or take much from the land, it is almost a living thing.
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A masterpiece !
wmjahn26 May 2006
Did anyone notice that Charlie made 2 of his best (maybe his best) pictures one after another, both directed by Michael Winner (who did some more nice entries in the Bronson catalog), both scored by Jerry Fiedling (superbly, if I may add), "CHATO'S LAND" and "THE MECHANIC" (from whom Tarantine chose to quote in "Kill Bill II") ??!! I must have watched both movies app. half a dozen times and they seem to get better with every viewing (despite knowing its ending)!

First, these are films made for men, not children or family-viewing. And let's be honest, if you wanna see a good, though, well played movie today, what you're gonna do?? Certainly not go to the cinema, were you see noisy, trashy high-budget trash in a row. You buy yourself a DVD or watch some late-night viewing of a 70ies movie on TV! And these two movies are certainly as good as it can get!

Second, these movies are more less silent! You don't hear some silly dialog through it all, but just men saying a few words, when it's really needed. Those people, who talk a lot in such movies, are happily the first ones that gonna be shot (and it's good this way)! Everybody's always pointing out who little Arnold is saying in "TERMINATOR" (of course the first one), a real good movie, too! Well, get yourself CHATO'S LAND. In the German dubbed version good old Charlie (God bless him!) spoke less than 10 words in German and maybe another dozen or so in some tribal language, that's it! I'd take a bet that there is most likely no other non-silent movie every made, in which the hero says as few words as in this one!!

And while we're at comparing it to Schwarzenegger/Terminator, did anybody notice those MUSCLES of Charlie??!! And these are certainly no anabolic-stuff, but real hard & honest earned ones! If we'd take Charlie in his prime (when he made this one, he was HALF A CENTURY OLD = 50 years!!!) and compare it to Schwarzenegger, when he was 50 not that long ago ... I'd say Charlie would have wiped the carpet with him, should there have been any reason for an argument. I'd just wish I'd have looked that well, when I was 30, not to speak of being 50 (not yet).

The guy is just SO COOL in this movie as well as in THE MECHANIC (and many more in fact))!

OK, I hear the critics saying, this is just a "silly" revenge-movie (note: made before DEATH WISH I !!). Nope, it ain't !! First, it's not that important, what the story is, what really counts is how it is delivered: movie-experts doing what they can at the highest level! It's just GREAT to watch them delivering all the expected scenes without getting whimsical, talky or making compromises. This is a men's movie made for men! And second, it's not stupid at all! Why does everybody has to go on his knees in front of authorities (the sheriff)? Esp. if you're part of a badly treated minority! He's on his own, when a big crowd invades HIS LAND (like the USA did in Vietnam) and he wipes them off. He knows the land better than everybody else, he's trained and intelligent (the followers are more stupid, but not completely), so he does what he has to do. At the end the winner is logical and probably that's the movie, Mr. Bush should have watched before entering the Iraque ...

OK, back to the movie. What about the acting? Wooden??? Come on, it ain't, it's just perfect for this movie!! Would you like to see some what-they-call-"actor"-today (say, Adrien Brody, who wasn't too convincing in KING KONG either) delivering this?? It would just be "strange"/ridiculous. And the other members of the crew? Just perfect! Palance, superb (as always, but he should have avoided City Slickers), Basehart and Whitmore, great! Just the kinda support crew one needs and which is simply non-existent today (and which is sadly missed!).

One critic complained about the "cheap look" (??) of the movie, and that it must have been inexpensive to make. Well, so what? First, blockbusters suck anyway, every 2 minutes an explosion is just noisy and boring (but obviously expensive) anyway and the scenery is in fact superbly chosen! It's just THE MAN, the scenery and his doomed followers. The land is as bleak as the fate of the followers/hunters. It's empty, it's pure, it's honest, it's something for "desert-rats". :-)) So to sum up: you can't chose better for a great action movie of the 70ies (and that'w when most of the great actions movies were made!).

Moreless the same can be said about THE MECHANIC: tough, not-talky, thrilling, superbly shot and acted, great support cast, too, and what an ending !!! I'd LOVE to see these out on DVD with much bonus material (scenes from the set, one of Carlies too rare interviews: well, the guy stayed silent when there was not much too say, smile, although I would love him to still be among us and write some great autobiography!)!

What a loss, but then again he's hopefully having superb times, wherever he's now!
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Chato's land will do most of Chato's work for him
Wuchakk2 May 2014
Released in 1972, "Chato's Land" is typically written off as lame Spaghetti Western with Charles Bronson but, actually, it's a UK production shot in Spain, Mexico and Arizona. And, secondly, there's more depth here than the one-dimensional racist-revenge plot might first lead you to believe.

I'll admit that I was turned off to this movie for years due to Brian Garfield's scathing review in his excellent book "Western Films," where he called it "cheesy, dreary, phony," but an open-minded and honest viewing proves him wrong. Yes, it's dreary, but it's not cheesy or phony. It's true that the desolate Spanish locations are phony, in that it's not the American Southwest, but other than that the characters and dialogue ring true.

The plot is simple: Chato, a half-breed Indian (Charles Bronson), shoots an arrogant, racist lawman in a saloon and a large posse is assembled where they chase Chato in his own element, which is why it's called "Chato's Land."

Bronson's role is taciturn, one-dimensional and almost invisible, until the end where he's a stunning example of masculine strength. Amazingly, Bronson was 50 years-old during filming, but he was in prime physical condition with not an iota of fat. Another reviewer commented that, if he were 6'5", he would've made a perfect Conan the Barbarian.

Bronson's striking presence and solemn performance is key to the success of the movie, of course, but the film's true strength is the writing/directing and the stellar cast that make up the posse, including Jack Palance, Richard Basehart, James Whitmore, Simon Oakland, Ralph Waite, Richard Jordan and more. The group dynamics of the posse and their interplay is where the film shines. Four or five of the men are good men, but they're too blinded by cultural bigotry toward a half-breed to realize the injustice of their cause. It never occurs to them that Chato has rights and that the slain lawman was in the wrong. All they focus on is that a sheriff is dead and a half-breed did it. Most of the rest of the posse are unlikable or repugnant, particularly a character played by Richard Jordan and his father, played by Simon Oakland.

Due to their differences, the loosely put-together posse lacks solidarity. Some are hell-bent on apprehending or killing Chato while others are rather half-hearted on the issue, pretty much just doing a favor for the former Confederate Captain, played by Palance. You have to listen closely because sometimes the dialogue isn't too clear, but the quality writing brings these characters to life.

Why does Chato become increasingly merciless as the story progresses? At first, he does things to simply deter the group and provoke them to give up, like destroy their water supply, but at a certain point some of the members of the posse cross the line and do something particularly heinous, not to mention utterly criminal, proving that they are the true criminals and not Chato. Some of the members object, which is respectable, but not enough to stop the atrocities and so they become guilty by association. It's called cowardly condoning.

As for the slightly ambiguous ending, what's the point? Chato need not kill when Chato's land will do it for him. That's why it's called "Chato's Land."

The score is decent with a compelling percussive part, but some aspects are too dated. An exceptional score would've propelled a good Western into greatness or near-greatness. Also, some of the editing is too abrupt and awkward. Still, despite its one-dimensional plot, "Chato's Land" is a quality Western. With all due respect, Brian Garfield was wrong.

The film runs 110 minutes, but there are versions that cut-out about four minutes of R-rated material.

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Flint Hard and Stone Cold
bushtony17 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Winner's astonishingly harsh western parable is an under-appreciated genre classic. It's a flint-hard and stone cold essay on racial intolerance and man's inhumanity to man. There is zero radiant warmth; the characters and the landscape reflect only savagery and implacable abrasiveness. As the tale unfolds, it becomes clear who the real savages are – and it's not the taciturn half-breed Indian Chato (Bronson) but his hateful and spiritually ugly posse of pursuers led by ex-confederate veteran Quincey (Palance).

Throughout the first half of the film, Chato provides his enemies with the means to relinquish their quest, turn back, give up and go home with their lives intact. They choose to pursue their quarry, escalating to violence, murder and rape, even turning upon each other, thus becoming the architects of their own doom. The white man here is depicted as a cruel, racist, intellectually-challenged barbarian full of self-righteous hate. The Indian is a nobler being, at home in the barren landscape, concerned only with survival on his own terms.

Goaded into killing a bigoted sheriff in a saloon showdown in the opening minutes, Chato flees back to his homeland. The town notables take the law into their own hands, form a posse and give chase. On the way they pick up supporters from local homesteads, including the Hooker brothers, a trio of grizzled terminally twisted rednecks. Quincey Whitmore, an ex-soldier, leads the gang. For him it is a last chance to succeed in warfare where in the past he had been on the losing side of the confederacy. One more shot at glory, one more campaign against an enemy force. As for the rest, they are driven either by warped ideals of justice, religion, or a desire to impose their perceived masculine superiority over the Indian.

Inevitably, as his wife is raped and his brother murdered, Chato turns on his antagonists and proceeds to hunt them down using guerrilla tactics for which they are no match. Capitalising on the terrain to his own advantage, he systematically terrorises and kills his enemies, or sees them turn against and kill each other.

Winner's directorial style is primal, basic, perfectly suited to framing the minimalist narrative. For all his unflinching brutality and instinctive capacity to terrorise and kill, Chato is a higher being in all respects compared to the white-trash scum on his case. Bronson is perfectly cast as the monolithic native who simply is a force of nature in his own land.

Politically, as with so many movies released at the same time, it is easy to discern parallels with the Vietnam War. America was fighting on the home turf of the Vietnamese and didn't stand a chance. As with Quincey, they failed to understand their enemy outside of bias, assumption and mythology. Quincey makes some pronouncements of what the Indian is, how he thinks and functions and how he behaves. He miscalculates due to his own internal influences and manages to be only half-right on a good day.

These days, Michael Winner is portrayed in the media as a jovial buffoon and foodie snob – and in fairness he plays up this persona. It should not be forgotten that Winner was a director of some vision and status, making key films in the swinging sixties that helped define that decade and then mapping out the genre of modern revenge-cinema in the seventies. Chato's Land is a prime example of his work and demands to be viewed in a fresh light by new audiences. The portrayal of human nature as a cruel and vindictive, primordially antagonistic entity has rarely been so tellingly achieved on screen.
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Where there's no pardon from Pardon Chato, brother…
RJBurke19426 February 2010
There's a little in-joke that's included in Pardon Chato's (Charles Bronson) only line spoken in English; and that occurs in about the second minute of this savagely entertaining story about vigilantism running amok somewhere in the Old West.

We see Chato, at the saloon bar, waiting to get his whiskey when in comes the local Marshall Endersby (Jacob Meade), looking to kill himself an uppity mestizo. So, here's the in-joke: just before the Marshall draws to shoot, Chato says: "Back off, lawman!" Then he spins quickly, shooting from the hip to kill the Marshall. It's a joke, because the director, Michael Winner, in 1971, had already filmed a story called Lawman (by the same screen writer, Gerald Wilson) in which a Marshall hunts down a group of men – relentlessly, mercilessly and legally. (Note that Lawman is more highly regarded, at IMDb, than Chato's Land.)

Anyway, the story of Chato is double joke: here, the Marshall is out of the picture (no pun intended) immediately, and the hunters – the Posse Commitatus, a mixed bunch of misfits headed up by either ex-Captain Whitmore (Jack Palance) or Jubal Hooker (Simon Oakland), depending on how the plot unfolds – become the hunted when Chato begins the task of killing them – relentlessly, mercilessly...but, illegally, in this story. Oh, Chato has the moral high ground, many would argue; but, objectively, any court would find him guilty of manslaughter at the very least. And, man, what a slaughter it is! But, this is the Old West, where just about anything goes.

The story has many antecedents (about which Winner and Wilson would have been well aware): The Bravados (1958) with Gregory Peck as the hunter; Hombre (1967) with Paul Newman as the despised mestizo; and Valdez is Coming (1971) with Burt Lancaster as the hunter, and a Mexican to boot. You could probably add to that list. This film adds to it, of course, as being just another take on the good, ol' American pastime of vigilantes racing off to git themselves a hangin' afore nightfall, if possible. In that regard and if you have seen it, you shouldn't miss watching the heartbreak in The Oxbow Incident (1943) with Henry Fonda, heading up an all-star cast, who tries to stop the west's favorite method of dispensing rough justice.

The best part about Chato's Land is the land: the stark, unforgiving country that Chato uses to his advantage. Winner makes good use of long, wide angle shots to emphasize the harsh, bleak landscape; but, his studied close-ups of the characters are often almost works of art. Of the cinematography, I can only complain of the lighting – a good lot of the shoot was completed in pseudo-darkness, using blue filters, no doubt, and was quite annoying at times. Editing is up to par, though, and Jerry Fielding's music is suitably moody – although, I could have done without the military-type snippets.

After speaking that one English line, Chato sticks to Apache, or is silent throughout, as he gets on with his task. So, it's nice to see a man happy in his work, and who doesn't bother us with useless talk.

Highly recommended for all fans of Bronson and Palance.
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On His Own Turf
bkoganbing6 March 2008
Charles Bronson and director Michael Winner made the first of several films together in this western that was shot in Spain. Chato's Land boasts a fine cast of players most of whom don't make it through the end of the film.

Bronson plays Pardon Chato a mixed blood Apache just in town for supplies and a racist U.S. Marshal puts the prod to him. That's a big mistake as Bronson kills him in self defense. A bunch of self righteous citizens get up a posse after him. Their brand of justice includes raping his wife and killing his child in the bargain.

Jack Palance plays the nominal leader of the group, but he's got no control over the meanest of the bunch, a trio of brothers Simon Oakland, Ralph Waite, and Richard Jordan. Others in the party include James Whitmore and Richard Basehart.

Charles Bronson is always a nasty man to cross, never more so when on his own turf as he is in the Arizona desert. Bronson has honed this character to perfection. It's no accident that Winner was the director in the first three Death Wish films. Elements of this same plot are also to be found in a particular favorite Bronson film of mine, Mr. Majestyk.

Chato's Land is a good western with an impeccable cast. I do so love that sudden death ending in this film.
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Conventional Western vengeance with the great Charles Bronson
ma-cortes14 July 2009
A laconic Apache is pursued by a posse to solve a sheriff's death , dead in self-defense showdown by Chato (Charles Bronson) . Stalking the misfit group who are allegedly to be chasing him , after they attack his woman and family . A veteran confederate officer (Jack Palance) leads the posse (Victor French , James Withmore , Lee Patterson) along with three brutal brothers (Richard Jordan , Simon Oakland , Ralph Waite). Chino struggles to maintain his livelihood and later on , he seeks revenge .

This offbeat Western film displays excessive violence , noisy action and orgies of destruction of life and property . It's full of fury , sound , sadism and gratuitous violence . Characters are beaten, killed and raped . Pretty good Charles Bronson in his ordinary tough role , this film is one of Charles Bronson's 70s westerns ; his westerns made during the 1970s include Red sun (1971), Chato the Apache (1972), From noon till three (1976), Nevada Express (1975) and The White Buffalo (1977) . For Charles Bronson fans , it's full of what made his movies so popular . Although isn't among Bronson's stronger , this is one of his more viscerally effective movies . Striking and atmospheric musical score by Jerry Fielding , Sam Peckinpah's usual . Colorful cinematography by Robert Paynter reflecting splendidly the barren outdoors from Almeria (Spain) , as usual . The motion picture was well directed by Michael Winner . This is the first film out of six that Charles Bronson and Michael Winner made together . Winner had important commercial successes in the mid-70 with his fetish actor , Charles Bronson , achieving various box-office hits, such as ¨Deathwish I and II, furthermore, ¨The mechanics¨ and ¨The stone killer¨.
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"All we got here is a handful o' nothing."
classicsoncall9 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
After the opening scene the story has a flavor of "The Most Dangerous Game" going for it. Pardon Chato (Charles Bronson), instead of being hunted by a determined posse, looks more like the hunter in this revenge Western filmed in Spain. That should have been more than apparent to Captain Quincey Whitmore (Jack Palance) and his bunch even before Chato took his first victim, it was easy enough to determine that Chato was leaving a trail for his pursuers to follow.

What disappointed me here was the Jack Palance role in the latter part of the story. Captain Quincey was given ample opportunity to be a stand-up guy in a number of situations and he backed down each time. You could sense the Captain was wrestling in his own mind over what to do about the rape of Chato's wife for example, but he gave the vicious members of his posse a pass to follow their own will. I would have expected a more principled leader to stand in opposition to the thugs, thereby setting up a more momentous confrontation against the Apache half breed they were trailing.

Even so, Quincey's death scene after getting shot by Jubal (Simon Oakland) was pretty interesting. I believe it's the only one which I've seen where the guy who's about to die is still talking when his body gives out. And speaking of dying, is there a more ignominious way to go than the way Jubal got his? Man, three rocks to the head seemed pretty gruesome to me, but the guy had it coming.

As for Chato himself, Bronson didn't need a whole lot of dialog to portray the cunning Indian. Other reviewers here have commented on Bronson's physique in the film, quite impressive for his age and naturally ripped from whatever training regimen he might have followed away from the set. Bronson got to put his body on display in any number of vehicles, and as a contrast, I would point to two guest starring roles he had in TV shows a decade apart. He portrays a boxer in an episode of The Roy Rogers Show from 1952 called 'The Knockout', and again in a One Step Beyond Story from 1962 titled 'The Last Round'. The difference in his appearance is notable in that he's a lot more muscular and heavier in the latter vehicle, looking almost as if he might have been using steroids. All conjecture since I have no way of knowing, but here, another decade later, he has that natural looking physique toned by a rigorous exercise schedule.
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Chato's Land
Scarecrow-882 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
A posse, led by a former Confederate soldier, Captain Quincey Whitmore(Jack Palance) decide to head out to find an "Injun" responsible for the murder of a no-good sheriff, the hunted(or, more appropriately, the hunter) an Apache named Chato(Charles Bronson). Listen to this fabulous cast of recognizable veteran character actors which accompany Whitmore on this journey..Simon Oakland, Ralph Waite, Richard Jordan, James Whitmore, Victor French and Richard Basehart. Other actors tagging along are William Watson, Paul Young, and Roddy McMillan.

Jubal Hooker(Oakland)decides he and his boys, Elias and Earl(Waite and Jordan), will tag along to find that half-Apache, relishing the thought of hanging an Injun. Racists them all, pretty rough around the edges and foul in demeanor and attitude. Earl keeps his mind of the ladies while always having to start up something with the posse's Mexican scout. When members of the posse(mainly Elias and Earl)find Chato's home, his squaw inside, they rape and molest her, leaving the woman's naked body tied out in the open as bait for her mate. This act, along with the eventual murder of Chato's Apache comrade(who helps tend to his home), hanging him upside down, setting his body on fire, will be the posse's downfall. You see, for most of the film before this act, Chato was just tormenting and teasing them. He'd shoot some of their horses, or stab open their water bags. But, when they resort to violence in order to draw him out, Chato will respond in kind. We watch as Jubal and Elias become tyrannical in their desire to find and kill Chato, after Earl goes out looking for the squaw saved by her mate, getting himself mutilated for his heinous actions regarding the rape for which he was an active, enthusiastic participant..when Quincey speaks of turning back when catching Chato seems futile, the Hookers pull a gun on him, shooting down two who attempt to leave in cold blood. The rape of Chato's squaw and murder of his friend sealed their fates.

As impressively shot by cinematographer Robert Paynter(a veteran director of photography, he shot many of Winner's early work, including THE MECHANIC), the sun downs are particularly awe-inspiringly beautiful, while the days look unforgiving and treacherous, land which seemed to have been forgotten by God, only Chato, it seems, could live on it. We see that the white man can not survive on this land, never at any point one step ahead of Chato, truly at his mercy. And, that's really the point, these men start out with great confidence, their heads held high, believing that Chato will be caught by nightfall, further following the half-breed into the sunbaked abyss. We see that this posse begin to tear at one another, their camaraderie and swagger deteriorating the longer they remain in pursuit of Chato, doubt and fear starting to flower. Especially disconcerting for them is how Chato picks them off systematically, not in a hurry, gallantly riding his horse, mostly overhead peering down at the posse, using his surroundings as a tool against the group, wiser and more restrained. Not halting the rape, in my mind, costs the entire group, even if some of the posse didn't participate in the allowing it to continue, each is just as guilty and must pay with their life. I was a bit disappointed we never get to see Chato and Quincey(or Chato and Jubal, for that matter)face off, but even if they had, we know what the outcome would've been. Once Earl was found with his crotch destroyed by fire, Jubal would not allow this to go unabated, and his mania is the upending of the posse's efforts. As is often the case, when things don't go according to plan, usually dissension and friction develop until members of the posse are at each other's throats. This is not the traditional western many grew up watching, it casts white man in a negative light while the Apache is presented as smart, brave, and ingenious in his cunning. Using the Hookers as an example, we see white man as the savages instead of the "Injuns" often depicted as such.
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Oh a hunting we'll go.
lost-in-limbo28 January 2007
Chato is a half-breed Apache Indian who shoots a sheriff in self-defense while in town and finds himself the target of a head hunting posse led by a former Confederate soldier Quincy Whitmore. They track Chato into his own harsh territory and they soon find that the tables have been turned. As now they're the ones trying to survive, while being picked off one by one by Chato and braving the rough elements of Apache territory.

This was the first feature to bring the pairing of director Michael Winner and actor Charles Bronson together (in which they would go on to make another five films). "Chato's Land" is just like any other Winner exercise. This straightforward western tale comes across as crass and rather offbeat in its mean-spirited tempo and bloodthirsty violence. Thanks mainly to Winner's always daring and hard-boiled direction, which is always more workman-like than glitzy. Direction wise, two solid lead performances (Bronson and Palance) and the intrusive handling of transporting you amongst blistering bone-dry location is what keeps one interested. This is because the efficiently simple cat-and-mouse plot (hunters eventually become the hunted) has very little structure to it and is tied along by airy pockets that can slow up the film's momentum. Within the bold context is a passionately thoughtful, though quite blunt message that you could interpret about the intolerance of racism (just listen to the crude dialogues that the thickly verbose script spits out) and an allegory on the Vietnam War (with the men under-estimating their man on his turf). The characteristics between the hunting party (behavioural changes and the character's turning on each other because of the stressful nature they are put into) are reasonably dynamic, with it sometimes getting rather sidetracked from the central focus of the narrative. The dialogues between them are quite heavy, but on the other side of the coin. Charles Bronson gets very little to say (even using some Indian tongue), but still feels nicely fleshed out and tells the story with simple facial expressions and actions.

When Winner wants to get down and gritty, the elaborately relax pacing is broken up by excitingly sudden short bursts of conflict and the tense finale is perfectly fitting. Even a few surprises are illustrated into the dying half of the picture. The isolated atmosphere of the barren location only adds more to the anxiety created by their situation and there are stunning images captured on screen. The camera-work does get some singular shots interwoven within its sturdy foundation. A vintage sounding music score has that potently loud western twang that drenches the film with the right air. The performances are all particularly good. A terrific Jack Palance gives a classy stable depiction of Quincy Whitmore and Charles Bronson was in ripe condition and form as Chato. Making up the marvellous assemble were James Whitemore, Simon Oakland and Richard Basehart.

A competently well-focused and quite brutal western that in the long run is nothing to get too worked up about. In saying that, it's better than the norm.
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denisa-dellinger27 December 2017
This film would not be made today because it would be considered politically incorrect. I would not normally watch a western like this but because I was at a relatives house, it was his TV so I watched. From the first scene of Charles Bronson quietly standing in a bar having a drink, to the end scene, I could tell this was not your ordinary western. I would call this a psychological exercise that turns morality and motivations of men on its head in the period after the civil war in the old west. With the simple back drop of the barren land of the old west ( which was really shot in Spain) Chato's land becomes one of the main characters of the film. The actors in the film are the heavy weights of old westerns who did an excellent job portraying their characters. Chato led these men into his land and basically let this posse of men battle themselves. It seems that the basest of natures resides in a small place in men's hearts and here we see that nature come to the forefront as they hunt Chato in order to "string him up" for shooting a sheriff in self defense. Just who is the bad guy and who is the good guy is questioned in this film. The fight between good and evil is challenged in this film. I would highly recommend this film. Be prepared to stick it out and look at the film as a study in human nature. If you do that the film can be viewed as both entertaining and an exercise of your brain.
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Underrated 70s classic
peter s-224 July 1999
This movie is more interesting than it's given credit for. The posse has an interesting mix of characters, and careful attention to their motives is well worth it. This movie has more to say than most "serious" movies.
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Go then, and God mark you for the man you are.
Spikeopath15 May 2011
Chato's Land is directed by Michael Winner and written by Gerry Wilson. It stars Charles Bronson, Jack Palance, James Whitmore, Simon Oakland, Richard Baseheart, Ralph Waite and Richard Jordan. Shot on location in Andalucia, Spain, with photography by Robert Paynter, it's musically scored by Jerry Fielding. Plot finds Bronson as half Apache, Pardon Chato, who is forced to kill the local sheriff in self defence and finds himself being hunted by a town posse led by Captain Quicey Whitmore (Palance). However, as the posse trail him into the wilderness it becomes apparent that the tables have been turned, with Chato given further cause to inflict harm upon his pursuers.

The first of six collaborations between Charles Bronson and Michael Winner, Chato's Land finds the pair setting the marker for what would define their work. With the Western genre going thru a resurgence, Chato's Land is very in-keeping with the type of Western that was being released in the early 70's: namely violent, uncompromising and certainly gritty. These things, as history now shows, were tailor made for Winner, who perfectly utilises Bronson's silent and brooding assets to great effect.

Often suspected to be an allegory of the United States' involvement in Vietnam, it's thematically correct in that respect. But the timing of the film would suggest this to not be the case. Chato's Land is more than just a revenge Western; a film about white men out of their usual terrain being pursued by a man of a different ethnicity, it wants to, and does quite well, be a picture dealing in racism, violence and the folly of hypocritical justice. But even tho Wilson's script brings these issues to light, they are not fully formed, with Winner at times dragging the film to a stand-still. However, the group dynamic is a good one, with the inevitable character differences creating a tinderbox waiting to ignite, while Winner doesn't skimp over the violence, puncturing the narrative with savage thrusts.

Bronson was 50 years old when making the film, his physicality here is very impressive. The role of Chato is hardly a stretch for him, in fact it's very much a perfect fit. He's basically asked to be a phantom in the landscape, but he casts an imposing presence each time he's called on to deliver some Chato justice. In pursuit are a mixed bunch of actors, with Palance, Whitmore and Baseheart the obvious professional standouts, while Simon Oakland leaves an indelible mark as grizzled father of the Hooker boys, Jubal. Fielding's (The Wild Bunch) score is efficient, but workmanlike, and Paynter's (Lawman) photography never really makes the landscape as imposing as it should be. Overall it's a mixed bag, but for fans of revenge type Westerns, and Palance, it's easy to recommend, but it still should have been more intelligent than it ultimately is. 7/10
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group of men take on one man, and regret it
helpless_dancer9 April 1999
I loved the theme of this film. A group of mouthy, arrogant, drunken hillbillies go after a man for killing someone in self defense. They are foolish enough to chase him into his own terrain where he has the advantage. One of Bronson's best.
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Director's cut
pmjarriq11 December 2004
It's a good euro western that has aged quite well. The U.S. edition is different from the European one : the rape scene was reshot with no nudity, the burning of Bronson's brother is far more violent and gory, some bloody close ups have been removed. The french DVD issued last year contains the "director's cut" and really is a better one. Same thing for another Michael Winner western from this period : "Lawman" in which the euro version shows more of Sheree North's breasts and much more blood. These are not really "director's cuts" per se, but alternative versions of the same film for different countries. Tarantino recently did that with "Kill Bill".
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Fairly Good For A Winner Film
Theo Robertson15 September 2003
CHATO`S LAND was shown alongside DEATH WISH on BBC1 tonight as a tribute to the late Charles Bronson . To be honest this isn`t much of a tribute down to the simple fact that Bronson has very little dialogue and only a few scenes in a film that concentrates more on the posse than their pray . A far better tribute would have been that Bronson movie that contains the classic line " Put down those melons "

On its own merits CHATO`S LAND is a fairly entertaining and intelligent film featuring a ( White ) posse on the trail of an ( Apache ) fugitive . It`s one of those Vietnam allegories as seen in TOO LATE THE HERO , ULZANA`S RAID and THE CRAZIES . Don`t believe me ? , well check out the scenes with the Mexican being the surrogate South Vietnamese and Ezra Meade a metaphor for the anti war movement and just to hit the audience over the head with the point there`s a sequence of a village being burned to the ground

Michael Winner is hardly the greatest film maker who`s ever lived ( Check out the very obvious day for night filming ) but he does deserve some credit for casting someone who actually looks like an Indian in the title role and it`s not often you see a couple of Scottish characters in a western who give a very , very accurate description of rain soaked Greenock
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Pretty good if not for everybody
TheLittleSongbird21 March 2015
Chato's Land was a pleasant surprise, due to its mixed reception and that the type of film that it falls under is not always my thing I was not expecting an awful lot. But seeing as the cast was a good one on paper I thought, why not? Chato's Land is not going to be for everybody, it's very gritty and violent(some of it being not for the faint-hearted, the most memorable of it actually being very brutal) and Michael Winner's films are the kind that will entertain some and not be others' cup of tea.

The film is a touch overlong and gets a bit draggy in spots, while the ending is rather abrupt and rushed- sure it was intended to be ambiguous but for me there was the feeling of uncertainty of how to end it- and the day-for-night lighting/shooting is awfully obvious. Jerry Fiedler's music score compliments the film well and dynamically orchestrated but could have had a more sweeping punch and with less of a TV series and workmanlike pace. However Chato's Land was a pretty good film, apart from the day-for-night it's reasonably well made with splendidly gritty scenery and handsome photography that suits the atmosphere. Chato's Land is also very intelligently scripted with some remarkably literate dialogue, the direction from Michael Winner is above competent at least pacing and technically-wise and the story mostly is well-paced and compelling.

In terms of action, that in Chato's Land is sparse but when it does appear it really does pack a punch. For an action/Western film, what was really impressive about Chato's Land was the way the characters are written. The characters here are very interesting and with plenty of layers, Captain Whitmore is a very multi-faceted character and perhaps the most multi-faceted role of Jack Palance's career. The great performances help(apart from for my tastes the hammy one of Richard Jordan), Charles Bronson has rarely looked better and brings a real commanding charisma every time he appears, very telling even when not saying very much. James Whitmore, Richard Basehart, Simon Oakland and Ralph Waite give solid support but best of all is Jack Palance, who is superb in one of his better and more layered performances.

Overall, far from perfect and not for everybody's tastebuds but a pretty good film. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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A unique type of film.
Bobster366 April 2008
I enjoy this movie. In 1971, director Michael Winner and writer Gerald Wilson combined for Lawman, in which Burt Lancaster's Marshal Maddox hunts down a group of men. In 1972, Winner and Wilson again paired for Chato's Land, in which Charles Bronson's Chato hunts down a group of men. Ralph Waite, Richard Jordan and William Watson were among the unfortunates in both films.

Both are good films. But what is unique about Chato's Land is that the movie is carried almost entirely by the supporting cast. Though billed as a Charles Bronson movie, Bronson's role is actually quite small. He has very few lines and is seldom even seen. We know the posse is being stalked by a generally unseen Apache. In the few scenes where that Apache is on camera, it is Bronson. But that role could even have been played by an unknown actor without affecting the quality of the movie.

In actuality, the movie is about the posse. The lead roles are Jack Palance and Simon Oakland. The principal supporting roles are played by Ralph Waite, James Whitmore, and Richard Jordan. The posse also includes familiar faces in Richard Basehart and Victor French. The personalities of the posse are well drawn out. The movie is essentially about what happens to them as they go from hunters to hunted. The actions of some of the posse members when they attack a woman are horrible. The others are at fault for not stopping it, even though it disgusted them. All paid a price.

Some are evil, some are noble, some are weak. Palance's character is interesting. He is a respected former confederate officer who assumes command of the posse but slowly comes to realize he has no control over these civilians and watches helplessly as things disintegrate around him. Oakland's character is the most vile, violent of the group. He seems to endorse Palance as the posse's leader only as long as things are done as he wants. And it is interesting when Palance quietly realizes that it is actually Oakland, and not himself, who is the real leader of the posse, at which time he avoids a confrontation and continues to act as the posse's leader by doing what he knows Oakland wants him to do. It is a well crafted script.

Bronson is on screen only enough to remind us that he is in the film. Had the movie been accurately billed as a film starring Jack Palance and Simon Oakland, with Bronson in a small role, few would have paid to see it. Which would have been unfortunate because it's a good movie.
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Man walks in to a bar...
Ed-Shullivan17 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
It may sound cliché but this is how this western starts. Charles Bronson plays Chato, an Apache Indian who captures and breaks wild horses with one other Indian, to eke out a living for himself, his wife and his young son. Chato's is a simple life, living off the land deep in the Apache territory and only coming in town by himself to receive payment for the horses he breaks for the white man.

Obviously there is racism for the red Indian, and in this case the local sheriff does not take kindly to an Indian expecting to get a drink in the local town's saloon. When the sheriff tells Chato to leave or be killed on the spot, a gunfight ensues and the sheriff is left dead as a door nail. So a large posse of cowboys is gathered each with their own purpose for chasing Chato, with a posse's mind set and intent to just hang another worthless wild Indian. Chato on the other hand is more intrigued by the posse chasing him than he is worried about what they would do to him if they ever caught him and he shows no sign of fear. As the chase begins, we see Chato just wants to have a little fun with the dumb cowboys who are out of their element in Apache territory.

Very quickly though the fun turns ugly when the posse stumbles upon Chato's own farm. The wild and uncontrollable animals that some of the posse are leads them to gang rape Chato's wife and hog tie her to a post outside so that Chato will have no choice but to come in to the open to rescue his wife. For good measure the posse also hangs Chato's Apache farm hand upside down and they burn his body at the stake.

The director Michael Winner puts together a terrific film, supported by first class actors such as Jack Palance, Simon Oakland, Ralph Waite, and James Whitmore, who are all members of the posse chasing Chato. If you are a Charles Bronson fan as I am, then this is Bronson at his very best. Chato is a quiet and unassuming Apache Indian, whose actions speak much louder than his words. In fact in this film Chato says more in his native Apache tongue to the audience then he does in English. One by one Chato seeks and gains his revenge, and as all wild animals usually do, the posse also start to turn on one another when things don't go the way they expected it would turn out. As James Whitmore states to the posse leader Jack Palance, during one particular scene while out in the wilderness, "I have an awful feeling Quincey that this hunt is not going to end well. We should turn around and head back while we can".

One by one we want to see how Chato will seek his revenge on the posse who killed his farm hand by burning him to death, and who gang raped his wife. No longer is this fun for Chato, but Chato is all business as he does in fact complete his systematic revenge. This is a great western without any computer graphic interface(CGI) effects that are so common today. No, this 1972 classic western directed superbly by Michael Winner relies on a good story line, a cast of great actors, and some wide open spaces to get you in the mood for a western that will always be considered one of Charles Bronson's best performances.

No wonder than that director Michael Winner went on to direct Charles Bronson in the block buster films that followed such as the Mechanic, and Death Wish 1 & 2. Yup, they don't make westerns like this one anymore. Too Bad. I gave it an 8 out of 10 rating.
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"All we got here is a handful of nothing."
Hey_Sweden12 August 2017
What we have here is a generally compelling, viscerally effective Western drama, the first of six teamings between actor Charles Bronson and filmmaker Michael Winner. Written by Gerald Wilson, it spins the yarn of Pardon Chato (Bronson), a half-Apache man who guns down a bigoted sheriff in self defense. A character named Quincey Whitmore (a rock solid Jack Palance) gets together a fairly large posse to hunt Chato down, but they are led into forbidding territory where their quarry seems to hold all the cards.

Fear, ignorance, lust, and hatred rear their ugly heads in "Chato's Land", as good as any an examination of the poor attitudes that white men harbored towards Indians. Quincey is a lone dissenting voice; even while taking the mission seriously, he at least has respect for, and some understanding of, the man his team is hunting. Unfortunately, among this group we have the Hooker family, consisting of a horny creep, Earl (Richard Jordan), and a thoroughly racist heel (Simon Oakland), who ends up wanting revenge.

Winner assembles here a very fine male ensemble (the kind of thing that Walter Hill would end up doing so well several years later), one in which women have not much of a role to play. (Sadly, the one woman who does, Chato's girl (Sonia Rangan), is molested and left tied up in the nude to serve as bait.) The cast features very reliable stars and character actors. Bronson offers one of his most stoic and mystical roles. He has VERY little dialogue to utter. Palance and Oakland are standouts; also co-starring are James Whitmore, Richard Basehart, Ralph Waite, Victor French, William Watson, Roddy McMillan, Paul Young, and Raul Castro.

Excellent music by Jerry Fielding and vibrant photography also help to make this good entertainment. Be warned, however: it does get rather grim, racking up a large body count by the time it has finished.

Seven out of 10.
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Grim Allegorical Western.
AaronCapenBanner7 September 2013
Charles Bronson plays Chato a half-breed(as they used to say) Apache/White, who finds himself a hunted man when he kills a racist sheriff in a saloon. Despite it being an obvious case of self defense, the townspeople form a posse led by former confederate Quincey Whitmore(Jack Palance, well cast) who seems excited about being in a leadership position again. They pursue Chato into his territory in the mountains, only to discover that they have vastly underestimated him, and that he is determined to get rid of them in any way he can...

Charles Bronson is not given much dialogue here, but is in amazingly good shape, as he is seen shirtless for the film's duration. The posse are shown to be either ignorant and hateful, or just in over their heads. Sympathy is clearly for Chato, who was wronged, but is also quite ruthless himself(justified though.) Allegorical to Vietnam in the sense of a group of Americans thinking their quarry an ignorant savage, but learn that it was foolhardy to pursue him on his own ground.

Though quite grim, it is realistic; Bronson has incredible screen presence, and director Michael Winner presents this story in taut fashion, with a striking ending.
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Cynical British Western attacks US Patriarchy.
grift22 November 1998
After virtually inaugurating the British Western with 1970's "Lawman", director Michael Winner returned to the quintessential American genre in 1971, for this film, again scripted by Gerald Wilson. Wilson would be the scripter for many of the director's 1970s films. For "Chato's Land", they managed to attract star Charles Bronson, in the decade of his peak popularity. Winner and Bronson would work together many times over the next 15 years, most notably perhaps for "Death Wish".

The intention of this Western was to debunk the genre's notion of the validity of the social compact upon which social order is founded: ie. Patriarchy. Winner showed law and justice as emerging out of pettiness and boredom instead of any greater good. Thus, the traditional cowboy hero, and lawman, was a mere sadistic thug, with Indian Bronson being Winner's noble savage, using what Winner suggests is an innate violence to protect himself and his property. In that respect, one can see the influence of Sam Peckinpah.

Winner depicts Patriarchal codes as revealing only the base, bestial nature of man. And he does so with a gleeful relish that borders on sensationalism. Thus, the scaled to essentials plot of a Posse chasing down a renegade Indian, is a vehicle for the bitter condemnation of the American heritage. The brutality of both sides makes the film an intriguing companion piece of sorts to Robert Aldrich's much praised Vietnam allegory "Ulzana's Raid" which was released about the same time. However, it is unlikely that Winner will ever be accorded the same status as Aldrich.

To Winner, cinema is inherently sensationalist, and he lingers on every unpleasant detail with lurid and distorted angles. Justice is a concept here equated, much as in Aldrich's film, with a sport, a hunt and kind of boy's night out with the guns. But, further than that, Winner suggests that justice is ironically based on the need to counter or indulge man's inherently brutal nature, prone to sadism and revenge. It is an amoral and cynical film wherein Winner takes the themes of his previous Western, about a man obsessed with the law to the point where he becomes a danger, and shuffles them in favour of the outlaw. Jack Palance's vile lawman in "Chato's Land" is the end result of Burt Lancaster's character in "Lawman". Justice is personalized and twisted into violent expression.

This film, like most Michael Winner films, has very little critical reputation behind it, but has a stark, raw quality that borders on the exploitational. What is perhaps disturbing is the humour with which violence, especially sexual violence, is treated by Winner,who seeks to make the audience participate in such violation, but not for moral aims: just for kicks.
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