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Chuka
IMDB Rating: 6.3/10 from 499 votes
Release: 23 July 1967 (USA) /

Chuka

Genre: Action, Drama, Western
Director: Gordon Douglas,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: While Indians besiege a U.S. Army fort in 1876, residents of the fort a gunfighter, a stagecoach driver, two Mexican women, and a motley company of soldiers try to come to terms with their pasts.

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Critic Reviews


Just recently I found a video store in New Haven County where fine old westerns can be had on VHS. One of the ones I had long wanted to see was "CHUKA" or Chuka: the Gunfighter, from 1967.

The video transfer was high quality and so watching this movie on tape was an enjoyable experience. Luciana Paluzzi is stunningly beautiful.

Indeed, Chuka is something of a Hollywood fantasy but the tone and the settings of the story are fairly well done.

Both Paluzzi and her niece, played by Victoria Vetri ( as Angela Dorian ), do very well in this western oddity. Ernest Borgnine is good as ever, at being Ernest Borgnine. Rod Taylor was also very good and very believable as the cowpuncher turned hardened hired killer.

The most interesting part of the story was about how Fort Clendennon became a dumping ground for misfits, rejects, and bad officers. This is a well-known but seldom portrayed part of the truth of how the U.S. Army operated in the late 1870's. It is true that in this fiction, many of the soldiers and civilians seem to be just a little too clean for that day and age, but it doesn't really detract from the rapid pace of the events in this drama.

Additionally, the extreme deprivation imposed on the Arapaho tribal nation by the Army at this time is another important element. The "injuns" are rather cartoonish in their depictions but at least some aspects of their true grievances are relayed in the plot.

Perhaps this Chuka -- pronounced Chuck-Uh -- is a lot more savvy than circumstances in that day and age might have permitted, but Rod Taylor does really well at being fast-as-lightning and very tough.

This film gets a vote of 7 from me, which was really a six with a kicker for the beautiful Vetri and the beautiful Paluzzi.

Many of the better westerns have been good about presenting the Mexican culture of that time in a favorable light, and this is one of them, and neither Vetri nor Paluzzi appear as simply being "eye candy" for a rough-and-tumble western. The dinner sequence where Colonel Valois rakes his officers over the coals and embarrasses them all is a piece-de-resistance in western drama. Other elements are not so convincing but this is fun way to see a good western drama from a by-gone era of movie making.

Chuka derives its power from the high quality of the story on which it is based. I can recommend it heartily for western fans, for Victoria Vetri fans, and for Rod Taylor's excellent, dynamic performance.

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