Blu-ray Review: Taza, Son of Cochise | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, June 4th, 2020  

Taza, Son of Cochise

Studio: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

May 21, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

There are three names here that should at least get any fan of ‘50s Hollywood cinema to raise an ear: Douglas Sirk, Rock Hudson, and Technicolor. Together, those three factors resulted in a trio of gorgeous, subversive, and delightful melodramas—Magnificent Obsession, All That Heaven Allows, and Written on the Wind—that have a devout fan base. This particular writer will defend All That Heaven Allows as one of the most magical examples of Technicolor out there, and count it among one of my all-time favorite movies. Sirk and Hudson made a handful of other movies together, but they don’t come up nearly as often as the three melodramas mentioned—whether it’s in film discussions, or home video reissues. When a label dives into the second tier of their collaborations (or a film gets a rare, early AM programming on TCM) I can’t help but tune in—even when knowing, from reputation, the movie doesn’t live up to the same, lofty standards.

Well, lessons learned. Fans of Sirk’s monumental melodramas are bound to be disappointed by Taza, Son of Cochise, which was the film that immediately preceded Magnificent Obsession for both of them. The movie is a meandering Western that feels long despite its brief, 79-minute runtime. As the title suggest, Hudson himself plays the son of legendary Apache leader Cochise. He’s painted up brown, and looks ridiculous—yes, it’s incredibly problematic, and as dumb-looking as it is offensive, but those were the times. Get past that, and the storyline follows Taza as he takes lead of his tribe following his father’s death, has a falling out with his brother, moves his people onto a reservation, and then reluctantly goes to war with the evil Geronimo’s forces. Taza is a very passive hero, barely putting up a fight before being forced into action over and over again. I can’t recall how many scenes in the film involved Taza being woken up to be told something happened while he was sleeping, but it felt like there were at least ten of them.

Worse yet, much of the film is uglier than you’d ever think Sirk would be capable of. This is no fault of the transfer from Kino Lorber, which is crisp and colorful where the film provides that, but because large chunks of the movie are shot day-for-night, with characters running around in murky conditions where it’s hard to make out much detail or action. You also have to give Sirk the benefit of the doubt, and assume that the movie’s dual camera set-up for the 3D effects was too unwieldy to make feasible any even slightly interesting camera angles. Weather problems, too, plagued the crew at Arches National Park, which offered them far from optimal shooting conditions.

Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray offers both the 3D and 2D versions, and full disclosure here: I was only able to view the 2D version. There are two pretty action-packed battles in the film, with lots of arrows, spears, and rocks being thrown toward the camera. Even many of the non-action scenes are framed with tree branches or other objects in the foreground, so you have to presume the film gives the audience plenty to pop out at them as the film creeps from one scene to the next.

Thankfully, this Blu-ray release offers two nice bonus features in the form of a commentary by David Del Valle and C. Courtney Joyner which discusses the film and where it fell into each of its famous contributors’ filmographies, and a narrated slideshow by Mike Ballew that goes into great detail about Taza’s place in 3D movie history. These are both very welcome additions to the disc, considering the movie is far more interesting for its cinematic and technical history than its actual content. They’ll be appreciated by any big fans of Sirk/Hudson who, like me, can’t help themselves despite being warned.



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