18 March 2008 | bkoganbing
Civilization By Leaps And Creeps
The Last Frontier is a Civil War era west taking place in the Wyoming Territory one of the last refuges of that hardy, but shrinking group of men known as the mountain men. The Civil War has given a temporary stay of execution to their way of life, but the end is most assuredly coming.
The point is graphically brought home to trappers Victor Mature, James Whitmore, and Pat Hogan when the Sioux under Red Cloud relieve them of their possessions and work. The Sioux don't mind the mountain men, but don't like what they see with the army building forts in the territory. Go seek refuge with the white soldiers.
When they do seek it, temporary commander Guy Madison welcomes the trio to the fort even with Pat Hogan being an Indian himself and offers them work as scouts. They accept, but when spit and polish commander Robert Preston shows up they wish they hadn't, especially Mature.
Preston is a glory hunter with a beautiful wife he's also trying to make a big show for in the person of Anne Bancroft. He makes Henry Fonda's colonel in Fort Apache seem warm and fuzzy by comparison. His is the best performance in the film.
Mature unfortunately has had too little experience with civilization in his life. He just sees Anne Bancroft and it's the testosterone taking over at that point. His character is a harbinger of what we would see later on in Clint Eastwood films though Mature is more loquacious.
The Last Frontier boasts some nice location cinematography and a well staged final battle scene. Unfortunately the 180 degree turn in Victor Mature's character proves ultimately a bit much for me to swallow.