A gang of killers are roaming around the Wild West scalping Indians and selling their skins. When they scalp a sexy squaw, her boyfriend, Navajo Joe (Burt Reynolds) goes out for revenge. Joe gets involved with a small town that’s being menaced by the gang and agrees to kill them. The only catch is that he wants the town to make him sheriff first.
The western action in Navajo Joe isn’t anything you haven’t already seen in hundreds of comparable oaters. The flick also gets bogged down whenever it follows the bandits, none of whom are particularly menacing. Still, there are a couple of spikes of coolness that help the flick rise above the mediocrity.
There is a good scene where a dancehall dame gets murdered. She learns that a prominent member of the community is in cahoots with the villains and they shoot her. She starts slipping in and out of consciousness and when she finally comes to; she looks up and sees the town doctor. Turns out that the doctor is the traitor and he’s holding a very sharp scalpel. Then there’s the fun moment when Joe appoints himself sheriff. When the old sheriff objects, Joe says, “My father was born here, as was his father and his father before him. Where was your father born?” The sheriff says “
The flick also has the benefit of a good score by none other than Ennio Morricone. I really liked the theme song that just basically says “Navajo Joe” over and over again. The suspenseful music in the film has been used by Quentin Tarantino in a number of his movies.
Reynolds delivers a fine performance although he’s never really given a chance to become a fully fleshed out character. Burt is the kind of guy that you’d rather see coasting on his familiar persona than actually “act”, so you’ll be disappointed to know that he doesn’t do the patented Burt laugh in this one. He’s still cool enough for me to grant this film a marginal recommendation.
A young Ruggero (Cannibal Holocaust) Deodato was an assistant director.
AKA: Navajo’s Land. AKA: Red Fighter. AKA: