Western, Action, Drama | 98 mins | Released: 1973
Director: John Sturges
Starring: Charles Bronson, Jill Ireland, Marcel Bozzuffi, Vincent Van Patten, Fausto Tozzi, Ettore Manni, Corrado Gaipa
Our Rating: 6
Chino Valdez (Bronson) is a lonely horse breeder, whose life is thrown into turmoil when a young runaway (Van Patten) turns up at his door looking for work and, later, he falls in love with a beautiful woman (Ireland) whose brother (Bozzuffi) hates him.
Chino (Italian: Valdez, il mezzosangue, UK theatrical title: Valdez the Half Breed) is a 1973 Italian Western film starring Charles Bronson, Jill Ireland, Marcel Bozzuffi and Vincent Van Patten. The original English language title shown at the beginning of the film was The Valdez Horses, the same title that the novel on which the movie is based. It was an Italian-Spanish-French co-production filmed in Spain, with Italian and French funding.
Time Out magazine said of the film, “Bronson suffers from galloping symbolism as Valdez, a wild horse-taming Mexican halfbreed representing different things to different people. Overall, he is the mustang, caught in a wild West which is being tamed and fenced in by white settlers… Despite a few dodgy moments when one really fears for Valdez’ co-optability by Ireland’s well-kept fragility, the film maintains its contradictory stance right through to a bitter-sweet ending. Valdez leaves, sans wife, sans house, but on his own terms, and after ensuring that if he can’t tame the wild horses no one else will.”
This movie was the first film of a three picture contract that star Charles Bronson had with producer Dino De Laurentiis. The second and third movies of this three picture deal were The Stone Killer (1973) and The White Buffalo (1977). Bronson’s earlier film for de Laurentiis, The Valachi Papers (1972) was a single-movie contract. During the 1960s, Bronson had also appeared in Battle of the Bulge (1965) for de Laurentiis.
This Charles Bronson western followed only about a year after his western Chato’s Land (1972) where his character had a similar name. Bronson was called Chino in this film and Chato in the earlier film.
This film’s source novel ‘The Valdez Horses’ by Lee Hoffman won the Western Writers of America Spur Award in 1967.
Final western of director John Sturges.
This film is one of Charles Bronson’s 70s westerns. His westerns made during the 1970s include Chino (1973), Red Sun (1971), Chato’s Land (1972), From Noon Till Three (1976), Breakheart Pass (1975) and The White Buffalo (1977).
The meaning and relevance of this movie’s ‘Chino’ title is that Chino refers to the first name of the central character, Chino Valdez, played by Charles Bronson. The title ‘Valdez, the Halfbreed’ refers to this character’s mixed Native American Indian / white European genealogy. Moreover, the title ‘The Valdez Horses’ refers to Chino’s equine herd that he tames, breeds and trains.
Paramount Studios originally intended to theatrically release this movie in the USA under the title ‘The Wild Horses’.
Charles Bronson was about fifty-one years of age when he appeared in this movie.
Jill Ireland’s character is known as Catherine on the USA release prints but on other versions of this film, Ireland is called Louise.
Lino Ventura was originally set to play the character of Maral. This would have re-teamed Ventura with Charles Bronson, the two had both starred in the earlier The Valachi Papers (1972). However, due to the part being a supporting role, Ventura withdrew and was replaced by Marcel Bozzuffi.
First released in Europe around September 1973, this movie didn’t open in the USA until 1976.
Fifth and final movie that star actor Charles Bronson made with director John Sturges. The earlier pictures included The People Against O’Hara (1951), Never So Few (1959), The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Great Escape (1963), the latter two considered two great classics of cinema.
Appearing in this movie as Maral, Marcel Bozzuffi once dubbed this movie’s star Charles Bronson on French release prints of Bronson’s Machine-Gun Kelly (1958) when released in France during 1963.
Second consecutive movie that was a western for director John Sturges. His previous picture had been the western Joe Kidd (1972) starring Clint Eastwood.
Set in New Mexico, USA, this movie was actually filmed in Almería, Andalucía, Spain.
American prints in the USA credit John Sturges as a producer and a director on this picture but at least some foreign releases only credit Duilio Coletti as producer.
This movie was made and released about six years after its source Lee Hoffman novel ‘The Valdez Horses’ was first published in 1967.
West German and Dutch theatrical release prints of this film soley credit Duilio Coletti as director with no billing for John Sturges as director.
Along with Cold Sweat (1970) and Someone Behind the Door (1971), this has been the most widely available Charles Bronson movie on home video-cassette and DVD.
One poster for this movie shows a drawing of a bare-chested Charles Bronson tied with upraised arms to a T-shaped whipping post. This differs from the scene in the movie in which Bronson is whipped while hanging suspended by his wrists from an overhead crossbeam. While two separate whipping scenes may have been shot (and one discarded), a more likely explanation is that the artist designing an early version of the “Chino” poster had not seen the actual movie and was only working from incomplete or misleading script notes.