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Ele, My Friend

Ele, My Friend
In 1920s India, a young boy named Charles befriends a baby Indian elephant that he names Ele. Their friendship is tested when Charles must save his friend Ele from hunters.
Title Ele, My Friend
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John Chard
Whose shoes would you rather be in? The Ride Back is directed by Allen H. Miner and written by Antony Ellis. It stars Anthony Quinn, William Conrad and Lita Milan. Music is by Frank De Vol and cinematography by Joseph Biroc. Sheriff Chris Hamish (Conrad) tries to extradite popular gunfighter Bob Kallen (Quinn) from Mexico to stand trial for murder in Scottsville, Texas. A good and meaty psychological Western that is more interested in exploring the two main characters than merely portraying a good versus bad parable. The sheriff and the gunfighter must travel through dangerous Apache territory and quickly find themselves up against the odds. As the two men continue onwards they naturally bicker and Kallen obviously wants to escape, but surely they must work together to survive? As they learn about each other and come across a dreadful scene that finds them in the company of an orphan girl, the film plays its hand as the characterisations switch in tone. It's a very understated picture, sombre in mood in spite of the beautiful outdoor locales. Dialogue is sparse so there's no pointless filler, while the Apache threat is not forced, we only get glimpses of them and they become more threatening by just being ghosts out in the terrain. Conrad and Quinn make for a good polar opposites pairing, the black and white photography of Biroc (Run of the Arrow/Forty Guns) is crisp and tight to the mood of the narrative and Miner (being overseen by Robert Aldrich) directs in an unfussy manner. Actor Eddie Albert warbles the title song. As a formula it has been done better elsewhere, as with 3:10 to Yuma released the same year, but this is a better than average entry into the psychological Western pantheon and it deserves to be better known. 7/10

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