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Some say Taza did not exist. He did.


TAZA, SON OF COCHISE delivers on its promise. This is 3-D as I have never experienced it.

TAZA, SON OF COCHISE (1954) was director Douglas Sirk’s favorite of his American films I learned from Jon Halliday’s SIRK ON SIRK.

There are a number of reasons why this should be so.


The first is that Sirk left Hitler’s Germany because his wife was Jewish. Jews in Germany, like Native Americans in America, were viewed as sub-humans to be eradicated. Years ago in a missionary’s diary I read, “In the way they care for their children we would think Indians almost human.” Sirk’s son stayed in Germany where he joined the Nazi army. He died during the war. In the film Sirk’s son is mirrored in Taza’s brother, Naiche. To be fair, there are Jews who view non-Jews as sub-human just as among all the twigs on the tree of humanity there are those who view the rest of us as outcasts, sub-humans. PURE FLIX testifies to that. The best see not the twig but the tree.

Taza sees the tree.

He also knows his people are vastly outnumbered, that his people must learn to live with the invaders.

Sirk had always wanted to make a western some write forgetting that he had already made one, 1953’s TAKE ME TO TOWN, his first with producer Ross Hunter and Hunter’s first.

Sirk, I learned, saw Rock Hudson as a son. That adds another element to “the other.”

Hudson was openly homosexual. The public was largely unaware of that. The important thing is that Hudson, himself, knew what it is to be able to pass while also carrying the weight of knowing if the truth came out he would be viewed as a pariah. That is a recurring theme in Sirk’s film. It is the theme of his last American film, IMITATION OF LIFE.

I can find a lot of reasons why this film was at the top of Sirk’s list.

I think the main one was that the studio told him to make the film in 3-D.

I don’t get that from David Del Valle and C. Courtney Joyner’s commentary. From them I get the reverse. They are largely blind to the virtues of 3-D. They reflect the common critical thread. They speak of 3-D as a “gimmick” imposed on Sirk. I don’t think anyone ever imposed on Sirk. Like Taza he knew the best way to accept and move forward.

Sirk added Mahalia Jackson to IMITATION OF LIFE. Her part was not in the script. More than a few, deaf to the beauty and power of her voice, said to Sirk, “Why did you put that big, ugly woman in your film.”

IMITATION OF LIFE drove home to me when I saw it at 13 in New Brunswick, Canada that one day my mother and father would die. I was lying in bed unable to sleep. Reflecting I might not be there when my mom died I went downstairs and gave her a hug. The result of that was that she cut me off horror and science fiction movies. Good thing as when my Mom died I was not there.

Sirk hit powerful truths in all his films including this one.

Watching “Behind the Mirror – A Profile of Douglas Sirk” I learned that a primary influence on Sirk—probably THE primary influence as it is with all of us—was the films he saw growing up in as a kid Germany for Sirk’s describes himself as an Expressionist and notes his use of the bold primary colors over the softer pastels.

Expressionism is a movement in the arts that began in Berlin after Word War I. It highlighted an artist’s emotional reaction to objects and events, the expression of individual freedom, the use of rectangular shapes and the bold use of primary colors. All of this I see in TAZA, SON OF COCHISE which is about the loss of freedom by a people forced to be herded into camps. It is about a people facing extinction. Both America and Canada embraced policies designed to eradicate the peoples native to this continent. In fact, the Nazis modeled their plans to liquidate Gypsies, homosexuals, Jews and others on our plans to liquidate our native people. God, that’s a hideous word, “liquidate.”

3-D lends gravitas, emotional weight. In TAZA I not only see the beauty of Monument Valley, I feel it.

3-D properly used in the hands of an artist bring a gravitas, an emotional weight to the screen which a flat 2-D image cannot.

TAZA, SON OF COCHISE is presented in 3-D Blu-ray in side by side 3-D meant to be seen with polarized or shutter glasses. I use big screen projection and shutter glasses.

This special red and blue anaglyph working of the previous image demonstrates how Sirk consciously uses 3-D throughout TAZA to pull me in, to involve me emotionally in his film.

Viewing TAZA in 3-D I constantly find myself being pulled into the screen. This is deliberate on Sirk’s part. He does not want us to be a detached viewer like an SS Guard witnessing brutality. He means to get us involved. With me he succeeds.

Part, a large part, of the reason he succeeds is the remarkable photography of Russell Metty (SPARTACUS) who had the use of not one but two 3-D Cameras including one that allowed greater sophistication in its use than heretofore possible. 3-D Expert Mike Ballew fills us in on this in his excellent commentary (which is separate from the main commentary). There is also a first rate profile on the technical aspects of the 3-D filming on the 3-D FILM ARCHIVE site. The ads promised “3-D WORTH WAITING FOR!” That statement is not hyperbole. Universal and director Douglas Sirk deliver.

What I see in TAZA is an expressionist use of 3-D for the first and, perhaps, only time in the history of the cinema.

THE 3-D FILM ARCHIVES’ magnificent obsession is to restore to public view as many classic 3-D motion pictures as possible. By that, I mean EVERYTHING they can including 3-D Nudies. They are rightful heirs to the legacy of Henri Langlois, founder with Claude Chabrol of THE PARIS CINEMATHEQUE.

Salvador Dali and Picasso declared, “It is good taste not bad taste which is the enemy.” Said Langlois, “One must save everything and buy everything. Never assume you know what’s of value.

I’m with him. So too is THE 3D FILM ARCHIVE.

In “BEHIND THE MIRROR” Sirk states that while at this period we got art films from Europe we did not get them from America. He adds, “However American film has a vitality totally lacking in European film. I’m in favour of vitality.”

Part, a large part of the spirit of vitality is being open to the new.

The attitude towards 3-D in the commentary is blasé.

Oscar Hammerstein III put it wonderfully when he stated, “Being knowing and blasé is the sign of a very unsophisticated person.  The most sophisticated thing one person can say to another is, ‘I know nothing about that. Please tell me.'”

I’m not saying the commentary track is not worthwhile, it is.

It took German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder to wake the world up to Douglas Sirk. People outside always see more clearly than people inside. They tend also to care more deeply. Before Fassbinder Sirk, like 3-D, was dismissed.

There was/is a 3D DVD version available of TAZA from Sensio. That version is in regular aspect. Nothing was done to restore the film. It was produced as economically as possible. I thought until I saw this version this week it looked great.

From Greg Kintz, who directed the 3-D Restoration of TAZA: “The misalignment in Tazza was considerably less then (in Universal’s previous films) IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE and REVENGE OF THE CREATURE . There were a few times where the errors in Taza were considerable, but those were more isolated in their occurrences. Much more than vertical misalignment, our biggest problem with Tazza was very severe fading between the left and right elements especially on the opticals.”

Robert Furmanek: “Many people don’t understand the incredibly difficult issue of restoring color to faded elements. I always make the analogy that some people understand about taking a faded image into Photoshop and trying to bring back color. It’s no different than working with a movie that is severely faded. There’s a great deal of dupe elements in the optical masters on Taza and those were absolutely toast color wise.”

What Robert Furmanek, Greg Kintz and Thad Komorowski, Hillary Hess, Austin Quintana and Mike Ballew have given us in TAZA, SON OF COCHISE is nothing less than a miracle.

We see the film as Douglas Sirk  designed/painted it.

We see it better than anyone has been able to see it before.

I can’t invite you by THE CINEFORUM to see TAZA until the pandemic passes which, realistically, means probably three years from now.

I did a lot of research for this piece. More than I can share now so I will be posting further pieces. For example, some writers state the historical Taza is a fiction. Nope. There really was a Taza. And a Naiche.

Conventional attitudes towards 3-D Film making result in 2.5 3-D, 3-D that feels and looks emotionally flat.

Douglas Sirk in creating TAZA fashioned a film that rightly shatters those conventions. That is what artists do. They shatter the rules. I have a piece coming up on that.

Rock Hudson had appeared in a 3-D movie before TAZA. GUN FURY (1953) directed by his first champion, Raoul Walsh who, like Andre de Toth, had one eye. He could not see in 3-D. That did not stop De Toth from being a great 3-D film maker. It did not hinder Raoul Walsh. Hudson disparaged his 3-D films. We, most of all, are blind to the value of what we do. Jeff Chandler did a superb job impersonating Cochise in BROKEN ARROW (1950) and THE BATTLE AT APACHE PASS (1952). For a few moments (and a hefty $1,000.00) he passes the torch here to Rock Hudson as Taza who ably carries it.

People who like westerns don’t give TAZA much praise. It is not like the “oaters” they like. That is not a bad thing.

Right now I want to thank THE 3-D FILM ARCHIVE. Their magnificent obsession has resulted in a magnificent restoration. Douglas Sirk is proudly done, His favorite film can at last be seen as he painted it. It is an Expressionist masterpiece.

You can order it direct from Kino Lorber: . It is available in 2D as well as 3-D. The price is right.

Speaking of Kino Lorber, they deserve a huge thank you.

Bob Furmanek found no support from Criterion And others for the work of THE 3-D FILM ARCHIVE. Thankfully he has found enormous support from KINO LORBER.

Posterity owes a huge debt to Kino Lorber.

It once was we could only see these films fleetingly on screens in film museums.

Now they are out of the museums and in our homes.

We are living in a golden age of film restoration and preservation.

Stay home. Stay safe. Watch TAZA SON OF COCHISE.

As for those who wonder why Sirk used 3-D in this film, well, the answer to that is the same as the answer to why he used Mahalia Jackson. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In the eye of Douglas Sirk both Jackson and 3-D are supremely beautiful.

—Reg Hartt 2020—05—10.

Rock Hudson starred in two 3-D movies. Vincent Price starred in four. Which actor starred in the most 3-D movies? Answer Monday.

Taza, Son of Cochise (1954)
Directed by Douglas Sirk
Shown on left: Rock Hudson







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