Vital Signs

Horse Plays

Ulzana's Raid
Produced by Carter De Haven
Directed by Robert Aldrich
Written by Alan Sharp
Released by Universal, 1972

Dances With Wolves
Produced by Jim Wilson and Kevin Costner
Directed by Kevin Costner
Written by Michael Blake
Released by Orion, 1990

No, I haven't lost my mind, or at least that's what I choose to believe. But this hasn't been a terrific month for movie-viewing, and I saw a neat flick on American Movie Classics, a 20-year-old Western I'd never heard of, called Ulzana's Raid. Smart, tough, funny, it was all the things that Dances With Wolves wasn't. And I'd been thinking of the latter picture, because I watched the Oscar presentations (broadcast from a planet in some ways much like our own) and I saw Richard Gere perform an act of self-parody of such extravagance that I was disappointed afterwards when he didn't pull off his rubber mask and turn out to be Billy Crystal in yet another madcap prank. Gere, you will recall, thought we should broadcast waves of love to the Chinese communists that would cause them to slap their foreheads, realize that they have really been unpleasant to Tibet, and then, presumably, mend their ways. He never took his face off, and, indeed, in the New York Times of mid-April, either he or someone with...

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