Taras Bulba

Director: J. Lee Thompson
Year Released: 1962
Rating: 1.0

The "proud" Cossacks, when not ravaging Woody Allen's grandmother, get beaten down by the Poles (after fighting the Turks) and lose control of their territory in what's now Ukraine - there to vow revenge is the title patriarch (Yul Brynner), who sends his sons Andrei (Tony Curtis) and Ostap (Perry Lopez) to study at a school in Kiev and, upon their return, invades the city of Dubno. While I never read the Gogol novella, I can't imagine it comes across as hammy and creaky as this does, in which Brynner chews up the foliage and everyone seems like a caricature of 'masculinity': vodka chugging, fathers punching (and later killing) sons (feats of strength!), jumping horses over a ravine, etc. ... there's only one female of significance in this, Andrei's love interest (and a Pole) Natalia (Christine Kaufmann), and she just has to pose and look innocent (naturally, she's almost burned to death). If you enjoy watching equines gallop and kick up dust, this is the extravaganza for you!