The Trackers (1971) / Western
aka No Trumpets, No Drums
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG-13 for violence and adult themes
Running Time: 73 min.
Cast: Sammy Davis, Jr., Ernest Borgnine, Norman Alden, Jim Davis, Julie Adams, Caleb Brooks, Connie Kreski, Arthur Hunnicutt, Leo Gordon, David Renard, William Katt
Director: Earl Bellamy
Screenplay: Gerald Gaiser
Review published December 15, 2004
Ernest Borgnine (Gattaca, The Wild Bunch) plays Sam Paxton, a Texas rancher who comes home one day to find his son dead and his daughter missing, and the only clue as to the perpetrator comes in the form of an Apache who makes a hasty getaway. He rounds up a posse and anxiously awaits help from the U.S. Marshalís office for assistance from the best tracker he knows. However, the tracker of a different sort arrives in the form of headstrong Ezekiel Smith (Sammy Davis Jr., Cannonball Run), who in addition to not being the person expected is also a Black man, and not exactly welcome in these parts. Together, they find themselves allied by necessity, crossing the border into Mexico to face dangers at every turn, including the murderous thugs who have abducted Samís daughter.
Co-produced (and co-written) by Sammy Davis Jr. himself, in collaboration with TV mega-producer Aaron Spelling, The Trackers is a made-for-television Western that sports some credible actors, and a relatively good storyline, although it borrows somewhat from John Fordís The Searchers. Today's viewers might see this as a precursor, and perhaps even a strong influence on, Ron Howard's 2003 Western, The Missing.
Longtime television director Earl Bellamy directs, but he has quite a bit of big-screen experience, helming such films as From Here to Eternity and A Star is Born. Itís not high art, but it is competently made, and the action always moves forward with minimal drag or padding. Itís a standard Western, although the racial undertones do add for another level of complexity to the story it might not otherwise have. The only real downside comes from a very monotonous score by Johnny Mandel (MASH, Caddyshack), which seems to not quite flow well with the action onscreen.
The Trackers is a tough film in itself to track down, and probably not at most video stores, although it was released on VHS some time ago. Itís nothing spectacular, but if youíre a die-hard fan of Davis or Borgnine, itís worth a look.
©2004 Vince Leo