That’s a fun relationship that deserves more time
Sydney Pollack actually started his association with Burt Lancaster on the set of The Young Savages where he was an acting coach to some of the street kids who were playing gang members. It was his first introduction into motion pictures, he had previously directed and acted in a number of television productions.
Lancaster is planning to get his pelts back, but a murderous gang of Scalphunters beat him to it and massacre almost the whole band and take Lancaster’s furs along with horses and scalps that bring a good bounty. Burt’s Joe Bass is not exactly a boy scout, but this crowd truly nauseates him.
The Scalphunters are headed by Telly Savalas and his cigar smoking refugee from a bordello of a woman, Shelley Winters. Winters has the best performance in the film, this is her third film with Lancaster with whom she had a self documented fling back in the day. Later on Davis gets captured by The Scalphunters and he has to use his wits to survive among them. But they’re going to Mexico where slavery has been abolished.
The laughs are mixed in with some serious racial issues all around. Lancaster can’t quite accept Davis as an equal, Davis is perfectly willing to go along with The Scalphunters and their genocidal war on the Indians if he’ll obtain his freedom through them.