×

Crazy Horse

TNT's series of Native American adventures chalks up the choicest of the five telepics in "Crazy Horse," with Michael Greyeyes as the great Oglala Sioux warrior who would defeat Custer at the Little Bighorn. Chief Crazy Horse allowed no photos or drawings made of himself, but the good-looking, assured Greyeyes nails down his forceful spirit in this gripping vidpic.

With:
Cast: Michael Greyeyes, Wes Studi, Irene Bedard, Lorne Cardinal, John Finn, Jimmy Herman, Steve Reevis, Larry Sellers, Gordon Tootoosis, Sheldon Wolfchild, August Schellenberg, Ned Beatty, Peter Horton, Sheri Foster, Buffalochild C. Koopepequanicit, Nathaniel Arcand, Larry Swalley, Scott Means, Archie Little, Zahn McClarnon, Victor Aaron, Terry Bigcharles, Jane Lind, Karl Makinen, Tuck Milligan, Frankie Avina, Tegan West, Craig Branham, Randy Jones, Robert Glymph, Mark Jobe, J.C. Whiteshirt, Marshall Bell, Daniel O'Haco, Jonna Richards, Jim Hatzell, Daniel Studi, Ron Rondeauy.

TNT’s series of Native American adventures chalks up the choicest of the five telepics in “Crazy Horse,” with Michael Greyeyes as the great Oglala Sioux warrior who would defeat Custer at the Little Bighorn. Chief Crazy Horse allowed no photos or drawings made of himself, but the good-looking, assured Greyeyes nails down his forceful spirit in this gripping vidpic.

Robert Schenkkan’s abbreviated vidbio, directed with dispatch by John Irvin, starts in the 1850s when the boy Crazy Horse (Terry Bigcharles) kills a U.S. buffalo. Government troops in revenge slay Oglala elders before the boy’s eyes.

Among the slaughtered: his spiritual leader, Conquering Bear (Jimmy Herman). He reappears as a chalk-white spirit overseeing Crazy Horse. The Oglala Sioux were guarding the Black Hills against gold miners and settlers. The tribe signed a treaty with the U.S., but when gold was discovered on the land the treaty was history, and U.S. troops under Custer went into action.

Crazy Horse joins in battles commanded by his uncle, Chief Red Cloud (Wes Studi). When Red Cloud retires, Crazy Horse becomes war chief of the Oglalas.

Schenkkan’s imaginative teleplay, using Herman’s voice as narrator, takes good measure of Crazy Horse’s bravery, determination and aloneness. There are touching accounts of his meditating, his love for Black Buffalo Woman (Irene Bedard), marriage to Black Shawl (Sheri Foster) and the birth and death of his daughter.

Custer (Peter Horton) is seen talking with a reporter at his headquarters, when, ominously, the two men look up and see Crazy Horse and three other Indians staring down at them from a ridge.

Later, during the 30-minute battle at Little Bighorn, Custer and Crazy Horse spot each other in the dust and fury. It’s a stretch, but in this edition, Crazy Horse gets the credit for Custer’s death.

Chief Crazy Horse’s dedication to protecting his people, his need for solitude, his insistence on resisting the U.S., his fearlessness are revelatory. His personal visions, a surefire theatrical device, loom up in times of turmoil.

Treachery among tribal rulers tips off how the Indians were falling apart in the face of greed and overpowering U.S. expansion. Crazy Horse, urged to trust the white man, submits and is assigned to be a scout to go after the Nez Perce Indians. A hostile translator gives the officer the wrong translation of his agreement, and Crazy Horse is doomed.

Schenkkan’s dramatization and Irvin’s shrewd application of Crazy Horse’s mysticism give the vigorous vidpic an extra dimension, and the telefilm moves like lightning.

Smashing camerawork by Thomas Burstyn and superior editing by Mark Conte are marvels. Costumes by Richard E. La Motte are fine, and Lennie Niehaus’ score suffices. Cary White’s production designs are masterful.

Popular on Variety

Crazy Horse

(Sun. (7), 8-10 p.m., TNT)

Production: Filmed in South Dakota by Von Zerneck-Sertner Films. Executive producers, Robert M. Sertner, Frank Von Zerneck; co-executive producers, Robert Schenkkan, Ken Scherer; producers, Salli Newman, Cleve Landsberg, Hanay Geiogamah, Randy Sutter, Stacy Mandelberg; director, John Irvin; writer, Schenkkan.

Crew: Camera, Thomas Burstyn; editor, Mark Conte; second unit director, Steve Boyum; production designer, Cary White; costumes, Richard E. La Motte; sound, Walter Hoylman; music, Lennie Niehaus; casting, Rene Haynes.

With: Cast: Michael Greyeyes, Wes Studi, Irene Bedard, Lorne Cardinal, John Finn, Jimmy Herman, Steve Reevis, Larry Sellers, Gordon Tootoosis, Sheldon Wolfchild, August Schellenberg, Ned Beatty, Peter Horton, Sheri Foster, Buffalochild C. Koopepequanicit, Nathaniel Arcand, Larry Swalley, Scott Means, Archie Little, Zahn McClarnon, Victor Aaron, Terry Bigcharles, Jane Lind, Karl Makinen, Tuck Milligan, Frankie Avina, Tegan West, Craig Branham, Randy Jones, Robert Glymph, Mark Jobe, J.C. Whiteshirt, Marshall Bell, Daniel O'Haco, Jonna Richards, Jim Hatzell, Daniel Studi, Ron Rondeauy.

More Film

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

  • Notre dame

    Locarno Film Review: 'Notre dame'

    Not to be too cynical about it, but might the recent horrific fire in Paris’ cathedral attract audiences to a film in which the gothic gem plays a major role? It’s likely a wiser marketing strategy than promoting the unrelenting silliness of Valerie Donzelli’s oh-so-kooky comedy “Notre dame,” the writer-director-star’s return to contemporary Paris following [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content