CHUKA. Paramount Pictures, 1967. Rod Taylor, Ernest Borgnine, John Mills, Luciana Paluzzi Luciana Paluzzi, James Whitmore, Victoria Vetri (as Angela Dorian), Louis Hayward, Michael Cole. Screenwriter: Richard Jessup, based on his own novel. Director: Gordon Douglas.

   No one has ever asked me about anything like this, even if I’d been handy at the time, but if they had asked me, I’d had told them flat out, ditch both the prologue and epilogue that open and close this movie. The prologue tells the viewer too much, and the epilogue way too little.

   It’s a shame. Without the prologue and epilogue. there’s a decent western movie in between, trying to work its way out.

   It doesn’t quite succeed, mind you, but it’s there. Almost all of the action takes place at one of those forts in the Old West that seem to attract all of the misfits and rejects, officers and soldiers alike, that no other outfit wants or can tolerate for very long. This includes its commanding officer, played by John Mills, and whose fear of being thought of as a coward again prevent him from doing the obvious: abandoning the fort in the face of an impending — and non-defendable — Indian attack.

   Ignoring the advice of another outcast, a wandering gunman called Chuka (Rod Taylor), who stays on hand only because of the presence of Luciana Paluzzi as SeƱora Veronica Kleitz. an aristocratic Mexican lady whom Chuka loved when he was younger, but whom he could not pursue because of the social gap between them.

   The weaknesses and character flaws of the others are revealed gradually, but while I won’t go into them all, trust me, all of their flaws are considerable. You may be thinking that you have seen this movie before, and I cannot lie to you. I’m sure you have.

   The story is capably told, however, cleanly and sharply, and Rod Taylor us, well, tailor-made, to play a big burly western frontier hero. And yet. And yet. If I were to be asked (and in this case, someone already has) what the movie adds to the overall panorama and lore of western movie-making, given that it was made in in 1967, I’d have to reply, in most definitive fashion, “Not much. Not very much at all.”