The Comancheros (1961) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Texas Ranger Jake Cutter arrests gambler Paul Regret, but soon finds himself teamed with his prisoner in an undercover effort to defeat a band of renegade arms merchants and thieves known as Comancheros.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The story opens in 1843,New Orleans.Roguish gambler Paul Regret (Stuart Whitman) has a duel with a man and despite attempting to just try and wound him when he fires at him,he kills him.When he discovers that the man is in fact the son of a Louisiana judge,he goes on the run to escape the death penalty.Whilst on a riverboat,he meets a mysterious woman called Pilar (Ina Bolin), who is in the company of a man called Amelung (Michael Ansarra).In their brief meeting,they fall for each other.

    The next morning,Texas ranger,captain Jake Cutter (John Wayne) turns up in his room to arrest him.His assignment is to take him to the Texas rangers headquarters ready to be picked up by a Louisiana marshal.Before they depart the boat,Regret wants to say goodbye to Pilar but she's gone.With Jake on horse and Regret on a mule,the two travel across the plains.They come to a ranch that Jake used to own.Once his wife died,he decided to sell it to a family.As Jake is looking at the family home,he notices some trouble.The ranch has been attacked by a tribe of Indians and the family have been massacred.After helping Jake to bury the victims,Regret sees an opportunity to escape.He knocks Jake out with a shovel to his head and takes the horse,leaving Jake with the mule.

    A while later in Texas,a man is arrested for gun running and he tells Jake and Major Henry (Bruce Cabot) that he was on his way to a town called Sweetwater to sell the rifles to a contact that he's never met before.Jake goes undercover and takes the man's place as a gunrunner,in order to go and meet the contact.He buries the rifles and arrives at an hotel in Sweetwater to meet Tully Crows (Lee Marvin),an half-scalped man.Crows tells Jake that his scalping was the act of a Comanche tribe and before he was killed,he was saved by a group called the Comancheros - the gunmen he's now working for.Jake tells Crows that he's buried the guns because he wasn't sure if he could trust him.The two go on a night out to get to know each other before they make a deal.First they get drunk in a saloon,then they go onto a quiet restaurant and decide to join a group of men in a poker game.As they introduce themselves,Jake sees that one of the card players is Paul Regret.Regret looks uneasy but Jake is quick to introduce himself as Ed Mcbain.They shake hands and Crows notices them looking at each other.Jake wins a few hands and crows becomes increasingly angry that he's losing.Feeling paranoid because of the glances between Jake and Regret through the game,he accuses them of cheating.Jake tells him he's just drunk and tries to walk away from it turning into a confrontation.But as he walks away,Crows pulls his gun on him.Jake whips around and shoots Crows.Jake thanks Regret for not giving his real identity away but he tells him he isn't off the hook.Regret's still a wanted man and Jake arrests him again.He takes him out to the desert and gets him to dig the rifles up that he'd buried.

    They arrive at a ranch,where a couple live that Jake knows.The ranch is been occupied by the Texas rangers who are on Comanche patrol.Jake and Regret share a meal inside with the rancher and his son,while his pregnant wife rests in bed.But trouble soon arrives as the Comanches attack the home.Despite been outnumbered,Jake and the few rangers that are still there including the young Hobe (Patrick Wayne),and Regret,do their best to fend them off.During the shootout,Regret gets away on an horse.Jake thinks he's escaped his custody again but in fact he's gone to get help.Regret arrives with Major Henry and the rest of the rangers to take care of the Comanches.Feeling like they owe Regret something,Jake asks the Major if he can have a word with the judge about a reprieve for him for helping to save their lives.Inside the cabin,the woman gives birth and the rancher suggests naming the bay after Jake.But Jake refuses and thinks the boy should be named after Regret for his good deed.

    Jake and Regret eventually arrive at the judge's office and Regret is told that the rangers plan to commit perjury in order to prevent him from been sentenced.They assign him as a Texas ranger,with the understanding that he has actually been one for a couple of years,so if anyone asks,he had every right to kill the man in New Orleans.

    Jake is assigned to go and track down the Comancheros and he requests that Regret be partnered with him.They wander the desert in a wagon,with Tobe following in the distance on horse,ready to report back to the rangers when they uncover their hideout.Jake and Regret soon come across a tribe of Comanches.They tell them that they have rifles for the Comancheros.The Comanches take them to the hideout.Jake and Regret discover a secret society of thieves and murderers.They tell them they have rifles for them but the firing pins are missing.They are just a sample of what they can offer.Aemlung,the man on the riverboat who saw Regret,orders that they are taken prisoner and tied up by their wrists.Pilar,the woman who was with Amelung on the boat and fell for Regret,arrives in the society and instantly recognises Regret.She orders that they be cut down.The two of them are put on trial by the wheelchair bound but ruthless leader of the community,Graile (Nememiah Persoff),who is also Pilar's father.Because of her personal feelings towards Regret,she defends them,stating that it would be best to let them live as they can provide them with a continuous supply of guns and also use their skills.Graile agrees and gives Jake and Regret a tour of his home which resides over the society that he has created for himself.He invites the two of them for dinner.

    As sunset approaches,Hobe is in the desert on his way to get help from the rangers but he is killed by some indians.At Graile's home,Pilar tells Jake and Regret that she has an horse prepared ready for their escape.But Jake has no intention of leaving without arresting Graile and he thieves a gun from man ready to confront him at the dinner.As they sit around the dinner table talking,Pilar tells her father that she plans to run away with Regret but she wants him to leave too before the rangers arrive.Graile says he won't leave his empire that he has built.Jake pulls the gun on him.Anserra walks in with the dead body of Hobe wrapped up in a rug.Jake gets Regret to take care of Anserra with his fists because he doesn't want to fire his gun and wake Graile's men up.Regret takes care of Anserra but a bigger henchman walks in.After a struggle,Jake knocks him out with the gun to his head.Regret and Pilar get ready to leave and Jake unwraps the rug to look at the dead body.When he sees it's Hobe,he tells Graile that he's going to take pleasure from watching him hang.

    Jake,Regret and Pilar get ready in the wagon to sneak out with Graile and Anserra.But as they try to quietly depart,Graile shouts to and his henchmen wake up.The mother of a man who was executed by Graile,runs up to the back of the wagon and stabs him in the back.As Regret rides off,Anserra jumps from the back of the wagon,ready to be untied by his men.A chase ensues,as the comancheros and comanches chase them down.Jake kills as many as he can as he sits in the back firing his rifle at them.He sets fire to the cover on the wagon to stop them from getting too close but Regret soon loses control of the raines and the wagon goes over.As Jake,Regret and Pilar try to take cover,the rangers arrive to help them.Pilar sees that her father is dead from the knife.The rangers soon outnumber the enemy.Anserra tries to kill Jake but Regret shoots him.The story ends with the rangers burning down the headquarters of the comancheros,and Jake leaving Regret to live an happy life with Pilar.

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