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The veteran Civil War Yankee officer Yellowleg saves the cheater Turk in a card game, and together with the gunslinger Billy Keplinger, they ride together to Gila City with the intention of heisting a bank. Yellowleg has a war scar on the head from a man that tried to scalp him and he has been on the trail of his attacker for five years. When bandits rob a store, Yellowleg shoots at the outlaws and accidentally kills the son of the cabaret dancer Kit Tilden and the grieving woman decides to bury her son in the Apache country Siringo, where her husband is also buried. Yellowleg calls Billy and Turk to escort Kitty through the dangerous land. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Star Maureen O' Hara, her brother producer Charles Fitzsimons and writer A. S. Fleischman formed Carousel Productions in order to get the film made. Director Sam Peckinpah was hired for $15, 000, star Brian Keith was paid $30, 000...the entire picture was done for $300, 000. See more »
You don't know me well enough to hate me that much. Hating is a subject I know a little something about. You got to be careful it don't bite you back. I know somebody who spent five years looking for a man he hated. Hating and wanting revenge was all that kept him alive. He spent all those years tracking that other man down, and when he caught up with him, it was the worst day of his life. He'd get his revenge all right, but then he'd lose the one thing he had to live for.
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The Deadly Companions is one of those star produced vehicles, in this case unofficially by Maureen O'Hara although her brother Charles Fitzsimmons is the nominal producer. According to her memoirs she wanted Brian Keith as her co-star, but Keith wanted Sam Peckinpah to be given his first shot at directing a feature film. O'Hara agreed much to her regret.
The film is an interesting and most adult western. Keith is a Union army veteran whose thrown in with a pair of ex-Confederates, Steve Cochran and Chill Wills. But he's also got a mission to avenge a scar given him by a former Confederate sergeant in a brawl. Still he takes his time as he believes as that revenge is a dish best served cold.
While stopping over at a town where the three are contemplating a bank robbery, some other robbers beat them to it. Keith, Cochran, and Wills shoot it out with the others, but in the process Maureen O'Hara's son is killed by Keith.
The grieving widow is determined to take her son's body back to a place that is now a ghost town and the way is through Apache territory. Keith agrees to accompany her out of obligation, Cochran has his hormones in overdrive and Wills goes along for the ride. These are not three guys I would want to be out on the trail with and they prove it soon enough.
Given all that happens to them and the characters that Peckinpah develops, they all should have died on the trail. There's violence enough in The Deadly Companions, but Peckinpah had not yet developed one of those slow motion violence ballets he would later use to great effect in The Wild Bunch.
Peckinpah didn't like the film, he preferred to think of Ride The High Country as his cinematic debut. O'Hara didn't like the film and doubly didn't like Peckinpah. In this she echoed Charlton Heston who had a similar opinion, though Heston gave Peckinpah his due insofar as talent was concerned. Both thought he had a screw loose. O'Hara also said he didn't have a clue as to how to direct a feature film his experienced crew carried him along. I would say he learned though.
But for this film I have to agree with Sam and Maureen. It really is quite mediocre.
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