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A revolver-wielding stranger crosses paths with two warring clans who are both on the hunt for a hidden treasure in a remote western town. Knowing his services are valuable to either side, he offers himself to the clan who will offer up the largest share of the wealth.
A rich Texan, J.W. Grant, selects three men and invites them to his private train to offer them a contract: Rescue his wife who has been kidnapped by a Mexican revolutionary. The leader of the men, Rico, decides they would be a better team if Grant would hire one more man, an explosives expert. Grant quickly agrees and soon the four are off to complete the contract. However, while on the trail, they discover some interesting facts, like has Mrs. Grant 'really' been kidnapped? Written by
The newspaper tacked to the wall of Grant's railroad car (visible as he is looking at the files of the men he is hiring) proclaims that Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata have entered Mexico City. The Villistas and Zapatistas occupied the city on the 6th December of 1914. According to Grant (Ralph Bellamy), Fardan (Lee Marvin) had served with the rebels through 1915. See more »
At the end of the scene when they are sitting on a ridge line talking about battles and promises, Farden exits the shot. Dolworth puts his cigar in his mouth and puts his binoculars to his eyes backwards, small lenses out. See more »
Mature moral complexity; a slower kind of western.
I grew up watching westerns because my father is from Texas, and westerns were required viewing on a daily basis. While this one lacks the brisk pace and epic quality of YELLOW RIBBON, it has shades of gray in a genre that usually has black or white hats.
Being made in 1966 this western is not only a bit late in the genre, but is also somewhat late in the day of several of it's leads, making it a more mature action film, with the resulting slowness and ambiguity that maturity brings. This is echoed in the plot lines from early on, as Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster are sent to find a kidnapped Claudia Cardinale who is clearly making the most of her kidnapper, Jack Palance at the height of his handsomeness. The men give standard solid performances.
This film is often mentioned in documentaries about film making for the extended use of day-for-night shooting in the long climactic sequence on the mine tracks in the Mexican border village. The art direction is actually one of the best features of this film, with the interesting levels created by the omnipresent train tracks.
The plot turning moment of this film belongs to Marie Gomez, a curvaceous exotic who seems minor but becomes a revelation in character, and her level and complexity of acting. Claudia Cardinale comes off badly in comparison, not only because her acting chops are less, but her role is much less interesting. This hurts the film overall; when there are only two women in a film, their roles really effect the inner life of the film. Here, it's all Gomez - she turns everything topsy turvy. She and Palance are the only really remarkable things here. For her cathartic moment, Gomez received a Golden Globe nomination as Most Promising Newcomer in 1967.
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