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After the Civil War, ex-Union Colonel John Henry Thomas and ex-Confederate Colonel James Langdon are leading two disparate groups of people through strife-torn Mexico. John Henry and company are bringing horses to the unpopular Mexican government for $35 a head while Langdon is leading a contingent of displaced southerners, who are looking for a new life in Mexico after losing their property to carpetbaggers. The two men are eventually forced to mend their differences in order to fight off both bandits and revolutionaries, as they try to lead their friends and kin to safety. Written by
During filming John Wayne fell from his horse and fractured three ribs. He couldn't work for almost two weeks. Then he tore a ligament in his shoulder and couldn't use one arm at all. The director, Andrew V. McLaglen, could only film him from an angle for the rest of the picture. His only concern throughout was not to disappoint his fans, despite being in terrible pain. See more »
A number of times in the early part of the movie reference is made to the surrender of Lee to Grant as the end of the war. Although the surrender of Lee is now seen as the effective end of the war, at the time it was not, and would not have been considered such by most people (the Confederate major in the opening battle being an example). Organized military operations continued for a number of months after Lee's surrender. See more »
See'd your dust all day. What you drivin'? Buffalo?
Col. John Henry Thomas:
Stage arrived yet?
It's overdue. I ain't askin' cause I don't care, but if your name's Thomas there's a couple of poppinjays waitin' inside ta see ya. They been here for two days now. I give 'em water the first day and they've took'n root.
Col. John Henry Thomas:
I ain't asked. They ain't said.
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The Civil War is over and it's been pretty costly to both sides. John Wayne has lost nearly every man who volunteered to serve with him and is broke. Rock Hudson who was also a Colonel on the other side went broke financing a regiment of his own and the Yankee carpetbaggers are ready to take over his plantation.
Wayne leads the remainder of his men to capture and tame wild horses to sell. Hudson gets an offer from Emperor Maximilian of Mexico to bring his people and resettle there. He needs all the help he can get to prop up his unpopular government. Hudson is certainly bringing a better quality of Anglo than Burt Lancaster did in Vera Cruz.
When Wayne feels a rip off coming from some middlemen horsetraders, he settles it in the usual Duke fashion and heads to Mexico himself. There the parties of Wayne and Hudson meet and their stories are entwined from then on.
With Wayne and Hudson co-starring, The Undefeated was led by two men who between them were number one at the box office for about a dozen years combined. Wayne was coming off his Oscar winning performance in True Grit. This film was definitely guaranteed an audience.
The story is both men are decent fellows and born leaders. Each is trying to pick up the pieces of civilian life and each is the leader of a party looking to them for leadership. A healthy and mutual respect develops between them despite previous political differences.
Wayne gets a whole load of players who worked with him before for this part. As he grew older he liked to have familiar faces around him. He had the star clout to insure it as well. Ben Johnson, Bruce Cabot, Edward Faulkner, Harry Carey, Jr., are some of the Wayne film veterans here.
Dub Taylor in his only film with the Duke does a very entertaining job as McCartney the cook. Dub did so many westerns when he wasn't doing hillbillies it's amazing that his and Wayne's path crossed only once.
This was also an early film for Jan Michael Vincent who went on to a star career of his own. Two members of the Los Angeles Rams, Roman Gabriel and Merlin Olsen were in this as well. Gabriel played a surrogate son to Wayne and rival for the hand of Melissa Newman to Vincent. Merlin Olsen is also here as a Confederate aide to Hudson. Gabriel decided movies wasn't his thing, but Olsen certainly had a substantial career after football.
The Undefeated has a nice, easy and charming flow to it, just like The Comancheros. Wayne and Hudson work well together in their only joint outing. Less action than you normally have in a Wayne film, but it's mixed in well with some good comic moments.
As Duke said parodying one of his one lines from a previous hit film of his, "Let's Take 'Em to Mexico." You'll like the ride.
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