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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
Underrated and watchable western with some originality.
Saw this film around 30 years ago. At that time I thought it just a fairly formulaic star vehicle, bringing together the grizzled, typical Wayne cowboy character with someone who was a newer and - at the time -a really big name in Rock Hudson. Seeing it anew in 2007, I realise my earlier estimate was too dismissive by far. It has a good plot with many original aspects, well described already on the web-site by earlier reviewers, especially the linkage of US civil war with events happening at the same time in Mexico. Not being a huge fan, ordinarily, of either of the main stars, it has to be said they both turn in good performances and are fully believable as leaders whom other men would naturally follow, and who inspire fierce loyalties. The dialogue has a few unexpectedly good lines and is generally above average standard. The stars play it light-heartedly, and this gives the film warmth, colour and humour. Some aspects of the film, admittedly, conform to the hackneyed Wayne cowboy film recipe, such as the free-for-all fist fight, but in general the film stands up well nearly 40 years after it was made, and it has held on to a much more modern feel than other Wayne westerns. The musical score just about carries enough grandeur to match the action and the occasionally majestic cinematography, especially the scenes involving the drive across country of a few thousand horses. Any film-lover who enjoys the more upmarket western should give this film a try. The nearly two hours pass quickly, and it's a film to make you think (about the nature of war against your fellow countrymen, about loyalty, friendship and heroism) and escapist enough to make you smile.
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