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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
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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