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In 1916, a Mexican rebel named Cordoba steals six cannons from the forces of General Pershing who's been sent to bring order to the Texas-Mexico border. Pershing assigns a soldier named Rod Douglas to retrieve the cannons. Douglas recruits a trio of misfits and they, along with a Mexican officer and an enigmatic woman, travel 200 miles south to Cordoba's mountain fortress. Explosions and gun battles soon erupt. Written by
dinky-4 of Minneapolis
Underrated; Far Better Than "The Searchers"; Paul Wendkos' Masterwork
I have reasons to love the great users of a camera; fluid direction of action lends itself to fast-paced adventure and comedy narrative; but such a skill, in the hands of a King Vidor or an Anthony Mann can also be applied to idea-level work. This is Paul Wendkos' masterpiece. Its storyline can be retailed in a single pair of sentences. General Hector Cordoba is setting up as near-emperor in Northern Mexico, and steals a huge cannon from General Blackjack Pershing. he sends his crack mission unit, divided, apprehensive but determined, led by George Peppard, to get the cannon back and bring back Cordoba alive, to put an end to the rebellion. Charismatic Raf Vallone plays Cordoba; the ladies in the piece are Giovanna Ralli and Francine York; with the squad even further comprised of Nico Minardos, Peter Deuel, and Don Gordon. Other stalwarts in the class include John Larch and John Russell. Also horning in on an already fantastically-dangerous operation are Miss Ralli, and a stubborn Mexican Teniente (Gabriela Tinti) whose regiment was betrayed when Cordoba set up on his own. The danger is multiplied when Gordon's brother as advance spy is captured and tortured to death while he has to watch...and he decides he needs to kill Peppard. The attack that captures the cannon, when Peppard's orders are not obeyed by a regular army type, is one of the most electrifying visual and staging achievements in cinematic history; the penetration of Cordoba's stronghold, the revelations uncovered there, and the actions that win the mission team a chance at victory--or almost victory--are flawlessly presented. This is a beautiful color adventure film, with unusually strong costumes, acting, lighting, art direction sets and music by Elmer Bernstein. The script by Stephen Kandel is probably his best ever for a feature film. This is probably the most underrated major western at the moment, but I have always appreciated its heroes as result- getting hard-workers. But as Peppard reminds his group on the way home, "The trouble with being a "hero"--is the morning after". To find out why he says so, you will have to see "Cannon For Cordoba".
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