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Valdez Is Coming (1971)

PG-13 | | Western | 9 April 1971 (USA)
A Mexican-American sheriff must resort to violence against a powerful rancher in order to get just compensation for the pregnant Indian widow of a wrongly killed black man.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gay Erin
Frank Tanner
R. L. Davis
El Segundo
Mexican Rider
Ralph Brown ...
Werner Hasselmann ...
Sheriff (as Werner Hassleman)
Lex Monson ...
Sylvia Poggioli ...
Segundo's Girl (as Sylvia Paggioli)
José García García ...
Carlos (as Jose Garcia Garcia)
María Montez ...
Anita (as Maria Montez)
Juanita Penaloza ...
Indian Woman


The town constable, Bob Valdez, is forced to kill someone accused by Frank Tanner of being a murderer. Valdez asks Tanner for monetary help for the man's wife, but he is ridiculed and almost killed by Tanner's henchmen. Valdez recovers and summons up his days in the U.S. Cavalry in order to fight them. Valdez wounds one of the henchmen and sends him back to Tanner with the message, "Valdez is coming." Written by Robbie Burns <burnodo@usit.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Honor is Always Worth Fighting For. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence, brief nudity and some language | See all certifications »






Release Date:

9 April 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Valdez  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Feature film debuts of Jon Cypher and Richard Jordan. See more »


In the picture of Valdez, taken when he was an Army Scout, he had Sergeant stripes on his shirt. Later, when he wore the shirt, there were no stripes. See more »


Gay Erin: [referring to Tanner] Is he coming?
Bob Valdez: He's coming - but not alone. No, not alone.
See more »


Referenced in Minnie and Moskowitz (1971) See more »

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User Reviews

Ravioli Western
4 February 2003 | by (Berkeley CA) – See all my reviews

When something works well it often becomes the vernacular of its particular field of endeavor. Today, many guitarists sound something like Jimi Hendrix, possibly without even being aware of it. But when Hendrix burst onto the '60s pop music scene, nobody even remotely resembled him, stylistically or otherwise. When Sergio Leone's Fistful of Dollars was released, with its uncompromisingly vivid characterizations, sparse, almost symbolic backdrops, and evocative, minimalist scores, the Western was changed forever. Clint Eastwood certainly portrayed the brutal, enigmatic hero as well as it could be done but the purity of Leone's form could probably have carried almost any actor with a similar type of charisma through the story. In Valdez is Coming, adapted from the co-titled Elmore Leonard novel, Leone's moralistically stark paradigm acquires a conscience and characters that, while as vividly drawn as the Master's, are discernibly more real.

Burt Lancaster, one of the cinema's truly great stars, stoically embodies Bob Valdez, a former cavalry scout of Mexican descent and veteran of the Apache wars. Valdez is going quietly to seed as a part-time town constable and shotgun guard for the local stagecoach line. But when he encounters the vicious, offhand injustice meted out by racist rancher and gunrunner, Frank Tanner (Jon Cypher in his big-screen debut, later to play the goofy Marine General in the TV series, Major Dad), Valdez is transformed into a golem of precise ferocity. Nothing clever or arcane about the plot, it's about payback stretched out across a Leoneian landscape (like the Leone classics it too was filmed in Spain). What you see is exactly what you get and the film moves right along while Valdez elegantly works his way through Tanner's men as they pursue him and Tanner's woman, whom Valdez has taken hostage literally from Tanner's arms. Watching, as Tanner realizes that, by crossing Valdez, he has begun to chew considerably more than he may be able to swallow, is Tanner's very competent Mexican ramrod, El Segundo (the late Barton Heyman in another debut role). Segundo, an unflinching pragmatist capable of killing without batting an eye, but still no stranger to honor, is torn between keeping a straight face as Tanner wades in deeper and deeper and hunting down Valdez, who is methodically taking out Segundo's best men as the pursuit progresses.

The relationship between Segundo and Tanner is one of the film's most interesting aspects. While not rendered in great detail, it is still a good study in the nature of power. Unfortunately, some nimnul editor removed from the VHS issue a few lines of dialog between the two that comprised, arguably, the most pivotal moment in the entire film. Fortunately, I remember it from the film's original screening. Segundo has entered Tanner's parlor to inform him that a certain Bob Valdez desires an audience (to convince Tanner to contribute to the welfare of a widow whose husband's death, at Constable Valdez' hands, was the result of Tanner's bigotry). Tanner turns to Segundo and smirks, `I don't know any BOBE Valdez', mocking Segundo's densely-accented English. For just an instant, just a blink, Segundo considers putting a .44 pill in Tanner and high-tailing it back to Mexico. Then he lets it go. Tanner is currently where the money is; perhaps another time. And there, the dark heart of the film is displayed. Its racist engine is never completely cloaked but it never steps forward into such clarity as it does in that deleted scene. When Segundo and Valdez come face to face in the final sequence, their terse interchange; a dialog between two very capable men, is memorable.

The principal supporting cast turns in solid work that enhances the overall effort. Richard Jordan (yet another debut) began his noteworthy career as a character actor in this film, with his role as the slightly unhinged R.L. Davis, a sharpshooting wannnabe whose barely flickering conscience just manages to save his life. If the stately, vanilla, Canadian actress Susan Clark was never your pint of Molson's, see her as Tanner's mistress-with-a-secret before rendering final judgment. Hector Elizondo, whom many may remember as the hotel manager in Pretty Woman, is completely diametric here in a brief role as one of Tanner's hired guns who receives a hard lesson in alternative shotgun technology.

Valdez is Coming is not Red River, or Shane, but it is a rock solid, and engrossing 70's Western that should absolutely have a place in the collection of any fan of the genre. Compact, well-acted, believably plotted, and equipped with a spare and interesting music track that actually augments the drama instead of drowning it, the film stays firmly within its envelope and delivers. With a stellar personality like Burt Lancaster effortlessly carrying the weight, things are pretty much all good. In the film Ulzana's Raid, released a year later, Lancaster reprised the Valdez type in the role of the not-yet-retired Army scout, McIntosh. Although not as coherent as Valdez is Coming, Ulzana's Raid is still a good watch, largely due to its interesting characters, including the great Mexican star Jorge Luke as an Apache scout who rides with McIntosh.

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