In 1864, due to frequent Apache raids from Mexico into the U.S., a Union officer decides to illegally cross the border and destroy the Apache, using a mixed army of Union troops, Confederate POWs, civilian mercenaries, and scouts.
The Civil War Yankee sergeant Yellowleg saves the cheater Turkey from hanging after a card game, and together with Turk's gunslinger buddy Billy Keplinger, they ride together to Gila City with the intention of heisting a bank. When other bandits rob a store, Yellowleg shoots at the outlaws and accidentally kills the son of the cabaret dancer Kit Tilden and the grieving woman decides to bury her son in the town of Siringo in Apache country where her husband is buried. Yellowleg Enlists Billy and Turkey to escort Kitty and the coffin through the dangerous land.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The producers found it very difficult to get financial backing for the picture due to the subject matter, e.g. carrying a dead child in a coffin throughout the film. They refused to change the story. Based on the success of the novel, Yellowleg, on which the film is based, Pathe America was persuaded to co-finance the film along with the Theater Owners of America. See more »
At 35 minutes Brian Keith is engaged in a conversation around a campfire with Turk and Billy. His hat is tilted over his right eye and then in the final two shots it is tilted over his left eye. See more »
You don't know me well enough to hate me that much. Hating is a subject I know a little something about. You got to be careful it don't bite you back. I know somebody who spent five years looking for a man he hated. Hating and wanting revenge was all that kept him alive. He spent all those years tracking that other man down, and when he caught up with him, it was the worst day of his life. He'd get his revenge all right, but then he'd lose the one thing he had to live for.
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The print distributed by UPA for television in the seventies was in black and white. See more »
The beginning scenes in town made me think this would be first-rate Peckinpah. A demented Turk (Wills) balances atop an unsteady barrel while he hangs by a noose from the ceiling. All the time, the rest of the barroom plays cards. That strikes me as pure Peckinpah and it's a heckuv an audience hook. And soon after, flawed hero Yellowleg (Keith), mistakenly shoots a boy, an unconventional twist typical of Peckinpah's sense of irony. Then there's the church service in the barroom where our three roughnecks look on in curious discomfort. Now I don't know if Peckinpah originated these unorthodox episodes, but he definitely got them on screen.
But once Yellowleg and Kit (O"Hara) leave town with the boy's body, the pace and inventiveness come to an unhappy halt. I understand that the ad-hoc production company interfered with the final cut, which may be the reason the second part dissipates. But it was also a low-budget production, causing me to think they may have improvised events along the trail. Certainly there's little costly dialog, plus Yellowleg's dubious raid on the Indian camp would have trouble withstanding serious second thoughts. Then too, the mercurial Peckinpah is not the most appropriate personality to work with a diva like O'Hara, especially when her brother is the producer. In short, I don't blame the director of the Wild Bunch (1969) for generally dismissing this as his first film. It's flawed in ways that would not be repeated.
(In passing—for fans of Peckinpah, be sure to catch up with his brilliant but little-known TV series The Westerner (1960), starring the always low-key Brian Keith as an itinerant cowboy. It was clearly too unconventional to last beyond its 13 weeks. Now it can be seen as unfortunately ahead of its time. I caught up with it on The Western Channel.)
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