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
Maureen O' Hara (I), her brother Charles B. Fitzsimons (the film's producer) and writer A.S. Fleischman formed Carousel Productions in order to get the film made. Director Sam Peckinpah was hired for $15,000, Brian Keith (I) was paid $30, 000; the entire picture was done for $300, 000. See more »
When Brian Keith leaves Maureen O'Hara behind so he can steal a horse from the Apaches, she is alone in Apache territory. Whilst he is gone, she strips off and takes a bath in a pond and Brian Keith comes back and she's out swimming around with outlaws and Apaches lurking about. See more »
It's strange - I feel I know better than any man I've ever known, yet I hardly know you at all.
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The print distributed by UPA for television in the seventies was in black and white. See more »
The Deadly Companions is one of those star produced vehicles, in this case unofficially by Maureen O'Hara although her brother Charles Fitzsimmons is the nominal producer. According to her memoirs she wanted Brian Keith as her co-star, but Keith wanted Sam Peckinpah to be given his first shot at directing a feature film. O'Hara agreed much to her regret.
The film is an interesting and most adult western. Keith is a Union army veteran whose thrown in with a pair of ex-Confederates, Steve Cochran and Chill Wills. But he's also got a mission to avenge a scar given him by a former Confederate sergeant in a brawl. Still he takes his time as he believes as that revenge is a dish best served cold.
While stopping over at a town where the three are contemplating a bank robbery, some other robbers beat them to it. Keith, Cochran, and Wills shoot it out with the others, but in the process Maureen O'Hara's son is killed by Keith.
The grieving widow is determined to take her son's body back to a place that is now a ghost town and the way is through Apache territory. Keith agrees to accompany her out of obligation, Cochran has his hormones in overdrive and Wills goes along for the ride. These are not three guys I would want to be out on the trail with and they prove it soon enough.
Given all that happens to them and the characters that Peckinpah develops, they all should have died on the trail. There's violence enough in The Deadly Companions, but Peckinpah had not yet developed one of those slow motion violence ballets he would later use to great effect in The Wild Bunch.
Peckinpah didn't like the film, he preferred to think of Ride The High Country as his cinematic debut. O'Hara didn't like the film and doubly didn't like Peckinpah. In this she echoed Charlton Heston who had a similar opinion, though Heston gave Peckinpah his due insofar as talent was concerned. Both thought he had a screw loose. O'Hara also said he didn't have a clue as to how to direct a feature film his experienced crew carried him along. I would say he learned though.
But for this film I have to agree with Sam and Maureen. It really is quite mediocre.
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