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.
During the last winter of the Civil War, cavalry officer Amos Dundee leads a contentious troop of Army regulars, Confederate prisoners and scouts on an expedition into Mexico to destroy a band of Apaches who have been raiding U.S. bases in Texas.Written by
The romance with Teresa was added by the studio. Some idea of what Harry Julian Fink and Sam Peckinpah's original script looked like can be gleaned from a novelization published in 1965, which adds several scenes and whole subplots, while changing the fates of several characters. The romance is completely absent. See more »
During the fiesta in the village the serape worn by Maj. Dundee changes from folded up to half folded up while he is being cut in by Lt. Graham. See more »
In the territory of New Mexico towards the end of the Civil War, an Indian, Sierra Charriba, and his Apache warriors raided, sacked and looted an area almost three times the size of Texas.
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Opening credits prologue:
1864 JOURNAL 1865
In the territory of New Mexico, toward the end of the Civil War, an Indian Sierra Charriba, and his 47 Apache warriors raided, sacked, and looted an area almost three times the size of Texas.
On October 31, 1864, an entire company of the 5th United States Cavalry sent out from Fort Benlin to destroy him, was ambushed and massacred at the Rostes ranch.
We are indebted to Timothy Ryan, bugler 5th United States Cavalry, the company's sole survivor, for his diary, the only existing record of this tragedy and the campaign that followed. See more »
Three major scenes (and some minor ones) were added to the restored version, along with a new score by Christopher Caliendo. The major scenes added are:
Captain Tyreen and his men are captured by Dundee in a mountain stream as they attempt to escape the prison;
Dundee spends more time recovering in Durango, falling in love with Melinche (Aurora Clavell), a Mexican girl who nurses his wounds;
A scene where Dundee, Tyreen, a several of their officers - Samuel Potts (James Coburn), Sergeant Gomez (Mario Adorf), and Lieutenant Graham (Jim Hutton) - find a marker left for them by Charriba (Michael Pate) and discuss strategy on how to fight him. At the end of the scene, we learn the fate of the Indian scout Riago (Jose Carlos Ruiz), who has been crucified in a tree by Charriba's men. In the original version, his character simply disappears without a trace.
Various smaller shots are added, including a burial of corpses after the opening massacre, children watching the activities in Fort Benlin, Potts struggling to find a partner during the fiesta at the Mexican village, and a slightly longer version of the Apache river ambush.
Also available as extras on the DVD are a slightly longer version of the interlude at the river between Dundee and Teresa (Senta Berger), and a knife fight between Potts and Gomez in the Mexican village.
The first half of "Major Dundee" is gripping and fascinating. The problem is that the second half doesn't deliver on the build-up. The whole point is supposed to be the pursuit of the Apache, yet the film spends more time getting sidetracked from all this, in particular the scenes of Dundee's injury and descent into drunkenness (and did we really need Senta Berger, since her role is really pointless, despite the visual scenery she adds?) and when the Apache is found, it happens too abruptly. Fascinating supporting characters disappear or are downplayed too much in the second half, and the ending is too abrupt as well. Since the expedition ends up returning after the surrender of Lee and the end of the War, I was surprised there was no scene of Dundee returning to the Fort and offering a final reflection on Tyreen. The film literally cried out for it.
Charlton Heston felt that Dundee should have been more about the issues of the Civil War and had they stuck to this approach all through the film we might have had a great film instead of a merely good one.
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