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The Desperados (1969)

During the Civil War, ex-parson Josiah Galt and his sons are Confederate raiders but they become common robbers after the war, save for son David who goes straight.


Henry Levin


Walter Brough (screenplay), Clarke Reynolds (story)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Vince Edwards ... David Galt
Sylvia Syms ... Laura (his wife)
Benjamin Edney Benjamin Edney ... Pauly (his son)
Jack Palance ... Parson Josiah Galt
Sheila Burrell Sheila Burrell ... Emily Galt
George Maharis ... Jacob Galt
Kate O'Mara ... Adah (his girl)
Christian Roberts ... Adam Galt
Kenneth Cope ... Carlin
Patrick Holt ... Haller
Christopher Malcolm ... Gregg
John Clark John Clark ... Todd
Neville Brand ... Marshal Kilpatrick
John Paul John Paul ... Sheriff Lacey
David Thomson David Thomson ... Deputy Tate (as David Thompson)


During the Civil War, Josiah Galt, a former parson, and his sons David, Jacob and Adam, become a gang of bandits who plunder, rob and rape for pleasure. Disgusted by the massacre of the whole population of St. Thomas, Kansas, David drops out of the gang and joins his wife Laura. After their son Pauly was born, David and Laura settle down in Chilon, Texas. A few years later, Galt's gang come there with a view to robbing the local bank. Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


On Sundays they hardly ever kill anybody!




M | See all certifications »






Release Date:

28 February 1969 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Desperados See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Meadway Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Jeffrey Hunter was originally signed for the George Maharis role, but died shortly thereafter. See more »


When the raiders are riding in to attack the town at the start of the film there are several shots showing large mountains in the background despite the fact that this is supposedly the very flat state of Kansas. See more »

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User Reviews

A pretty desperate mess
5 June 2015 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

It's a real shame, because there was potential for a truly compelling story here, and then you have a reliable director and Jack Palance on board. Is The Desperados the worst western of all time? No. Is it a terrible film? Not quite that bad? Was it a bad and disappointing film that could have done much more with what it had? Yes.

The Desperados has three or four main things that keep it from being unwatchable. The scenery(Spanish?) is absolutely beautiful while showing off some gritty atmosphere too, and the costumes and sets are equally handsome and in keeping with the film's tone. Sylvia Syms brings a lot of elegant class in a film that has very little of that otherwise. There are some decent action sequences here, with the truly exciting scene on the train faring the best. Lastly, there is a very atmospheric bleak climax that is so powerfully executed that one wishes that it came sooner and lasted longer.

Vince Edwards however is very wooden and spends his entire screen time looking numb. Don't expect Jack Palance to save the film, as much as I very much like Palance(he was also the main reason for watching) his performance in The Desperados is one of his worst. He has shown numerous times that he can be lots of fun when 'hammy' and over-the-top and this was the kind of role that Palance should have been perfect for, but like in Justine he has hammed up in a way that takes one out of the film and because everything else is taken so seriously here that was the case with his performance here. The rest of the cast, including an out-of-place Kenneth Cope, don't register and are further saddled with very one-dimensional and dull characters and very unnatural-sounding and severely underdeveloped dialogue.

With the story, it was a great idea and could have been compelling but is let down by some sluggish pacing, very abrupt tone and story shifts that give the film a constant messy feel and scenes that are either not always relevant and go on too long or because of the tastelessness in serious need of more subtlety. The direction is workmanlike and gets the job done, but that's the best it gets, in other parts it's either static leaving extras standing like confused lemons or in desperate need of more reigning in the direction of the actors. Although the scenery, costumes and sets are great, the editing is often very sloppy and while some camera angles are unusual and interesting others get too busy and give the film a distractingly overblown look. The music does have some energetically bombastic moments but a vast majority of the time it's ridiculously inappropriate, sounding more 1960s romance than Civil War western.

In summary, there are a few things that are just enough to make The Desperados a one-time viewing, but much of it despite its potential is a pretty desperate mess. 3/10 Bethany Cox

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