14 user 9 critic

The Devil's Backbone (1970)

The Deserter (original title)
Army deserter Capt. Viktor Kaleb is offered a pardon and reinstatement in the cavalry if he agrees to lead a special forces group in a raid against an Apache stronghold into Mexico.


Burt Kennedy, Niksa Fulgosi (uncredited)


Stuart J. Byrne (based on a story by), William H. James (based on a story by) | 3 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Bekim Fehmiu ... Capt. Victor Kaleb
Richard Crenna ... Maj. Wade Brown
Chuck Connors ... Reynolds
Ricardo Montalban ... Natchai - Indian Scout
Ian Bannen ... British Army Capt. Crawford
Brandon De Wilde ... Lt. Ferguson
Slim Pickens ... Tattinger - American Scout
Woody Strode ... Jackson
Albert Salmi ... Schmidt
Patrick Wayne ... Capt. Bill Robinson
Fausto Tozzi ... Orozco
Mimmo Palmara ... Apache Chief Mangus Durango
John Alderson John Alderson ... O'Toole
Doc Greaves Doc Greaves ... Scott
Lucio Rosato ... Jed


Bitter over his wife's death due to what he believes was army negligence, Capt. Viktor Kaleb deserts the cavalry and disappears into the southwestern wasteland. But when marauding Apaches set up a stronghold just out of the cavalry's reach in Mexico, Kaleb is given amnesty in exchange for leading a small band of especially trained soldiers to wipe out the Indian stronghold. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A savage renegade and the chosen few... they followed him into Hell just for the chance to kill him! See more »




PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Body count: 95. See more »


At 38:50, the captain says to be there at daybreak. Yet the next scene when they are preparing to depart, the height of the sun is at least 10 am. See more »


Tattinger: What's that dog doing?
Captain Viktor Kaleb: Get away from there!
Tattinger: Why, he was fixin' to eat that
Tattinger: Indian!
Captain Viktor Kaleb: One tried to eat him once.
See more »

User Reviews

Hard to get excited over Bekim Fehmiu
14 May 2002 | by NozzSee all my reviews

Bekim Fehmiu had got a lot of exposure in _The Adventurers_, so here's Hollywood wondering if it should keep him around as a leading man. He gets a good director and a dream cast of character actors to support him. And there's a line in the script to identify him as a Serb in case you need an explanation of his accent, but the line isn't necessary; his English is fine.

Still, the burden is too much for Bekim. The film is a particularly dark Western. Writer/directory Kennedy, whose other films display a lot of warmth and humor, has given the star little to work with but grief and righteous resentment. You wish the hero well, but he doesn't engage you, and Bekim can't draw the missing sparkle forth from his own personality... not for an American audience, anyway.

We're left with a B movie, a movie that can command your attention but not your love.

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Italy | Yugoslavia | USA



Release Date:

25 March 1971 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

The Devil's Backbone See more »

Filming Locations:

Almeria, Andalucia, Spain See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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