The life of peaceful rancher John Benedict (William Holden) is torn apart when his family is massacred by a gang of marauding outlaws and his farm is destroyed. He assembles a team of mean, lawless convicts to act as his posse as he pursues the gang responsible for the deaths of his loved ones.Written by
Jonathon Dabell <J.D.@pixie.ntu.ac.uk>
The Revengers is directed by Daniel Mann and written by Wendell Mayes and Steven W. Carabatsos. It stars William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Woody Strode, Roger Hanin, Reinhard Kolldehoff, Jorge Luke, Jorge Martínez de Hoyos, Susan Hayward and Arthur Hunnicutt. A De Luxe Color/Panavision production, music is by Pino Calvi and cinematography by Gabriel Torres.
Colorado rancher John Benedict (Holden) hires six chain-gang convicts to find the white comancheros who led an Indian raid that massacred his family and friends.
It is pretty much a Western Dirty Half Dozen, with Holden getting to play the Lee Marvin role and Borgnine, stripped of the weight he was carrying when The Dirty Dozen was made in 1967, getting the chance to be one of the crims on a mission instead of the cameo role of General Worden in Robert Aldrich's macho magnificence.
Nicely filmed out of various Mexican locations, film is essentially dealing with a man so hell bent on revenge he comes to resemble the criminals he now rides with. But even crims have codes and ethics as well! Director Daniel Mann never really gets to grips with the character dynamics, leaving hanging the themes of surrogate fatherhood and slave stoicism, while an interim part of the play that sees Hayward nurse Holden back to health actually bogs down the picture, coming off as an excuse to pitch the two great actors together again.
Oh the performances of the cast are enjoyable, especially Borgnine who is having fun as a sly old grizzler, and Holden is as stoic and sternly professional as always, but nothing ever advances beyond being a bunch of blokes traversing the landscapes in readiness for a siege. Is the anticipated siege worth the wait? Actually yes it is, and it goes some way to explaining why the film hasn't fallen into the trough of stinky waters never to be used to quench the Western lovers thirst. But then! Something happens to make you think the Production Code was back in boorish operation. Pah! I imagine Peckinpah and Aldrich shed a frustrated tear at this point... 6/10
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