Columbia Picture's epic adventure THE PROFESSIONAS (1966) is a classic
western and ranks among my top ten favourites. But for some strange
reason this exciting colourful romp is often omitted from "great
westerns" discussions. Perhaps it's the setting - or the fact of it not
having the quintessential unknown cow-town that is marshaled by an
idealistic but embattled lawman who along with his crotchety old deputy
is in constant conflict with the powerful local rancher and his
cowhands. And climaxing with the rancher sending for the fast gun to
take on the Marshall. Of course with many variations these things are
usually the ingredients of the classic western. But not so with THE
PROFESSIONALS. Here we have an almost complete Mexican setting and four
men - each with their individual skills - contracted to rescue a big
rancher's wife being held by bandits south of the border. Based on the
novel by Frank O'Rourke this completely engaging, beautifully
constructed action packed adventure was written for the screen and
expertly directed by Richard Brooks. The Oscar nominated Panavision
cinematography came from the great Conrad Hall.
With an offer of $10,000 each, mighty rancher(Ralph Bellamy) hires four specialists - lead by Lee Marvin - to rescue his kidnapped much younger wife Maria (Claudia Cardinale) from the clutches of bandit leader Jesus Raza (Jack Palance). "Jesus - what a name.... for the bloodiest cutthroat in Mexico" declares Bellamy. Burt Lancaster is the explosives expert. Robert Ryan is the Wrangler and Woody Strode an expert with Long Bow. On the journey Lancaster is asked his plan with the explosives. With a wry smile he explains "Well I'll tell ye brother.....if we ever do get back to this canyon, I'll light this fuse...... we'll have ten seconds to get the hell out....and then dynamite, not faith, will move this mountain into that pass.... peace brother". When they eventually do manage to infiltrate the bandit's lair they set the charges and blow the place up but to their shock they find that Maria and Raza are lovers after all ("Brother we've been had") and doesn't want to be rescued. Forcibly taking her with them anyway they make a dash for the border with Raza's men in hot pursuit. After an exciting train chase and a terrific canyon gunfight they finally make it back to the rancher's meeting point with Maria and a wounded Raza. The picture ends with Marvin preventing Bellamy from killing Raza ("You haven't earned the right to kill him" Lancaster declares) and then sending Maria and Raza back to Mexico together on a buckboard.
Performances are terrific! Although Lancaster has top billing, Marvin has the leading role. He is the main protagonist around whom all the action centres and he turns in a splendid stern faced portrayal of the conscientious director of the operation. But disappointing is Robert Ryan who gives a rather subdued performance in a surprisingly underwritten role. Lancaster, on the other hand, is a total delight to watch and steals every scene he's in. This marked a very welcome return to form for the actor and brings to mind his much loved swashbuckling roles in "The Flame & The Arrow" (1950) and "The Crimson Pirate" (1952). Excellent too is Jack Palance in the unusual role of Raza the Mexican bandit leader and also the stunning Claudia Cardinale in her first American movie. Adding great atmosphere to the whole thing is the infectious music by Maurice Jarre. The french composer's score abounds with wonderful indigenous Mexican folk tunes giving the picture an engaging south of the border feel.
THE PROFESSIONALS is a top notch western adventure. A sublime and well polished example of the genre that has lost none of its sheen in almost forty five years.
Memorable exchange from THE PROFESSIONALS ;
Marvin to Lancaster, who is clad only in long-johns "You'll have to give up this practice of always losing your pants.....it's undignified". And Lancaster's response " Yeah... it's drafty too".
Action / Adventure / Western
Action / Adventure / Western
A rich Texan, J.W. Grant, selects three men and invites them to his private train to offer them a contract: Rescue his wife who has been kidnapped by a Mexican revolutionary. The leader of the men, Rico, decides they would be a better team if Grant would hire one more man, an explosives expert. Grant quickly agrees and soon the four are off to complete the contract. However, while on the trail, they discover some interesting facts, like has Mrs. Grant 'really' been kidnapped?
Uploaded By: LINUS
Downloaded 22,044 times
January 26, 2016 at 03:51 PM