After the Civil War, ex-Confederate soldiers heading for a new life in Mexico run into ex-Union cavalrymen selling horses to the Mexican government but they must join forces to fight off Mex... Read allAfter the Civil War, ex-Confederate soldiers heading for a new life in Mexico run into ex-Union cavalrymen selling horses to the Mexican government but they must join forces to fight off Mexican bandits and revolutionaries.After the Civil War, ex-Confederate soldiers heading for a new life in Mexico run into ex-Union cavalrymen selling horses to the Mexican government but they must join forces to fight off Mexican bandits and revolutionaries.
The set-up of story is great and loosely based on Joseph Orville "Jo" Shelby and his Missouri raiders and their families who really did seek to relocate to Maximilian's Mexico, but had to return after the victory of Juarez' forces. The movie starts with a Civil War battle and the announcement that Lee has surrendered and the war is over, which segues into Langdon and Thomas and their people going to Mexico for completely different reasons; and then they meet. This is great, but the filmmakers add some goofiness, like an over-the-top, fun-spirited brawl between the Confederates and Federals at a 4th of July party in the wilderness. These types of scenes were fairly common in Wayne Westerns at the time and I always thought they detracted from these movies. There's a way to mix realistic comedy into a movie and a way not to and this isn't the way. Besides, how can a serious brouhaha be fun? When you punch people in the face in real life they get bloody noses and missing teeth; here they just laugh it off.
Another problem is NFL quarterback Roman Gabriel as a full-blooded Native American and adopted son of Thomas. No matter how you slice it, he looks like a white dude with a mop of black hair. To add insult to injury, Langdon's cute daughter (Melissa Newman) falls head-over-heals in love with him and the way it happens simply isn't realistic. Would a genuine Southern belle really swoon over a full-blooded Indian who visits their encampment? Would no one notice that the two have wandered off to make-out, in plain view of the others? Would Col. Langdon really not mind that his daughter is sucking face with a full-blooded Native? In our day and age it's no big deal and most people could care less, but it's still an issue in some circles; how much more so back then, particularly with a proud Southern Colonel and his people?
If you can overlook these flaws, however, this is a very worthwhile Western with quality drama, action, characters and locations (shot in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Durango, Mexico). The cast is also notable. Besides the two stars, you also get Lee Meriwether, Marian McCargo, Jan-Michael Vincent (in a too-small role), Merlin Olsen, Ben Johnson and various Wayne Western staples.
This is a likable Western because the people are so likable. For instance, the way one group is unselfishly willing to let go of something of great worth on behalf of another group blows the mind, but it reveals their nobility and the fact that they value human beings more than they do monetary gain, but only because they've found them worthy. It also reveals respect and the willingness to forgive & heal after the nation's most bloody war.
The film runs 119 minutes.
- Dec 3, 2014