Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The Professionals (1966)

The wife of a wealthy landowner is kidnapped by a Mexican bandit chief.  The landowner hires four men for the task of getting her back.  All they have to do is make their way to the kidnapper's fortified mountain base, get inside, get the woman out, and then make it back to the US ahead of the bandit and his 150-strong band of soldiers.

Simple enough, right?  Especially since there is absolutely no chance of there being any unexpected complications ...

So the first thing you my notice about this film is that it has quite the cast.  Most of the big names are shown in the image above, though I'll also give a shout-out to the one and only Woody Strode: a former footballer and professional wrestler whose film career would extend over 6 decades.  Other than his Oscar-nominated supporting role in Spartacus, this movie was probably Strode's highest profile success.  Had he been born 50 years later, I think he would be where Idris Elba is right now.  But the 60s were a different time: a time when it was acceptable to cast Jack Palance as a Mexican, for instance.

The Professionals is a well-made western film of its era.  The action sequences don't compare to those of modern films in terms of technical execution, perhaps, but they get the job done and they show consideration for mood and style.  The characters aren't especially deep, but they're easily distinguishable and well-played.  The story has plenty of twists and turns and my only real complaint would be that the final denouement rings a little bit hollow for trying too resolutely to be upbeat.

I'd love to see a modern stab at this story.  In the meantime, we have this solid effort to tide us over.

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