In 1864, due to frequent Apache raids from Mexico into the U.S., a Union officer decides to illegally cross the border and destroy the Apache, using a mixed army of Union troops, Confederate POWs, civilian mercenaries, and scouts.
During the last winter of the Civil War, cavalry officer Amos Dundee leads a contentious troop of Army regulars, Confederate prisoners and scouts on an expedition into Mexico to destroy a band of Apaches who have been raiding U.S. bases in Texas.Written by
Columbia added more stress to the production by moving the wrap date up a full month. See more »
Although Mexico was occupied by French troops during the American Civil War and that occupation was not looked upon kindly by the Abraham Lincoln administration, there was never any fighting between US and French forces. See more »
In the territory of New Mexico towards the end of the Civil War, an Indian, Sierra Charriba, and his Apache warriors raided, sacked and looted an area almost three times the size of Texas.
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Opening credits prologue:
1864 JOURNAL 1865
In the territory of New Mexico, toward the end of the Civil War, an Indian Sierra Charriba, and his 47 Apache warriors raided, sacked, and looted an area almost three times the size of Texas.
On October 31, 1864, an entire company of the 5th United States Cavalry sent out from Fort Benlin to destroy him, was ambushed and massacred at the Rostes ranch.
We are indebted to Timothy Ryan, bugler 5th United States Cavalry, the company's sole survivor, for his diary, the only existing record of this tragedy and the campaign that followed. See more »
Three major scenes (and some minor ones) were added to the restored version, along with a new score by Christopher Caliendo. The major scenes added are:
Captain Tyreen and his men are captured by Dundee in a mountain stream as they attempt to escape the prison;
Dundee spends more time recovering in Durango, falling in love with Melinche (Aurora Clavell), a Mexican girl who nurses his wounds;
A scene where Dundee, Tyreen, a several of their officers - Samuel Potts (James Coburn), Sergeant Gomez (Mario Adorf), and Lieutenant Graham (Jim Hutton) - find a marker left for them by Charriba (Michael Pate) and discuss strategy on how to fight him. At the end of the scene, we learn the fate of the Indian scout Riago (Jose Carlos Ruiz), who has been crucified in a tree by Charriba's men. In the original version, his character simply disappears without a trace.
Various smaller shots are added, including a burial of corpses after the opening massacre, children watching the activities in Fort Benlin, Potts struggling to find a partner during the fiesta at the Mexican village, and a slightly longer version of the Apache river ambush.
Also available as extras on the DVD are a slightly longer version of the interlude at the river between Dundee and Teresa (Senta Berger), and a knife fight between Potts and Gomez in the Mexican village.
"Major Dundee" is Sam Peckinpah's rehearsal for "The Wild Bunch." The stories for both films are basically the same (men whose time has come and gone and they know it, and who don't fit in either society they are forced to be in, and they know that, too). "Dundee" has a good story, excellent action scenes and a sterling supporting cast of first-rate character actors (R.G. Armstrong, John Davis Chandler, Warren Oates, among others), but as previously noted, the film tends to fall apart during the second half. Senta Berger, although ravishing to look at, is totally wasted in a superfluous part, and the entire second half of the film has a choppy, disjointed feel to it. The main problem with it, apparently, was some major interference by Columbia Pictures and especially producer Jerry Bresler. Peckinpah's vision of the story and Bresler's were reportedly miles apart, and after the picture was shot and edited, Bresler and Peckinpah had a major blow-up, the producer had Peckinpah barred from the Columbia lot and hired his own editor to help him recut the picture. When star Charlton Heston saw the version that Bresler and his editor came up with, he went to the executives at Columbia and told them that he would have his name taken off the picture and never work for Columbia again if Peckinpah was not allowed back on the lot to cut the picture the way he wanted. Eventually a compromise was reached and Peckinpah was allowed to work on the editing, but the film still wasn't the way he wanted it, and he basically disowned it. It's too bad, as it's still a very good picture, but it could have been a great one.
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