Here’s a western made in 1966 that reflected the later anti-hero story line that Clint Eastwood mined so successfully in his spaghetti westerns. The big names are Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin. They are former mercenaries who have ridden with Pancho Villa but now are selling their services to a Texan (played by Ralph Bellamy) whose wife has been kidnapped by an old bandit ally of theirs. This bandit, Jesus Raza, played by Jack Palance is over the border in Mexico with a small army of followers in a heavily defended camp. Marvin adds two more men to his crew with Robert Ryan and Woody Strode. Together they devise a scheme to disrupt the camp, rescue the woman and outwit and outfight Raza’s army. Claudia Cardinale plays the kidnapped wife and in addition to being a capable actress she shows why she is remembered as one of the most attractive actresses of her time. She is a fine-looking babe.
The script is tight and the dialog is apt with each of the main characters given the words that fit the part. Marvin is the cool efficient tactician and leader. Lancaster is the fearless daredevil who lightheartedly plunks dynamite at his enemies while firing off jokes and insults at everyone around him. Ryan and Strode ably fulfill their parts but with less dialog. And at the end of the main action Lancaster and Palance get to discuss life and love as they prepare for their strange duel.
The plot has a surprising twist and plenty of action and is in my opinion, one of the better westerns from its era. Marvin and Lancaster have good chemistry and have been placed in a production that uses their particular talents to excellent effect. If you’re a fan of the western genre this movie delivers the goods. Highly recommended.