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The Comancheros

John Wayne  Actor Stuart Whitman  Actor Ina Balin  Actor Nehemiah Persoff  Actor Lee Marvin  Actor

MPAA Rating: NR
Contains:Suitable for Children

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The Comancheros

UPC: 024543771920

Studio: 20th Century Fox

MPAA Rating: NR   Contains:[Suitable for Children]

Summary: Michael Curtiz's The Comancheros was a deceptively complex movie -- so enjoyable, that it masked some of the best character development seen in a John Wayne vehicle that was not directed by John Ford or Howard Hawks, and so well made that it got by with some of the most violent action seen in a major studio release of the era. It also bridged the gap between Ford's The Searchers and the upbeat buddy movies of the late '60s and '70s (The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, etc.). It's 1843 in the Republic of Texas, and Jake Cutter (John Wayne) is a two-fisted Texas Ranger who runs across a gang of white renegades, called the Comancheros, who are trading guns and other contraband with marauding Comanches from a secret hideout in Mexico. Substituting for a repentant gun-runner, he goes undercover as a partner with Crow (Lee Marvin), a vicious half-breed who is a contact man with the Comancheros and knows the whereabouts of their hideout in Mexico. But Crow manages to get himself killed, and Cutter is forced to throw in with Paul Regret (Stuart Whitman), a bystander who also happens to be an itinerant gambler wanted for killing a man in a duel in New Orleans, to complete his mission. It turns out that Regret is a more decent man than most, and he and Cutter, despite some different outlooks on right and wrong, take a liking to each other. Their quest eventually takes them south of the border, where they find the Comancheros and their leader, Graile (Nehemiah Persoff), a bitter, brilliant cripple -- think of The Sea Wolf's Wolf Larsen in a wheelchair -- who has established a landlocked pirate society, and his daughter Pilar (Ina Balin). The only thing that keeps Cutter and Regret alive when they enter the camp is that Pilar and Regret have a history, and she still has feelings for him, enough so that she won't tell what she knows about Cutter and who he is. The two men must play on Graile's greed and Pilar's love in the explosive surroundings of the Comancheros' camp, while figuring out a way to stay alive long enough to get word to the rangers about where they are -- and to survive the attack that must inevitably follow.

Director Michael Curtiz was ill for part of the shoot, and Wayne took up the slack, but The Comancheros displays some of the same freewheeling charm and deep passions that informed classic films of his such as Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and The Sea Hawk. Wayne and Whitman between them manage to evoke some of the rambunctiousness of Errol Flynn, and when Balin (one of the sexiest leading ladies ever to grace a John Wayne movie) arrives onscreen, the testosterone level shoots up even higher and the sexual sparks fly. The film's 105 minutes go by very fast, and this is a movie whose ending comes almost too soon. Curtiz's final film is one that leaves audiences with a smile, but also wanting more, which was a pretty good way to go out. John Wayne's daughter, Aissa Wayne (who subsequently went into a law career) appears in a small role. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

Category: Western

Features: Audio Commentary by Stuart Whitman, Nehemiah Persoff, Michael Ansara and Patrick Wayne

The Comancheros and the Battle for the American Southwest

The Duke at Fox - A Two-Part Documentary
Vintage Comancheros Comic Book Gallery

A Conversation with Stuart Whitman (Audio Only)

Fox Movietonews: Claude King and Tillman Franks Receive Award for The Comancheros

Theatrical Trailers

The Comancheros

Format: Blu-ray

Release Date: 10/11/2011

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Cinemascope

Audio: DHMA, DD4.0 Dolby Digital 4.0

Runtime: 107 Minutes

Sides: 1

Number of Discs: 1

Language(s) English,Spanish,French

Subtitles: English,Spanish

Wheeler Winston Dixon

The Comancheros is Michael Curtiz's last film as a director; from all accounts, he was weak and ill during the filming, although one would never know it from the finished product, which is skillfully directed and bears the unmistakable stamp of Curtiz's professionalism. John Wayne stepped in to direct some scenes when Curtiz faltered, and Cliff Lyons, an excellent stuntman whose career traced back to the silent era, directed the second-unit action sequences, and certainly these contributions added considerably to the film's final cut. The film boasts a particularly interesting cast; aside from Wayne, stars Stuart Whitman and Lee Marvin, as well as veteran character actors Jack Elam, Henry Daniell, and Richard Devon are on hand to liven up the proceedings. The plot is simplicity itself; Wayne plays Texas Ranger Jake Cutter, a role he could stroll through without breaking a sweat, who arrests itinerant gambler Paul Regret (Whitman) as another routine assignment. But Whitman and Wayne soon find they must pool their resources to defeat a band of renegade arms dealers known as the Comancheros, led by Jack Elam at his slimiest. The Comancheros is a deeply formulaic film, designed to keep Wayne in the public eye and his loyal audience members satisfied. None of it makes much sense, but Curtiz directs in his usual hectic style, so that the incidents pile up so quickly that one soon forgets the absurdity of the film's premise. Interestingly, veteran Western director Budd Boetticher was originally slated to direct this film during a particularly down period in the director's life when he was in jail in Mexico during the production of his film Arruza (which was eventually completed after much hardship in 1972). Astoundingly, Boetticher turned the offer down, preferring to remain in jail rather than tackle what he saw as a mediocre project. Michael Curtiz died shortly after production of the film was completed. ~ Wheeler Winston Dixon, Rovi

Cast and Crew: Elmer Bernstein  Composer (Music Score) 
Michael Curtiz  Director 
James Edward Grant  Screenwriter 
George Sherman  Producer 
Clair Huffaker  Screenwriter 
John Wayne  Actor 
Stuart Whitman  Actor 
Ina Balin  Actor 
Nehemiah Persoff  Actor 
Lee Marvin  Actor 
Michael Ansara  Actor 
Bruce Cabot  Actor 
Joan O'Brien  Actor 
Jack Elam  Actor 
Edgar Buchanan  Actor 
Henry Daniell  Actor 
Richard Devon  Actor 
Steve Baylor  Actor 
John Dierkes  Actor 
Roger Mobley  Actor 
Bob Steele  Actor 
Luisa Triana  Actor 
Iphigenie Castiglioni  Actor 
Aissa Wayne  Actor 
Harry Carey, Jr.  Actor 
Leigh Snowden  Actor 
Tom Hennessy  Actor 
Patrick Wayne  Actor 
Guinn "Big Boy" Williams  Actor 
George Lewis  Actor 
Gregg Palmer  Actor 
Don Brodie  Actor 
Jon Lormer  Actor 
Phil Arnold  Actor 
Alan Carney  Actor 
Ralph Volkie  Actor 
Dennis Cole  Actor 

Country: USA