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THE DEADLY COMPANIONS

Director: SAM PECKINPAH

U.S.A. • 1961 • COLOUR • BETA SP VIDEO • 93 MIN


Produced by its star Maureen O’Hara’s brother, The Deadly Companions was Peckinpah’s debut feature and virtually disowned by him because of the lack of freedom he had with the script. There are striking passages, nonetheless: a bizarre opening where a Yankee (Brian Keith), seeking revenge for a wound left over from the Civil War, discovers his quarry (Chill Wills) standing on a barrel with five aces pinned to his chest and a noose round his neck; a scene where a saloon is rapidly transformed into a setting for a sermon; and a hilarious moment when a raid on a stagecoach reveals itself to be a group of Apaches playfully indulging in a bout of drunken self-parody. An accidental shooting will change a quest for vengeance into one of atonement; and during a mother’s dangerous journey to bury her son, each main character will have his or her moment of truth. Lacking overall coherence perhaps, the film nevertheless announces a quirky and original talent.

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