Major Dundee (1965)

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    Photo with the courtesy of lasbugas

    Information from IMDb

    Plot Summary
    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 scgary66

    Full Cast
    Charlton Heston ... Major Amos Charles Dundee
    Richard Harris ... Captain Benjamin Tyreen
    Jim Hutton ... Lieutenant Graham
    James Coburn ... Samuel Potts
    Michael Anderson Jr. ... Trooper Tim Ryan
    Senta Berger ... Teresa Santiago
    Mario Adorf ... Sergeant Gomez
    Brock Peters ... Aesop
    Warren Oates ... O.W. Hadley
    Ben Johnson ... Sergeant Chillum
    R.G. Armstrong ... Reverend Dahlstrom
    L.Q. Jones ... Arthur Hadley
    Slim Pickens ... Wiley
    Karl Swenson ... Captain Waller
    Michael Pate ... Sierra Charriba
    John Davis Chandler ... Jimmy Lee Benteen
    Dub Taylor ... Priam
    Albert Carrier ... Captain Jacques Tremaine
    José Carlos Ruiz ... Riago (as Jose Carlos Ruiz)
    Aurora Clavel ... Melinche (as Aurora Clavell)
    Begoña Palacios ... Linda (as Begonia Palacios)
    Enrique Lucero ... Doctor Aguilar
    Francisco Reiguera ... Old Apache (as Francisco Reyguera)
    Whitey Hughes ... Confederate Trooper (uncredited)
    Cliff Lyons ... (uncredited)
    Jody McCrea ... Lt. Brannin (uncredited)
    Marvin Miller ... Opening Narrator (voice) (uncredited)
    Dennis Patrick ... (uncredited)
    Rockne Tarkington ... Jefferson (uncredited)

    Writing Credits
    Harry Julian Fink (story & screenplay)
    Oscar Saul (screenplay) and
    Sam Peckinpah (screenplay)

    Original Music
    Daniele Amfitheatrof
    Christopher Caliendo (2005 restored version)

    Sam Leavitt

    During the filming of this movie, Sam Peckinpah was so obnoxious and abusive towards his actors that Charlton Heston physically threatened the director with a sabre. Heston later remarked that this was the only time he had ever threatened anybody on a movie set.

    The studio wanted to fire Sam Peckinpah but Charlton Heston convinced them not to, when he threatened to return his $400,000 fee and pull out of the project.

    Lee Marvin was Sam Peckinpah's initial choice for the role of Samuel Potts, but Marvin wanted too much money. Marvin's agent suggested 'James Coburn' for the part, and Coburn ultimately got the role.

    Woody Strode was considered for the part that went to Brock Peters. Strode was part Native American and he wrote in his memoirs that he didn't get the part because he was told by Sam Peckinpah that he looked too much "like a half-breed" to play the part.

    Shooting on the movie was wrapped up early by studio executives, in the interest of controlling costs, before some important scenes were filmed. Charlton Heston offered to return his entire salary for the movie if the studio would agree to film the opening scene - the massacre of soldiers and civilians by the apaches - and some re-shoots. The studio kept his paycheck and never allowed any more footage to be shot anyway.

    After the success of Sam Peckinpah's later The Wild Bunch, Columbia told him that they would allow him to re-shoot parts of this film that had been cut from the release version. Peckinpah, naturally, declined the offer.

    Sam Peckinpah had been pitching a movie about Gen. George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of the Little Big Horn, because he thought it was fascinating how Custer became a glorious, immortal American hero after being defeated in battle and killed. Nothing ever came of it, but Peckinpah thought the story of "Major Dundee" to be similar enough, and took this job instead.

    The script was originally written with John Ford in mind to direct, but Ford was busy working on Cheyenne Autumn and in any case was uninterested.

    Average Shot Length (ASL) = 4.7 seconds

    The role of Capt. Tyreen was intended for Anthony Quinn, who pulled out.

    Sam Peckinpah originally wanted Lucien Ballard, with whom he had had a good working relationship on Ride the High Country, as the director of photography, but producer Jerry Bresler refused the request, making him work with Sam Leavitt, whose credits included Diamond Head, a previous Bresler production, and Cape Fear. Although Leavitt did get along fairly well with Peckinpah, this was the first sign of tension between the director and the producer.

    Despite his quarrel with Sam Peckinpah, producer Jerry Bresler fought very hard with Columbia to keep the 136-minute cut (the "Extended Edition" now on DVD) despite its poor reception at its preview, but was rebuffed by the studio.

    L.Q. Jones narrates the trailer for the re-release of the extended version.
    Share this
    Many of the actors who came to be known as the "Sam Peckinpah Stock Company" appeared in this film and four years later in Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch: Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, L.Q. Jones, Dub Taylor, Aurora Clavel, Enrique Lucero.

    Tyreen's quote, on finding Dundee in Durango, 'Awake for Morning in the bowl of night has cast the stone that puts the stars to flight ...' , is from the 'The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam', translated by Edward Fitzgerald

    According to both Paul Seydor's book PECKINPAH: THE WESTERN FILMS, A RECONSIDERATION, and David Weddle's book IF THEY MOVE, KILL 'EM, MAJOR DUNDEE was originally budgeted at $4.5 million and scheduled for seventy-five days of principal photography, which was appropriate for a road-show release. But only two days before Sam Peckinpah, his cast and crew were to star filming in Mexico, a change in the top brass at Columbia occurred, and the new regime cut the budget down by $1.5 million, and the schedule down by fifteen days, making it a standard western release. As could be expected, Peckinpah considered this an act of extreme betrayal.

    Continuity: In the final battle, Captain Tremaine is struck by Tyreen and falls from his horse into the river, but in the very next shot he is back in the saddle.

    Factual errors: Prior to the final battle, Captain Tyreen is shown inserting cartridges into what should be a muzzle loading pistol.

    Factual errors: The type of howitzer used by Lieutenant Graham in the M1841 12 pounder Mountain Howitzer, a small but effective piece used primarily as horse artillery. In the final battle, Graham orders that the piece be elevated to 28 degrees; the highest level that can be reached for this piece is ten degrees.

    Factual errors: In the final battle, the French lancers signal their charge with an American bugle call.

    Anachronisms: At the end of the battle attempting to cross a river, one of the black soldiers is shown easily carrying the howitzer in his arms. The man would have to be very strong, as the barrel of a 12-lb. Mountain Howitzer would have weighed over 220 pounds.

    Continuity: When Ryan and Linda are talking to Tyreen and Dundee in the village, she has a bright red shawl wrapped completely round her, But in the shot as she and Ryan walk away, the shawl has dropped off her shoulders and is held around her upper arms.

    Memorable Quotes

    Filming Locations
    Chilpancingo, Guerrero, Mexico
    Churubusco Studios, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico (studio) (interiors)
    Cuaútla, Morelos, Mexico (exteriors)
    Durango, Mexico
    El Saltito, Durango, Mexico
    Estudios Churubusco Azteca, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico (studio) (interiors)
    Guerrero, Mexico
    La Marquesa, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico (ranch: Rostes)
    Marquesas, Mexico
    Mescala, Mexico
    Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
    Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico
    Morelos, Mexico
    Nuevo León, Mexico
    Rio Balsas, Guerrero, Mexico (finale: battle)
    Tehuixtla, Morelos, Mexico (exteriors)
    Tequesquitengo, Morelos, Mexico (exteriors)
    Tlayacapan, Morelos, Mexico
    Vista Mermosa, Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico (exterior)



    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited once, last by ethanedwards ().

  • Major Dundee written by Harry Julian Fink and directed by Sam Peckinpah,
    starred Charlton Heston and Richard Harris as officers from opposing sides
    in the American Civil War who band together to hunt down a band of Apaches.

    This film has recently been mentioned in other threads,
    so hence this review
    A few of Duke's 'Pals' amongst the star studded cast,
    notably Ben Johnson, Jim Hutton,
    Slim Pickens, Karl Swenson, Dub Taylor, Cliff Lyons ..

    User Review

    18 August 1999 | by Eric-62-2 (Morristown, NJ)


    The first half of "Major Dundee" is gripping and fascinating. The problem is that the second half doesn't deliver on the build-up. The whole point is supposed to be the pursuit of the Apache, yet the film spends more time getting sidetracked from all this, in particular the scenes of Dundee's injury and descent into drunkenness (and did we really need Senta Berger, since her role is really pointless, despite the visual scenery she adds?) and when the Apache is found, it happens too abruptly. Fascinating supporting characters disappear or are downplayed too much in the second half, and the ending is too abrupt as well. Since the expedition ends up returning after the surrender of Lee and the end of the War, I was surprised there was no scene of Dundee returning to the Fort and offering a final reflection on Tyreen. The film literally cried out for it.

    Charlton Heston felt that Dundee should have been more about the issues of the Civil War and had they stuck to this approach all through the film we might have had a great film instead of a merely good one.

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited once, last by ethanedwards ().

  • The reviewer quoted above pretty much sums it up. This film was rolling along until the Senta Berger character shows up. I understand that the studio demanded a love interest that she had overseas box office drawing power, but Sam should have declined the interference. She's fine in the part but the character belongs in a different movie.
    The movie is still enjoyable and interesting and Heston plays a conflicted and pig headed role instead of some noble, faultless icon.
    The extended cut DVD with the new soundtrack is the only way to watch this one. It contains about 15 more minutes and replaces the terrible original score (the French army scenes sounded like "Three Blind Mice").
    The film is still incomplete though, with several scenes that were filmed but since lost.
    Fans still debate whether the opening massacre was ever filmed. If Larry or anyone else has photos to post they could settle the issue.

    We deal in lead, friend.

  • A somewhat underrated movie with a good cast, headed by Charlton Heston and Richard Harris, whose chemistry is perfect in the movie. Now that we have the extended cut, I feel it should get some more respect than it currently enjoys among fans and critics.

    It still amazes me that Heston gave away his salary to help the movie out. What a man.


  • Just great images from Dooley and Paula. Ben and the stuntman were probably afraid to look at Begonia (Liz) Palacios. She married director Sam Peckinpah who could cut them out of the movie.

    We deal in lead, friend.

  • Just great images from Dooley and Paula. Ben and the stuntman were probably afraid to look at Begonia (Liz) Palacios. She married director Sam Peckinpah who could cut them out of the movie.

    We deal in lead, friend.

    Can't see what Peckinpah saw on her! Lol!

    Great stills Paula, glad more people are up for putting pics on here!

    "Pour yourself some backbone and shut up!"

  • Quote

    Ben and the stuntman were probably afraid to look at Begonia (Liz) Palacios. She married director Sam Peckinpah who could cut them out of the movie.

    Someone showed this photo to Lupita Peckipah, daughter of Begonia Palacios and Sam Peckinpah, and she confirmed the lady in the photo is NOT Begonia Palacios. In fact, she has no idea who it is. So the mystery reasserts itself. :)

  • Perhaps the lady's name is (or was) Liz Palacios, but even so she is not related to Begonia's family,which actually was named "Palacio" without the "s." (Begonia added the "s" to her name -- this information also from her daughter Lupita.)

  • Twilight Times' blu ray of Major Dundee will be released on 4/9/13. It has been confirmed that it will be a two disc set, but the contents are still unknown. My own suspicion is that both versions of the film will be provided.

    This is limited to a pressing of only 3,000, so if you want one, better pre- order it when it becomes available.

    We deal in lead, friend.

  • Where did you see this Bill. I've got most of the twilight time releases and go on the sea website often and couldn't see mention of it? Same goes for the blu ray box set with pillars and Saskatchewan in it?
    Post links if you can.
    I hope you're not kidding, it's not April 1st for quite a while!:wink_smile:

    "Pour yourself some backbone and shut up!"

  • Twilight Time hasn't officially announced it yet. However, someone posted the info to Home Theater Forum and it's been forwarded there to some other places. Twilight Time did confirm on their Facebook page the information is accurate -- though still not officially announced. Hoping they make the announcement soon -- I am anxious to see the artwork, including the interior booklet art.

  • Twilight time posted the announcement about Dundee on Blu

    I just posted elsewhere that I erred in saying that the 5 box set from Universal would be Blu ray. It'd DVD.


  • "Major Dundee" is a film that was so close to becoming a classic, but fell short due to both studio interference and an egotistical director with only half a script.
    Sony restored about 20 minutes and replaced the horrid music score and re-released it in a couple large cities and then onto DVD a few years ago.
    That version is a huge improvement, but there are still scenes that were filmed and apparently lost for good. How much finding and restoring them would improve the film is debatable.
    Co producer of the upcoming blu ray is Nick Redmond, who is one of the biggest Peckinpah fans in the world. It is doubtful that he and his crew have been able to unearth any additional material, but at least the transfer could not be in better hands.
    Ironically, a few years ago I came close to finding a few hundred stills that Columbia had turned over to a NYC memorabilia dealer. They were in a warehouse and before I got to them, a water pipe leaked onto them and turned them into a sodden lump. Who knows what might have been found.
    Anyway, I thought I'd post a few images from the film here and try and drum up some enthusiasm for it.
    If anyone has any information or additional images, please join in.

    We deal in lead, friend.

  • Originally, the film opened with the massacre of a cavalry detachment at a ranch house. That was dropped and, instead, the film now opens with the aftermath. No one I know has any proof that the massacre was even filmed.