Writers: Wendell Mayes, Steven W. Carabatsos
Composer: Pino Calvi
Starring: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Woody Strode, Roger Hanin, Reinhard Koldehoff, Jorge Luke, Jorge Martinez de Hoyos, Arthur Hunnicutt, Warren Vanders, Larry Pennell, Susan Hayward
More info: IMDb
Tagline: He bought six men out of hell and they brought it with them.
Plot: The life of peaceful rancher John Benedict (William Holden) is torn apart when his family is massacred by a gang of marauding outlaws and his farm is destroyed. He assembles a team of mean, lawless convicts to act as his posse as he pursues the gang responsible for the deaths of his loved ones.
My rating: 6.5/10
Will I watch it again? No.
THE WILD SPOILERS!!! YARRRRRR
I would say you kind of get a THE WILD BUNCH (1969) vibe but that's only because you've got William Holden leading a bunch of criminals on horseback across the Old West, it's got Ernest Borgnine and the picture ends with a big standoff fight with lots of folks dyin'. That's where any similarities begin and end. This is nowhere near as mature as that picture but it does have a couple of heavy moments that help make this at least worth a look for Western fans. The first is the offscreen slaughter of Benedict's (Holden) entire family. That was fucking cool. Most of the men Benedict enlists for his quest for revenge betray and rob him. Nice although not unexpected considering he rescued them from prison. Later one of the men, who thinks he might be (in some fantasy world) Benedict's son shoots Benedict. Didn't see that coming, either. The nice thing about that scene was how we get a few seconds to let that soak in. Benedict is offscreen on the floor of a small saloon and we only see the reactions of his men and it's pretty darn clear that he's dead. That is until the saloon keeper's kid discovers that he's still breathing after all. I also need to add that he's hellbent on killing Tarp, the man who wiped out his family and they've been tracking this guy for more than six months. It gives the picture a bit of realism you usually don't get and it didn't cost the movie a nickel to point that out. Usually the good guys get the bad guy after only a few days. Anyway, now Benedict has to recover which takes several more weeks. By the time Benedict finds Tarp it's probably been about a year. Nice.
The bad? Pino Calvi's score feels like it's from a different movie from a different genre. It's almost all ill-fitting and semi-laughable, especially when you consider this is a post-WILD BUNCH (i.e., the Western genre matured into harsh adulthood) Western. The ending is bullshit. Benedict has a change of heart after he helps the Army defend off a band of Indians (who are after Tarp who is being held captive by the Army) and rides off alone feeling good that he left Tarp alive. REALLY? Minutes earlier he was damn well ready to kill that sumbitch and now it's all love and flowers? THE FUCK? You could make a case that the motley gang Benedict leaves behind will see the job through but there is nothing to suggest they will. I honestly felt a little robbed. The performances are fine and it's a pretty good flick but the flaws and lack of consistent grit keeps this from being a REALLY good movie. If the filmmakers had gone for more of a raw reality (like in THE WILD BUNCH), even just striving for it, and had the picture end with Benedict exacting his revenge, it would have been one to remember. Sigh.