As we have no new DVD to review for you today (though I’d recommend Miracle at St. Anna if you haven’t seen it) we’ll take this opportunity to review an older, but lesser known, film.
Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Woody Strode, and Robert Ryan star as a ragtag band brought together to rescue the wife (Claudia Cardinale) of a Texas tycoon (Ralph Bellamy) from a Mexican outlaw (Jack Palance).
Made over forty-years ago The Professionals still holds up today. Filled with some nice action sequences, some terrific dialogue (including one hell of a last line), and a twist or two, here’s an easy recommendation.
Although the plot itself isn’t that complicated (or original) the film finds ways to enhance the experience with some beautiful Oscar-nominated cinematography and a rousing score to cheer on our heroes.
And writer and director by Richard Brooks (Key Largo, Elmer Gantry) gives us some great moments between the characters, a few surprises, some suspense, and quite a bit of humor as well. Although Lancaster really steals the show everyone is given something special here whether it’s Ryan’s internal struggle over shooting a horse, Marvin’s leadership and planning, Cardinale’s attempt to seduce her rescuers, or Maria Gomez proving that women make for some formidable outlaws (in more ways than one). Okay, so buying Jack Palance as a Mexican revolutionary is a bit of a stretch, but if you can accept Charlton Heston as a Mexican this shouldn’t trouble you that much.
And did I mention Claudia Cardinale? Oh my!
The film is available on both DVD and Blu-ray and if you are a fan of westerns or simply good action flicks I’d heartily recommend you give it a try. It’s not a great film, but it is an under-appreciated good one, and worth a look.
Both the Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray versions include remastered soundtracks (Dolby Digital 5.1) and vibrant transfers of film plus a few extras worth noting:
Burt Lancaster a Portrait (12:00) – A short but informative look at the life and career of Burt Lancaster including clips and an interview given by his daughter Joanna. Fans of the actor will want to check this out.
Memories from “The Professionals” (23:00) – A look back by some of the stars including Cardinale and Gomez as well as Director of Photography Conrad L. Hall and Lancaster biographer Kate Buford. Your basic “remembrances” featurette.
“The Professionals” – A Classic (6:00) Short look back on legacy of the film also with Cardinale, Hall, and Casino Royale director Martin Campbell. Nice idea which could have been better flushed out given more time.