THE DEADLY COMPANIONS (1961)

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The Deadly Companions Cover What do you get when you mix together a multi-colored romance plus a rather blue family tragedy? Why, yes! That's correct, dear reader. You get the following 93 minute movie made in 1961. It was Directed by: Sam Peckinpah; and Starred: Maureen O'Hara, Brian Keith, with Steve Cochran.


The Deadly Companions - Cary Roan Signature Edition


THE STORY:
Now how many times do I have to tell you three numskulls to leave me alone? One? Two? Or what about four? By now I'm sure you bunch of hat-wearing-bandits know all too well why I can't stand the sight of you.

You, Billy, I've never liked the look of you ever since you tried to kiss me back in church. You, Turk (Chill Wills), from the smell of your foul stench I can tell you're defiantly a bad-guy. And as for you, Yellowleg (Brian Keith), well, we all know why I don't want you anywhere near me, don't we? Especially when it was only the other day that you accidentally shot my son down in the street!

So once more, I would just like to tell you three men to leave me alone, OK? All I want to do is lay my son to rest by the side of his deceased farther's grave, even if his rustic cemetery is being plagued by a swarm of savage Indians.

But then again, that's most probably why what next transpires becomes rather long-winded, when Yellowleg looks down on me and say's, 'Now you listen here, Kit (Maureen O'Hara). I'm not going anywhere. Got it?'. As a lady eventually gets two thirds of her wish - the only thing that gets near water is a bloody stinking fish - some horse trouble leads straight into an Indian fight - and at the end of the day, a hat-less wonder comes out of this fairly alright.




THE REVIEW:
In a round about way I'd say 'The Deadly Companions' reminded me of a lovable yet wounded dog. Well, with all due respect, dear reader, I honestly felt this western had a somewhat jaded feel to it. It spoke when it needed to speak. It moved when it needed to move. Plus its characters were kind of warming and nurturing by nature. Some of them -- mainly those played by Maureen and Brian -- were pretty sympathetic on occasion, even if this nuance did take some time in the telling.

The Deadly Companions 1961 Film Poster Starring Maureen O'Hara and Brian Keith
Take a look at Brian's character for example. Yellowleg. At the start of this movie you know he's hiding something underneath his hat -- literally. And that the key to unlocking his mystery will be unveiled to the one person he's able to communicate to.

'And who might that be?', you may ask yourself. Why it's the character played by Maureen of course. Kit. Just like Brian's character she comes across as a fairly decent person, despite initially being presented as a 'loose woman' who is frowned upon by the other women in her village. Furthermore, this stance isn't exacerbated even when Brian accidentally kills her son, and she consuls herself by wanting to bury him way out of town, near where her dead-husband's been previously buried.

However, for her to be able to do accomplish this task, who do you think wants to give her a hand? Why yes. It's the character played by Brian -- plus his two unscrupulous accomplices, whom -- unlike Brian and Maureen's characters -- are obviously the main protagonist's in this film.

Granted, this underlining facet wasn't very apparent straight off the bat. As you've got to follow quite a few long-winded sequences before this glib stance took a hold of the plot. And as for the plot itself, well, sometimes the characters drove the narrative. Sometime the circumstances drove the characters. And more less this plodding momentum catapulted this movie too and throw from pillar to post, just like a lovable yet wounded dog.


The Deadly Companions Starring Maureen O'Hara


The Deadly Companions DVD Cover Starring Maureen O'Hara and Brian Keith
There. Now do you see what I mean by my initial remark? If not, go and sit in the corner this instant and check out the following filmic facts. Ha! (1) 'Pathé-America' first released this production in Tucson, Arizona, on exactly the same day the noted Swiss Psychiatrist, Carl Gustav, tragically passed away. It was on the 6th of June, 1961. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'The Law of The Prairie' in Finland; 'New Mexico' in France; and when it was re-issued in America years later, it was given the alternate title, 'Trigger Happy'. (3) The majority of this movie was shot on location throughout the American state of Arizona, most notably Old Tucson, South Kinney Road. (4) Now there's two theories' floating around Hollywood relating to the origins of this films source material -- a novel named 'Yellowleg'. One of them states that the novel was based on another novel created prior to its development. Whilst another theory state's that it was written during its development, and used afterwards to help bolster the films financing. (5) Brian Keith and Sam Peckinpah both worked together before starring and directing in this film, and this was on the not so popular television series, 'The Westerner'. In fact, it has been suggested that Brian got Sam to work on it will him because of their previous collaboration. (6) The tagline used to promote this picture, was, 'An Unholy Alliance'. (7) The actress, Maureen O' Hara, her producer brother, Charles Fitzsimons, plus the writer, A. S. Fleischman, formed 'Carousel Productions' so they could get this movie made. In total it cost them $300 thousand dollars, $15 thousand went to Sam Peckinpah, and $30 thousand went to Brian Keith. (8) After this western cursed the confederacy, both Maureen O'Hara and Brian Keith starred in the family comedy, 'The Parent Trap'; where as Steve Cochran starred in the television series, 'The Untouchables'.


The Deadly Companions Vintage Film Still - 1961


Now before I bugger off to God knows where I best mention that I really enjoyed Brian and Maureen's performances throughout the course of 'The Deadly Companions'. In my eyes Maureen played a very comely MILF with a stoic yet elegant determination. Where as Brian appeared like a low-calorie version of John Wayne with a very mysterious edge.

So if like me, you're one of those people who can look past some of the low production values and sympathize with the plights of the characters, I'm sure you'd find that at the heart of this film is a fairly mannered romance, mixed in with the wet snout of a lovable dog.

Nuff said.  Woff-Woff.

THE RATING: A