The Professionals (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]
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Before The Wild Bunch, there was The Professionals, Richard Brooks's marvelous ode to friendship, loyalty, and disillusionment. It may not have the stylistic bravado or fatalistic doom of the legendary Sam Peckinpah film, but Brooks's storytelling is simple and steady and just as insightful. The difference is Brooks is a lot more optimistic. Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster are buddies who have drifted into oblivion after fighting together in the Mexican Revolution. Marvin, the principled loyalist and munitions expert, lost his wife and his heart. Lancaster, the dynamite expert and unprincipled adventurer, keeps losing his pants. They team up with wrangler Robert Ryan and archer Woody Strode to rescue the beguiling Claudia Cardinale, who has been kidnapped by their old revolutionary buddie Jack Palance. So it's back into bloody Mexico they go on a "mission of mercy" for railroad tycoon Ralph Bellamy, who's paying handsomely for the return of his wife.
But nothing is what it seems in this exciting, existential adventure, which was beautifully shot by Conrad Hall. Sarcastic quips, philosophical musings, and heart-rending reversals underlie Brooks's humanistic sentiments. These are tired, world-weary men who somehow find the strength and the will to pull together for the sake of love and commitment. Through it all, Brooks seems to be lamenting a decline in professionalism much deeper than his story. He's decrying Hollywood and the society at large, anticipating Peckinpah's later strategy. --Bill Desowitz --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Anyway, the film begins with the assemblage of four men by a rich, Texas cattleman named Joe Grant, played by Ralph Bellamy (the old dude who wasn't Don Ameche in the John Landis/Eddie Murphy/Dan Aykroyd movie Trading Places), for the purpose of rescuing his young wife Maria, played by the voluptuous Claudia Cardinale, from the clutches of her kidnapper, a Mexican rebel bandit named Jesus Raza (Palance). Seems Raza has made off with the woman and is now demanding $100,000 for her safe return, an amount Mr. Grant would be willing to pay, except he fears that even after he pays the monies, Raza would still harm his wife. As the men come together with the offer of $10,000 apiece if they're successful, we learn of their particular talents. First there's Henry 'Rico' Fardan (Marvin), a master tactician and someone who actually knows Raza as they served together in the Mexican revolution, followed by Bill Dolworth (Lancaster), who also served with Fardan and Raza, and is an expert with explosives, Hans Ehrengard (Ryan), whose skills involve horse wrangling, and finally Jake Sharp (Strode), an expert with weapons, specifically guns and the bow and arrow, and also an experienced tracker.Read more ›
Its ballet of slow-motion blood came from Arthur Penn's 1967 instant classic, Bonnie and Clyde. And much, much more, in terms of story, place, and atmosphere - hard men hired to go on a violent mission to Mexico - came from this 1966 movie, which Richard Brooks directed and wrote, based on Frank O'Rourke's novel, A Mule for the Marquesa. An honest assessment of either movie requires that one discuss the other. Of The Wild Bunch, because it owes so much to The Professionals; of The Professionals, because it has largely, and unfairly, been relegated to obscurity, due to the legendary status of The Wild Bunch.
The Professionals has a dream cast - the four men of the title are played by Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan and Woody Strode. But there's so much more - in those politically incorrect days, Italian star Claudia Cardinale could play a Mexican spitfire ("Maria Grant"), while Jack Palance could portray a Mexican revolutionary ("Raza"). Ralph Bellamy plays railroad tycoon "J.W. Grant," whose Mexican wife, Maria, has been kidnapped, and Marie Gomez plays yet another spitfire ("Chiquita"). (Note that the spitfires are both handy with six-shooters.) The story unfolds ca. 1920, under the shadow of Pancho Villa and the recently concluded Mexican Revolution.Read more ›
It's an ignored classic.
Why...?...I do not know.
I even looked up Lee Marvin under Ask Jeeves and there was a Bio... very detailed... that I pulled up that did not even mention this film.
I think it to be Marvin's best.
Yes...better that the Dirty Dozen which has become a Mantra title for some Marvin fans.
The performances of Marvin and Lancaster are impeccable and charged with a timeless charisma that is also exhibited by Woody Strode and Robert Ryan as well.
I have seen this movie now several times now and could sit down and watch it again and still enjoy it.
Everything about this movie works at just the right time and in just the right way.
This is one of the great films to ever come out of the 1960's and certainly a "have to own" item for any Lancaster, Marvin, Strode or Ryan fan.
Oddly...few people, who love westerns, admire Marvin, Lancaster, Strode or Ryan...have ever heard of it.
Pass the word.....
Burt Lancaster gives another excellent performance as the explosives expert, Lee Marvin as the leader of the men and also a munitions expert, Robert Ryan as the horse wrangler who cares so much for his horses, and Woody Strode as the adept tracker who dispatches his enemy with bow and arrow. All four give great performances. How could you go wrong with such a cast. Jack Palance is very good as Raza, the leader of the revolutionaries\bandits. Ralph Bellamy plays the husband who desperately wants his wife back, played by Claudia Cardinale who looks beautiful. The DVD is very good with widescreen and fullscreen presentations offered, theatrical trailer, and rather extensive filmographies of the cast. Check out this western if you haven't seen it before! The Professionals is an excellent western with a perfect twist at the end. Do not miss!
Also, if you like the movie check out the novel by Frank O'Rourke, also called a Mule for the Marquesa.
Most recent customer reviews
I ended up with a video from Europe that I couldn't use because it can't work here in Canada. I should have sent it back but it wasn't worth the hassle. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Frank Dowd
thought ihad already rtviewed allmy purchases asisaid before iam quite satisfied with the quality and service of my purchases and usually try to review them after ihave checked... Read morePublished on March 15 2013 by blues bro#9
I originally saw this movie when it first came out at the theater. I will have to watch this again because I must have fallen asleep when the topless scenes we're in the original... Read morePublished on Feb. 8 2013 by Terry L Rider
this film was always a favoriite of mine due to the fact it's storey is around world war 1, and the introduction of the horsless carraige and the introduction of modern weapons... Read morePublished on March 3 2004 by schackdaddy
This film was just a couple of miscasts short of being a real classic. Why Jack Palance and Claudia Cardinale as the Mexican couple at the center of the plot? Read morePublished on April 2 2003
This review refers to the Columbia Western Classics DVD edition of "The Professionals".....
A wealthy Texas oilman's beautiful young wife has been kidnapped and is being held... Read more
Another western. This has the promising markings of a pleasantly formulaic film -- four men, each a specialist in his field, are hired to do a big job in Zapata-era Mexico. Read morePublished on Dec 16 2002 by DJ Joe Sixpack