Western: The Deadly Companions (1961, Gefährten des Todes)
Regie: Sam Peckinpah
Darsteller: Maureen O'Hara, Brian Keith, Steve Cochran, Chill Wills, Strother Martin, Will Wright.
Drei unerbittliche Rivalen, die eigentlich eine Bank überfallen wollen, begleiten eine ehemalige Bardame mit dem Sarg ihres erschossenen Kindes, das sie an der Seite des Vaters beisetzen will, durch gefährliches Indianergebiet.
Ex-army officer accidentally kills a woman's son, tries to make up for it by escorting the funeral procession through dangerous Indian territory.
Peckinpah's first feature follows a funeral procession through hostile Apache territory led by the man who accidentally killed the boy in the coffin. The soldier who made the promise of protection to the boy's mother hopes to settle more than one score at the end of the journey.
Sam Peckinpah's first feature film leaves a lot to be desired. It stars
Maureen O'Hara and Brian Keith, a pairing that was much more successful
in the very different film The Parent Trap from the same year.
Keith's is the only character that isn't a caricature, the film moves at
a snail's pace, and the low budget and screwy editing leave much to be
desired. Most of the problems aren't Peckinpah's fault: the producer
resisted his efforts to flesh O'Hara's character out, forced an incongruous
musical score upon the soundtrack, and threw out Peckinpah's edit in favor
of one that makes mincemeat out of the continuity of the final scenes.
But even if Peckinpah had had more creative freedom, it's doubtful the
film would have amounted to much. There's certainly no hint of things
to come, like Ride the High Country with its strong characters
and The Wild Bunch with its stylized violence and astute
observations of changing times. The potential for powerful psychological
resonance is here, but it never even comes close to fruition.