Richard Harris / Cowboy:
Major Dundee / Part 1
“THE EPIC STORY OF THE GREAT SOUTH-WEST !”
The year was 1965 and Spaghetti is high on the menu – Sergio Leone had released two Western Classic‘s: ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ and ‘For a Few Dollars More’ to massive success. Westerns are IN … again.
But Sam Peckinpah and Richard Harris are in Mexico – not Spain. And Major Dundee is not a Spaghetti Western. It’s something entirely different …
Starring the great Charlton Heston, as Major Dundee, the movie has all the components for success: a good story, a great cast, and often brilliant Director. Except for one thing: that Director, it’s greatest asset is also it’s greatest liability: Sam Peckinpah. the self-destructive genius.
I won’t go into the specifics here – the anger – the angst – the infighting – the Editing – the boozing – the brawling – the brothelling. It’s sad really. Because this should have been a great movie – Sam’s Masterpiece. And shows flashes of it – but falls – truncated – disjointed … unfinished. There was some grand schemes/themes behind this project. Unrealized. Sam was completely unable to keep himself under control. Incredibly, exact same scenario was repeated years later with Peckinpah’s ‘Pat Garrett and Billy Kid’ (1973) – another flawed project that was later completed/restored by others after he died.
For myself, knowing some of the history and background surrounding the film enhances my viewing. You see things that you would otherwise miss. But it’s not necessary. What truly is amazing is that anything eventually manifested at all. But somehow it did.
The original 1964 Trailer:
The 2005 Extended Edition Trailer:
Is it worth watching? Yes. At least, the 2005 Extended (restored?) Version is. You can see what it had going for it and what it could have been …
Heston and Harris are both great. And the support cast is outstanding.
Richard Harris / Cowboy – Major Dundee Part 2