Review: ‘Major Dundee’

Somewhere in the development of this Jerry Bresler production the central premise was sidetracked and a maze of little-meaning action substituted. What started out as a straight storyline (or at least, idea), about a troop of US Cavalry chasing a murderous Apache and his band into Mexico to rescue three kidnapped white children and avenge an Indian massacre, devolves into a series of sub-plots and tedious, poorly edited footage in which much of the continuity is lost.

Somewhere in the development of this Jerry Bresler production the central premise was sidetracked and a maze of little-meaning action substituted. What started out as a straight storyline (or at least, idea), about a troop of US Cavalry chasing a murderous Apache and his band into Mexico to rescue three kidnapped white children and avenge an Indian massacre, devolves into a series of sub-plots and tedious, poorly edited footage in which much of the continuity is lost.

Sam Peckinpah’s direction of individual scenes is mostly vigorous but he cannot overcome the weakness of screenplay of whose responsibility he bears a share with Harry Julian Fink [author of the screen story] and Oscar Saul. Use of offscreen narration, ostensibly from the diary of one of the troopers on the march, reduces impact and is a further deterrent to fast unfoldment.

Charlton Heston delivers one of his regulation hefty portrayals and gets solid backing from a cast headed by Richard Harris as the rebel captain, who presents a dashing figure. Jim Hutton as an energetic young lieutenant and James Coburn an Indian scout likewise stand out.

Major Dundee

Production

Bresler/Columbia. Director Sam Peckinpah; Producer Jerry Bresler; Screenplay Harry Julian Fink, Oscar Saul, Sam Peckinpah; Camera Sam Leavitt; Editor William A. Lyon, Don Starling, Howard Kunin; Music Daniele Amfitheatrof; Art Director Al Ybarra

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1965. Running time: 134 MIN.

With

Charlton Heston Richard Harris Jim Hutton James Coburn Michael Anderson Jr Senta Berger

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