The Professionals is a well-made actioner, set in 1917 on the Mexican-US border, in which some soldiers of fortune rescue the reportedly kidnapped wife of an American businessman. Exciting explosive sequences, good overall pacing and acting overcome a sometimes thin script.
Richard Brooks’ adaptation of Frank O’Rourke’s novel, A Mule for the Marquesa, depicts the strategy of Lee Marvin and cohorts, sent by gringo Ralph Bellamy into the political turmoil of Mexico to rescue his missing wife, Claudia Cardinale, known to be secreted in the brigand village of Jack Palance. Latter only a few years earlier had achieved a transient victory in the Revolution with the help of Marvin and Burt Lancaster.
Quiet and purposeful, Marvin underplays very well as the leader of the rescue troop. Robert Ryan, who loves animals, is in the relative background, as is Woody Strode, Negro-Indian scout and tracker. Lancaster is the most dynamic of the crew, as a light-hearted but two-fisted fighter.
1966: Nominations: Best Director, Adapted Screenplay, Color Cinematography