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Author Topic: Major Dundee (1965)  (Read 68222 times)
Groggy
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« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2005, 06:21:46 AM »

If you thought the butchered version was "fantastic" then you should find the extended cut to be FREAKING AWESOME. If you gave it an 8/10, then this new one has got to be a 12/10.

Seriously, it is WAAAAAAY better. That said, I still stand by my little review above. I think it's very flawed. I wish I could dig it as much as you will.

The character actors in it are amazing. All the little bit parts are more interesting than the actual lead characters. Charlton Heston cannot compete with, oh...

Warren Oates
Ben Johnson
L.Q. Jones
Slim Pickens
Dub Taylor
and all the other dirty, drunken bastards that made up Peckinpah's repertory group. They are amazing, and I found them to be the best part of the film.

I disagree, I thought this was one of Heston's best performances (though certainly the supporting cast was very memorable).  My favorite supporting character was R.G. Armstrong ("those who destroyeth my flock I shall destroy") as the psycho priest, but the problem I had is that him, Q, Brock Peters, Slim Pickens, and others had very little screen time and not a lot of interesting character development (though Mario Adorf, Ben Johnson, James Coburn, and certainly Warren were all great).  Is this remedied by the restored version?

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« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2005, 02:17:21 PM »

I disagree, I thought this was one of Heston's best performances (though certainly the supporting cast was very memorable).  My favorite supporting character was R.G. Armstrong ("those who destroyeth my flock I shall destroy") as the psycho priest, but the problem I had is that him, Q, Brock Peters, Slim Pickens, and others had very little screen time and not a lot of interesting character development (though Mario Adorf, Ben Johnson, James Coburn, and certainly Warren were all great).  Is this remedied by the restored version?

Ah yes, R.G. Armstrong. How could I forget? He's Peckinpah's go-to guy for righteous indignation. I enjoyed his bit part too.

The lack of character development is remedied by the restored version. Mostly for Dundee though. There's a LOT more Dundee and Tyreen in the restored version. The character actors just get little moments here and there. Still, I think they add a lot of color to the film.

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Tim
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« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2005, 02:14:50 PM »

  As we all get ready for the dvd release of Major Dundee, I was thinking about the end with the battle against the french.

  Captain Tyreen(Richard harris) is shot in the back by the french colonel as more french cavalry prepares to enter the battle.  So here is my question.

A. Did Tyreen charge into the French because he knew he would not survive the gunshot wound? or...

B.  Did he do it as a sacrifice to slow up the french so Dundee and the remaining survivors could get away? 

They're kinda the same thing, but what do you think?  Judging by the look on Tyreen's face after he's been shot, I always thought it was his way of going out on his terms.  Any other opinions?

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« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2005, 04:46:52 PM »

Of those two I'd definitely say B, however he got killed almost instantly and Dundee and his men mostly just watched him get killed.  My guess is that he wanted to go out in glory rather than at the hands of Dundee, and he was taking his opportunity to do so.  Just me though.

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« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2005, 04:05:03 PM »

  Well, since my original post didn't do much business, I'll adjust the question.  If Tyreen survives the last battle with the french lancers, who would have won the duel between Dundee and Tyreen?

  For the sake of the movie, I think Dundee would have killed Tyreen, but if it came right down to it, I think it would go the other way.  What do you think?

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« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2005, 05:12:16 PM »

Dundee, because Tyreen was wounded.

It would depend if it was with sabers, pistols, shotguns, or hand-to-hand.  My hunch is that if the fight were to really happen, Dundee would've ordered Gomez and co. to kill all of the Confederates beforehand, so that even if Tyreen won, he wouldn't get anywhere.  Just my thoughts though.

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« Reply #21 on: September 15, 2005, 10:51:29 PM »

I saw MD for the first time recently on AMC, and enjoyed it quite a bit (looking forward to the DVD with the extended version and the new score). In some ways the film is typical of films of that time; however, it also exhibits some traits characteristic of Peckinpah's later work. For example, MD includes what may be the first use of a stock leading character who doesn't stay true to the stock heroine. And the fact that it was Chuck Heston playing the stock leading character that really blew my mind. When Senta Berger catches Chuck with the fetching guitar-playing latina, my immediate thought was, This is not one of your grandfather's Westerns. Can anyone out there remember another film in which Heston does not stay true to the heroine? Others may disagree, but I think this is a big deal.

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« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2005, 04:50:05 AM »

Not right off hand I don't, you are probably right.

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« Reply #23 on: September 19, 2005, 01:09:10 PM »

Got the new DVD in the mail today, and thought it was a pretty good flick. Will definately be seeing this again in the near future. I never did care much for Heston, but he's very good here. Even in this extended cut, it's not as Peckinpah intended it to be, don't let the DVD cover fool you. The extras are very interesting as well, with RG Armstrong, LQ Jones, and James Coburn sharing some rather amusing anecdotes on Peckinpah. Also, the 2005 re-release trailer is narrated by LQ Jones. It is wonderful, I'll take him over the trailer guy any day.

Of course, the disc looks and sounds pretty good. The only thing I missed was the original, butchered theatrical cut. I'd like to see that one some day as well. Recommended.

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« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2005, 06:31:30 PM »

  Nobody, if you're in the US, AMC shows Major Dundee every couple weeks on Saturdays.  Of course, it's in pan-n-scan with the original music score, and commercials, so that might blur your judgement.

  Glad to hear the DVD is worth it.  Going over to Borders or Best Buy tomorrow after class to buy it.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #25 on: September 19, 2005, 11:12:04 PM »

I too am very happy with the MDEC DVD. Not only does it look great, the new score is a big improvement over the old one. And the audio commentary is provided by the same group of scholars who have been showing up on all the recent Peckinpah DVDs (Junior Bonner, The Getaway, Alfredo Garcia).

I liked the commentary, but because the film is nobody's favorite the commentators spend a lot of time talking about what they think is wrong with the movie. A little of that goes a long way. The one thing the extended cut demonstrates is what an exceptional film MD is. This is a film that deserves celebrating, so why waste time finding fault with it? Sure, Peckinpah went on to make better films, but compared to what was available at the time, MD was a considerable achievement. It combined Ford's calvary pictures with elements of The Searchers and HH's Red River. And it produced something astonishing.

Having seen the theatrical cut recently on AMC I was able to immediately appreciate how the added material improves the film. Some of this has to do with confusing plot points that are now explained, but the biggest improvement concerns the movie's overall pacing. MD has more of an epic feel now, it takes its time over certain scenes, there is less of a sense of racing toward the climax.  As a result, the digressions seem less accidental and more the deliberate choice of the director (this is particularly noticeable in the Durango sequence, which I feel plays a lot better now). And yes, if you are going to do an epic, digressions are essential (try to imagine the Odyssey without digressions!)

I know that my appreciation for this film is only going to grow. It's great to have such a good transfer of this "restored" classic, which I am sure I will watch many many more times.

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« Reply #26 on: September 20, 2005, 01:46:00 AM »

Having watched the new extended cut on DVD I'm more impressed than ever with the film. It isn't perfect, and there are a number of places where it could have been improved, but to my mind the only major flaw in the film is the ending. Had Peckinpah gotten that right, no one would be carping about all the other (relatively minor) problems that come before.

Here's the flaw as I see it: the contest between Dundee and Tyreen is established early and sustained throughout and never satisfactorily resolved. Tyreen dying in battle for reasons having nothing to do with his conflict with Dundee does not satisfy. That conflict needed to be resolved between the two men directly. One way was for them to fight to the death after they get back to Texas.

But they could have also resolved their differences in the thick of battle. The classic pattern is for one to lay down his life for the other, with the sacrifice serving as a means of reconciling the two men. Perhaps that's what P attempted with Tyreen's charge against the French, but it didn't quite come off.

I think the film would be better if Dundee had been the one to make the sacrifice. The film is about him and his lunatic but noble campaign, and it *should* have ended with some sort of transformation on his part. We don't really know enough about Tyreen to know if his last gesture actually means anything, but if Dundee had done something like that it would have represented some kind of movement toward redemption. Dundee, Ahab-like, is chasing his own destruction, but at the last minute his sacrifice enables another to cheat death. Afterwards, at the memorial service, Tyreen would have saluted his fallen comrade, "one rebel to another." Then the Lt. played by Jim Hutton would have amnestied Tyreen and his men and sent them on their way, riding off in a glorious crane shot.

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« Reply #27 on: September 20, 2005, 10:43:11 PM »

 dave, i see what you're saying, but I've always liked the ending, or at least most of it.  Tyreen is shot while recapturing the American flag, the country which he has turned against.  And there is also the irony that the final battle with the French lancers takes place on April 19th, 1865, five days after Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomatox.  Technically, Tyreen and the other Confederates are no longer prisoners.

  I do like your idea for how the story would differ if Tyreen survived.  I agree that the movie does need more closure other than Dundee and the survivors riding back into Texas.

  Over at dvdsavant, i was reading about the plot lines in the script that didn't make it in the final cut.  In the script, the movie ends with Dundee and Potts finding another Apache marker on the trail.  How about that for an ending?

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« Reply #28 on: September 21, 2005, 07:14:37 PM »

  Over at dvdsavant, i was reading about the plot lines in the script that didn't make it in the final cut.  In the script, the movie ends with Dundee and Potts finding another Apache marker on the trail.  How about that for an ending?
Love it! The campaign can never end ("Until the Apache is taken or destroyed").......

Your observation about the date at the end is good (hadn't occurred to me), although prisoners of war don't automatically stop being prisoners when a war finishes. The victor still has to decide what to do with them, and even in this case there would be some administrative delays. So *technically* they still are prisoners, but they are free men in principle.

That having been said, such a use of dates must have been intentional on P's part. So the political basis of the animosity between Dundee and Tyreen is done; all the more reason for having an ending that resolves the personal enmity between the two men.

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« Reply #29 on: September 22, 2005, 10:18:08 AM »

 dave, I like how you put that last line.  It's no longer North vs. South, it's just one man against another. 

  Check out dvdsavant's review, it's got some good stuff.  I was really interested to read that Peckinpah originally intended to shoot Tyreen's death in a very different way.  He also gives a lot of insight about the rest of the missing footage.

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