Customer Reviews: Undefeated, The
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on July 6, 2003
The Undefeated is an excellent western that teams John Wayne and Rock Hudson together for the first time. Set in the months after the Civil War, the story follows two groups as they venture into Mexico. One group led by Wayne's Colonel John Henry Thomas is driving 3,000 horses south to deliver to the forces of the French emperor, Maximillian. The other group is a wagon train of Confederate soldiers and their families who are moving to Mexico City under Maximillian's rule. Along the way, the two groups meet up and battle bandits, Juaristas, and even themselves. The action scenes are very well put together, especially the 4th of July fistfight and the bandit attack on the wagon train.
John Wayne and Rock Hudson are great as two rival leaders, one Union and one Confederate, who must work together if they are to survive in Mexico. Their relationship has several funny moments as they discuss their involvement during the war. The Duke's crew includes Ben Johnson as Short Grub, Dub Taylor as Mr. McCartney, Roman Gabriel as Blue Boy, and several other Duke regulars. The rest of the impressive cast includes Tony Aguilar, Bruce Cabot, Merlin Olsen, Edward Faulkner, Harry Carey JR, Marian McCargo, Lee Meriwether, Melissa Newman, and Big John Hamilton. It was great to see this on DVD which offers widescreen presentation, several theatrical trailers including The Comancheros and North to Alaska as well as two in Spanish and Portuguese. In the trailer, look for a scene of Blue Boy's fellow riders capturing Rock Hudson as he rides to Wayne's camp that did not make it to the final copy. This is an excellent post Civil War western that all Duke fans will love! Do not miss!
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VINE VOICEon February 5, 2003
In this film Wayne, as former Union Colonel John Henry Thomas, and Hudson, as former Confederate Colonel James Langdon, re-enact on a small scale the slow and painful psychological healing and reunion of the divided nation following the Civil War. Thomas and the remnants of his unit (including the ever-delightful Ben Johnson as Short Grub and Roman Gabriel somewhat less than sterling as Thomas's Cherokee adopted son, Blue Boy) return to the West to hunt wild horses for a living, while Langdon and his, unwilling to submit to the indignities of Yankee occupation and carpetbagger rule, burn their homes, pack up their families, and head for Mexico, where they hope to join the French Interventionists (a plan historically followed, though without the noncombatants, by General Jo Shelby). Somewhere in Northern Mexico the two groups meet, and after some mutual suspicion become uneasy allies to beat off a gang of bandidos. When Langdon's company unwittingly blunders into a trap set by the Juaristas, Thomas and his men agree to surrender their catch of horses as ransom. Much of the charm of the film arises from the head-butting of the two veteran commanders (particularly the sequence in which Hudson utters his memorable line, "If I can find the *time* I'm gonna siddown and write the social history of Bourbon!"), which is, of course, echoed by their men (most notably the quiet rivalry of Short Grub and Robert Donner as Judd Mailer). Yet Blue Boy is early attracted to Langdon's daughter (despite the presence of her long-time suitor, Jan-Michael Vincent as Bubba Wilkes), and even Thomas finds a kindred spirit in his rival's widowed sister-in-law. A good movie about the aftermath of war and the healing of wounds.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon September 29, 2014
I found this 1969 western, distantly inspired by real events, watchable, but less good than most of John Wayne films. It certainly has its moments, but the weakness of scenario becomes with time embarrassing. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

1. The real story of general "Jo" Shelby and "The Undefeated".

Before the War Between States, Joseph Orville "Jo" Shelby (1830-1897) was one of wealthiest landowners and most successful businessmen in the South. Born in a rich family, he lost his father at the age of 5 and was raised by his stepfather. Once of age, he quickly increased family's wealth by clever and daring investments and at the age of 31 he owned propriety (including a large number of slaves) and businesses all around Kentucky and Missouri.

In 1855, long before the War Between States began, young "Jo" Shelby became involved in the "Bleeding Kansas" armed fight between Northern anti-slavery militants and their Southern slave owners opponents. He raised a Southern militia squadron with his own money and rode at the head of it - it cost him a lot, as in retaliation pro-Northern radicals burned some of his businesses in Missouri. In 1857 he married young Elizabeth Nancy Shelby, a relative.

In 1861 the state of Missouri, even if it ultimately didn't join the Confederacy, was almost evenly divided between pro-South and pro-North partisans. With his own money Shelby raised a company of volunteer cavalry with himself as its commanding officer with the rank of captain. The war in Missouri turned badly for the Confederates who were ultimately forced to retire to Arkansas, but many thousands local volunteers followed them there. In 1862 Shelby, having proved himself on the battlefield, was promoted to full colonel and took over a regiment of Missouri volunteers fighting in Arkansas. Later that year, with more Missouri volunteers arriving, his command expanded to a cavalry brigade - it quickly earned quite a reputation and became known as "Iron Brigade".

Between 22 September and 3 November 1863, Shelby led his Iron Brigade of Missouri volunteers on what was to be the longest cavalry raid of the war at that time, and is since known as Shelby's Great Raid. With his 800 men, twelve wagons and two light field guns, he rode 1,500 miles through Missouri, inflicting over 1,000 casualties on Northern forces, and capturing or destroying an estimated $2 million worth of Federal supplies and property. This raid took place after many defeats suffered by the CSA and therefore was a welcome morale for Confederate soldiers - it also dragged a lot of Union troops away from the main front. After the successful conclusion of the raid Shelby was promoted to brigadier-general on December 15, 1863 and was celebrated as a popular war hero in the South, but in the same time he became also an object of much hatred amongst Northern politicians and generals - and they were not going to forget or forgive him...

In 1864 and 1865 his Iron Brigade accomplished more exploits, but their detailed description would take too much place. Anybody interested in reading about Shelby and his men can try one of the many books devoted to this topic - my personal recommendation would be "General Jo Shelby: undefeated rebel" by Daniel O'Flaherty.

In June 1865, once Confederation was destroyed by invading Northern armies, Shelby and 1000 of his men refused to surrender and instead rode to Mexico, intending to become a mercenary foreign legion in service of embattled Emperor Maximilian. Before joining with Maximilian forces, they had to fight their way through Benito Juarez troops and local bandits.

The ruler of Mexico was at that time losing the war against the forces of Juarez and was initially thrilled to welcome reinforcements of such battle hardened veterans - however strong diplomatic pressure from US government forced him to decline the offer. On another hand he refused to disarm or expel Shelby's men and instead granted them and their families abandoned land near Veracruz, to become civilian settlers and form a Southern exiles colony. However, in 1867, once Maximilian was defeated and executed, victorious Benito Juarez, bowing to renewed pressures of US government, expelled Shelby and his men and confiscated their propriety. Arriving on the border Shelby threw the flag of his brigade in the waters of Rio Grande, so no Yankee hand ever touches it...

Although granted amnesty by US government, Shelby and his men returned in 1867 to Missouri penniless and in rags - but still undefeated... Starting from nothing, they went into farming and other kinds of trades and with business skills of their former commander and a lot of hard work they quickly rebuild their lives and took active part in retaking the destinies of their native state from post war carpetbagger/scalawag abusive administration. Shelby became soon once again a wealthy farmer and businessman and he did a lot to help former Confederate soldiers - as well as the last Southern partisans, like Frank James (he witnessed for defense at his trial in 1883, helping him avoid death penalty). Still very popular amongst his fellow Missourians, he secured an appointment as US Marshal for west Missouri in 1893, helping to eliminate last Wild West bandits from this territory. He died in 1897 surrounded by children and grand children, as a rich man, an important local political figure, a widely known folk hero - and still "Undefeated".

2. The film

After the end of War Between States, northern cavalry Colonel John Henry Thomas (John Wayne) leaves the army and with a group of survivors of his command goes to southern Texas. Their plan is to capture mustangs, with intention of selling them to US Army. However, once this deal doesn't pan out, they accept an offer from the representatives of emperor Maximilian of Mexico and go south to bring 3000 wild horses to Durango. On their way there, much to their surprise, they find a convoy of former Confederate soldiers under Colonel James Langdon (Rock Hudson), who, together with their families, travel to join Maximilian army. Those groups will have then some considerable interaction, one with another and also with some Indians, Juaristas, bandidos and French cavalry from imperial army...

This film was made in 1969, soon after Duke finished "True grit". It was directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, an experienced director who in the past made some really good movies ("Shenandoah", "The way west") and was going later to make the very brutal "Last hard men" and especially the legendary "Wild geese", the best film about modern mercenaries made until now. Son of Duke's old pal and partner (and great actor in his own rights), Victor McLaglen, he already worked with John Wayne on "McLintock" and "Hellfighters" - they were going later to make two more films, "Chisum" and "Cahill, US Marshall".

Other than John Wayne and Rock Hudson, some veteran actors were cast in this film, like Ben Johnson, who plays Short Grub, an old friend of John Henry Thomas, comic and western actor Dub Taylor, who plays the cantankerous Yankee cook and also Bruce Cabot (who in 1933 played Jack Driscoll in "King Kong") and Harry Carey, Jr., a veteran of John Ford westerns. Some young talent was added, with Jan Michael Vincent, who plays a young Confederate lieutenant, as well as some more unusual performers - two huuuuuge professional football players, Roman Gabriel, who plays Blue Boy, a Cherokee Indian and John Henry Thomas adopted son as well as Merlin Olsen, who plays the Confederate soldier Little George, a gentle giant and blacksmith by trade in more peaceful times.

3. Good points

The introduction scenes of the film, from which the title of the review is taken, are REALLY good and the scenes in which the "Undefeated" say goodbye to their land and propriety and leave to Mexico are also VERY good. At that moment, colonel Langdon seems to be really a character as strong and impressive as general "Jo" Shelby.

John Wayne plays here his usual character and he is of course a pleasure to watch as always, as he dispenses smart one-liners and common sense speeches, punches people who need punching and shoots people who need killing.

There are also two attractive, available and not-unwilling ladies, Ann Langdon, played by Marian McCargo (who soon after married and retired from acting) and young Charlotte Langdon, played by Melissa Newman, a young debutante, cute like a button but whose career never really took off.

There is some nice humor, some of it centered around the nasty, incompetent Yankee cook, Mr McCartney and his mangy cat, inappropriately named High Bred. Most of moments with the gentle giant Little George are fun too - the guy is so huge that he "outnumbers any opponent"... The monumental 4th of July fistfight between "Yanks" and "Rebs" is also a nice moment of cinema.

4. Weaker points.

The Confederates, although shown initially as strong, proud warriors, are quickly turned into a completely hapless outfit, more and more lost, more and more incompetent and more and more desperate. The fact that, instead of Shelby's powerful "Iron Brigade" the whole Confederate expedition counts a rather pathetic 40 soldiers, 50 civilians and 18 wagons, doesn't help. The character of James Langdon, which begins the film as a powerful warrior, keeps getting pussified with every minute of the film, until his total castration.

Other than the short martial introduction this film contains only two action scenes and if one is acceptable, the other (a fight against French Cavalry) must be amongst the most laughable combat sequences I ever saw.

This film tried desperately to show that former bitter enemies can lay aside their differences and reconcile - and this effort was made with all the subtlety a sledgehammer carrying gentle giant is capable of...))) No, seriously, in fact here the kumbaya is violently forced into our throats without any mercy and therefore this film by moments is actually quite embarrassing... Me for one, I absolutely refuse to believe that a proud Southern belle, who lost her beloved husband of many years at war and is still devastated by her loss, falls immediately for the first enemy officer she can set her eyes on and that notwithstanding the fact that this guy actually WAS very much involved in the same battle in which her man was killed... The only guy who actually seems to have some resentment left (and we are supposed to be here in 1865 - very soon after the war ended) is of course a Confederate and he is of course shown as a totally lame, incompetent, bulling moron...

There is also the fact, that, in his desperate efforts to reconcile those two groups of people, the director decided to give them a common enemy - and as result we can actually understand, that blues and greys CAN forget hatred and war and reconcile in peace and love, AT THE CONDITION that they are (almost) all white and that they get some browns they can kill together...)))

I was also not fully happy with the only Indian character in the film, Blue Boy, who is a full blood Cherokee adopted by John Henry Thomas and therefore also a veteran of Northern cavalry. The reason of my unhappiness is the fact that if Cherokees indeed fought (and very bravely) in the War Between States, most of them actually did it on the side Confederation, as a great number of them owned slaves and didn't want to lose them... In fact the real "Jo" Shelby fought together with a great number of Cherokee Indians against Yankees at the battle of Pea Ridge in 1862 and in some further occasions too...

WARNING! SPOILER ALERT: so if the director really wanted to show an interracial romance between a hulking full blooded Indian and an underage daughter of a proud Southern aristocrat AND make it plausible, he had ample opportunity to make Blue Boy a young dashing Confederate officer and therefore Langdon's brother in arms - and that would be historically acurate as there were hundreds of Indian officers in Confederacy (including at least one general, Stand Watie). It would also make more plausible all the star crossed romance between Charlotte and Blue Boy - such a union certainly would not be enthusiastically accepted, but at least it would remain in the domain of remotely possible. But there is absolutely no way that an aristocratic proud Confederate colonel could have accepted his daughter marrying a low born full blooded Indian, who actually FOUGHT FOR THE YANKEES during the war!

Finally, I absolutely hated the ending of this film - the scene in which two honorable men (Thomas and Langdon) have a drink and shake hands with a hostage taker (who even threatened to kill women and children) and an enthusiastic mass murderer, simply disgusted me.

CONCLUSION: for all those reasons, I cannot rate this film more than three stars. It actually is another proof that when you try to make a film with a heavy message and too much good intentions, you just get a not so good film. For John Wayne's greatest fans - otherwise not a necessary viewing.
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on February 22, 2004
Definitely a great Post-Civil War Western and one of my personal favorites, The Undefeated, brings to the screen such heavyweights as John Wayne and Rock Hudson, whose performances are outstanding, making this movie one of the best of its kind. The acting, the battles and the costumes are all wonderful!
The Undefeated is a movie about honor, bravery, and heroes from a time long gone.
A great movie indeed!
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on January 26, 2016
Who doesn't love John Wayne or even Rock Hudson. This was one that I'd seen as a child and my husband had not. So I got it for him and he enjoyed it. Short narrative, the War Between the States is over, The Duke and his men fought for the North and now have decided to go into business by rounding up wild horse and selling them to the US Calvary. Rock Hudson is a Confederate soldier who's lost everything but still believes in the South, and anyone who knows the true reason the war was fought will understand his reason for leaving and going to Mexico where a promise of land and their way of life can continue in peace. Of course the two groups meet and yes there is fighting but something that is expected more than wanted. And while it doesn't make them friends, neither are they enemies. But the Colonel will be betrayed as he and his group are captured and only the Duke and his men can save them.....but will they? Really good movie
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on April 3, 2015
THE UNDEFEATED-,Blu-Ray. Great John Wayne and Rock Hudson.-Another great movie great Jonh Wayne,this time accompanied by another great actor Rock Hudson,two giants of early cinema, I remember that was the only movie acting together,this movie is full of action and human values,set in the west after the American Civil War a group of northmen are dedicated to capturing horses for sale to Mexico,but things come into play truncated when another group of americans,but these figthers south,human values take precedence at the expense of the interest of some to help others,a good movie to be a while before the screen,all the actors are great in their characters,the Blu-Ray is perfect in every color and sound also has several audio of options in several languages,a jewell.
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on July 4, 2002
This film takes place in a post Civil War setting, where every character finds it difficult to accept the terms of the end of that war. A band of Southern Confederates would rather live/work in Mexico than under the influence of Yankees and Carpetbaggers. The friendship between the Yankee horse trader (Wayne) and the Confererate leader (Hudson) leads to entertaining encounters, and life & death decisions when the Mexican revolution takes everyone by surprise. This movie is representative of John Wayne's later works, and is a keeper. But be warned, I think all of J. Wayne's films are keepers, and as such, my opinion is biased.
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on May 2, 2014
John Wayne and his usual supporting cast and add Rock Hudson wander off in to Mexico to help the losing side in Mexico's war in independence from France. John Wayne had friends and over the years made sure they got work. That is why you see so many familiar in his movies. We also get to see Merlin Olsen first big screen appearance and Roman Gabriel as an Indian son of John Wayne. Rock Hudson is a Confederate Officer who needs to keep fighting once the war has ended and goes to Mexico, along with his former soldiers and families to fight for The French leader Maximilian. John Wayne and is Cowboys lead a bunch of Horses to sell to Maximilian. If you know history the french lost and left the country. John Wayne made great Westerns and this was one of them.
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on June 1, 2016
John Wayne stars with an all star cast with Rock Hudson its a very good movie it takes place after the civil its another great movie from the best John Wayne the bluray is excellent. so is The Undefeated.
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on February 14, 2014
Sorry, I fell behind in rating my experiences, so I'll make it short and sweet. I am never disappointed with my transactions through Always fast and efficient. If, and that's few and far between, there's a problem, it is straighten fast. As I said, never disappointed.
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