102 of 108 people found the following review helpful
Masterpiece With More In It,
This review is from: Major Dundee (The Extended Version) (DVD)
Well, I've seen the extended version, and even if they added only 12 minutes, out of a possible forty I guess, it still makes so much more sense now it is totally worth it. Kudos to the editors behind this reconstruction. I didn't have any problem following any of it, and I'm not really bright at complicated plots. All the main outlines of the drama became extremely vivid and clear; the tension between the Confederates and the Union soldiers; the dilemma about the French army; the massacre of the family at the beginning that causes Major Dundee to go all medieval and turn over command at the prison to his skeptical sub-lieutenant. "Maybe there's a reason why you're a jailer, not a soldier, Amos." They keep saying this as though being a jailer were something terrible.
Charlton Heston's descent into a delirium of infection is painful to deal with, very real. Now we see him drawn to the Mexican woman who brings him food; he's so out of it he finds himself having sex with her for the comfort it brings, and then of all times that's when Senta Berger shows up at his door on her own mission of mercy. She sees the naked back of the Mexican woman and you can see the pain in her eyes. Heston's pretty covered up but you get the picture, and he's man enough not to lie about what happened.
Richard Harris looks great and brings a rebel energy to the movie. Warren Oates' death scene is pure poetry, shot through with genius. What a ham he is! And oh, that is ham deluxe, 100 percent pure gold!
Michael Anderson, Jr. is excellent in his role as the young bugler, so much better here than in his other parts. He's sort of playing the Claude Jarman role, or maybe the part Brandon De Wilde played in IN HARMS WAY. The scenes where he meets Begonia Palacios in the ruined town where Senta Berger works as a doctor are credible and hilarious because he's so much in lust he can't see anything else but "Linda." Equally funny is the aftermath of the skirmish in which he's been shot in the butt and then they try to fix him up by tearing out the seat of his pants and stitching up what looks like his bare ass (kind of daring nudity for 1965). Anderson's got game and you can see why Peckinpah made him so prominent in this movie.
The chronology straightens itself out and before long we come to the scene where the troops find the crucified corpse of their Indian scout, whose trustworthiness the previous version had left in doubt. Somehow it is nice, after all these forty years, to have at least one MAJOR DUNDEE mystery cleared up, and also to find that that Riago was loyal after all!
[END OF SPOILER.]
At the end a whole bunch of us (film geeks I expect) clapped at the final credits. PS, the new music is outstanding, though I'm glkad the forthcoming DVD will give you the option to hear the old sing-along theme too.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 25, 2009 9:55:42 PM PST
DJ Powers says:
I agree completely with Kevin Killian's review. I would only add that I wish the opening scene of the Indian slaughter of the soldiers would have been restored in its entirety. Only then can we truly appreciate the intensity of the search and the desire and hunger to avenge those deaths, tortures and mutilations that drive the entire film.
Posted on Aug 1, 2010 6:45:02 PM PDT
Richard Byers says:
Good review - nice to finally see this version. I can do without the Mitch Miller sing-along score though!
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