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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Professionals - Nothing's harmless in this desert unless it's dead.
For some reason I hadn't heard of this classic Western until recently. Stumbling across it and reading the enthusiastic reviews I decided to give it a go, and I have to say that I was not disappointed. It's a classic film, and a roaringly good 100 minutes of solid entertainment with a brain and a heart behind it.

Made in 1966, this falls between the...
Published on 8 May 2012 by Victor

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars DVD The professionals
This was an unexpected gift and it was well received. when I am able to view it will be very enjoyable
Published 3 months ago by Robert Hamilton


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Professionals - Nothing's harmless in this desert unless it's dead., 8 May 2012
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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For some reason I hadn't heard of this classic Western until recently. Stumbling across it and reading the enthusiastic reviews I decided to give it a go, and I have to say that I was not disappointed. It's a classic film, and a roaringly good 100 minutes of solid entertainment with a brain and a heart behind it.

Made in 1966, this falls between the psychological westerns of Anthony Mann and the deconstructive revisionism of Peckinpah and Leone. The story and characters are clearly influenced by the Mann template, and the way in which the west is depicted is clearly paving the way for Peckinpah's Ride the High Country and Wild Bunch.

It's a story of four men, men of violence who are very proficient and very professional. Hired by a rich Texan magnate to rescue his wife, kidnapped and taken to Mexico by an evil bandit. The four men set out across the desert, and along the journey we find out about them, their history and reasons for being where they are. The leaders of the group, Lee Marvin's impassive Rico Fardan and Burt Lancaster's roguish but heroic Bill Dolworth have been to Mexico before, and have a history with Jack Palance's bandit Jesus Raza. Throughout the journey, rescue and inevitable race back to the Texan border chased by murderous bandits loyalties are tested, friendships strained and they find out what is really important to them, leading to an ending that I really didn't see coming and was perfectly suited to the film.

It's a film shot in colour, but with many shades of grey. There are no clear cut heroes and villains, just men and women who today find themselves on opposite sides of the war, but tomorrow might be fighting alongside each other if circumstances so dictate. The study of the main characters is fascinating. There is also some nice philosophising, especially from Raza, that gets you thinking. Along with all the deep stuff there is plenty of action as the professionals get into and out of a variety of scrapes and fights. Burt Lancaster is especially impressive here, getting to show off his athleticism on various bits of scenery.

There is just one point in which the film fails a little. Robert Ryan's Erhengard and Woody Strode's Jake are essential characters, but are not explored to their full potential, especially Woody Strode, who is given little opportunity to do anything interesting.

In all it's a film that works on many levels. For those looking for straightforward gunfights and chases, they're here in spades. For those looking for a film with character development, interesting characterisation and a bit of brain behind it then you're in luck. And on top of all that there is a typically cool and magnetic performance from Lee Marvin, and Claudia Cardinale looking quite beautiful as the damsel in distress (just don't analyse her wandering accent too much...)

5 stars for this impressive Western.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Film, 13 Oct 2009
The Professionals is a very good film with a good cast including some western legends such as Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster. It does not like many westerns have the usual good vs bad guys plot and also is set at a much later date than most of them. The film has a good mix of humour and action with some rather deeper thoughts and ideas which puts it above the usual film in this genre. All in all it is a very good film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Name: the Professionals. Motto: "hundred-proof women, ninety-proof whiskey, 14K gold". Yes, this is THAT kind of movie! KA-BOOM!, 18 Sep 2013
By 
Maciej "Darth Maciek" (Darth Maciek is out there...) - See all my reviews
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This review is a kind of little tribute to "Honest Trailers" by "Screen Junkies". Some SPOILERS below!

Somewhere around 1920, in the southern part of Unites States, a Morbidly Rich Old Gringo (Ralph Bellamy) searches for some tough guys for a special job. His favourite Pair of Breasts (Claudia Cardinale), to whom he is incidentally married, was abducted by an Obscenely Ugly Smelly Mexican Bandit (Jack Palance) and is being held in a sinister hideout of desperados, somewhere in the middle of a desert, so dangerous that "nothing is harmless there, until it is dead". This hideout can not be found by anybody who wasn't there before... er, no, wait, that's not quite right - sorry, wrong film... strike that last sentence...)))

In order to save his beloved Pair of Breasts the Morbidly Rich Old Gringo hires a team of four Professionals:

- Black Apache (Woody Strode)
- Horse Whisperer (Robert Ryan)
- Han Solo (Burt Lancaster)
- Tough Guy Who Looks Like Lee Marvin (Lee Marvin)

Those four not so nice fellows will have to ride into Mexico where a full-scale civil war is still a-raging, cross a desert so deadly that "nothing is harmless there, until it is dead" (yes, I know, it was already said, but this desert is so deadly, that it needs to be said twice), will have to fight ugly desperados, sandstorms, heatstrokes, even uglier desperados, goat shepherds, thirst, hunger and lack of women, before finally reaching the secret keep of the Obscenely Ugly Smelly Mexican Bandit. This place, full of machine guns, Winchesters, tequila, mariachis, dirty smelly guys and busty wenches, will be a tough nut to crack - and this will be only the beginning of their REAL problems...

I will not say anything about the second part of the film - but it is even better than the first part.

When watching this movie, be ready for:

- excellent dialogs
- MEGATONS of humor
- Pair of Breasts bad attitude (Claudia Cardinale gives here the performance of her life...)
- every single cliché in the book about Mexico and Mexicans (political correctness was not yet fully observed in 1966)
- Lieutenant Chiquita (Marie Gomez), an absolutely incredible sidekick of the Obscenely Ugly Smelly Mexican Bandit, a girl who "can lick a whole regiment but can't dance a lick". She also never says no. To nobody? EVERYBODY!
- as much slightly aged testosterone as in "Expendables" franchise
- a killer punch line!
- and also armored trains, Lewis machine guns, dynamite, mass executions, ruined haciendas (ever wondered, why in westerns all buildings in Mexico are ALWAYS ruined?), health conscious "bandidos", cemeteries of nameless men, goat milk, guys running around in underwear, etc, etc.

Bottom line, if you liked the "Dollars" trilogy, "Red Sun", "Kelly's heroes", "Dirty Dozen" and "Where eagles dare" - this film is FOR YOU! To buy, watch, keep and re-watch! ENJOY! KA-BOOOOM!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Professionals, 27 Feb 2009
By 
David Welford (Essex England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Professionals [Blu-ray] [1966] [2008] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
The Professionals [Blu-ray] [1966]

Another one of my favorite two reel Super 8 digests purchased from America in the late 1970's (the English prints were inferior and shorter thanks to the Mountain scissors). I purchased the DVD in 2003 for 8.49 from Play, my friend's comments to whom I lent the DVD are still inside the box and read; "Mum & Dad loved the film they didn't fall asleep!" Well after an excellent M&S meal, dine in for two for 10, highly recommended and the offer includes a bottle of wine. On went the video projector; my wife and I watched the film without nodding off; always a good test of how good a film is especially after a few glasses of vino! Though compared to the two-reel Super 8 digest I did feel it was a bit too long at 117mins. The Blu-ray version gains French & Italian 5.1 audio, though the English version claims a true hd, it sounds very mono and I suspect does not do full justice to the stirring music of Maurice Jarre.

This semi classic western, though not an outright comedy like Cat Ballou, has however many tongue in cheek witty lines. The late Conrad Hall's wonderful cinematography of the Wild West really makes the film. The Professionals team really work well together. Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Jack Palance and Woody Strode all turn in an excellent performance in their worthless mission to save Claudia Cardinale. The letterbox transfer is pretty good of similar quality to CE3K. Sadly none of the team are still with us and no suitable extras material would appear to have been available. However the limited extras do include recently made featurettes, not on the original DVD and the trailer for CE3K. These extras include some interesting contributions from Conrad Hall, Maria Gomez, a thoughtful sincere Burt Lancaster's daughter and not a very convincing Claudia Cardinale. Recommended for western lovers and owners of this film on Super 8. It's a four out of five star print with not very good audio.
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4.0 out of 5 stars well cast and highly entertaining, 27 Aug 2014
By 
Stanley Crowe (Greenville, SC) - See all my reviews
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It's 1916, so "the wild west" is long gone. The professionals here are soldiers of fortune and guys with talents for hire, with experience not in the old ways of cattle-driving and exploring but in the increasingly mechanized military of Teddy Roosevelt or (on the other side of the border) Pancho Villa. In fact, two of them, Rico Fardan and Bill Dolworth (Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster respectively) have fought for Villa, and it isn't entirely clear why they aren't still, for the Mexican Civil War is still ongoing. There's a suggestion that Fardan's Mexican wife was killed in the hostilities and that Dolworth got tired of not getting paid -- but the important thing is that we are meant to feel the sympathies of these men for the cause -- perhaps for ANY cause -- when on the American side of the border all that seems to matter is cold hard cash, represented here by Ralph Bellamy, a businessman (cattleman? industrialist?) who hires our heroes to rescue his kidnapped wife from the Mexican revolutionary-soldier-cum-bandit Jesus Raza -- a man alongside whom Fardan and Dolworth have both fought. He offers them, and a couple of others, a hundred grand each to do the job, which involves getting across some nasty desert to Raza's hacienda, snatching the kidnapped bride, and getting back.

Fardan and Dolworth have expertise with weapons and explosives respectively. The others are the horse man Hans Ehrengard (Robert Ryan) and the scout/bowman Jake Sharp (Woody Strode). Raza is played by the young Jack Palance, and the kidnapped wife, Maria, by Claudia Cardinale. The four professionals are nicely distinguished temperamentally -- Fardan sober and wry, Dolworth a bit of a cutup, Ehrengard gentle and humane, and Sharp precise and reliable. The dialogue among them is crisp and humorous, and at bottom the movie is a comedy, for when the group gets to the hacienda, not all is as they believed it to be. But . . . they have a contract to fulfill, and with some spectacular explosions and dangerous moments on their journeys out and back, let's say that they do fulfill it. I'm being a bit coy here, because I don't want to reveal action that would spoil the surprises and turns that complicate what at first seems like a simple rescue movie.

Strikingly effective, though, is the incorporation of the difficult desert landscape into the story -- the wide vistas, the narrow arroyos, the blistering heat and bone-chilling cold, the sandstorm -- that makes it quite unlike any other Western that I've seen, with a distinctive visual character (Conrad Hall was the cinematographer). Also making the movie effective is the avoidance of stereotypes, for the most part, though some of Raza's Mexicans are a bit crudely drawn. Raza himself is not, though, and Palance's performance, along with that of Robert Ryan as Ehrengard, is fresh and unusual in a movie of this kind. The kidnapped bride, Maria, is a bit underwritten for much of the movie, and Claudia Cardinale is given an awkward chunk of exposition at the end, but Cardinale plays "spirited Latina" for most of the movie and looks good doing it, even if the part is a bit flat.

The movie was made in 1966, and though there's nothing new-agey about it, it does turn on the question of the value of life. Are we to buy into the Ralph Bellamy world where a wife is worth half-a-million bucks? Or are there other values and sentiments that matter, maybe tied to revolutionary politics? But to do the movie justice, even those sympathetic to revolutionary politics have to admit -- and I'm thinking here of an absorbing conversation between Raza (Palance) and Dolworth (Lancaster) -- that they aren't sure that the revolutionary spirit can stay pure for as long as it takes. A recommendable movie then, well cast, and with its share of surprises.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the Types to go Running Home to Mummy!, 1 Mar 2009
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Like "The Wild Bunch" with which this film is bound to draw comparisons, the film is set around 1918. "The Professionals" made in 1966 was directed by Richard Brooks who received academy award nominations as director and writer. The film is based on the book "Mule for the Marquesa" by Frank O'Rourke. The film was shot on location at the much used Death Valley and the Valley of Fire.

The professionals referred to are a group of mercenaries who are hired by a wealthy Texan to rescue his young wife, played by the ravishingly beautiful Claudia Cardinale who has been kidnapped by bandits and taken over the border to their lair in old Mexico. What red blooded male would not want her rescued? The group consists of their leader Henry Farden played by the always watchable Lee Marvin, and his old friend Bill Dolworth an explosives expert played with aplomb by Burt Lancaster. The two have previously fought together when they rode with Pancho Villa during the Mexican revolution. They both have a mutual repect for the leader of the bandits Jesus Raza played by Jack Palance in one of his better roles, who also fought alongside them with Villa. They are accompanied by an expert wrangler, Hans Ehrengard played by that very fine actor Robert Ryan, and also by an expert with the bow and arrow Jake Sharp, played by Woody Strode. They are of course all the best at what they do. The daring mission is on. Will they succeed against almost impossible odds? Raza has a small army at his disposal. The Professionals are not the sorts to pack their bags and go home crying to Mummy. Besides that wouldn't make a very entertaining film! There is a delectable twist at the end which is well worth waiting for.

The film boasts a stellar cast of Hollywood A list players all at the top of their form. The cinematography is outstanding. The dialogue is often crisp with some good banter. One example. Fardan to Dolworth "So what else is on your mind besides 100 per cent women, 90 proof whiskey and 14 carat gold?" Dolworth replies " Amigo... you just wrote my epitaph". The sort of reply George Best would have been proud of. Lovely stuff. The film moves along at a good pace and action is never far away. All in all a very enjoyable cinematic experience. No maybe not up there with "The Wild Bunch", but top notch entertainment none the less. Highly recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 soldiers of fortune, one kidnapped wife, one explosive mission., 15 Feb 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
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The Professionals comes out of Columbia Pictures and it is based around the novel A Mule for the Marquesa by Frank O'Rourke. Written and directed by Richard Brooks it stars Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Woody Strode, Jack Palance and Claudia Cardinale. A Panavision and Technicolor presentation it features cinematography by Conrad L. Hall and Maurice Jarre scores the music.

One of the stand out Oaters from the 1960s that is often forgotten in light of what was to come from Sam Peckinpah three years later. Tho far more light hearted than Bloody Sam's Magnum Opus that was The Wild Bunch, Richard Brook's film has many similarities. Themes of friendship, loyalty, disillusionment and of course the changing of the Old West all get dealt a hand here. With Brooks and his team upping the action stakes in a ball of explosions, gun fights and verbal jousting. Hell the film is even a touch risqué with nudity, sex and a wife in distress that is not as saintly as one would expect.

Set in 1917 on the Mexican-Texas border after the Mexican revolution, The Professionals' only real problem is its thin story. But Brooks is not interested in going too deep with his plot, he's more concerned with playing it for thrills and back slapping camaraderie. Which works magnificently due to the impressive cast that has assembled for the movie. Marvin plays it restrained as Henry 'Rico' Fardan, the weary leader of the group sent into Mexico to "rescue" Claudia Cardinale's (sultry but some fluctuating accent issues) Mrs. Maria Grant from the clutches of Palance's (excellent) Bandido supreme, Jesus Raza. Lancaster is a whirlwind of testosterone as explosives expert Bill Dolworth, while Ryan and Strode are smooth background characters as the conscientious Hans Ehrengard & muscular tracker and bowman, Jake Sharp, respectively. The only complaint in the characters comes with Ralph Bellamy's Joe Grant, the apparently fraught husband who sets the men off on their mission. He's in the beginning and the end but it's just not enough screen time to grasp his make up and the character therefore is underdeveloped.

Hall's photography is exceptional as he shoots on location at Death Valley, Lake Mead and the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. The browns are smooth on the eye and the capturing of the odd rock formations a real treat. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his work, as was Brooks in the Best Direction and Best Screenplay categories. The shoot actually suffered some serious problems such as dust storms and flash floods, thus causing severe delays. But the end result was worth it for the film was a success at the box office. The public promptly lapped it up, yes it's a bit close to the knuckle sometimes, but there's never a dull moment in it. It's basically a ripper of a good time. 8/10
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the professionals, 21 April 2009
This review is from: The Professionals [Blu-ray] [1966] [2008] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
im very pleased with this blue ray, the picture is crisp with great colours,this film has never looked as good, and as westerns go, its one of the best from the sixties.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent western film, 8 Jun 2014
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This is an excellent western film with a very good dialogue. It has a good storyline with plenty of action and a hint of comedy. A recommended viewing.
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3.0 out of 5 stars DVD The professionals, 6 Jun 2014
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This was an unexpected gift and it was well received. when I am able to view it will be very enjoyable
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