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Film: Major Dundee
Major Dundee is a 1965 Western film directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring Charlton Heston, Richard Harris, Jim Hutton, and James Coburn.

The title character, Union cavalry officer Major Amos Dundee (Heston), is relieved of his command for an unspecified tactical error at the Battle of Gettysburg and sent to head a prisoner-of-war camp in the New Mexico Territory. When a family of ranchers and a relief column of cavalry are massacred by an Apache war chief named Sierra Charriba, Dundee seizes the opportunity for glory, raising a contentious troop of Union regulars (black and white), Confederate prisoners, several Indian scouts, and a gang of civilian mercenaries on an expedition into Mexico to destroy the Apaches.


Examples:

  • The Alcoholic: Wiley
  • The American Civil War: Although the main period setting of the story, much of the action takes place in the New Mexico Territory and Mexico.
  • Badass Preacher: Reverend Dahlstrom
  • Bitter Sweet Ending: the Apache are killed but most of Dundee's men including Tyreen are killed in the final battle with the French soldiers they pissed off earlier in the film, leaving Dundee to return to the States with less than a quarter of the men he set out with. Could also be seen as a Downer Ending.
  • California Doubling: Averted. The movie was actually filmed in Mexico.
  • Dangerous Deserter: Confederate O.W. Hadley and his execution by Captain Tyreen (Harris).
  • Deconstruction: The film plays out as a deconstruction of the old "Cavalry Vs. Indians" formula that dominated so many westerns, taking many of the genre's familiar archetypes and trying to turn them on their heads.
    • And like most Sam Peckinpah films the film plays as a deconstruction of all things Rated M for Manly.
  • Duel to the Death: The reason for the grudging relationship between Dundee and Tyreen, as, prior to the war, Dundee cast the deciding vote in Tyreen's court-martial from the U.S. Army for participating in a duel.
  • Enemy Mine: The Confederate prisoners led by Captain Tyreen.
  • Glory Hound: Major Dundee's reason for going after Sierra Charriba. It is also implied that it is what caused his tactical error at Gettysburg.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Tyreen is fatally shot, but rides off to singlehandedly delay a second detachment of French cavalry while allowing the others to escape.
  • I Gave My Word: Tyreen, having given his word of honor, binds himself and his men to serve loyally to Dundee, but only until Charriba has been dispatched and resettle their dispute with Dundee.
  • Modern Major General: Lieutenant Graham comes off as one of these at first, able to quote Napoleon from memory but clueless about actual warfare. He gradually proves himself, though.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Captain Tyreen. Perhaps best demonstrated by the way he complements a black soldier whom one of his Confederates has been antagonizing.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Dundee could be seen as this, due to his arrogance being disproportionately larger than his actual abilities.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Captain Tyreen condescend on Dundee, twice, for his poor judgment and arrogance and, to Tyreen's better judgement, should give up soldiering altogether.
    • Dundee also chastised Tyreen, claiming Tyreen brought his own misfortunes upon himself through his own untamed passions and lack of foresight.
  • Romancing the Widow: Dundee and Teresa Santiago, but doesn't last very long after Teresa found Dundee bedded with a pretty Mexican.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The opening scene at the Rostes Ranch and the funeral after the first skirmish with the Apaches were inspired by scenes from The Searchers.
    • When Dundee's troop exits Fort Benlin, each faction of the command singing its own distinct song, it is a deliberate parody of an equivalent scene in Fort Apache.
    • Sam Potts (James Coburn) warns Dundee to stay off the streets, saying he'd make "an unlikely looking Mexican", in reference to Heston's role as a Mexican narcotics officer (sans accent) in Touch of Evil.
  • South of the Border
  • We Used to Be Friends: The back story for Dundee and Tyreen
    • Fridge Brilliance: Ben-Hur, for which Heston won his only Oscar for Best Actor, had previously featured old Chuck in a story of two friends who betrayed each other, only in this film it was Chuck's character who did the betraying, at least that's how Harris's Tyreen sees it.

The Magnificent SevenIndex of Film WesternsThe Man from Snowy River
Kitten With a WhipFilms of the 1960sMonster A-Go Go
Lost HorizonCreator/Columbia PicturesA Man for All Seasons

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