Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Bravados

Go To

The Bravados is a 1958 American Western noir film directed by Henry King, starring Gregory Peck, Joan Collins, Stephen Boyd and Lee Van Cleef. It is based on a novel of the same name, written by Frank O'Rourke.

Jim Douglass (Peck) has been tracking four men who he believes killed his wife six months ago. He arrives in a small town where he learns the men he's been tracking are set to be hanged. They escape and Douglass leads a posse after the men. They commit further crimes, murdering and raping. Douglass doggedly pursues the men across the desert and into Mexico. Douglass is out for vengeance no matter what the cost and finds them one at a time. He shows each man a picture of his wife and each swears they've never seen her before. Douglass must decide whether to return the men to jail for their court-appointed justice or to take matters into his own hands.


  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade:
    • In the film, Douglass is chasing the outlaws to avenge his wife and wants to kill all of them himself. In the original book, he's merely a member of the Posse and has never been married.
    • Emma's rape is treated as a more brutal and traumatizing affair than in the book (where some characters are merely annoyed when she lies about what happened due to Defiled Forever concerns).
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • In the book, Deputy Pepe Martinez is a Non-Action Guy, and Deputy Primo is a particularly Clueless Deputy. In the film, both come across as tough and competent while trying to keep their prisoners under secure guard.
    • In the book, Douglas only kills one of the fugitives and needs some help to do it. In the film, he defeats three of them single-handedly across the course of the movie.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Gus Steinmetz is a kindly Papa Wolf and honest businessman in the film. In the book, Gus is a greedy and petty Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who's almost as unsympathetic as Zachary and Taylor. When Douglas gets the better of him in business prior to the beginning of the book, Gus spends a year acting like Douglas's friend and acting supportive when Douglas courts his daughter, then has him thrown in jail over an overdue loan the first chance he gets. He also hires Lujan to do some work for him, then tries to cheat him out of his fee and has him arrested for theft when he takes what he was promised when Steinmetz isn't around.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Douglas is an honest, well-adjusted man in the book, accompanies the posse out of concern for Emma, and only kills under justifiable circumstances. In the movie, he's a Knight Templar on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    • In the book, Lujan is in jail over a Miscarriage of Justice and has no past affiliation with Zachary, Taylor, and Parral. After the jailbreak, Lujan helps the posse track down the other prisoners to rescue the kidnapped Emma. In the film, while he's an Anti-Villain at heart, Lujan is involved in multiple murders and never lifts a finger to help Emma.
    • In the book, Parral is a horse thief who never kills anyone onscreen (although he's a cruel man in general and is prepared to help Taylor kill a guard if his fellow prisoner needs any help), while in the film, he is involved with at least two murders. The film also omits his Pet the Dog moments toward his steed.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Parral is a pathetic Dirty Coward in the movie, but in the book, he has a great deal of resourcefulness and Villainous Valor, and isn't afraid of death in the slightest.
    • Josefa is a tough Tomboy in the book and bravely accompanies the posse for most of the story. In the film, she's more of a sheltered socialite (albeit one who personally runs her family ranch) and only encounters the posse by chance.
  • Alliterative Name: One of the outlaws is named Leandro Lujan.
  • Antagonist Title: The title refers to the gang of four outlaws Jim Douglass is chasing.
  • Anti-Villain: Lujan rides with a group of murderers (and at least one rapist) but shows some distaste for the worst actions of the others, is a caring Family Man, and doesn't hold Douglas's pursuit of the gang against him after Douglas explains his past and motives.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Douglass's closest neighbor is a bumbling silver Prospector named John Butler, who is unfortunate enough to encounter the fleeing outlaws. He's also the real killer of Mrs. Douglass.
  • Breaking Out the Boss: A confederate of the gang poses as the hangman and stabs The Sheriff to break the gang out of jail the night before their hanging. Zachary's reaction indicates he was expecting this.
  • Crusading Widow: After his wife is raped and murdered, Jim Douglass spends six months hunting the four outlaws he believes responsible. When the escape from jail before their execution, he pursues them all the way to Mexico.
  • Dangerous Key Fumble: When the fake hangman stabs The Sheriff, the sheriff gets off a Last Breath Bullet that kills the hangman. As he falls, the sheriff drops the keys out of the reach of the cell: leaving the prisoners desperately trying to reach them.
  • Death by Adaptation:
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • In the book, Sanchez leads the pursuit of the escaped prisoners and arguably does more to kill or recapture them than Douglas, The Hero. In the film, Sanchez is fairly prominent before the jailbreak but is badly wounded during it and can't accompany the posse.
    • In the book, Tony Mirabel is one of the prisoners in the jail. He is only serving a short sentence for public drunkenness and has no desire to escape, but is forced to accompany Taylor and the others because they need his equestrian skills and knowledge of the countryside. In the film, Mirabel isn't locked up with the condemned prisoners and is just a local with a few lines of dialogue.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The villains are two white men, a Native American, and a Mexican "half-breed."
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Two of the outlaws have families.
    • Alfonso Parral's mother is in town to watch the execution and has a very solemn presence.
    • When Lujan escapes over the border, he's shown to have a wife and baby who he greets affectionately.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Lujan doesn't join Zachary in raping Emma, although he doesn't try to stop him either.
  • Gate Guardian: The film begins with Douglass riding into an isolated town through a canyon pass to watch the execution of Zachary and his gang. He's stopped by Pepe Martinez, one of Sheriff Sanchez's deputies. Pepe is stationed on the cliff with a rifle to stop and search anyone riding into town to reduce the chance of anyone breaking the outlaws out of jail before their execution.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Lujan's wife knocks Jim Douglass out by smashing a clay pitcher over his head.
  • Hooking the Keys: When The Sheriff is killed, he drops the keys to cell out of reach of the door. The prisoners try desperately to stretch for them, before one of them gets the bright idea of using a blanket to snag them and drag them to the cell.
  • Impersonation-Exclusive Character: Mr. Simms—the hangman brought in from Silver City—turns out to be an imposter who helps the outlaws escape. When the Posse goes in pursuit of the outlaws, the find the body of the real Simms on the trail.
  • Last Breath Bullet: After the fake hangman stabs the sheriff, the sheriff manages to get off a single shot which kills his attacker.
  • Made of Iron: Sheriff Sanchez is stabbed during the jailbreak, but an examination of his body reveals that he's alive and he's raced to the doctor's office.
  • New Old Flame: Douglass rides into Rio Arriba hoping to see the execution of the four men he believes murdered his wife. In town, Douglass happens upon Josefa Velarde, whom he met and fell in love with nearly five years previously in New Orleans. She has been looking after her late father's ranch and has never married.
  • No Badge? No Problem!: When the surviving outlaws cross the Rio Grande into Mexico, the Posse pursuing them has to stop. Jim Douglass merely notes that he isn't a lawman and rides across the river after them.
  • Not Me This Time: Zachary and his men are guilty of multiple murders, but they didn't rob and kill Douglass's wife. In fact, they unknowingly rob and kill her actual murderer during their Run for the Border.
  • Posse: After the inmates escape, a posse rides out immediately, but Douglass - with his extensive experience trailing these outlaws - waits until morning.
  • Prospector: Douglass's closest neighbor is a bumbling silver hunter named John Butler, who is unfortunate enough to encounter the fleeing outlaws. He's also a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, as he's the real killer of Mrs. Douglass.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Crusading Widow Jim Douglass has spent six months hunting the outlaws he believes raped and murdered his wife. When he catches up with them, they are already in jail awaiting execution. When they escape, he chases them all the way to Mexico in order to kill them.
  • Run for the Border: After breaking out of jail, the outlaws run for the Mexican border, with Jim Douglass and the Posse close behind them.
  • Saintly Church: The local church is presented as a benign institution. The (non-villainous) characters view it so seriously that even Deputy Primo, the jail guard, takes a break from his duties to attend mass (with Sheriff Sanchez filling in for him). At the end of the movie, the priest is both firm and sympathetic while talking to Douglass about the moral implication of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • The Sheriff: Sheriff Eloy Sanchez is a Reasonable Authority Figure who is looking to keep the peace in his town until after the execution of the outlaws. He saves Jim Douglass from angry townsfolk who look ready to lynch him because they suspect he is there to break the outlaws out.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Primo is absent during the jailbreak in the film and never encounters the convicts afterward. In the book, Taylor drowns him in a bucket of drinking water as Primo distributes it to the prisoners.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Jim Douglass has a pocket watch with a photo of his wife and child inside the case. He shows it to each of the outlaws before he kills them.
  • Unrelated in the Adaptation: In the book, Sanchez's deputies are his relatives (Primo is his cousin and Pepe is their uncle), but they only seem to be professional colleagues in the movie.
  • Unwilling Suspension: After catching Taylor, Douglass hangs him from a tree by his ankles before interrogating him.
  • Villains Want Mercy: Alfonso Parral, the first of the outlaws Jim Douglass catches up with, ends up on his knees begging for mercy. It does him no good.
  • What a Drag: When Douglass catches up with Taylor, he drops a lasso around Taylor's feet and then drags him behind his horse to take the fight out of him before hanging upside down from a tree.