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Film / The Revengers

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The Revengers is a 1972 Western film written by Wendell Mayes based upon a story by Steven W. Carabatsos. The film was directed by Daniel Mann and stars William Holden and Ernest Borgnine.

The life of peaceful rancher John Benedict (Holden) is torn apart when his family is massacred by a gang of marauding outlaws and his farm is destroyed. He assembles a team of mean, lawless convicts to act as his posse as he pursues the gang responsible for the deaths of his loved ones.


The Revengers contains examples of:

  • Breaking Out the Boss: An anti-heroic example. When the Revengers discover that Benedict is alive and has been captured by the Mexican authorities and imprisoned in the same Hellhole Prison he freed them from, they reunite to break him out.
  • Bullet Dancing: When tormenting Hoop for attempting to abandon the group, Quiberon and Job make him dance by throwing knives at his feet.
  • Crusading Widower: When John Benedict's wife and family are murdered by a raiding party of Indians and Comancheros, killing the raiding party's leader becomes his sole goal. He sells off his cattle herd, has his ranch boarded up, and recruits six convicts to accompany him on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • The Determinator: Benedict sets out to hunt down his family's killer. When Tarp escapes Benedict's first attempt at killing him, Benedict spends more than a year hunting him down across the west.
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  • Dirty Coward: Hoop. Recruited for his knowledge of the Outlaw Town Benedict wants to find, he initially refuses to take the team there and has to be threatened into complying. He attempts to jump ship at the first opportunity and is dragged back in ropes by one of his fellow convicts. He attempts to flee the final combat and is tackled by one of the others which probably saves his life.
  • Due to the Dead: When Benedict is shot and Left for Dead, Job gives money to the saloon keeper to see that he receives a proper burial. However, after Job leaves, the saloon keeper discovers that Benedict is Not Quite Dead.
  • Ensign Newbie: Benedict and his gang end up in an Army survey camp that is besieged by Indians. The camp is commanded by a young Lieutenant fresh out of West Point and suffering from an arrow wound in the chest. Benedict is impressed by the lad's ability to stick to his principles and his training despite the desperate circumstances.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Benedict and Elizabeth develop feelings for each other during the months she spends nursing him back to health following a near-fatal gunshot wound. She is not happy when he leaves her to continue his mission of vengeance. When he abandons his quest for vengeance at the end of the film, it is implied he is riding back to her.
  • Guns Akimbo: During the Last Stand at the survey camp, Chamaco leaps out of the trench with a revolver in each hand, firing at the Comanche. Done somewhat realistically, as he is alternating which gun he fires, rather than firing both at once.
  • Handsome Lech: Quiberon. A Frenchman who hits upon just about every female he encounters, and seems to have a reasonable success rate. After deserting Benedict, he returns to the camp the next morning, having lost all of his money to a girl in town.
  • Hellhole Prison: El Hoyo a.k.a. 'the Hole', the brutal Mexican prison where Benedict recruits his crew, and where he later winds up imprisoned himself.
  • I Gave My Word: Benedict frees the convicts and asks for their word that they will accompany him on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge. All give their word; although some add that their word is worthless. Only Job refuses, saying he needs to think things over before giving his word. The next night, the convicts announce they are leaving. Except Job, who announces that he will now give his word and stays with Benedict. However, the next morning four of the convicts return of their own free will, and the fifth is dragged back by one of the others.
  • Kick the Dog: The first act of the raiders who attack the ranch is to kill Benedict's dog.
  • Left for Dead: After Chamaco shoots Benedict, the six examine him and conclude he is dead. They go their separate ways with Job leaving behind money for the saloon keeper to see that his body is dealt with properly. However, when the keeper and his daughter collect the body, they realize he is still alive and take him to Nurse Elizabeth.
  • Luke, I Might Be Your Father: Chamaco is obsessed with the idea that Benedict might be his father. Benedict, for his part, denies this. The movie ends and Chamaco dies without the issue being resolved one way or the other.
  • The Magnificent Seven Samurai: John Benedict recruits six brutal convicts from a Mexican Hellhole Prison to accompany him on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Maybe Ever After: At the end of the film, it seems likely that Benedict is riding back to Elizabeth (after all, where else has he to go?), but it is never explicitly stated, and the viewer does not know what Elizabeth's reaction will be when he gets there.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Quiberon knocks out a guard and steals his uniform when he sneaks into 'the Hole' to free Benedict.
  • Outlaw Town: Pueblo Plata is a settlement run by Tarp where Comanches come to trade stolen horses for rifles, ammunition and whisky.
  • Persona Non Grata: The Revengers are riding towards a border town and one of them comments that they'd been banned from there. Another says that was a year ago and they were bound to have forgotten about it by now. They haven't.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Benedict smashes Tarp's chief henchman across the face while interrogating him:
    Those were your teeth! Want to try for your eyes?
  • Real Award, Fictional Character: John Gilbert received the Congressional Medal of Honor during his service in the Civil War. This is relevant to the plot as it entitles his son Morgan to attend West Point.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When his family is killed by a band of Indians and Comancheros, Benedict devotes his life to hunting down their leader Tarp and killing him.
  • Robbing the Dead: Hoop. After every gunfight, he is shown searching the bodies for anything of value. He even goes to search his leader Benedict's body when Benedict is shot and Left for Dead. As he does so, Job jabs a rifle in his back and advises him not to.
  • Red Right Hand: Tarp, the leader of the Comancheros who slaughter Benedict's family, is identifiable by his milky white right eye.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: After the final battle, Benedict shoots the lock off the tool shed where Tarp is being held prisoner.
  • That Man Is Dead: a variant where someone else declares the man they knew is dead. When Benedict encounters his old friend Whit, who is now a Deputy U.S. Marshal, Whit is disgusted by what Benedict has become. When Benedict goes to shake Whit's hand, Whit refuses and rides off, saying that he doesn't shake hands with strangers. This rebuke causes Benedict to question for the first time what his Roaring Rampage of Revenge is turning him into.
  • You Can Turn Back: At multiple points, Benedict tells the six convicts that their service to him is done, and that they can go if they wish. They always stay, claiming that they have nowhere better to go. Even the Dirty Coward Hoop stays, because he is afraid of what might happen to him if he leaves the group.