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In Mexico at the time of the Revolution, Juan, the leader of a bandit family, meets Sean Mallory, an IRA explosives expert on the run from the British. Seeing Sean's skill with explosives, Juan decides to persuade him to join the bandits in a raid on the great bank of Mesa Verde. Sean in the meantime has made contact with the revolutionaries, and intends to use his dynamite in their service.
In 1913, during the Mexican Revolution, peasant Juan Miranda flags down a palatial stagecoach to beg for a ride. After roughing up Juan, the perverse driver ushers him into the coach where his presence shocks the patrician passengers. Regarding him as an ignorant peasant, the passengers condescendingly ask him how many bastards he has fathered, then pontificate about peasants being just like animals. As the coach approaches a village, a group of boys shove stones under the wheels, forcing it to stop. After releasing the horses and shooting the drivers, the boys poke their heads into the coach, where Juan greets them as his sons. Once Juan has raped a priggish woman passenger and his sons have stripped the passengers of their clothes and sent them careening down a hill in a wobbly cart that crashes into a pigsty, Juan and his sons hear a detonation in the distance. As they go to investigate, Irishman Sean Mallory passes them on his motorbike. When he refuses to stop, Juan shoots out one of the tires, and in retaliation, Sean tosses an explosive into the coach, blowing a hole in the roof. Furious, Juan points his gun at Sean, after which Sean reveals that his coat is lined with dynamite and he is carrying a bottle of nitroglycerin powerful enough to blow Juan and his family to bits if he drops it. Impressed by Sean's knowledge of explosives, Juan immediately suggests that they team up to rob the Mesa Verde Bank. Sean refuses, saying that he has been hired by some Germans to locate veins of silver buried in the hills. When he tries to ride off, however, Juan shoots holes in the motorbike's tires and gas tank; in retaliation, Sean blows up the coach and walks off. Juan and his sons then rifle through the belongings that Sean has left behind and discover that he is wanted in Ireland for his activities with the IRA. That night, Juan cunningly forces Sean to accede to his plan by framing him for the murder of some soldiers who died in an explosion, thus making him a wanted man in Mexico, too. As they ride to Mesa Verde, however, Sean jumps onto a passing train, thus eluding Juan. Later, after Juan and his sons board a train headed for Mesa Verde, a military officer recognizes Juan and is about to arrest him when a stranger on the train pulls his gun on the officer, after which Juan throws the lawman off the train. Upon reaching Mesa Verde, Juan finds the streets are patrolled by troops loyal to the governor, who has decreed martial law and ordered that anyone who resists will be lined up before a firing squad. Juan discovers that Sean has come to Mesa Verde, too, and has decided that the public unrest would provide an excellent distraction for a bank robbery. Sean then takes Juan to a hidden room at the back of the café in which Dr. Villega, the stranger from the train and one of Pancho Villa's revolutionary leaders, is meeting with a group of rebels. Villega explains that Villa and fellow revolutionary Emiliano Zapata are planning a siege of the town, and that to provide a distraction, Villega and the rebels are to attack four targets, among them the bank, which has been assigned to Sean and Juan. At noon the next day, Juan's youngest son walks past the bank pulling a toy train loaded with dynamite, which he leaves behind. As the soldiers guarding the bank run to quell the insurrection, Sean detonates the explosives, blowing open the bank's front door. When Juan and Sean run into the bank, however, they discover that the vaults are stuffed only with political prisoners. Afterward, Sean admits that he knew the money had been sent out of town a month ago and chuckles that Juan is now a hero of the revolution, which is born out when the jubilant crowd sweeps Juan onto its shoulders. Sean, Villega, Juan and the others then ride up into the hills where they are to rally with Villa and his troops to confront a column of soldiers and armored tanks being led by the ruthless Col. Gunther Ruiz. As they wait, Juan expresses his contempt for revolutions, which he feels accomplish nothing, and asserts that his family is the only country he knows. Soon after, word comes that Villa has been delayed and has ordered the rebels to retreat. Sean stubbornly refuses to obey, however, and sets up a Gatling gun on a ridge overlooking the road on which the troops will be advancing. Deciding to stay with Sean, Juan orders his sons to take cover in the hills. After Juan's sons and the rebels depart, Juan and Sean train their Gatling gim on the oncoming column of soldiers, creating havoc and forcing them to retreat. Sean then detonates the bridge spanning the road, cutting off the soldiers' advance. Afterward, Juan learns that his sons have been massacred in the cave in which they were hiding, and vowing revenge, walks off alone. As Sean stays behind in the cave to survey the carnage, he hears the soldiers shouting in the distance about capturing Juan. Later, in Mesa Verde, Sean hides in the shadows as he watches Ruiz force Villega, who has been captured and tortured, to identify the townsfolk who participated in the revolt. Some time later, as Juan is positioned in front of a wall in the fort to be shot, Sean roars in on his motorcycle, tosses some explosives at the firing line and rides off with Juan. Taking refuge in the cattle car of a train headed for the United States, Juan and Sean peek out of the slatted sides of the car and witness a group of revolutionaries being executed. Despairing, Juan begins to cry and Sean tries to cheer him up with tales of the riches and freedom they will find in America. At the last minute, the governor, fleeing Villa's oncoming troops, boards the train, which is then attacked by the revolutionaries. After the governor runs into the baggage car seeking refuge, Juan trains a gun on him. The governor tries to bribe Juan with a bagful of jewels and money, but when the governor tries to escape, Juan shoots him in the back, and is once more hailed as a hero. The rebels then join Juan and Sean in the baggage car. Among them is Villega, whose betrayal is only known to Sean. When a message arrives from Villa notifying them that a military train carrying troops headed by Ruiz is heading toward them and asking them to stall the train for twenty-four hours, Sean decides to blow it up and commandeers a locomotive and Villega to accomplish the job. Rigging the dynamite to the front of the locomotive, Villega and Sean stoke the engines and steam toward the troop train. Villega assumes that Sean is punishing him for his betrayal, but as the locomotive nears its target, Sean jumps out and urges Villega to do the same, but Villega decides to stay and face certain death instead. After the locomotive collides with the troop train and detonates, the rebels open fire on the remaining soldiers. Returning fire, Ruiz shoots Sean, after which a vengeful Juan guns the general down with his Gatling gun. Juan pulls the gravely wounded Sean to safety and tells him he is going to get help. Before Juan leaves, Sean asks him to light a cigarette for him, then hands Juan the cross pendant he had ripped from his neck when his sons were murdered. After Juan departs, Sean uses the cigarette to ignite the remaining dynamite, annihilating the rest of Ruiz's men. Regarding the fireball marking Sean's demise, Juan asks "what about me?"
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||PG||Premiere Info:||Los Angeles opening: 28 Jun 1972|
|Release Date:||1972||Production Date:||
A Sergio Leonoe Film
|Color/B&W:||Color (Eastmancolor)||Distributions Co:||United Artists Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Euro International Films, Rafran Cinematografica, S. p. A., San Marco Films, Miura Films|
|Duration(mins):||137-139 or 150||Country:||Italy and United States|
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1 of the 10 movies to have on a desert island
Christopher Bolger 2012-04-13
Coburn and Steiger are brilliant in this movie. As mentioned in the earlier post, Steiger's rant about the reality of revolution (the book people talk...
Best Leone film, worst title
Paul Warner 2009-10-10
A top five great western..... and highly underrated film. Rod Steiger and James Coburn are incredible as anti-heroes. Lots of great lines and Rod...