The Deadly Companions (1961)

The Deadly Companions
Directed by Sam Peckinpah
Written by Albert Sidney Fleischman from his novel
Pathe America/Carousel Productions
First viewing/Amazon Instant


Yellowleg: You don’t know me well enough to hate me that much. Hating is a subject I know a little something about. You got to be careful it don’t bite you back. I know somebody who spent five years looking for a man he hated. Hating and wanting revenge was all that kept him alive. He spent all those years tracking that other man down, and when he caught up with him, it was the worst day of his life. He’d get his revenge all right, but then he’d lose the one thing he had to live for.

Sam Peckinpah’s big-screen debut is surprisingly tame.

Ex-Uniion soldier Yellowleg (Brian Keith) is on a mission to take revenge on the rebel who tried to scalp him.  In the meantime, he teams up with Southern eccentric Turkey (Chill Wills) and lustful bad guy Billy (Steve Cochran) to rob a bank.  But Yellowlegs is basically a good guy and when he sees bandits attempting to rob a store, he shoots.  Unfortunately, he hits the son of “fallen woman” Kit Tilden (Maureen O’Hara).

The rest of the film follows the stormy relationship between Yellowleg and Kit as the the entire band escorts her through Apache territory to the grave of her husband to bury the boy.  With Struther Martin as a preacher.

This movie was obviously made on a shoestring budget.  The acting is strong but the dialogue is not and I found it completely predictable.  This is of historical interest for those interested in seeingd a Peckinpah film before the old ultra-violence set in.