Friday, June 22, 2012

The Professionals

To appreciate The Professionals, one should watch the three bonus features before viewing the film.  Interviews with some of the cast and crew, along with a biographer and director, provide a perspective to this 1966 movie that one otherwise might not have.  The appreciation of Burt Lancaster by his daughter and a biographer is especially informative.

Starring Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, Woody Strode, Jack Palance, and Claudia Cardinale, with rousing and often overbearing music by Maurice Jarre, this movie is certainly a star-studded production.  However, instead of being a fast-paced, exciting adventure film, The Professionals was slow-moving and lethargic to me, especially as it runs 117 minutes. 

There were moments of witty banter: “Well, I’ll be damned.”  “Most of us are.”  And: Go to hell.”  “Yes, ma’am; I’m on my way.”  But mostly, there are long stretches of silence as the actors ride through desolate scenery that is liberally studded with red rock formations made for ambushes and rock climbing, punctuated by bursts of action.

Superficially resembling The Strange Case of Conrad Meyer Zulick for the first half of the film, by the end of The Professionals, the plot is more closely related to The Day the Amnesty Came Through.  Vaughn Taylor (the first Desk Clerk in Return to Devil’s Hole and Willis in The Day They Hanged Kid Curry) has a small role as a banker at the beginning of the movie.