The Deadly Companions

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The Deadly Companions
The Deadly Compions.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySam Peckinpah
Produced byCharles B. Fitzsimons
Written byA. S. Fleischman
Based onThe Deadly Companions
by A. S. Fleischman
StarringMaureen O'Hara
Brian Keith
Steve Cochran
Chill Wills
Music byMarlin Skiles
CinematographyWilliam H. Clothier
Edited byStanley Rabjohn
Leonard Kwit (assistant)
A Carousel Production
Distributed byPathé-America Inc.
Release date
  • June 6, 1961 (1961-06-06)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Deadly Companions is a 1961 American Western film directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring Maureen O'Hara, Brian Keith, Steve Cochran, and Chill Wills. Based on the novel of the same name by A. S. Fleischman, the film is about an ex-army officer who accidentally kills a woman's son, and tries to make up for it by escorting the funeral procession through dangerous Indian territory.[1] The Deadly Companions was Sam Peckinpah's motion picture directorial debut.[2]


After her young son is killed in a bank robbery, Kit Tilden (Maureen O'Hara) is determined to bury him beside his father in Siringo, now deserted and located in Apache territory. Yellowleg (Brian Keith), the ex-army sergeant who accidentally killed her son, decides to help take the body across the desert to be buried, whether Kit wants help or not.


Lobby card showing O'Hara



  • Strother Martin as Parson
  • Will Wright as Doctor Acton
  • Jim O'Hara as Cal, General Store
  • Peter O'Crotty as Mayor of Hila City
  • Billy Vaughan as Mead Tildon Jr.


Directorial debut[edit]

After the cancellation of his 1960 television series The Westerner, Brian Keith was cast as the male lead in The Deadly Companions. He suggested Sam Peckinpah (the producer and director of The Westerner) as the director for this film, and producer Charles B. Fitzsimons accepted the idea. By most accounts, the low-budget film shot on location in Arizona was a learning process for Peckinpah. Unable to rewrite the screenplay or edit the picture, Peckinpah vowed to never again direct a film unless he had script control. The Deadly Companions passed largely without notice and is the least known of Peckinpah's films.

The Deadly Companions

Cast and crew[edit]

Charles B. Fitzsimons (1924–2001), a former actor, was Maureen O'Hara's younger brother. In addition to his listing as producer, the film's opening credits indicate "song by Marlin Skiles & Charles B. Fitzsimons; sung by Maureen O'Hara" (the title of the song, which is heard through the entire length of the opening credits, is not specified). Another younger brother, Jim O'Hara (1927–1992), played the seventh-billed role of Cal (the family surname is Fitzsimons, also rendered as FitzSimons).

Leading man Brian Keith was also Maureen O'Hara's co-star in The Parent Trap which they completed immediately before The Deadly Companions and which premiered on June 12, 1961, six days after the Tucson premiere of The Deadly Companions. They re-teamed for one additional film, 1966's The Rare Breed, which top-billed James Stewart. Cinematographer William H. Clothier also worked on The Rare Breed as well as two other films with Maureen O'Hara, 1963's McLintock! and 1971's Big Jake, both starring John Wayne.

Filming locations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Deadly Companions". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  2. ^ "Sam Peckinpah". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  3. ^ "Locations for The Deadly Companions". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
Further reading
  • Bliss, Michael (1993). Justified Lives: Morality and Narrative in the Films of Sam Peckinpah. Southern Illinois University Press. ISBN 978-0809318230.
  • Dukore, Bernard F. (1999). Sam Peckinpah's Feature Films. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0252024863.
  • Engel, Leonard ed. (2003). Sam Peckinpah's West: New Perspectives. University of Utah Press. ISBN 978-0874807721.
  • Evans, Max (1972). Sam Peckinpah: Master of Violence. Dakota Press. ISBN 978-0882490113.
  • Fine, Marshall (1991). Bloody Sam: The Life and Films of Sam Peckinpah. Donald I. Fine. ISBN 978-1556112362.
  • Hayes, Kevin J. (2008). Sam Peckinpah: Interviews. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1934110638.
  • Seydor, Paul (1996). Peckinpah: The Western Films, A Reconsideration. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0252022685.
  • Simons, John L. (2011). Peckinpah's Tragic Westerns: A Critical Study. McFarland. ISBN 978-0786461332.
  • Weddle, David (1994). If They Move ... Kill 'Em! The Life and Times of Sam Peckipah. Grove Press. ISBN 978-0802115461.

External links[edit]