The Deadly Companions
|The Deadly Companions|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sam Peckinpah|
|Produced by||Charles B. Fitzsimons|
|Written by||A. S. Fleischman from
his novel The Deadly Companions
|Music by||Marlin Skiles|
|Cinematography||William H. Clothier|
|Edited by||Stanley Rabjohn
Leonard Kwit (assistant)
A Carousel Production
|Distributed by||Pathé-America Inc.|
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. The Deadly Companions was Sam Peckinpah's motion picture directorial debut.
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.
- Maureen O'Hara as Kit Tilden
- Brian Keith as Yellowleg
- Steve Cochran as Billy Keplinger
- Chill Wills as Turk
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.
Cast and crew
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.
- 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Deadly Companions.|
- The Deadly Companions at the Internet Movie Database
- The Deadly Companions at AllMovie
- The Deadly Companions at the TCM Movie Database
- The Deadly Companions at the American Film Institute Catalog
- The Deadly Companions at TV Guide (revised and updated version of 1987 write-up originally published in The Motion Picture Guide)