The Undefeated (1969 film)
1969 Theatrical Poster
|Directed by||Andrew V. McLaglen|
John Wayne (uncredited)
|Produced by||Robert L. Jacks|
|Written by||James Lee Barrett|
|Music by||Hugo Montenegro|
|Cinematography||William H. Clothier|
|Edited by||Robert L. Simpson|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
The Undefeated is a 1969 American Western and Civil War era film directed by Andrew V. McLaglen and John Wayne (uncredited) and starring John Wayne and Rock Hudson. The film portrays events surrounding the French Imperial intervention in Mexico during the 1860s period of the neighboring American Civil War with the Archduke Maximillian of Austria set up as Emperor in Mexico in 1863 by French Emperor Napoleon III and is also loosely based on Confederate States Army General Joseph Orville Shelby's factual escape to Mexico after the War Between the States (1861-1865). and his attempt to join with Maximilian's Imperial Mexican forces supported by French Imperial regiments sent by Emperor Napoleon III from Europe.
In the closing days of the American Civil War, Union Army Colonel John Henry Thomas (John Wayne) and company organize one final attack on a small unit of Confederate soldiers, only to be informed after bloodily defeating them that the war had ended three days ago at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia. Saddened and weary, Thomas leads his men out west towards home with the intention of rounding up and selling wild horses in the Arizona and New Mexico Territories to compensate them for their loyalty, friendship, and war service. Meanwhile, a band of Confederate States Army soldiers led by Colonel James Langdon (Rock Hudson) feel the war has left them with no home, and they prepare to emigrate south to Mexico and serve as reinforcements to Emperor Maximilian, leader of the French intervention invasion of Mexico against the republican government of President Benito Juarez. Langdon torches his plantation home before he departs rather than seeing it fall into the hands of Northern carpetbaggers. At the same time, Thomas and the surviving members of his command meet up with Thomas' adopted Indian son, Blue Boy (Roman Gabriel), and other members of his tribe from Oklahoma Territories. Together they round up a herd of 3,000 horses and take them across the Rio Grande River of the North for sale to Maximilian's representatives in Durango, Mexico.
Halfway there, Blue Boy discovers tracks indicating that Mexican Comanchero bandits are planning an ambush on the group of Confederate travelers. Blue Boy and Thomas go to warn the emigrating Confederates and Thomas and Langdon meet. Despite their differences, the Americans - Northerners, Southerners, and Cherokee Indians - repel the group of Mexican banditos attacking the Confederate camp, with Thomas' former Union Army troopers saving the day. Col. Langdon thanks the Northerners by inviting them to celebrate at a "Fourth of July" party - "Southern style". However, the former soldiers soon relive the war when a fight breaks out. They then split and go their separate ways. Meanwhile, Langdon's daughter Charlotte and Blue Boy have quickly fallen in love.
When Langdon's Southern company finally reach their destination in Durango, they find Emperor Maximilian's forces were chased out days earlier, replaced by ragged Mexican Republican forces of President Benito Juarez, under General Rojas (Antonio Aguilar), who imprison them. Viewing the new foreigners as potential enemies, the Juarezista general holds the Southerners hostage, offering to release them in exchange for Thomas' horses. After Langdon is sent to Thomas' camp with Rojas' demands, the reluctant American cowboys agree to pay the ransom to free their brethren. On the way to Durango, Thomas and his men are confronted by French cavalry. A battle erupts with the Americans coming out victorious. Thomas and his men bring the horses to town and pay the ransom for their former enemies. The company of reunited Americans rides out of Durango to return to America. Trying to decide what song to listen to as they ride, the group passes over "Dixie" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" before settling on "Yankee Doodle".
- John Wayne as Col. John Henry Thomas, U.S.A. (Ret.)
- Rock Hudson as Col. James Langdon, C.S.A.
- Roman Gabriel as Blue Boy, adopted Cherokee son of Thomas
- Antonio Aguilar as General Rojas
- Lee Meriwether as Margaret Langdon, wife of Col. Langdon
- Melissa S. Newman as Charlotte Langdon, Colonel's daughter
- Marian McCargo as Ann Langdon, Margaret's sister-in-law
- Merlin Olsen as Little George, blacksmith, C.S.A.
- Bruce Cabot as First Sgt. Jeff Newby, C.S.A.
- Jan-Michael Vincent as Lieut. Bubba Wilkes, C.S.A.
- Richard Angarola as Petain, agent of Emperor Maximilian
- Ben Johnson as Shortgrub
- Edward Faulkner as Capt. Anderson, C.S.A.
- Harry Carey, Jr. as Soloman Webster
- Paul Fix as Gen. Joe Masters, U.S.A.
- Royal Dano as the one-armed Confederate Army major, at the beginning scene
- Richard Mulligan as Dan Morse
- John Agar as Christian
- Dub Taylor as Mr. McCartney, cook
- Big John Hamilton as Mudlow
- Pedro Armendáriz Jr. as Escalante, the bandit leader
Merlin Olsen plays the blacksmith Little George. Both Gabriel and Olsen were pro-football all-stars for the NFL team, Los Angeles Rams. Olsen continued his acting and sports announcing after his gridiron days were over, especially in the 1980s TV series Little House on the Prairie.
The original script was by Stanley Hough and Casey Robinson, neither of whom are credited in the final film. Producer Robert Jacks bought it in December 1967, announcing James Lee Barrett would do the final script.
In May 1968 Jacks announced the film would be made through 20th Century Fox. Andrew McLaglen signed to direct as the first of a two-picture deal with Fox. In August 1968 John Wayne agreed to star. The following month, Rock Hudson signed to co-star.
The stunt co-ordinator was Hal Needham, later a film director.
According to Rock Hudson's partner Marc Christian, John Wayne started out picking on Hudson during filming but the two men became friends.
The film earned $4.5 million in rentals in North America.
According to Fox records the film required $12,425,000 in rentals to break even and by 11 December 1970 had made $8,775,000 so made a loss to the studio.
- Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p255
- "The Undefeated, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
- The New York Times https://movies.nytimes.com/movie/51706/The-Undefeated/overview. Missing or empty
- MOVIE CALL SHEET Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 6 Dec 1967: 17.
- MOVIE CALL SHEET Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 15 May 1968: d16.
- Rempo to Produce 4 Films Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 23 Aug 1968: f18.
- John Wayne in 'Undefeated' Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 26 Aug 1968: f30.
- "Larry King Live - Rock Hudson's Ex-Lover Speaks Out". CNN. 29 March 2001.
- "Big Rental Films of 1969", Variety, 7 January 1970 p 15
- Silverman, Stephen M (1988). The Fox that got away : the last days of the Zanuck dynasty at Twentieth Century-Fox. L. Stuart. p. 328.
- O'Flaherty, Daniel C. General Jo Shelby: Undefeated Rebel, University of North Carolina Press, 1954; ISBN 0-8078-4878-6; republished, 2000.