The Undefeated (1969)

G | 119 mins | Western | November 1969

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HISTORY

The original screenplay for The Undefeated was written by Stanley L. Hough and Casey Robinson, based on Hough’s story, as noted in the 15 Dec 1967 DV, which announced Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.’s acquisition of the property. The studio brought in James Lee Barrett to write the final script, and director Andrew V. McLaglen’s involvement was reported in a 21 Aug 1968 DV item. The Undefeated was set to be McLaglen’s first picture in a recently signed three-year deal with Fox. John Wayne’s casting was announced shortly after McLaglen’s hiring, in the 23 Aug 1968 DV.
       According to a 16 Oct 1968 Var brief, filming was originally scheduled to take place in Texas in fall 1968; however, the shoot was delayed to allow John Wayne to finish his role in True Grit (1969, see entry). Subsequent plans were made to film in Durango, Mexico, instead of Texas, and production got underway on 7 Feb 1969, as stated in the 14 Feb 1969 DV.
       A few days prior to the start of filming, Wayne fell in a restaurant in Guaymas, Mexico, and broke two ribs, as reported in a 5 Feb 1969 DV news item. To recuperate, the actor went home, and he was due to return to set on 17 Feb 1969. In the meantime, McLaglen planned to shoot scenes involving Rock Hudson. The 13 Feb 1969 DV claimed that Wayne’s fall had taken place during an interview with a newspaperman, when Wayne had tried to move to a quieter part of the restaurant and had slipped on ... More Less

The original screenplay for The Undefeated was written by Stanley L. Hough and Casey Robinson, based on Hough’s story, as noted in the 15 Dec 1967 DV, which announced Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.’s acquisition of the property. The studio brought in James Lee Barrett to write the final script, and director Andrew V. McLaglen’s involvement was reported in a 21 Aug 1968 DV item. The Undefeated was set to be McLaglen’s first picture in a recently signed three-year deal with Fox. John Wayne’s casting was announced shortly after McLaglen’s hiring, in the 23 Aug 1968 DV.
       According to a 16 Oct 1968 Var brief, filming was originally scheduled to take place in Texas in fall 1968; however, the shoot was delayed to allow John Wayne to finish his role in True Grit (1969, see entry). Subsequent plans were made to film in Durango, Mexico, instead of Texas, and production got underway on 7 Feb 1969, as stated in the 14 Feb 1969 DV.
       A few days prior to the start of filming, Wayne fell in a restaurant in Guaymas, Mexico, and broke two ribs, as reported in a 5 Feb 1969 DV news item. To recuperate, the actor went home, and he was due to return to set on 17 Feb 1969. In the meantime, McLaglen planned to shoot scenes involving Rock Hudson. The 13 Feb 1969 DV claimed that Wayne’s fall had taken place during an interview with a newspaperman, when Wayne had tried to move to a quieter part of the restaurant and had slipped on the tile floor. As noted in a 13 Apr 1969 LAT interview with Wayne, the incident prompted rumors that he had been in the midst of a drunken tirade after arriving in Guaymas by private plane and not receiving “a royal reception.” Wayne ultimately admitted that he had been drinking before the fall. After returning to work, the actor injured himself a second time, on set in Baton Rouge, LA. The 21 Apr 1969 DV noted that, during a scene in which he was on horseback, Wayne’s saddle cinch had slipped, causing the actor to fall and dislocate his shoulder. Although he was rushed to the hospital, he reportedly returned to set that day and continued acting in a scene with Hudson.
       Principal photography was completed by early May 1969, according to a 7 May 1969 Var brief. The final cost of the film was cited as $7 million in the 5 Nov 1969 Var. The price of shooting in Durango had not been as low as initially expected, the 14 May 1969 Var noted, as local vendors had reportedly overcharged for food, housing, and other services. Angered by the price gouging, Wayne allegedly threatened never to shoot in the city again. However, a 26 Aug 1969 DV item noted that, after the governor of Durango had personally promised the overcharging would not be repeated, Wayne and McLaglen decided to return to Durango for the filming of Chisum (1970, see entry).
       A 4 Oct 1969 world premiere was scheduled to take place in New Orleans, LA, according to the 23 Jul 1969 Var. Advance publicity for the film included a cross-promotion with General Motors, as stated in the 24 Sep 1969 Var, which estimated the tie-in campaign would cost $3 million. The film opened the week of 19 Nov 1969 in Los Angeles, CA. Following tepid reviews, the 7 Jan 1970 Var reported a cumulative gross of $4.5 million in film rentals, to date.
       The following actors were listed as cast members in DV and Var items published between 2 Jan 1969 and 6 Mar 1969: Alberto Morin ; Fred Dick Bullock; Jerry Gatlin; John Hudkins; James Burk ; Trini Villa, son of Pancho Villa; and José Salas.
       Antonio Aguilar, credited as “Tony Aguilar,” was a well-known singer in Mexico at the time of filming. The 3 Apr 1969 DV reported that, due to his popularity with Latin American audiences, the actor would receive above-the-title billing on all Spanish-language prints of the film. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
15 Dec 1967
p. 1, 3.
Daily Variety
21 Aug 1968
p. 1, 10.
Daily Variety
23 Aug 1968
p. 1.
Daily Variety
30 Aug 1968
p. 15.
Daily Variety
2 Jan 1969
p. 10.
Daily Variety
9 Jan 1969
p. 4.
Daily Variety
5 Feb 1969
p. 30.
Daily Variety
12 Feb 1969
p. 10.
Daily Variety
12 Feb 1969
p. 14.
Daily Variety
13 Feb 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Feb 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Feb 1969
p. 12.
Daily Variety
6 Mar 1969
p. 4.
Daily Variety
3 Apr 1969
p. 8.
Daily Variety
10 Apr 1969
p. 11.
Daily Variety
21 Apr 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
26 Aug 1969
p. 8.
Daily Variety
30 Sep 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
3 Oct 1969
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
13 Apr 1969
Section S, p. 1, 14, 23.
Los Angeles Times
19 Nov 1969
Section C, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
21 Nov 1969
Section D, p. 21.
New York Times
5 Feb 1970
p. 33.
Variety
15 May 1968
p. 5.
Variety
16 Oct 1968
p. 30.
Variety
5 Mar 1969
p. 26.
Variety
7 May 1969
p. 4.
Variety
14 May 1969
p. 41.
Variety
21 May 1969
p. 37.
Variety
23 Jul 1969
p. 20.
Variety
26 Aug 1969
p. 8.
Variety
24 Sep 1969
p. 17.
Variety
5 Nov 1969
p. 5, 27.
Variety
7 Jan 1970
p. 27.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstyles
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Prod asst
Scr supv
Stunt coordinator
Constr coordinator
Gaffer
DETAILS
Release Date:
November 1969
Premiere Information:
World premiere in New Orleans: 4 October 1969
Los Angeles opening: week of 19 November 1969
New York opening: 4 February 1970
Production Date:
7 February--late April or early May 1969
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
4 October 1969
Copyright Number:
LP37506
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
119
MPAA Rating:
G
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
22209
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At the end of the Civil War, Union Colonel John Henry Thomas, his adopted son Blue Boy, a Cheyenne Indian, and ten of his command travel to Oklahoma, intending to sell horses to the U.S. Cavalry. Offered a poor price by the government, the indignant Thomas decides to transport the herd to Durango, Mexico, for sale to the beleaguered Emperor Maximilian. While crossing the Rio Grande, the Yankees encounter Confederate Colonel James Langdon who, having destroyed his Louisiana plantation, intends with family and friends to reestablish the Confederacy in Mexico. Together the Americans repel a group of Mexican bandits who have attacked the Confederate wagon train. In gratitude, Langdon arranges a Fourth of July celebration attended by his widowed sister-in-law Ann and daughter Charlotte. At the festivity, Charlotte and Blue Boy fall in love, while the men enjoy a free-for-all. When Blue Boy later warns the Southerners that Maximilian's emissary has been murdered, they refuse to believe him and beat him in retaliation for his advances to Charlotte. Langdon's party proceeds to Durango, where they are promptly captured by General Rojas, a follower of Maximilian's nemesis, Juárez. Rojas informs the Yankees that he will kill his hostages unless the herd is given to the Juaristas. Complying with his request, Thomas saves his former adversary. Together again, Confederates and Yankees return to the ... +


At the end of the Civil War, Union Colonel John Henry Thomas, his adopted son Blue Boy, a Cheyenne Indian, and ten of his command travel to Oklahoma, intending to sell horses to the U.S. Cavalry. Offered a poor price by the government, the indignant Thomas decides to transport the herd to Durango, Mexico, for sale to the beleaguered Emperor Maximilian. While crossing the Rio Grande, the Yankees encounter Confederate Colonel James Langdon who, having destroyed his Louisiana plantation, intends with family and friends to reestablish the Confederacy in Mexico. Together the Americans repel a group of Mexican bandits who have attacked the Confederate wagon train. In gratitude, Langdon arranges a Fourth of July celebration attended by his widowed sister-in-law Ann and daughter Charlotte. At the festivity, Charlotte and Blue Boy fall in love, while the men enjoy a free-for-all. When Blue Boy later warns the Southerners that Maximilian's emissary has been murdered, they refuse to believe him and beat him in retaliation for his advances to Charlotte. Langdon's party proceeds to Durango, where they are promptly captured by General Rojas, a follower of Maximilian's nemesis, Juárez. Rojas informs the Yankees that he will kill his hostages unless the herd is given to the Juaristas. Complying with his request, Thomas saves his former adversary. Together again, Confederates and Yankees return to the U.S. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.