The Professionals (1966)

117 mins | Western | 2 November 1966

Director:

Richard Brooks

Writer:

Richard Brooks

Producer:

Richard Brooks

Cinematographer:

Conrad Hall

Editor:

Peter Zinner

Production Designer:

Edward S. Haworth

Production Company:

Pax Enterprises
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HISTORY

Production charts in the 22 Oct 1965 DV announced the 20 Oct 1965 start of principal photography. On 11 Oct 1965, DV reported that the cast and crew would “headquarter” at the Mint Hotel in Las Vegas, NV, for six weeks, beginning 1 Nov 1966. As stated in the 22 Oct 1965 DV, actress Claudia Cardinale arrived on set after working six consecutive nineteen-hour days to complete A Rose for Everyone (1967, see entry) in Brazil.
       An article in the 23 Jan 1966 LAT described one desert location as fifty miles southeast of Indio, in CA’s Coachella Valley, next to a spur rail line owned by the Kaiser Steel company. The production employed two antique trains, including Kaiser’s sixty-five-year-old locomotive, but had to clear the tracks every night to allow passage for rail cars carrying iron ore. Other locations included Death Valley National Park in CA, and Valley of Fire State Park in NV, where the dilapidated hacienda of “Capt. Jesús Raza” was constructed. Writer-director Richard Brooks revealed his original intention to film in Mexico, until he discovered that the necessary locations were thousands of miles apart. Despite the hindrances of rain, sleet, and snow, Brooks preferred the CA and NV deserts, which provided a variety of terrains within a 300-mile radius. He also expressed his amazement with actor Burt Lancaster, who performed many of his own stunts, including the scaling of a 150-foot cliff by rope. At the time of the 23 Jan 1966 LAT article, the eighty-day production was nearing completion, with interior scenes to ... More Less

Production charts in the 22 Oct 1965 DV announced the 20 Oct 1965 start of principal photography. On 11 Oct 1965, DV reported that the cast and crew would “headquarter” at the Mint Hotel in Las Vegas, NV, for six weeks, beginning 1 Nov 1966. As stated in the 22 Oct 1965 DV, actress Claudia Cardinale arrived on set after working six consecutive nineteen-hour days to complete A Rose for Everyone (1967, see entry) in Brazil.
       An article in the 23 Jan 1966 LAT described one desert location as fifty miles southeast of Indio, in CA’s Coachella Valley, next to a spur rail line owned by the Kaiser Steel company. The production employed two antique trains, including Kaiser’s sixty-five-year-old locomotive, but had to clear the tracks every night to allow passage for rail cars carrying iron ore. Other locations included Death Valley National Park in CA, and Valley of Fire State Park in NV, where the dilapidated hacienda of “Capt. Jesús Raza” was constructed. Writer-director Richard Brooks revealed his original intention to film in Mexico, until he discovered that the necessary locations were thousands of miles apart. Despite the hindrances of rain, sleet, and snow, Brooks preferred the CA and NV deserts, which provided a variety of terrains within a 300-mile radius. He also expressed his amazement with actor Burt Lancaster, who performed many of his own stunts, including the scaling of a 150-foot cliff by rope. At the time of the 23 Jan 1966 LAT article, the eighty-day production was nearing completion, with interior scenes to be filmed at Columbia Pictures Studios in Los Angeles, CA. Brooks was in the process of finishing the screenplay, but refused to share the ending with his cast. Actor-athlete Woody Strode told the 7 Apr 1966 Los Angeles Sentinel that he was thankful for the opportunity to appear in the film, saying his odds of being cast were “a million to one.”
       A news item in the 15 Jun 1966 DV noted that publicist Al Horwits would assist Brooks in the film’s promotion, coordinating with Columbia publicity vice-president Robert Ferguson. Weeks later, the 4 Aug and 10 Aug 1966 issues of DV announced sneak previews in Kansas City, MO, and New York City, respectively. The film opened 2 Nov 1966 in New York City to mostly positive reviews. Columbia president Mike Frankovich included it among his more profitable recent releases, and the Film Daily readers poll rated it one of the ten best pictures of the year.
       The Professionals was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Director, Writing-Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Brooks), and Cinematography-Color (Conrad L. Hall.) It also received two Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture-Drama, and Most Promising Newcomer-Female (Marie Gomez). The picture won Golden Laurel Awards for best action drama and best action performance (Lee Marvin).
       On 9 Feb 1967, DV reported that The Professionals “set a new length-of-run record” for a Columbia release in Los Angeles, starting its eighth week at thirteen locations. The picture was also among the fourteen U.S. productions submitted to the 1967 Moscow Film Festival in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
4 Jun 1965
p. 8.
Daily Variety
11 Oct 1965
p. 6.
Daily Variety
20 Oct 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Oct 1965
p. 2, 8.
Daily Variety
22 Feb 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
15 Jun 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
4 Aug 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
10 Aug 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
25 Oct 1966
p. 68.
Daily Variety
9 Feb 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
27 Jun 1967
p. 1.
Los Angeles Sentinel
7 Apr 1966
Section B, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
23 Jan 1966
Section B, p. 5.
Los Angeles Times
24 Nov 1966
Section E, p. 21.
Los Angeles Times
1 Jan 1967
Section C, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
6 Feb 1967
Section D, p. 22.
New York Times
2 Nov 1966
p. 38.
New York Times
3 Nov 1966
p. 45.
New York Times
16 Nov 1966
Section E, p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Scr supv
Ch elec
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel A Mule for the Marquesa by Frank O'Rourke (New York, 1964).
DETAILS
Release Date:
2 November 1966
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 2 November 1966
Production Date:
20 October 1965--late January 1966
Copyright Claimant:
Pax Enterprises
Copyright Date:
1 November 1966
Copyright Number:
LP33771
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
117
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After the 1917 Mexican revolution, American millionaire J. W. Grant offers to pay four professional soldiers-of-fortune $1,000 apiece to rescue his Mexican wife, Maria, who was kidnaped by guerrilla-bandit Raza. The men employed are dynamite expert Bill Dolworth; professional soldier Henry Rico Fardan; wrangler-packmaster Hans Ehrengard; and black tracker-scout Jacob Sharp, an expert archer. They ride deep into Mexican desert territory until they reach Raza's encampment. A careful plan of strategy is worked out to split-second timing as they secretly break into Maria's room, fight off her guards, and carry her back into the desert. Then they learn that Maria was purchased by Grant, but she is Raza's lover and has no intention of returning to her husband. The adventurers, however, are determined to collect the reward, and they make for the border with Maria. Raza and his men eventually catch up with the four men and Maria at a narrow rock canyon. Dolworth sends the others on ahead and stays behind to await a showdown. Raza is badly wounded in the gunplay, and Dolworth rides on to the border. Once they all rendezvous, Maria exposes her husband's ruthlessness and begs to be allowed to return to Mexico. Raza arrives to claim Maria, and the four professionals hold Grant and his men at bay until the lovers have safely started back to their desert ... +


After the 1917 Mexican revolution, American millionaire J. W. Grant offers to pay four professional soldiers-of-fortune $1,000 apiece to rescue his Mexican wife, Maria, who was kidnaped by guerrilla-bandit Raza. The men employed are dynamite expert Bill Dolworth; professional soldier Henry Rico Fardan; wrangler-packmaster Hans Ehrengard; and black tracker-scout Jacob Sharp, an expert archer. They ride deep into Mexican desert territory until they reach Raza's encampment. A careful plan of strategy is worked out to split-second timing as they secretly break into Maria's room, fight off her guards, and carry her back into the desert. Then they learn that Maria was purchased by Grant, but she is Raza's lover and has no intention of returning to her husband. The adventurers, however, are determined to collect the reward, and they make for the border with Maria. Raza and his men eventually catch up with the four men and Maria at a narrow rock canyon. Dolworth sends the others on ahead and stays behind to await a showdown. Raza is badly wounded in the gunplay, and Dolworth rides on to the border. Once they all rendezvous, Maria exposes her husband's ruthlessness and begs to be allowed to return to Mexico. Raza arrives to claim Maria, and the four professionals hold Grant and his men at bay until the lovers have safely started back to their desert stronghold. +

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.