Professionals, The (1966)

Professionals, The (1966)

“Maybe there’s only one revolution since the beginning: the good guys against the bad guys. The question is, who are the good guys?”

A wealthy rancher (Ralph Bellamy) hires an explosives expert (Burt Lancaster), a weapons specialist (Lee Marvin), a horse wrangler (Robert Ryan), and an Apache scout (Woody Strode) to find and return his wife (Claudia Cardinale), who has been kidnapped by the leader (Jack Palance) of a group of Mexican Revolutionaries — but the men soon find their job more complicated when they learn details about Cardinale’s situation.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Burt Lancaster Films
  • Claudia Cardinale Films
  • Jack Palance Films
  • Kidnapping
  • Lee Marvin Films
  • Ralph Bellamy Films
  • Ranchers
  • Revolutionaries
  • Richard Brooks Films
  • Robert Ryan Films
  • Westerns
  • Woody Strode Films

Richard Brooks directed this action-packed western about a complicated kidnap-recovery effort featuring a significant plot twist midway through. The cast is rock-solid, with Marvin and Lancaster believable as former revolutionary buddies:

… Ryan and Strode quietly convincing as crucial backup support:

… Bellamy appropriately slimy and determined as a not-entirely-truthful older husband:

… and sexy Cardinale ready to fight at all costs for what she believes in.

Palance doesn’t play much of a role, but he’s effective enough as the revolutionary “baddie.”

This film is primarily about the action, though — and there’s plenty of it, from beginning to end, beautifully shot on location in California and Nevada. We’re kept in suspense from one scene to the next in terms of how or whether the various protagonists will survive — and are not entirely sure what we hope for, anyway.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Conrad Hall’s cinematography
  • Maurice Jarre’s score

Must See?
Yes, as a fine western.


  • Good Show


One thought on “Professionals, The (1966)

  1. Agreed, must-see, for reasons brought out in the assessment.

    I’ve seen this film about 3 times over the years and, each time, I felt completely engaged. I wouldn’t call it a favorite but that’s not at all a reflection of the quality of the film, which is high.

    It’s an audience-conscious, satisfying, rip-snorting popcorn flick (in the sense that the intent is maximum entertainment value). The cast and direction reach perfection. This is among the handful of Brooks’ best films.

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