Hello everyone! Its Blogathon 3 of November and its time for the entry for the Rock Hudson Blogathon hosted by Michaela at Love Letters to Old Hollywood and Crystal at In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood.
In some ways, The Undefeated (1969) ever-so-slightly reminds me of The Horse Soldiers (1959). The casting of two major actors, the civil war era backdrop, as well as the two leads coming together to fight the common enemy.
An aspect audiences may find interesting about this film is its main point of focus is about a historical event many probably do not even know about- the Austrian intervention in Mexico, when Archduke Maximillian was deemed Emperor of Mexico on the behalf of French Emperor Napoleon III. The film loosely follows the true story of Confederate General James Orville Shelby’s escape to Mexico in an attempt to join the Austrian forces. The name of the movie is taken from a famous poem written about Shelby and his men’s efforts.
The Undefeated sees John Wayne as Union Colonel John Henry Thomas and Rock Hudson as Confederate Colonel James Langdon. After the end of the civil war, Langdon feels defeated and along with his men, plan to flee to Mexico to join the French-Austrian recruits in the invasion of Mexico and their president Benito Juarez. Thomas is also on his way to Mexico along with his adopted Indian son (Roman Gabriel) and 3000 horses to sell them to the French Austrian forces. Naturally the two parties cross paths, and after settling their differences and making their way, join forces to defeat Juarez’s Mexican forces that threaten them both.
It’s a standard later John Wayne western, and even though it may not rank as one of the “Best western” movies, it still is worth watching for all of the great actors (Ben Johnson, Dub Taylor for starters) in the story. Mr. Hudson referred to this movie as, “crap”, but I think anyone watching today would consider it good- especially when there are no westerns made like this anymore.
In today’s terms, The Undefeated is almost a forgotten film on both Wayne and Hudson’s filmographies. John Wayne had his great role as Rooster Cogburn in the year’s True Grit and for Rock Hudson there were no big roles for him around this time; it really was towards the end of his film career, before making a transition to TV.
The Undefeated gave Hudson a real chance to shine. In his role of Colonel Langdon Hudson he gets to prove he can do a convincing southern accent. I immediately compared it to Pillow Talk (1959) when he was able to do a phony Texas accent when one was called for it. Hudson giving a convincing accent in this movie just proves the way in which he approached his characters and the way he gave them a genuine believability.
In all honesty, I probably have to watch this film again in order to really catch the details- it’s a bit long at just under 2 hours, but really enjoyable even if its not my personal favorite. After all- John Wayne made this movie even when he was in extreme pain for tearing his shoulder ligaments- and for that alone it should be an appreciated piece !!!
(photos from pintrest and wikipedia)