The Undefeated (1969) Rock Hudson Blogathon

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.

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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.

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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 !!!

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(photos from pintrest and wikipedia)

Great Westerns Blogathon- Big Jake (1971)

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Saddle up everyone! Today is the Great Western blogathon hosted by Thoughts All Sorts!

I think I shock people when I say I love a good western film. I haven’t seen a ton, ton (hey- Im watching my way through) but I will out rightfully say I’m just as content watching a cowboy ride off into the unknown as a I am watching a Victorian costume drama.

To me the participation in this blogathon for me was an easy decision even if the choice of which one to do was hard! In the end, I settled for Big Jake (1971). It’s a John Wayne classic and you just can’t go wrong with that!

I know many of us who blog and read in the classic movie fandom are fans of John Wayne, but with that being said- in a resume of over 100 films it can be hard to sort out which ones are the essentials. In my view I think Big Jake is up there with the best- maybe not the top 5- but it’s certainly beloved.

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There are so many awesome things about this picture- so without further ado- I decided to present to you five facts on why I believe Big Jake is a highlight to see on the Duke’s filmography.

1-The Cast! This movie has Maureen O’Hara playing Big Jake’s wife Martha (who else?!),  Patick Wayne as son James McCandles, Ethan Wayne as grandson Little Jake McCandles, Christopher Mitchum (Robert’s son) as Michael McCandles, and Richard Boone as Gang Leader John Frain. Image result for big jake

2-The Humor! This movie has got brief great moments of humor- The Daddy scene in the beginning, Big Jake sewing James’s trousers, Big Jake’s “Dog”, the shower scene- funny stuff!!!

3-The Family- The whole underlying theme of this story is family. Sure Big Jake hasn’t seen his grandson ever before, and hasnt seen his wife and sons for years- but that doesn’t stop him from riding off with this sons to save and rescue his grandson!  And that scene with Little Jake tending to Big Jake’s wound- too adorable!! (edit- This film contains Duke’s family off screen too! Michael Wayne produced through Batjac!)

4- The Music- Western scores are seriously over looked! This movie’s score is not to be missed!

5-One of the last of its kind- Not only for John Wayne but for the western genre itself. For Duke, it was the last time he would work Maureen, Patrick and Ethan. And for westerns- well- this was 1971 and the genre was no longer appreciated by general audiences. I dare someone to watch this and not think it has great scenery, a great plot, and just good old fashioned western elements- cowboys, gun fight shootouts, horses, chasing outlaws.  I for one find it sad westerns today aren’t a ‘thing’ anymore- think about it, there is no such thing as a western cowboy hero in the 21st century. I consider those who love westerns today to have good taste in movies and actors- because they literally do not make them anymore.

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Bonus watch this movie for the best recurring dialogue exchange

Person- Jacob McCandles? I thought you were dead!

Jacob McCandles- Not Hardly!

And if all that wasn’t enough take a look at this clip from the premiere of the film at Knotts Berry Farm in 1971- The Duke and Maureen- just perfect!!

BIG JAKE 1971 AVAILABLE ON DVD, BLU-RAY, and AMAZON STREAMING, OCCASIONALLY PLAYED ON TCM