This western almost makes the grade as high-quality moviemaking, but just never quite gets there. Eastwood is riding through the Mexican desert when he comes upon MacLaine, who has been stripped by three men. They are about to rape her, but Eastwood kills the evil bunch. Though initially attracted to her himself, Eastwood is surprised when he discovers...read more
This western almost makes the grade as high-quality moviemaking, but just never quite gets there. Eastwood is riding through the Mexican desert when he comes upon MacLaine, who has been stripped by three men. They are about to rape her, but Eastwood kills the evil bunch. Though initially
attracted to her himself, Eastwood is surprised when he discovers that MacLaine, a Juarista sympathizer, is really a nun. He agrees to take her to the revolutionaries' camp and hints that if he is offered enough money, he just might help attack the French garrison at Chihuahua. Along the trail
Eastwood gets more surprises from the sister when he sees her smoking a cigar and enjoying a snort of whiskey. As they get closer to their destination, Eastwood tries to dynamite a French train loaded with ammunition. He's stopped when a Yaqui Indian hits him square in the shoulder with an arrow.
MacLaine gets Eastwood drunk, then removes the arrow, bandaging his wounded shoulder. She sets off the charge by helping Eastwood fire a bullet into the explosives. After arriving at the revolutionaries' camp, MacLaine reveals that she is actually a prostitute and has detailed knowledge of the
French fort's layout. A plan is devised by the group, and Eastwood takes MacLaine to the enemy stronghold. He pretends that she is his prisoner, thus gaining the confidence of the French. The gate is opened and the Mexican guerrillas rush in. A violent battle ensues. Eastwood and MacLaine grab
some loot, make some love, and ride off together.
Eastwood skillfully creates his usual western character, the expressionless nobody from nowhere. His chemistry with the more lively MacLaine is good, and the two make a fine team as they develop the odd relationship between their characters. However, the film as a whole isn't up to the
performances of the leads. Episodically told, the film moves slowly as it sets up the action-filled but ugly finish (the final battle includes some especially disturbing brutality).
Reportedly, MacLaine and director Siegel didn't get along on set. The Mexican locations proved too much for the fair-skinned redhead; a local was hired to follow MacLaine with an umbrella to protect her from the sun. The cast (with the notable exception of health-food faddist Eastwood) was also
afflicted with dysentery. The film was originally scripted by Budd Boetticher, who also was to direct. However, several rewrites into the project he was dropped. Reputedly, director Siegel and producer Rackin didn't hit it off. Rackin got final cut, but Siegel shot a minimal amout of footage,
editing in the camera to prevent his producer's later interference. Elizabeth Taylor had originally been approached for MacLaine's part. When Universal was unwilling to meet Taylor's salary-plus-percentage demands, the studio settled for MacLaine, who peformed for the reported pittance of only $1
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