The 1965 Columbia Pictures western, featuring an all-star cast headed by Charlton Heston, Richard Harris, Jim Hutton and James Coburn, will premiere April 8th exclusively at the Film Forum in New York. On April 15th, it will open at the Nuart in Los Angeles and the Kendall Square in Boston, followed by engagements in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Dallas, Santa Fe and other major cities.
Set in 1864, "Major Dundee" centers on Amos Dundee (Heston), a disgraced Union officer who seeks redemption in his latest assignment -- capturing or killing a renegade Apache who led a massacre of a New Mexico settlement. With the Civil War still raging, he must fill out his hunting party with freed slaves, deserters, and even Confederate prisoners -- notably a one-time friend, Capt. Ben Tyreen (Harris). As the mission progresses, Dundee battles not only the Apaches and his own recruits, but his inner demons as well.
"It's a poetic, brutal story of revenge," observed documentarian Nick Redman, one of the world's leading Peckinpah scholars, "and within its heart it is a moving, psychological study of two conflicted veterans of battle cast inevitably on opposing sides."
Peckinpah began in the film business in 1954 (his mentor was legendary action director Don Siegel), and had already written and/or directed several TV shows and two small-budget features -- including the 1962 classic "Ride The High Country" -- when he was offered "Dundee." In the first of what would prove to be many such instances, he clashed with the producer, and eventually the film was released in a shorter version than he had planned. Heston was so committed to the director's vision that when the studio shortened the production schedule, he actually forfeited his entire salary to buy back the extra days Peckinpah needed to finish shooting.
"This is the most complete cut of the film that could be constructed," said Grover Crisp, Vice President of Asset Management and Film Restoration for Sony Pictures Entertainment, who supervised the reconstruction and restoration. "Some of the original scenes were destroyed after Peckinpah's cut was rejected, but what we did locate and put back clarifies plot points and adds a more tragic dimension to the Dundee character."
Added Schlesinger, "Because the film is still a few minutes shy of its intended length, we elected to call it 'The Extended Version' rather than 'The Director's Cut.'"
"Major Dundee" will also be released on DVD later this year in a special edition that will include some trims that could not be reinserted into the film, a commentary featuring Redman and other Peckinpah experts, and other special features.
"Major Dundee" was produced by Jerry Bresler and written by Harry Julian Fink, Oscar Saul and Peckinpah, from a story by Fink. The Panavision(R) film was photographed entirely in Mexico by Sam Leavitt, ASC. In addition to the four stars listed above, the cast includes Michael Anderson Jr., Senta Berger, Mario Adorf, Brock Peters, and several members of Peckinpah's renowned stock company of beloved character actors: Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, L.Q. Jones, Slim Pickens, Dub Taylor and R.G. Armstrong. Jones, who made more films with Peckinpah than any other actor, narrates the exciting new trailer for the film's theatrical release.
PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY: Source: Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group