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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Deadly Companions (1961)



Reviews and Comments

Sam Peckinpah's first feature film leaves a lot to be desired. It stars Maureen O'Hara and Brian Keith, a pairing that was much more successful in the very different film The Parent Trap from the same year. Keith's is the only character that isn't a caricature, the film moves at a snail's pace, and the low budget and screwy editing leave much to be desired. Most of the problems aren't Peckinpah's fault: the producer resisted his efforts to flesh O'Hara's character out, forced an incongruous musical score upon the soundtrack, and threw out Peckinpah's edit in favor of one that makes mincemeat out of the continuity of the final scenes.

But even if Peckinpah had had more creative freedom, it's doubtful the film would have amounted to much. There's certainly no hint of things to come, like Ride the High Country with its strong characters and The Wild Bunch with its stylized violence and astute observations of changing times. The potential for powerful psychological resonance is here, but it never even comes close to fruition.