Sam Peckinpah’s first film as director, The Deadly Companions (1961), is coming from VCI in what promises be a nice anamorphic transfer.
Starring Brian Keith and Maureen O’Hara (who’d just appeared together in The Parent Trap) — and shot in 21 days for $550,000 in Old Tuscon, The Deadly Companions has been represented over the years by shoddy, pan-and-scan tapes and DVDs that were an insult to anybody who worked on it.
Brian Keith and Peckinpah had just collaborated on the terrific The Westerner TV series. O’Hara’s brother, producer of The Deadly Companions, approached Keith. Keith requested Peckinpah, thinking he’d patch up the script.
Though Peckinpah was not allowed to do a rewrite or supervise the editing, his direction is assured and bears his strong visual stamp. It deserves more attention than it normally gets — this is more than just a first-picture curio.
It’s based on the novel Yellowleg by A.S. Fleischman, which at one point was optioned by Marlon Brando’s Pennebaker Productions. Nothing came it, though a script was prepared, and Brando’s Western eventually ended up being One-Eyed Jacks (1961).