When people talk about films not being as entertaining as they used to be, The Professionals is what they are talking about. Its steeped in its era, but its every bit as entertaining as ANYTHING in theatres today. Its like the Western version of Flight of the Phoenix. Good simple storytelling, leaving room for character and great dialogue. And there's enough rootin-tootin' action along the way (including that great skirmish when they find Raza) to keep anyone happy.
First and foremost, the great thing about films like this, and The Wild Bunch, The Dirty Dozen, Flight, The Great Escape, all those late sixties yarns, is its cast. You simply cannot fault the cast in The Professionals. Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Burt Lancaster, Jack Palance, Claudia Cardinale (even yummier than she is in Once Upon a Time in the West), Woody Strode and Ralph Bellamy. I hate to sound like an old stick in the mud (i'm only 24) but we don't have stars like that anymore. We have stars and we have great actors, but the two don't really crossover. I love Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt as much as anyone, but i'm talking about Bill Macy or Phil Hoffman being marquee names, you know? That's what it used to be like. And there just aren't FACES like Ryan and Marvin anymore.
Gotta just say a word about Burt Lancaster. When I first saw this film, I didn't really know who he was, he was just a name that my mum bandied around (I guess I was about 14) and I thought he was one of the old school charmers like Cary Grant or Clark Gable. He is such a... well, I guess rascal or scoundrel would do it... in this that I defy you not to love him and his relationship with Marvin. Great stuff. I've since seen a lot mroe of his work, but The Professionals seems to be the most fun.
Favourite lines: "People. We just killed ten men, nobody bats an eye. But when it comes to one of God's most stupid animals . . . ";
"There's only been one revolution since the beginning - the good guys versus the bad guys. The question is - who are the good guys?";
Rico: "You won't lose your pants. Your life maybe but, what's that?"
Bill Dolworth: "Hardly anything at all." ;
J.W. Grant: "You bastard."
Rico: "Yes sir. In my case an accident of birth. But you, you're a self-made man."
Great stuff. Good call, this film is awesome. I really need to pick it up on DVD as soon as possible.