Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Professionals (1966)


Written by Tim Dirks

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Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Professionals (1966)

In writer/director Richard Brooks' big-budget, ensemble western adventure set in 1916 in the early 20th century (an Old West version of The Dirty Dozen (1967) and the precursor to The Wild Bunch (1969)) - it was one of the most exciting action-adventure westerns of all time:

  • the opening credits introduced the four main characters, comprising a mercenary team in the final years of the Mexican Revolution:
    • Henry "Rico" Fardan (Lee Marvin) - the team leader, a munitions and tactical expert, a former US officer
    • Hans Ehrengard (Robert Ryan) - a horse wrangler/specialist
    • Jacob "Jake" Sharp (Woody Strode) - an Apache scout/tracker, a bow/arrow expert, and a crack rifleman
    • Bill Dolworth (Burt Lancaster) - an explosives/dynamiter

Henry "Rico" Fardan (Lee Marvin)

Hans Ehrengard (Robert Ryan)

"Jake" Sharp (Woody Strode)

Bill Dolworth (Burt Lancaster)
  • a nine-day "mission of mercy" was described by Texas railroad tycoon/millionaire Joe W. Grant (Ralph Bellamy) in his private railway car: the specialists (or professionals) would be hired to rescue "in one bold swift stroke" Grant's 'kidnapped'(?) wife Maria (Claudia Cardinale) from Mexican revolutionaries led by the guerrilla leader and bandito Captain Jesus Raza (Jack Palance), one of Villa's officers; Raza's "fortress" was 100 miles inside a Mexican desert known as the Painted Mountains; a reward was offered: $10,000 for each man ($1,000 was paid upfront)
  • both Fardan and Dulworth had served as American mercenaries with Pancho Villa during the early days of the Revolution, and highly respected Raza as a fighter, although they were also willing to be paid to kill him
  • the group initially encountered ten of Raza's 'banditos' in a narrow canyon that concluded with a deadly shoot-out and the killing of the entire group; soon after Hans suffered heat stroke; as part of their strategy, Dolworth scouted ahead (leaving distinctive cross markings to either indicate 'all clear' or 'danger') - and he found himself surrounded by three more 'banditos' and robbed; he was found strung upside-down when his companions came to his rescue and killed the three gang members
  • Dolworth suggested that he plant dynamite along their potential future escape route - especially in the narrow pass where they found themselves, to block one of Raza's short-cuts and also their exit behind them if needed; as the group relaxed around their temporary camp, they wished for a rest, a shave and a bath - and Dolworth added: "Might as well throw in a woman. Any size, any age, any color. Any woman"
  • Dolworth also offered a notable explanation to "Jake" and Ehrengard about his life's work: "I was born with a powerful passion to create. I can't write, I can't paint, can't make up a song..." (Ehrengard: "So you explode things") "Well, that's how the world was born. Biggest damn explosion you ever saw"; Ehrengard questioned him: "Dynamite in the hands of a fool means death," but Dolworth explained his strategy using the explosive: "In this case it could mean life. Ours. If we're lucky enough to get back to this rat-trap, it might be touch-and-go. Now all you gotta do is light this fuse. You got 10 seconds to run like hell. And then dynamite, not faith, will move that mountain into this pass. Peace, brother"
  • as they moved on in an exciting sequence, they watched as Raza attacked and took over a government supply train with federal troops, and then brutally (on his own) executed all of the soldiers on-board who were lined up - it was a mass execution; "Rico" was particularly upset by the brutal spectacle; Dolworth explained Rico's bitterness due to previous atrocities committed against Raza: "Men on that train are Colorados. Expert marksmen. Also expert at torture. Couple o' years ago, they burned and looted a town of three thousand people. When they finished, forty were left. Fardan's wife was one o' the lucky forty. 'Why're you a revolutionary?' they asked her. 'To rid the world of scum like you,' she said. They stripped her naked, ran her through the cactus 'til her flesh was - the other thirty-nine rebels watched her die, and - did nothing. Just watched"; Ehrengard asked: "What were Americans doing in a Mexican revolution, anyway?"
Raza Leading an Attack on a Government Supply Train
  • Dolworth continued their conversation by momentarily questioning the merits of fighting their old revolutionary comrades for money after serving with them earlier and pursuing greater ideals, and the hazy boundary-line between heroes and villains: "Maybe there's only one revolution, since the beginning. The good guys against the bad guys. The question is: Who are the good guys?"
  • the 'professionals' scouted Raza's "hacienda" and hideout-camp, including Dolworth's comment when he spotted topless Raza bandita Chiquita (Marie Gomez) washing herself: "That is a soldier. Lieutenant Si Si Chiquita. Now, there's a woman worth a ransom. She never says no" - he had obviously had a relationship with her in the past while serving under Pancho Villa
  • at night, Fardan infiltrated into Raza's camp to rescue her, but was astonished to find her stripped down and about to make love to Raza - it was the film's surprise plot-twist character reversal; Fardan decided to suspend their mission and told Dolworth, who reacted: "Amigo, We've been had! Let's get the hell outta here!" - but it was already too late and they proceeded with their plan
  • their exciting, carefully-executed pre-dawn attack strategy to rescue or "kidnap" Maria (nicknamed "Little Red Riding Hood") was explained by "Rico": ("We've gotta make him think we're the Mexican army...a whole battalion...We can't fight our way in. Diversion is our only chance"), including: (1) dynamiting a water tower, (2) shooting arrows with grenades attached, (3) stealthily taking out a machine-gun sentry, and (4) creating a diversion to distract everyone
  • during their escape, Maria was helping to treat wounded Hans when Dolworth looked down her cleavage; she asked about it, and he told her: "Just wondering what makes you worth a hundred thousand dollars"; she told him to "Go to hell" and he quipped: "Yes ma'am. I'm on my way"
  • Rico was disgusted by the whole set-up - nobody was who they claimed to be: "From the loyal Ortega to the devoted goat-keeper, to the faithful wife at the mercy of a brutal kidnapper. That's one hell of a rigged parlay";
  • as they took refused in some canyonlands, Maria emphatically told Rico that she was not kidnapped by Raza, and explained her history with Raza: "Raza and I grew up together. I am born there....We are lovers long before Mr. Joe Grant buys the place. When my father lies dying, he says: 'Mr. Joe Grant wants you for his wife. You will become Dona Grant, a fine lady. That is my wish.' Here, a wish is a command. But I'm very young and very foolish. I tell Mr. Joe Grant I cannot marry to him. I love another man. Very romantic, no?"
  • the next day, Maria made an attempt to escape on horseback, but Dolworth exploded dynamite that he had already planted in a narrow pass (to impede Raza's pursuit after the group) and also prevented Maria from getting away
  • Maria made tempting offers to Dolworth in exchange for her freedom - she first offered money: "Would you let me go?" and then she offered herself as she opened her top and bared her breasts to him: "You want me? My price is high. Freedom," and Dolworth answered: "I might say yes now and later, no"; after they kissed, she treacherously reached for his gun, but he had already unholstered it and held it against her chest
Maria's Offer to Dolworth In Exchange For Her Freedom
"You want me? My price is high. Freedom"
  • the next day, Dolworth extolled Maria to Rico: "That's a lot of woman there. Beautiful. Classy. And guts. Hard enough to kill you, and soft enough to change you"; Rico responded that Dolworth's only interests in life were females, money and booze: "So what else is on your mind besides hundred-proof women, 'n' ninety-proof whiskey, 'n' fourteen-carat gold?" Dolworth was pleased with Rico's observation: "Amigo, you just wrote my epitaph!"
  • Dolworth volunteered to stay behind and hold off the relentless pursuit of Raza and his men, to allow the others to make it to the border; he was able to kill all of Raza's men and wound Raza in the leg
  • during a lull in the fighting, Raza spoke about the Revolucion: (Raza: "You want perfection or nothing. You're too romantic, compadre. La Revolucion is like a great love affair. In the beginning, she is a goddess. A holy cause. But every love affair has a terrible enemy: time. We see her as she is. La Revolucion is not a goddess but a whore. She was never pure, never saintly, never perfect. And we run away, find another lover, another cause. Quick, sordid affairs. Lust, but no love. Passion, but no compassion. Without love, without a cause, we are nothing! We stay because we believe. We leave because we are disillusioned. We come back because we are lost. We die because we are committed")
  • Dolworth personally encountered Raza's bandita accomplice Chiquita who chatted about her love life; after Dolworth gunned her down and as she was dying, he greeted her: "Hello, baby"; she replied, "Long time since I hear 'baby'"; he raised her into his arms as she asked: "Hey, you ever find that damn gold mine, eh?" but then pointed her concealed gun at his neck and squeezed the trigger, but it clicked blank; she noted: "I am not lucky today" to which he replied: "But you're beautiful"; she reminisced about him being her past lover: "Querido, baby. We had some fine times together"; he answered: "Terrific"; she requested a kiss ("Give us a kiss"), and he obliged, and then she expired in his arms
  • by the film's conclusion back at the US border, the professionals had completed their job of rescuing the kidnapped wife Maria from Raza's bandit camp, and Dolworth had also captured the wounded bandit leader; and then, the major twist was fully revealed - Maria actually loved the Mexican outlaw and was his willing mistress; Grant had "bought" Maria for an arranged marriage, but she had willingly escaped and returned to be with Raza in Mexico; Grant was the real 'kidnapper' - not Raza; when Maria was reunited with Raza, she hugged him and tended to his wounds

Rescued "Kidnapped" Maria Hugging Wounded Jesus Raza

Dolworth (to Rico): "Turn her loose?"

Maria Tending to Wounded Raza
  • after his encounter with Raza and Maria, Dolworth confessed to Rico: "I found out what makes a woman worth $100,000," but agreed she shouldn't be turned loose: "Turn her loose? After all we've been through together? After all the blood it's cost. Hell, no! You made a contract to kidnap a wife for Mr. J.W. Grant. Now, let's collect that ransom"
  • when they brought Maria to Grant to get paid for their services just across the US border, Grant didn't want the "professionals" to notice his interactions with 'Mrs. Grant' - and he stated: "I hereby declare our contract satisfactorily concluded" and wanted them to hurry off to town for a bath; and then when they watched as Grant ordered Raza killed, the professionals wouldn't allow it, led by Dolworth who shot the gun from his hand: "You haven't earned the right to kill him"
  • it was obvious that Maria didn't want to be with Grant, and threatened: "I will run away again"; when Grant insisted: "You're my wife, you belong to me," she asserted that she belonged with Raza! ("I belong here...with him"); Grant abused Maria, grabbed her and slapped her across the face - he demanded that she return home with him
  • the professionals decided to abandon their "bad deal" mission as Rico explained to their employer: "Gentlemen, you heard our employer. The lady's going home. (to Maria) You don't think that J.W. Grant was stupid enough to pay that ransom, do ya?...(to Grant) There was no kidnapping! Right, Mr. Grant? Is that right, Mr. Grant?" Grant disagreed: "That is none of your business"; Rico told the real kidnapper, Grant, that his wife would go home with Raza: "Wrong, Mr. Grant. We made a contract to save a lady from a nasty old kidnapper - who turns out to be you"; they allowed Maria to ride off with the wounded Raza (in the back of a buckboard wagon), to return to Mexico

Rico Assisting Maria to Return Home with Raza

Dolworth: "We both made a bad deal, Mr. Grant. You lose a wife and we lose $10,000 dollars apiece."

Grant (To Rico): "You bastard!" Rico: "Yes, Sir. In my case an accident of birth. But you, Sir, you're a self-made man."
  • in the film's curtain closing, Dolworth summarized: "We both made a bad deal, Mr. Grant. You lose a wife and we lose $10,000 dollars apiece." Grant (To Rico): "You bastard!" Rico (with a witty reply): "Yes, Sir. In my case an accident of birth. But you, Sir, you're a self-made man."

J.W. Grant (Ralph Bellamy)

Alleged "Kidnapper" Capt. Jesus Raza (Jack Palance) (an airbrushed and altered historical photo)

Initial Shoot-out with Banditos in a Canyon

Dolworth Strung Upside Down by Other Banditos Before His Rescue

Dolworth Planting Dynamite Along Escape Route

Dolworth's Explanation of His Life's Work

The Group Watching the Approach of a Gov't Supply Train

Dolworth: "Who are the good guys?"

Scouting Raza's 'Hacienda' Hideout

Dolworth's Spotting of Chiquita - A Past Love

Fardan Observing Raza Making Love to Maria! - A Complete Shock

Dolworth Reacted: "Amigo, we've been had!"

'Kidnapping' Maria

Maria - Successfully Captured - And Used As a Bargaining Chip to Escape

Dolworth Looking at Maria's Cleavage

Dolworth Holding Off Raza's Gang

Wounded Raza with Chiquita

Raza's Revolucion Speech to Dolworth

Chiquita's Kiss with Dolworth Before Dying


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