Major Dundee (1965/2005)
Directed by Sam Peckinpah. Written by Harry Julian Fink, Oscar Saul, & Sam Peckinpah. Story by Harry
Julian Fink. Produced by Jerry Bresler. Cinematography by Sam Leavitt. Edited by William A. Lyon, Donald W.
Starling, & Howard Kunin. Art Direction by Al Ybarra. Costume Design by Tom Dawson. Original Score by
Daniele Amfitheatrof. 2005 Score by Christopher Caliendo. Production Companies: Jerry Bresler Productions &
Columbia Pictures. US Distributor: Columbia Pictures. Filmed in Panavision, Color by Pathé. Running Time: 136
mins. (2005 restored version) [Orig. 123 mins.]
Charlton Heston (Major Amos Dundee), Richard Harris (Capt. Benjamin Tyreen), Jim Hutton (Lt. Graham),
James Coburn (Samuel Potts), Michael Anderson Jr. (Tim Ryan), Senta Berger (Teresa Santiago), Mario Adorf (Sgt.
Gomez), Brock Peters (Aesop), Warren Oates (O.W. Hadley), Ben Johnson (Sgt. Chillum), R.G. Armstrong (Rev.
Dahlstrom), L.Q. Jones (Arthur Hadley), Slim Pickens (Wiley), Begonia Palacios (Linda).
“We are a command divided against itself, and I fear nothing will ever heal this breach.”
–Trooper Tim Ryan
In the lecture devoted to Literary Design several weeks ago, we determined that the film that
audiences see in theaters, the “finished” film, is only one version of a text that has evolved
through any number of scripts, drafts, and revisions. This approach proves useful for an
understanding of the elusive character of authorship in the filmmaking process, particularly in
the steps leading up to production. However, in the age of DVD releases that contain multiple
versions of single films (director’s cuts, unrated versions, etc.) as well as deleted scenes and
other miscellaneous “extras” from various stages of production and post-production, the “final
version” of a film is hardly a simple concept in itself. While all of the potential pieces of a film
may be (relatively) complete following the shooting stage, the ordering and building of scenes
and sequences can drastically affect the tone and meaning of a film. The realization of a script
tends to be cast as a battle between writer and director, but the battle for final cut (the power to
approve the version of a film that will be printed and released into theaters) is generally
conceived as a battle between the director and the studio. The director of our film today, Sam
Peckinpah, contributed as much as any mainstream American filmmaker in the 1960s to the
newly developing notion that the filmmaker is an artist, and he did so largely by casting himself
as an individual creative force struggling to convey his vision in the face of bean-counting studio
meddlers. Regardless of how accurate the two poles of this equation are, Peckinpah’s films,
, often evince the unstable quality of conflicting voices, and their
colorful production histories open up alternate threads of hypothetical possibilities for what the
films could have been. Although the temporal design of a film is usually the aspect of a film’s