Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
Cast: John Wayne as John Henry Thomas
Rock Hudson as James Langdon
Roman Gabriel as Blue Boy
Antonio Aguilar as Rojas
Lee Meriwether as Margaret Langdon
Melissa Newman as Charlotte Langdon
Marian McCargo as Ann Langdon
Merlin Olsen as Little George
Bruce Cabot as Jeff Newby
Jan-Michael Vincent as Bubba Wilkes
Ben Johnson as Short Grub
Edward Faulkner as Capt. Anderson
Harry Carey Jr. as Soloman Webster
Paul Fix as Joe Masters
Royal Dano as the one-armed Confederate major
Richard Mulligan as Dan Morse
John Agar as Christian
Dub Taylor as McCartney
After fighting in the Civil War on the side of the Union, Col. John Henry Thomas travels to Oklahoma with his adopted Cheyenne Indian son and ten of the men from his regiment. John’s original plan is to sell horses to the U.S. Cavalry but they offer him rock bottom prices. Not satisfied with the price, John intends to push on further south into Mexico to sell them to the Mexican Army. Along the way John meets up with a former band of Confederate soldiers, led by Col. James Langdon, who have decided to start anew in Mexico. Shortly after their meeting, the two previous rivals must join forces to fight off a horde of Mexican bandits. The Confederates proceed into a trap set by Mexican General Rojas, ignoring the warnings of John’s son, Blue Boy. Will John put aside his Civil war memories to save his newfound friend?
John Wayne fell off his horse during filming, fracturing three ribs. It took Wayne almost two weeks to recover. Shortly thereafter he tore a ligament in his shoulder and couldn’t use his arm at all. All the scenes with Wayne after that had to be shot from one side.
Originally James Arness was going to play the role of Colonel James Langdon.
Rock Hudson once said in an interview that he thought the movie was crap and only did well because it followed True Grit (1969). However, he was still pleased that he had done the movie because of the close friendship he forged with John Wayne.
A story told on Larry King with Rock Hudson’s ex-lover regarding the relationship between Wayne and Hudson on the set was at first one of conflict, although Hudson idolized Wayne. Wayne found out that Rock Hudson’s real name had a Jr. suffix and proceeded to call him June for most of the shooting, perhaps mocking Hudson’s homosexuality. However, once a crew member took pity on Hudson and told him Wayne’s real name, Marion. Wayne told Hudson, “Hey June, come on, we have a scene to shoot”. To which Hudson replied, “I’ll be right there, Marion”. And the two were friends ever since.
John Wayne wanted Rock Hudson to play the role because he heard that Rock was good at bridge, and he wanted a bridge partner.
This was the film debut of Merlin Olsen.
John Wayne had to go on a major diet regimen before filming to lose the weight he had put on for playing Rooster Cogburn in True Grit .