The Deadly Trackers (1973)

Richard Harris, Rod Taylor, Al Lettieri, Neville Brand,
A Sheriff, who negotiates with bank robbers, ends up getting his family killed during their escape. The Sheriff chases the gang into Mexico on his own. While attempting to exact his vengeance, he is at odds with a Mexican lawman.
  • 5.7 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Lukas Heller, Writer:
  • Barry Shear, Samuel Fuller, Director:
  • Fouad Said, Producer:
3/10 / 10

After The Wild Bunch had pushed back a few boundaries in terms ofviolence, especially within the western genre, there followed a spateof similar westerns. Billy Two Hats, Chato's Land, The Hunting Party,The Revengers and The Last Hard Men were among the front-runners. Alsoon any list of brutal '70s revenge-westerns would be The DeadlyTrackers, originally planned as a Samuel Fuller movie but completed byBarry Shear after Fuller quit the project. This violent, bloodthirstyfilm is, alas, somewhat disappointing.

Irish sheriff Sean Kilpatrick (Richard Harris) looks after the Texastown of Santa Rosa and has made a point of solving crimes and capturingcriminals without resorting to violence. In fact, he has never in hislife fired a gun in anger, yet has somehow fostered total law, orderand respect among the townsfolk. His methods are tested to the limitwhen outlaw Frank Brand (Rod Taylor in a surprisingly sadisticperformance) and his gang rob the local bank. During their escapeattempt, the outlaws inadvertently kill Kilpatrick's own wife andchild. Devastated, Kilpatrick ditches his anti-gun, anti-violenceattitude and pursues Brand and his cronies. The chase leads to Mexico,where Kilpatrick has no official authority and is viewed as little morethan an outlaw himself. The Irish sheriff tracks down and kills Brand'sgang one-by-one, until just he and Brand remain.

Just a year earlier, Barry Shear had made the film Across 110th Street,regarded as the most violent movie ever made up to that point, so it'sperhaps no surprise that this film emphasises the gore and brutality tothe extent it does. Harris is quite memorable as the Irish sheriff,giving another of his energetic performances, and Taylor's villainousturn reveals an ugly side rarely portrayed by the actor in his otherfilms. However, in most aspects The Deadly Trackers fails to make thegrade as a good, worthwhile film. It is far too simplistic for its owngood, with no resonance beyond the immediate plot (and the plot itselfis pretty basic, being nothing more than a straightforward chasenarrative). The supporting performances are generally ratherlacklustre, possibly because none of the characters beyond the twoprincipal players carry much depth or interest. Also, the story isdismayingly familiar, with precious little that it fresh or original;just lots of tired and predictable scenes that have been begged,borrowed and stolen from many other sources (even the music is lifteddirectly from The Wild Bunch.... perhaps to keep the budget down?) Onthe whole, The Deadly Trackers is a dismal misfire in which the detailto violence and the intriguing lead performances are the sole points ofinterest.

8/10 / 10

Richard Harris, who has appeared in quite a few westerns for

being from across the Atlantic, tackles another role with gusto in

this hard hitting 1973 film.

Harris is Kilpatrick, a pacifist sheriff in a Texas town. Rod Taylor

and his gang rob the bank, kill a few people, and get set to ride off

with the loot. Harris blocks their departure with a system the town

has rigged up so as not to kill anyone, just capture them. He does

not believe in guns, and only shoots to injure and scare, not kill.

Taylor and the gang kill Harris' wife and child, and ride away, with

Harris on their trail. He does not let that pesky Mexican border

deter him either, as he rides on through and meets another

lawman a lot like him.

Al Lettieri plays Gutierrez, who is also after Taylor. However,

Gutierrez's pacifism comes to annoy the viewer as well as Harris.

The Mexican sheriff is insistent on letting justice prevail, always

looking for witnesses, and never just going after and killing the

bloodthirsty gang.

Harris begins to catch up to the gang, and dispatches them one by

one, until he finally is down to two. He is also on his last nerve, as

he finally gives in to his gun's quick justice. The climactic shootout

in the convent, where Harris finds himself on the same level as

Taylor, is very moving.

Despite the (PG) rating, this is one violent film. Once the viewer

overcomes this, they are definitely in for a wild ride. Harris is great

as the vengeful sheriff who will not die, and brings the same

intensity to this that he showed in the "A Man Called Horse" series.

Rod Taylor goes down in western film history as one of the

meanest villains on celluloid. One great scene has him describe

how he murdered his father, as even his jaded gang looks at him

in horror.

In the outlaw gang- William Smith, who seems to have been in

everything and you will recognize him the minute you see him,

does well as the seemingly retarded Schoolboy. Neville Brand is

good as Choo Choo, who earned that nickname because he has

a section of rail where his hand was. Paul Benjamin is great as

Jacob, a very intelligent black man who uses his wits to outsmart

the rest of the gang, but cannot get past how others feel about his

color.

As mentioned before, the cast is great except for the character of

Gutierrez. Eventually, he became a thorn in the side of Harris and

the audience. He never seemed to get what Harris was trying to

do, and adhered so closely to the law that he became annoying.

His final murderous act is more frustrating than noble.

Shear's direction is okay, once in a while I would notice the

shadow of a camera in an outdoor scene. His decision to use still

shots from the movie in the opening credits might have people

checking the pause button on their VCR, and I am not sure why he

did this. His actions scenes are good, with good stuntwork, but

again, be forewarned of the violence, especially directed toward

children.

Despite an equally awkward title, "The Deadly Trackers" is good

adult western fare that probably should have received more praise

than it has- especially for Taylor and Harris. I highly recommendit.

This is rated (PG) but contains strong physical violence, strong

gun violence, brief sexual violence, gore, strong profanity, very brief

female nudity, and sexual references.

/ 10

The Deadly Trackers was to be directed by the author of the originalstory,Sam Fuller. He was replaced by one or two other directors (identitiesunknown) and it was up to the dependable Barry Shear to complete thefilm.The opening sequence of stills and voice-overs is a liability to theoverallfilm. My guess is that Shear, due to the chop and change of previousdirectors, had cobbled together pieces of their unfinished work. I wouldappreciate clarification of this from someone who knows. The importanceofthe opening sequence is that it establishes the motivation for the entirefilm. The violent shattering of this close-knit family drives theaction -and should have given the viewer a greater appreciation of RichardHarris'sdespair. Otherwise Shear's film is an excellent thought-provoking westernwith an excellent performance by Al Lettieri playing the sheriff as therevenge-seeker's conscience. Vigilante theme worth comparing to filmslikeDirty Harry which was released two years earlier and set a trend inAmericancinema.

Memo: Whoever wrote the line `He shot the roses from her cheeks' shouldhavebeen shot himself.

8/10 / 10

Samuel Fuller wrote this unusual western novel which is aptly directedby Barry Shear. It relates the story of a small town Sheriff, SeanKilpatrick (Richard Harris) who hates guns and abhors violence. That isuntil a gang of ruthless but murderous bank robbing killers enters hisvillage. Led by a clever, but unscrupulous murderer named Frank Brand(surprisingly played by Rod Taylor, who typically plays good guys)arrives to rob the bank but is quickly surrounded and easily captured.Nevertheless, Brand and his cut-throats escape. but not before shootingand killing innocents in the process. Filled with rage and vengeance,Kilpatrick set out to bring the killers to justice despite theircrossing to Mexico. The group of criminals and law enforcement officersare made up of serious actors who typically play opposite sides of thelaw and include, Al Lettieri as a Mexican Constable (Excellent role),Neville Brand and William Smith, (supurb characters) as part of Brand'sgang. The great, rugged Mexican outdoors and spacious landscapes aremajestic and add to the bloodstained journey. Indeed, it's furtherenhanced with the violence and exciting action. An unusual treat forTaylor fans and an equally surprising role for the entire cast.Recommended to any who seeks a violent page torn from our wild WesternLore. ****

5/10 / 10

An opening scene is one that will make the anti-gun group proud. Thesheriff (a sober Richard Harris) explains that guns beget guns, etc.But when a group of super-nasties kill his school marm wife, and youngson, it's a whole different story.

It's vengeance time and the next hour or so has to do with the sheriffon a one-man quest to find the head baddie (Rod Taylor relishing therole) and the chase takes us into Mexico and a small village where,usually, nothing much happens.

What happens in this flick is brutality piled on brutality, andviolence up the ying-yang. Look at someone cross-eyed and you've had itmister.

There is the requisite prostitute with the requisite heart of gold and,by the way, some of the best acting comes from her little girl who wasfathered by Taylor. She really looks scared --- well, you know thephrase.

So, the story is standard stuff, but it will hold your attention. Thescenery is neat, the 'borrowed' music is neat and, for you lovers ofviolence, this is heaven on film although, to be honest, it is not asgross as you may have expected, since the films of Fuller are 'full-er'violence.

The moral to the story? Revenge is not always sweet. Would the LoneRanger have done it this way?