Whether You’re The Undefeated or The Wild Bunch, It’s Always Killing Time South of the Border

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American cinematic depictions of Mexico are often, in a word, unflattering. Just look at Westerns: Cowboys are always heading down past Sonora in search of gunplay. Mexico is a stage for violence — a lawless netherworld in which civilization is defined by standoffs, shoot-outs, and massacres.

The grubby outlaws of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly spend much of their time south of the border. The Wild Bunch‘s desperadoes make of Mexico a stinking, steaming abattoir.

In Sam Peckinpah’s underrated Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, the U.S.-Mexican border serves as the dividing line between image and reality, civilization and anarchy. The proto-Western No Country for Old Men took this trope a step further: Its postapocalyptic scenario suggests the impossibility of escaping human savagery — no matter what side of the border one is on.

The late-period John Wayne picture The Undefeated offers a Civil War-era take on the genre. It follows an unrepentant Confederate colonel (Rock Hudson) who plans to settle in Mexico after suffering defeat. He refuses to be tamed by civilization. As per usual, nothing goes according to plan, as he runs into an old Union foe (John Wayne). Hounded by elements of the Mexican military, both men, in a twist, join forces, suggesting that nationality is an unbreakable tie that binds.

Click here for a full schedule of The Undefeated on AMC.

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