November 6, 1966 [The Professionals]

Everybody keeps calling The Professionals "lusty." Maybe it's the way the big men stride--Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Jack Palance, Woody Strode--even Ralph Bellamy, the rich man used to getting his way. They move forward, they squint, they figure it out--sometimes (especially Burt) they grin, wide and knowing--their necks gritty-sweaty, their gun-hands also big and gripping. Maybe it's the weather, the desert and scrub and big rocks, baked and chilled. And OK: Maybe it's Claudia Cardinale, bigger than all of them, with enough leg to walk all the way to Mexico and enough breast to feed every Mexican baby. Lusty, lusty, lusty.

Does it try too hard to live up to its title, though? Lee Marvin in particular seems almost to be in another picture, one with less weather and breast, slowing himself down so he can take better aim. At the last moment, maybe it's not just a job, and he's not merely a professional. But even then he keeps his mouth shut and his eyes open, everybody else being lusty for him, while he waits. Then again, he might be the lustiest one in the bunch, if only because he seems satisfied he's getting what he wanted all along: something to do, with clean, precise movements lubricated with other people's lust.


  1. For a movie with so much grit, it was unexpectedly friendly, don't you think? Not in a bad way, mind you.


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