Wonderful Country, The (1959): Robert Parish’s Technicolor Western, Starring Robert Mitchum and Julie London

Produced by Robert Mitchum’s company, and starring himself and Julie London, The Wonderful Country is a Technicolor Western film, directed by Robert Parrish, based on Tom Lea’s 1952 novel.

Parrish first asked Henry Fonda, then Gregory Peck to take the starring role, and when they turned it down, Mitchum took over.

Expatriate American pistolero Martin Brady (Mitchum) is employed by the Castro brothers, Marcos (Víctor Manuel Mendoza), a general, and Don Cipriano (Pedro Armendáriz), the new governor.

On a business trip to the U.S. to purchase rifles and ammunition, he is delayed when he breaks his leg in an accident. Treated by Dr. Stovall (Charles McGraw), he stays with German immigrant Ben Sterner (John Banner), the seller of the rifles, and Ben’s nephew Ludwig (Max Slaten).

Brady’s help is sought by the local U.S. Army commander, Major Colton (Gary Merrill), to persuade Cipriano Castro to cooperate with Colton’s Buffalo Soldiers in an expedition against hostile Apaches in Mexico.

Captain Rucker of the Texas Rangers knows that Brady fled to Mexico as an adolescent after avenging the murder of his father not knowing the man he killed was an outlaw, and tries to enlist him as a Ranger. Brady is attracted to Colton’s unhappy wife Ellen (Julie London), but after shooting a man (Chuck Roberson) who murdered Ludwig, he returns to Mexico to inform Cipriano Castro of the missing rifles.

Major Colton and Ellen meet with Cipriano, arranged by Travis Hight (Jack Oakie), the representative of a railroad threatened by the Apaches. Cipriano tells Brady that by law he must pay a debt for the rifles and orders him to assassinate his brother Marcos. Brady refuses and finds himself an outlaw in Mexico as well.

On the run, he finds cavalry sergeant Tobe Sutton (Satchel Paige) and returns with him to Major Colton’s camp. Colton is seriously wounded in a skirmish with the Apaches but is determined to meet Captain Rucker and General Castro’s troops.

They recover the stolen rifles from a small band of Apaches, but Colton dies. The rifles are returned to General Marcos, who reveals that Cipriano is also dead and he is now governor.  He demands the Americans surrender him and leave Mexico immediately. However Rucker offers to help Brady prove that the shooting in Puerto was in self-defense.

Brady decides to risk it and heads towards the Rio Grande to be with Ellen. Near the river he is ambushed by a gunfighter. Brady kills him but his reliable Andalusian stallion is killed. Brady leaves his gun, bullets and sombrero by the horse and walks towards the U.S.

Released on October 21, 1959 to mixed critical response, the movie was not particularly successful at the box-office.

Running time: 98 Minutes

Robert Mitchum as Martin Brady
Julie London as Helen Colton
Gary Merrill as Maj. Stark Colton
Albert Dekker as Texas Ranger Capt. Rucker
Charles McGraw as Dr. Herbert J. Stovall
Satchel Paige as Sgt. Tobe Sutton
Anthony Caruso as Santiago Santos
Mike Kellin as Pancho Gil
Víctor Manuel Mendoza as Gen. Marcos Castro