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Valdez Is Coming
Directed by Edwin Sherin
Produced by Ira Steiner
Written by Elmore Leonard (novel)
Roland Kibbee
David Rayfiel
Starring Burt Lancaster
Susan Clark
Jon Cypher
Music by Charles Gross
Cinematography Gábor Pogány
Editing by James T. Heckert
George R. Rohrs
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s) April 9, 1971
Running time 90 min.
Country USA
Language English

Valdez Is Coming is a 1971 American western film starring Burt Lancaster, Susan Clark and Jon Cypher. The film is based on the Elmore Leonard novel of the same name.



Aging town constable Bob Valdez is tricked into killing an innocent man by powerful rancher Frank Tanner, whose hired gun R.L. Davis (Richard Jordan) shot up the hovel where the wrongly accused man and his Indian wife were trapped.

Valdez believes it would be a fair gesture to raise $100 for the widow. Tanner is livid at the old man's suggestion. He orders ranch hand El Segundo and his other men to tie Valdez to a heavy wooden cross and drive him into the desert.

The central pole is so long that Valdez must walk bent over. He finds an oasis blocked by two trees that he repeatedly tries to ram with the ends of the cross. When it finally breaks, the ragged ends are driven into Valdez's back.

Someone finds him and cuts the ropes without revealing his identity. Crawling to the ranch of his friend Diego (Frank Silvera), the badly injured Valdez is nursed back to health.

Unfortunately for Tanner, he has picked on the wrong man -- Valdez is a wily, experienced Indian fighter and a marksman with a rifle. He dons his old cavalry uniform and sends Tanner a message via one of the rancher's wounded men: "Valdez is coming."

Valdez sneaks into the compound and, during the ensuing gun battle and his escape, kidnaps Tanner's woman, Gay Erin, for whose favors it is rumored that Tanner had her husband killed.

With her in restraints, Valdez proceeds to systematically do away with the men Tanner sends after him with his long-range Sharps rifle. The only one he shows mercy to is R.L. Davis, who screams, "I cut you loose! I cut you loose!"

Now he has two hostages. While hiding from Tanner's posse, Valdez is informed by Gay Erin that it was she who killed her own husband in order to be with Tanner, not the other way around.

He sets her free, but by now Tanner's wife is sympathetic to his cause. Valdez is finally surrounded and captured. Tanner and his men ride up. The men are ordered to shoot, but R.L. Davis begs off, and El Segundo calls his men aside, leaving Tanner to do his own dirty work -- if he can.

Tanner turns out to be a coward one-on-one. Valdez tells him he should have paid the $100.


Actor Role
Burt Lancaster Valdez
Susan Clark Gay Erin
Jon Cypher Frank Tanner


While this film is not technically a "Spaghetti Western", it was filmed in southern Spain in locales used by Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone in his avante-garde European Westerns. The desert-like terrain of this isolated region of Spain resembles the U.S. southwest and parts of Sonora, Mexico, though the vegetation is not the same.


The film received primarily mediocre to negative reviews. Vincent Canby of The New York Times praised Lancaster's on-screen presence but wrote that the film possessed, "A lot of fancy flourishes, which I associate with Mr. Sherin's stage work, are apparent in the film, as in its picturesque groupings of picturesque characters, and in a musical score that's much given to comment on the action."[1]. When the film was released to video, Ty Burr of Entertainment Weekly criticized the film and said, "Slow and choppy, Valdez manages an astounding feat: It drains Lancaster of personality."[2]


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