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|Burt Lancaster||Bill Dolworth|
|Lee Marvin||Henry 'Rico' Fardan|
|Robert Ryan||Hans Ehrengard|
|Woody Strode||Jake Sharp|
|Jack Palance||Jesus Raza|
|Claudia Cardinale||Mrs. Maria Grant|
|Ralph Bellamy||Joe Grant|
|Joe De Santis||Ortega|
|Jorge Martínez de Hoyos||Eduardo Padilla - Goatkeeper (as Jorge Martinez de Hoyos)|
|José Chávez||Revolutionary (as Jose Chavez)|
|Vaughn Taylor||Grant's Banker|
In the latter period of the Mexican Revolution, Rancher J.W. Grant (Ralph Bellamy) hires four men, who are all experts in their respective fields, to rescue his kidnapped wife, Maria (Claudia Cardinale) from Jesus Raza (Jack Palance), a former Mexican Revolutionary leader turned bandit.
Team leader Henry "Rico" Fardan (Lee Marvin) is a weapons specialist, Bill Dolworth (Burt Lancaster) is an explosives expert, the horse wrangler is Hans Ehrengard (Robert Ryan) and Jake Sharp (Woody Strode) is a scout with traditional Apache skills, particularly with a bow and arrow. Fardan and Dolworth, having both fought under the command of Pancho Villa, have a high regard for Raza as a soldier. But as hard and cynical professionals, they have no qualms about killing him now.
After crossing the Mexican border, the team tracks the bandits to their hideout. They bear witness as soldiers on a government train are massacred by Raza's small army. The professionals follow the captured train to the end of the line and retake it from the bandits. Some move on to the bandit camp and observe Raza and his followers — including a buxom soldier, Chiquita (Marie Gomez). At nightfall, Fardan infiltrates Raza's private quarters but he is stopped from killing him by Maria, the kidnapped wife. "Amigo," Dolworth concludes, "we've been had."
Fardan does what he is being paid for and escapes with Grant's wife. Back at the train, the men find that it has been retaken by the bandits. After a shootout, they retreat into the mountains, hotly pursued by Raza and his men. The professionals evade capture by using explosives to bring down the prepared walls of a gully, thus blocking the Raza and the bandits' path and delaying their pursuit. It is then revealed that they had not rescued his kidnapped wife but Raza's willing mistress. Grant "bought" Maria for an arranged marriage only for her to escape and return to her "true love" in Mexico.
But as Raza and his group of bandits relentlessly pursue the retreating professionals, Dolworth fights the bandits in a rearguard action to allow the other professionals with Maria to escape. The bandit leader Raza is wounded. As Raza with fellow bandit, Chiquita in the lead attempt to escape, she is shot by Dolworth, who himself narrowly escapes her bullet as she lies dying in his arms. Weakened, Raza is captured by Dolworth.
The four professionals, with Maria and Raza, reach the U.S. border to be met by Grant and his own men. Grant tells Fardan that their contract has been satisfactorily concluded, even before Maria is safely handed over to him.
As Maria tends the wounded Raza on the ground, Grant callously turns to one of his men and says, "Kill him." But before the man can shoot, the gun is shot out of his hand by Dolworth who tells Grant he has not earned the right to kill a man like Raza. The four professionals then step in to protect Maria and Raza. Maria, apparently, never was kidnapped from Grant by Raza after all. The professionals collect the wounded Raza, put him on a carriage and, with Maria at the reins, send both back to Mexico. Grant loses his wife, the professionals their reward.
Grant calls Fardan a bastard, to which Fardan retorts: "Yes, sir, in my case an accident of birth. But you, sir, you are a self-made man." The professionals follow the departing carriage to Mexico.
Theatrical : 1966-11-02 : United States of America
DVD : 1999-07-13