The Professionals filming location. The Professionals is picture perfect Saturday afternoon popcorn. Four mercenaries in the last days of the American Wild West dive deep into Mexico to rescue the kidnapped wife of a multi-millionaire railroad tycoon. Along the way, there are bandits, memories of yesterday’s glory days, and twists and turns that make what looks like a good guy – their employer – the skunk he really is. Then, as now, power motivates and corrupts.
The cast of this 1966 oater is stellar; Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, Lee Marvin, Woody Strode, Jack Palance and Claudia Cardinale. And one more; Great Western 2-8-0 #75 impersonating something on a fictional offshoot of a Mexico National Railroad locomotive list.
You can find many details about the movie on the Internet Movie Database.
From the start, the railway plays a major role in the film. The mercenaries’ employer owns a big one and the bandits enjoy robbing a Mexican railroad. There are wonderful railroad scenes in the Western Desert of what it must have been “back then.” But after all, it’s in Mexico, not in the United States.
Correction. The railroad scenes were shot on the Eagle Mountain Railroad in the Southern California desert in the heart of Riverside County. The barren hills, heavy main line (ore is heavy) and beautiful bridges are the perfect backdrop.
The Professionals is a good movie with an old-school happy ending. If the scenery sounds familiar, just watch another movie, “Tough Guys,” starring Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, and Doyle McCormack with 4-8-4 #4449. Eagle Mountain’s grip still sleeps in the desert, by the way, and with a little work could become the backdrop for another movie again.
If you feel like sightseeing, be aware that much of the line is accessible only by off-road vehicle. While it might be tempting to look around, I would suggest watching it in the movies that were filmed there instead.
If you like western movies with lots of railroad action, The Professionals gets five out of five picks. Distributed by Columbia Pictures, it appears frequently on premium and regular television channels. Sit down and bring the popcorn.