Return of a Man Called Horse Theme / Laurence Rosenthal
“Even more incredible …
even more shocking than“A Man Called Horse.”
The all new adventures of Sir John Morgan …
the Englishman with the soul of a Sioux.”
The Return of a Man Called Horse (1976) was a sequel to A Man Called Horse (1970) and was Richard Harris‘ fifth Western(of 8).
Same Writer: Jack DeWitt – Different Director: Irvin Kershner
IMDB Trivia: On account of this film, which George Lucas found to be better than its predecessor, he hired Irvin Kershner to direct Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
For myself, I found the the film is a joy to watch simply because the cinematography and Direction (Irvin Kershner) are brilliant.
The Sundance is reprised …
Not much is left to the imagination.
Sort of a Sundance Flash Mob.
Director Irvin Kershner has said that of all his films, this one has the best score (by Laurence Rosenthal). Mexicanfilming locations were used because the Mexican terrain resembles that of South Dakota but has a milder climate. Mexican actors were used in the Siouxand Rickaree Native roles because they give more emotion on the screen than American Indians do, according to producer Sandy Howard. Naturally the film was then criticized it for its scarcity of Native Americanactorsin the cast, and for portraying a Siouxtribe requiring a white man’s aid to defend itself.
The sheriff fought for peace. Now he would kill for vengeance.
Richard Harris‘ fourth Western (of eight) was The Deadly Trackers – and seems an obvious attempt to feast on the Spaghetti Western craze of the times. But plenty of notable actors jumped on board that wagon. Filming did indeed begin in Spain and finished in the US and Mexico. ??
Yet it did have 2 great Stars: Harrisand Rod Taylor.
Music: Jerry Fielding‘s slightly modified score from The Wild Bunch was used in The Deadly Trackers. Not a bad decision at all.
“The Sioux gave him a choice, live like an animal
or die like one.”
“A man called “Horse” became an Indian warrior
in the most electrifying rituals ever seen.”
Five years after Major Dundee, Harrisappeared in his second Western: A Man Called Horse. This time he was at the top of the Bill – and Starring in one of the most controversial Westerns ever made – and of which, much of that controversy is still intact and relevant – over 45 years later.
But first let’s look at some media:
Several depict one of the films controversial features:
The very graphic Native American initiation ceremony –
Hard to watch even to this day.
Major Amos Dundee (Heston):
“You surveyed this whole area with Grant in ’47, didn’t you?” Capt. Benjamin Tyreen (Harris): “Yes, the tequila was excellent.”
My Major Dundee cast Bio on Charlton Heston was turning into an encyclopedia – so I’m taking a different tack and sliding over to Major DundeeTrivia.
Trivia, of course, is often not a very credible source of information – and is sometimes just gossip. We may assume it has credibility, but … in the case of Major Dundee, the trivia is hardly trivial, and may indeed be very telling about what really happened on this project.
Let have a peek:
Although Major Dundee was originally said to be based on a true story, it was actually just loosely based on historical events. (Can you imagine an opening screen saying: “Based loosely on historical events”?
Major Dundee was Peckinpah’s first big budget film. (Luckily it wasn’t his last)
John Ford was originally approached to Direct the movie, but he was busy at work on Cheyenne Autumn.
Columbia cut short the film’s shooting schedule and kept reducing the running time from over four hours (!!!) to 156 minutes, 136 minutes at its initial release, and finally 123 minutes. Columbia added more stress to the production by moving the wrap date up a full month. Sam Peckinpah wasn’t pleased. (But REALLY Sam!? 4 hours?)
Heston signed on the film to work with Sam Peckinpah, having really enjoyed Ride the High Country (1962). But he later cited that Major Dundee began filming without a properly finished script and that none of the major parties involved had agreed on what the film was truly supposed to be about. Heston later regretted breaking his own rule of never participating in any film where the script wasn’t finalized. However Peckinpah was famous for re-writing scripts and making things up as he went along anyway – so it might not have mattered. For instance: The main character in the original script was Trooper Ryan, but Peckinpah guided script changes and re-writes to make Major Dundee the focus of the story.
The romance with Teresa (Senta Berger) was added by the studio – and was not in the original script.
Also the original script written by Harry Julian Fink contained a great deal of violence and profanity – which would have been forbidden in any screenplay for a film made during the mid-’60s.
It’s said the original budget was $4.5 million and scheduled for 75 days of principal photography. But only two days before start up, a change in the top brass at Columbia occurred, and the new regime cut the budget down by $1.5 million, and the schedule down by 15 days. Peckinpah considered this an act of extreme betrayal. Shooting was also ended early by studio executives, in the interest of controlling costs, and before some important scenes were filmed. Then, after the success of Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969), Columbia Pictures told him they would allow him to re-shoot parts of Dundee that had been cut from the released version. Peckinpah declined.
Apart from Peckinpah’s constant battles with the studio over the film’s shooting schedule, budget, content, and length, he was drinking and often absent from the set – as well as sometimes antagonizing his film crew and Cast. Peckinpah fired at least two dozen crew members in screaming fits of rage, drank all night and patronized local brothels, paid for out of the film’s budget. At one point during a shoot an enraged Heston allegedly threatened Peckinpah with a saber. Heston later said this is only time he’d had such in incident in his film career.
It’s also noted that Heston and Richard Harris didn’t get along – but that Harris simply did not get along with anyone due to his rebellious nature. Heston later insisted that things weren’t as bad as reported, but it’s well documented that Harris liked to party and was often drunk, hung over, and late to the set – the exact opposite of Heston. (MFW: You’d never know it by Harris’ performance on screen though – which was great) Yet Heston did lodge a formal complaint about Harris‘ behavior with producer Jerry Bresler.
In the end, Heston was reportedly more or less directing the film to complete it since Peckinpah often wandered away from the set in a drunken haze. Heston, however, gave up the salary for the film in order to appease studio executives into keeping Peckinpah at the helm.
Ultimately, Columbia more or less broke its contract and edited the film itself instead of leaving it to Peckinpah. A film cut close to what it’s believed Peckinpah wanted(?) wasn’t released until 2005, and even then it’s largely guesswork. Prior to DVD release, much restoration was needed for the original film reels, and many cut scenes were reinserted. This includes an opening scene which makes the overall story much easier to follow. Fact is however, that Sam’s real film is lost for good.
Several slow motion scenes (Sam’s specialty) in tribute of Seven Samurai, an inspiration for many Western movies, were filmed, but later cut.
Many of the actors in Dundee, came to be known as the “Sam Peckinpah Stock Company” because they later appeared in Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969) and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)and other films. They included Warren Oates, BenJohnson, Slim Pickens, L.Q. Jones, Dub Taylor, Aurora Clavel, Enrique Lucero, R.G. Armstrong and several others …
The role of Captain Tyreen (Harris) was intended for Anthony Quinn, who pulled out.
James Coburn role of scout Samuel Potts was initially offered to Lee Marvin, but hedemanded too high salary. It was Marvin’s own agent who suggested Coburn for the role. Coburn then went on to Star in Peckinpah’s, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973).
Woody Strode was considered for the part that went to Brock Peters.
There’s more … but that’s plenty enough.
Stunning. Shocking. Grown men with millions of (other people’s) dollars in their hands – and other people’s livelihoods, careers etc. – behaving worse than kids.
And yet … somewhere, somehow a movie finally emerges. 2 Versions. A bad one – and a not too bad one. Neither is what was initially intended. But still worth watching.
Major Dundee(1965) doesn’t really show any of the bloody mayhem that Peckinpahshortly became notorious for in the Wild Bunch (1969) – no slow motion body’s flying throught the air or long gory bloody shoot outs. What is depicted may have been graphic by 1964 standards (?), but by today’s standards seems fairly tame.
Casting Harris ?
Harris‘ casting in Major Dundee has always puzzled me. He didn’t really seem to have a great body of notable film work behind him at the time – that would justify Star status in a Western. He was certainly up to it though – and did a great job. I guess somebody knew something.
The year was 1965 and Spaghetti is high on the menu – Sergio Leone had released two Western Classic‘s: ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ and ‘For a Few Dollars More’ to massive success. Westerns are IN … again.
But Sam Peckinpahand Richard Harrisare in Mexico – not Spain. And Major Dundee is not a Spaghetti Western. It’s something entirely different …
Starring the great Charlton Heston, as Major Dundee, the movie has all the components for success: a good story, a great cast, and often brilliant Director. Except for one thing: that Director, it’s greatest asset is also it’s greatest liability: Sam Peckinpah. the self-destructive genius.
I won’t go into the specifics here – the anger – the angst – the infighting – the Editing – the boozing – the brawling – the brothelling. It’s sad really. Because this should have been a great movie – Sam’s Masterpiece. And shows flashes of it – but falls – truncated – disjointed … unfinished. There was some grand schemes/themes behind this project. Unrealized. Sam was completely unable to keep himself under control. Incredibly, exact same scenario was repeated years later with Peckinpah’s ‘Pat Garrett and Billy Kid’(1973) – another flawed project that was later completed/restored by others after he died.
For myself, knowing some of the history and background surrounding the film enhances my viewing. You see things that you would otherwise miss. But it’s not necessary. What truly is amazing is that anything eventually manifested at all. But somehow it did.
The original 1964 Trailer:
The 2005 Extended Edition Trailer:
Is it worth watching? Yes. At least, the 2005 Extended (restored?) Version is. You can see what it had going for it and what it could have been … Hestonand Harrisare both great. And the support cast is outstanding.
I’ve been working on a profile of Richard Harris Westerns for several days. It’s turned into another large venture. Mainly because the first movie on the list is Major Dundee (1965) – directed by Sam Peckinpah. Nearly anything that involves Sam Peckinpah is surrounded by storylines that are almost as interesting and incredible as the Movie itself.
But I’m just trying to get started on this thing …
(1 October 1930 – 25 October 2002)
Stage and Film Actor, Singer, Theatrical and Song producer,
Film Director and Writer … drinker … raconteur …
Richard Harris Westerns
Richard Harris would be be yet anther distinguished Actor/Move Star, whom we probably wouldn’t readily associate with Westerns. Yet he Starred or appeared in eight Westerns – ranging in quality from the rather awful to outright Classic. But most of them were good – and he, himself, was never awful in any.
Abbe Faria (Richard Harris) : “Here is your final lesson – do not commit
the crime for which you now serve the sentence. God said, “Vengeance is mine.”
Edmond Dantes (Jim Caviezel): “I don’t believe in God.”
Abbe Faria: “It doesn’t matter. He believes in you.”
As Bass’s companions prepare to move on, a Native scout says some
Last Rites (?) or a Blessing (?) over Bass – then places a talisman (?)
around his neck.
But let’s take a closer look at that Talisman …
Is that a Cross?
When Bass is ultimately deserted by this comrades
the only thing they leave him is …
… A Bible.
The Arikara (“Rees”) Indians find Bass in his grave.
He receives more Last Rites/Blessings – Native style.
Then … miraculously, Bass eventually Rises from the/his grave …
from the dead.
Bass later discovers an uncommon use for the Bible …
It’s makes good kindling – to light his first fire.
Meanwhile … Captain Ahab – I mean Captain Henry –
paces the Deck by night …
… while his men grumble about mutiny below deck
– I mean around the campfire.
Where have we seen this before?
And that scar …
Where might we have seen that before?
Just a coincidence, I’m sure.
While recuperating, Bass reads the Bible to a friend.
A time for healing, Spiritual Contemplation … and resolution.
He reads aloud these 2 passages:
“If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.”
– Job 14:14
“For there is hope for a tree,
If it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
And that its tender shoots will not cease.
Though its root may grow old in the earth,
And its stump may die in the ground …”
– Job 14:7 -9
Grace’s Mother: (Man in the Wilderness):
“There was nothing you could do.
It was God’s will.” Zachary Bass (Hugh Glass):
“I never much agreed with God’s will.”
The Ark of Zachariah
I haven’t seen all of John Huston’s movies. Among those few that I have seen though, I detect a strong undercurrent of what I would call Christian Mysticism. And there’s plenty of it in Man in the Wilderness.
In the very first image of the very first scene in Man in the Wilderness, we see this:
Any way you look at it, that’s a Cross – a Crucifix. THE Christian symbol.
What’s the next thing we see?
– That the Cross is the mast of a small boat.
A rather odd looking boat.
Or is it?
Let’s take a closer look:
That odd boat (call me crazy) is a miniature version of Noah’s Ark.
The only thing missing is the animals.
Next comes the Title and the Credits:
The credits say that the movie is “historically true”
and it’s obviously based upon the true story of Hugh Glass.
So why did they change his name to “Zachary Bass“?
Maybe we’ve seen the name Zacharysomewhere before … ?
Maybe right here:
The Unforgiven (1960)
Directed by John Huston !
With a whole pile of Zarchays (5 actually).
and accompanied by a mad prophet on horseback spouting Biblical style quotes.
Call me Zachary?
Zachariah– Old Testament Hebrew: means ‘The *LORD remembers’.
The Old Testament prophet Zechariah taught people that God remembers his promises.
Like from a movie called ‘The Bible: In the Beginning ..’
Directed by John Huston who also acted the part (wait for it) NOAH!
“I don’t believe God is dead. Just drunk.”- John Huston
Sung by Richard Harris / written by Jim Webb
(A curious analogy: – not knowing the origins of Webb’s controversial lyrics greatly affect some people’s appreciation of this song – or whether you can even appreciate it at all. But I won’t get into that here …)
A Large Elephant
At the outset, I do wonder if this film – though interesting and enjoyable – is really worth such of any such in-depth analysis? It’s not an epic of Oscar proportions. And it’s obviously possible to watch Man in the Wilderness and enjoy it without pondering any of the musings that I am about to attempt. However, that never stopped me before.
I have just re-watched Man in the Wilderness – for the first time in many years. I had been disinclined to watch it again at all since I recalled my first viewing – back in 1971 – was a disappointment. But I was a young fool of 23 back then – and may have been impaired in some manner. Now however, I am much more handsome and have risen in brilliance (cough). Not that I wouldn’t trade for a second.
Anyway, I now find the film to be a much different experience than it was on my first ride. And I see several points of interest that I had not noticed before. I hope you’ll agree.
Firstly, despiteRichard Harris’ capably and worthy Star Power in the film, John Huston presence in this movie is huge – a VERY LARGE elephant in the room — though he did not Direct (Richard C. Sarafian, Director) – his stamp and shadow loom all over the movie. And it’s damn certain that Huston would not consent to any project that didn’t suit him somehow. All his dues had been paid – and then-some.
A brief Bio sketch of Huston becomes necessary:
At the making of the film Huston was already legendary in the Film trade/Arts – having been voted 10 times for Oscars, won Oscars for Directing, Screenwriting and Acting. Many of his films are classics: (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Key Largo (1948), The African Queen (1951) (both with Bogart), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), The Red Badge of Courage (1951), Moulin Rouge (1952), Moby Dick (1956), The Unforgiven (1960), The Misfits (1961), Freud (1962), The Night of the Iguana (1964). The Bible: In the Beginning… (1966). Fat City (1972), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), Wise Blood (1979), Under the Volcano (1984), Prizzi’s Honor (1985).
Just about all of Huston‘s movies are a required study for any entering the film trade. Very few people have a legacy such as this.
Hustonwas raised of rugged, but cultured parents – participated in Vaudevillian circles – was Amateur Lightweight Boxing Championship of California – later in “Mexico became an officer in the cavalry and expert horseman while writing plays on the sly” – later studied Art in Paris, where the sometimes “homeless beggar” continued writing. – returned to America to pay more dues on Broadway – and eventually his first loud flash of fame as screenwriter and director for the Dashiell Hammett mystery yarn The Maltese Falcon (1941). (This movie classic made a superstar out of Humphrey Bogart) – Bio info gleaned from on Intermet Movie Database / IMDB)
Son of actor Walter Huston, whom he directed in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948).
Son Tony Huston appeared with him in The List of Adrian Messenger (1963).
Appeared with daughter Anjelica Huston in A Walk with Love and Death (1969).
He is the only person to have ever directed a parent (Walter Huston) and a child (Anjelica Huston) to Academy Award wins.
Hustonwas a licenced pilot.
Directed 15 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Sydney Greenstreet, Walter Huston, Claire Trevor, Sam Jaffe, Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, José Ferrer, Colette Marchand, Deborah Kerr,Grayson Hall, Susan Tyrrell, Albert Finney, Anjelica Huston, Jack Nicholson and William Hickey. Bogart and Trevor won Oscars for their performances, as did Huston’s father Walter Huston and daughter Anjelica Huston
He and his father Walter Huston are the first Oscar-winning father-son couple. They are also the first father-son couple to be Oscar-nominated the same year (1941) and the first to win the same year (1949).
Was known to have a mean streak when handling actors, and reportedly irritated John Wayne (who was slightly taller than Huston and much more massive) so much while filming The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958) that Wayne lost his temper and punched Huston, knocking him out cold.
Three generations of Oscar winners in the Huston family: John, his father Walter Huston and his daughter Anjelica Huston.
His WW II documentary Let There Be Light (1946) was one of the first, if not the first, films to deal with the issue of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder of soldiers returning from the war. Huston actually said that, “If I ever do a movie that glorifies war, somebody shoot me.” This documentary was based on his front-line experiences covering the European war and what he saw soldiers go through during and returning from the war.
Is one of the few people to receive at least one Oscar nomination in five consecutive decades (1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s).
Honored on a US Postage Stamp in May 2012.
He directed his daughter Anjelica Huston in five films: Casino Royale (1967), A Walk with Love and Death (1969), Sinful Davey (1969), Prizzi’s Honor (1985) and The Dead (1987).
Directed both Katharine Hepburn and Audrey Hepburn. (Last names aside, if you don’t know why this is notable, please go to another blog.)
Disgusted by the Hollywood blacklisting, Huston was an ardent supporter of human rights and he, along with director William Wyler and others, dared to form the Committee for the First Amendment in 1947, which strove to undermine the House Un-American Activities Committee.
That is a very LARGE ELEPHANT. More like a whale.
Often labelled as massively eccentric, Huston was his own man – and there is much more that could be written on him here. I don’t think any BioPic could do Huston justice – though Clint Eastwood attempted a snapshot of his character in White Hunter Black Heart (1990). Maybe a long Mini-Series? But even then …
Strangely, Huston is revealed as strongly religious – and we see plenty of evidence in his films. Most obviously, of course, in The Bible: In the Beginning.. (1966).
But this is also revealed in Man in the Wilderness. As you’ll see.
In short, I’d guess that Hustonrelated strongly with Hugh Glass‘ (Man in the Wilderness) – his character and courage.
On the surface Man in the Wilderness appears to be the true epic tale of frontiersman Hugh Glass‘ unfortunate encounter with a Grizzly Bear – and his struggle to survive and seek revenge against those that left him for dead.
But is it?
There could be more to this grizzly tale than meets the eye at first glance …
Man in the Wilderness … Part 2: Beneath the waves …