There Was a Crooked Man... (1970)

R | 126 mins | Western, Comedy | 25 December 1970

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HISTORY

Referring to the film by its working title, The Prison Story, a 13 Nov 1968 Var brief announced that Joseph L. Manckiewicz planned to direct Kirk Douglas in the starring role. Screenwriters David Newman and Robert Benton finished the first draft of the script in early 1968, according to a 25 Dec 1968 Var article, and the project was set up at Warner Bros.-Seven Arts, Inc. as the first of a three-picture deal with the writing team, whose Bonnie and Clyde (1967, see entry) had been a major success for the company. The 20 Nov 1968 Var reported that location scouting was underway in New Mexico, and listed Hell as an alternate title that had recently been used by Warner Bros.-Seven Arts. The film was re-titled again to Hang Up, before the final change to There Was a Crooked Man… in Jan 1969, according to a 22 Jan 1969 DV brief.
       A production chart in the 14 Mar 1969 DV stated that principal photography began on 5 Mar 1969. Location shooting took place in the Joshua Tree National Monument in Joshua Tree, CA, where an 1880s territorial prison set was built at a cost of $300,000, and “two thousand desert shrubs and cacti” (including sage, ocotillos, creosote bush plants, and Joshua trees) were planted to “cover all evidence of roads,” the 27 Mar 1969 DV noted. An article in the 5 May 1969 LAT described the prison structure as “spanning 4 acres and surrounded by walls 20 feet high and 4 feet thick.” It contained fourteen roofed ... More Less

Referring to the film by its working title, The Prison Story, a 13 Nov 1968 Var brief announced that Joseph L. Manckiewicz planned to direct Kirk Douglas in the starring role. Screenwriters David Newman and Robert Benton finished the first draft of the script in early 1968, according to a 25 Dec 1968 Var article, and the project was set up at Warner Bros.-Seven Arts, Inc. as the first of a three-picture deal with the writing team, whose Bonnie and Clyde (1967, see entry) had been a major success for the company. The 20 Nov 1968 Var reported that location scouting was underway in New Mexico, and listed Hell as an alternate title that had recently been used by Warner Bros.-Seven Arts. The film was re-titled again to Hang Up, before the final change to There Was a Crooked Man… in Jan 1969, according to a 22 Jan 1969 DV brief.
       A production chart in the 14 Mar 1969 DV stated that principal photography began on 5 Mar 1969. Location shooting took place in the Joshua Tree National Monument in Joshua Tree, CA, where an 1880s territorial prison set was built at a cost of $300,000, and “two thousand desert shrubs and cacti” (including sage, ocotillos, creosote bush plants, and Joshua trees) were planted to “cover all evidence of roads,” the 27 Mar 1969 DV noted. An article in the 5 May 1969 LAT described the prison structure as “spanning 4 acres and surrounded by walls 20 feet high and 4 feet thick.” It contained fourteen roofed buildings, and took seven weeks to erect. While in Joshua Tree, the production was burdened by hail and a windstorm that demolished the prison’s dining hall set, according to the 10 Apr 1969 DV. Some filming also took place at the Old Tucson Studios outside Tucson, AZ, as stated in the 14 Apr 1970 DV, before moving to the Warner Bros.-Seven Arts studio lot in Burbank, CA, in early May 1969, the 7 May 1969 Var stated. Filming was again briefly delayed by a brush fire near the studio, according to a 26 May 1969 DV item. Around the same time, Manckiewicz had an accident at his home that resulted in a slipped disc in his spine and two days of missed work. On 28 May 1969, Var reported that Manckiewicz had returned to the set and was directing from a motorized wheelchair, with four weeks of production remaining. Principal photography was completed in early Jul 1969, as confirmed in a 9 Jul 1969 Var brief.
       The 11 Feb 1970 Var stated that Trini Lopez was hired to sing the title song.
       The world premiere occurred in Paris, France, in mid-Sep 1970. An item in the 23 Sep 1970 DV listed a three-day gross of $40,161 at five Parisian theaters. In the U.S., the picture opened to mixed reviews on 25 Dec 1970 in Los Angeles, CA, and New York City.
       There Was a Crooked Man… marked the first credited film role for C. K. Yang, identified in the 30 Jan 1969 DV as a Taiwanese track star at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). The following actors were named as cast members in DV, Var, and LAT notices published between Feb 1969 and Jul 1969: Rick Traeger; Kelly Thordsen; Clyde Howdy; Larry D. Mann; Harry Holcombe; John Lawrence; Paul Prokop; Art Passarella; Duke Fishman; Jack Perkins; Gino De Agustino; Craig Peterson; Sammy Shack; Rush Adams; Dennis Alpert; Chuck Hicks; Jesse Wayne; Gene Le Bell; Bart Burns; James Seay; Harry Caesar; Jimmy Casino; Johnny Sistrunk; Pam Tucker; William Peterson; Renee “Leta” Paul; Marlene Tracy; Bobby Bennett; Napoleon Whiting; Virginia Capers; Mia (a South American macaw); Roberta Randall; and E. J. Pandre. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
22 Jan 1969
p. 6.
Daily Variety
30 Jan 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
7 Mar 1969
p. 8.
Daily Variety
12 Mar 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Mar 1969
p. 10.
Daily Variety
27 Mar 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 Apr 1969
p. 8.
Daily Variety
10 Apr 1969
p. 6.
Daily Variety
11 Apr 1969
p. 20.
Daily Variety
16 Apr 1969
p. 12.
Daily Variety
25 Apr 1969
p. 11.
Daily Variety
2 May 1969
p. 20.
Daily Variety
5 May 1969
p. 4.
Daily Variety
8 May 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
26 May 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
9 Jun 1969
p. 4.
Daily Variety
12 Jun 1969
p. 18.
Daily Variety
16 Jun 1969
p. 4.
Daily Variety
18 Jun 1969
p. 4.
Daily Variety
23 Jun 1969
p. 4.
Daily Variety
27 Jun 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
7 Jul 1969
p. 4.
Daily Variety
14 Apr 1970
p. 1, 12.
Daily Variety
23 Sep 1970
p. 3.
Daily Variety
30 Oct 1970
p. 3, 11.
Los Angeles Times
6 Mar 1969
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
5 Feb 1969
p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
15 Mar 1969
Section A, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
20 Mar 1969
Section I, p. 22.
Los Angeles Times
25 Mar 1969
Section G, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
11 Apr 1969
Section G, p. 26.
Los Angeles Times
5 May 1969
Section E, p. 1, 22.
Los Angeles Times
14 Sep 1969
Section O, p. 22.
Los Angeles Times
25 Dec 1970
Section E, p. 26.
Los Angeles Times
25 Dec 1970
Section E, p. 36.
New York Times
18 Oct 1970
Section D, p. 13.
New York Times
26 Dec 1970.
---
Variety
13 Nov 1968
p. 26.
Variety
20 Nov 1968
p. 26.
Variety
25 Dec 1968
p. 14.
Variety
29 Jan 1969
p .7.
Variety
26 Feb 1969
p. 28.
Variety
12 Mar 1969
p. 22.
Variety
19 Mar 1969
p. 19.
Variety
2 Apr 1969
p. 24.
Variety
7 May 1969
p. 28.
Variety
21 May 1969
p. 28.
Variety
28 May 1969
p. 36.
Variety
9 Jul 1969
p. 22.
Variety
11 Feb 1970
p. 26.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam asst
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Men's ward
Women's ward
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prod
Prod supv
Scr supv
Loc coordinator
Prop master
Constr coordinator
Stunt coordinator
Main titles
SOURCES
SONGS
"There Was A Crooked Man," music and lyrics by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Hang Up
The Prison Story
Hell
Release Date:
25 December 1970
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 25 December 1970
Production Date:
5 March--early July 1969
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures
Copyright Date:
18 September 1970
Copyright Number:
LP42629
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
126
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
22309
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1883, Paris Pitman, the sole survivor of a $500,000 robbery staged by his gang, hides the money in a nest of rattlesnakes. While waiting for the robbery to be forgotten, Pitman is apprehended in a brothel by the diligent Sheriff Lopeman and is sent to an Arizona prison. Pitman reveals to the inmates of the prison that only he knows the location of the stolen money. Warden Le Goff summons Pitman to his office and offers to let him escape in exchange for half of the money. Pitman agrees to the plan, but the warden is murdered by Ah-Ping, a Chinese prisoner, before their scheme can be carried out. Sheriff Lopeman is appointed the new warden, and with Pitman's help, conditions in the prison improve greatly. When Lopeman invites the governor for a tour of the prison, Pitman decides to escape. He allows three of the prisoners to be killed, and he himself kills Ah-Ping and Floyd Moon, a dim-witted gunfighter, before he makes good his escape. Lopeman, who had trusted Pitman, angrily takes pursuit. At the snakepit, Pitman unearths the money, but one of the rattlesnakes bites him on the throat and kills him. Lopeman then arrives and, following Pitman's ethics, takes the $500,000 and sets out for ... +


In 1883, Paris Pitman, the sole survivor of a $500,000 robbery staged by his gang, hides the money in a nest of rattlesnakes. While waiting for the robbery to be forgotten, Pitman is apprehended in a brothel by the diligent Sheriff Lopeman and is sent to an Arizona prison. Pitman reveals to the inmates of the prison that only he knows the location of the stolen money. Warden Le Goff summons Pitman to his office and offers to let him escape in exchange for half of the money. Pitman agrees to the plan, but the warden is murdered by Ah-Ping, a Chinese prisoner, before their scheme can be carried out. Sheriff Lopeman is appointed the new warden, and with Pitman's help, conditions in the prison improve greatly. When Lopeman invites the governor for a tour of the prison, Pitman decides to escape. He allows three of the prisoners to be killed, and he himself kills Ah-Ping and Floyd Moon, a dim-witted gunfighter, before he makes good his escape. Lopeman, who had trusted Pitman, angrily takes pursuit. At the snakepit, Pitman unearths the money, but one of the rattlesnakes bites him on the throat and kills him. Lopeman then arrives and, following Pitman's ethics, takes the $500,000 and sets out for Mexico. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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