Lonely Are the Brave (1962)

107 mins | Western | 24 May 1962

Director:

David Miller

Writer:

Dalton Trumbo

Producer:

Edward Lewis

Cinematographer:

Philip Lathrop

Production Designers:

Alexander Golitzen, Robert E. Smith

Production Company:

Joel Productions
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HISTORY

On 19 Feb 1958, DV announced that Kirk Douglas’s Bryna Productions had optioned screen rights to the 1956 Edward Abbey novel The Brave Cowboy, and a 28 Aug 1958 DV news item added that preparations to film were currently underway. However, Bryna had earmarked $30 million for eleven feature films and three television pictures at that time, and Spartacus (1960, see entry) was scheduled to begin first, according to a 5 Nov 1958 Var article. The epic film, which was executive produced by Bryna vice-president Edward Lewis and adapted from the 1951 Howard Fast novel by blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, went approximately $9 million over budget. Trumbo’s refusal to testify about Communism before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) with the Hollywood Ten in 1947, and his subsequent imprisonment in 1950, made his employment controversial, and he was forced to write Spartacus in secrecy, using Lewis as a front man, as well as various other pseudonyms. Despite threats of opposition from Hollywood insiders, Douglas insisted on crediting Trumbo by name onscreen, and later heralded his actions as the decisive factor in ending the blacklist in his 2012 book I Am Spartacus! Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist. Various sources, including a 9 Jun 1961 NYT article, noted that Otto Preminger was the first filmmaker to openly credit a blacklisted writer (Trumbo) after the “Red Scare” with Exodus (1960, see entry). In addition, Edward Lewis, Howard Fast, and the Trumbo family disputed Douglas’s account, as described in a 5 Jul 2012 Atlantic article, ... More Less

On 19 Feb 1958, DV announced that Kirk Douglas’s Bryna Productions had optioned screen rights to the 1956 Edward Abbey novel The Brave Cowboy, and a 28 Aug 1958 DV news item added that preparations to film were currently underway. However, Bryna had earmarked $30 million for eleven feature films and three television pictures at that time, and Spartacus (1960, see entry) was scheduled to begin first, according to a 5 Nov 1958 Var article. The epic film, which was executive produced by Bryna vice-president Edward Lewis and adapted from the 1951 Howard Fast novel by blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, went approximately $9 million over budget. Trumbo’s refusal to testify about Communism before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) with the Hollywood Ten in 1947, and his subsequent imprisonment in 1950, made his employment controversial, and he was forced to write Spartacus in secrecy, using Lewis as a front man, as well as various other pseudonyms. Despite threats of opposition from Hollywood insiders, Douglas insisted on crediting Trumbo by name onscreen, and later heralded his actions as the decisive factor in ending the blacklist in his 2012 book I Am Spartacus! Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist. Various sources, including a 9 Jun 1961 NYT article, noted that Otto Preminger was the first filmmaker to openly credit a blacklisted writer (Trumbo) after the “Red Scare” with Exodus (1960, see entry). In addition, Edward Lewis, Howard Fast, and the Trumbo family disputed Douglas’s account, as described in a 5 Jul 2012 Atlantic article, which referred to archival documentation of Douglas’s attempts to distance himself from the writer.
       By the time Douglas optioned The Brave Cowboy, Trumbo remained blacklisted and there was still “considerable trepidation” about “using a writer of suspect politics,” according to the 9 Jun 1961 NYT. Douglas had been “warned by associates that it [was] unwise to have scripts written by Mr. Trumbo,” even though the two men had worked together on a number of other projects. One month after Spartacus was released, the 30 Nov 1960 Var announced that The Brave Cowboy project, now titled The Last Hero, was set to begin principal photography in mid-1961 on a budget of less than $1 million. Lewis was listed as producer, but there was no mention of Trumbo.
       By early 1961, Douglas was concerned about earning back his $12 million investment on Spartacus, according to a 27 Jul 2012 NYT article by director Alex Cox, and Douglas believed The Brave Cowboy would provide an opportunity to make a low-budget Western for a guaranteed profit. Despite warnings from his associates about Trumbo, and his fear of financial ruin, Douglas hired Trumbo to begin a first draft of the adaptation, and solve the problem of “Paul Bondi’s” imprisonment. In the novel, Bondi, a libertarian, was incarcerated for refusing the military draft on constitutional grounds; he opposed the government’s overreaching control of his destiny. At that time, draft-dodging was not considered subject matter for a Hollywood film, as it would become during the Vietnam War, so Trumbo changed Paul’s crime to be “associating with parrot smugglers.” A second version resolved to have Paul arrested for helping illegal Mexican immigrants. Cox noted that aside from this “crime of principle,” which foreshadowed modern political conflicts surrounding undocumented workers, Trumbo stayed consistent with the major plot points of Abbey’s novel.
       By 22 Feb 1961, David Miller had been hired to direct The Last Hero, and Universal-International Films was confirmed as distributor, based on an ongoing contract with Bryna, as announced in a DV news item published that day. Several weeks later, the 9 Mar 1961 DV noted that Douglas would be the only known actor in the cast, but the 4 Apr 1961 DV stated that Bill Raisch would return to acting after one of his scenes was cut from Spartacus by the Legion of Decency, and the 7 Apr 1961 DV reported that Douglas was hoping to cast Eva Marie Saint for the role of “Jerri Bondi.” Gena Rowlands, who had starred in several television series at that time, and had been in three theatrically-released feature films, was cast as Jerri Bondi nearly a week after the production’s anticipated start date on 24 Apr 1961, as announced in the 1 May 1961 DV. Principal photography started that day, on 1 May 1961, in Albuquerque, NM, with veteran actors Walter Matthau, Michael Kane, and Carroll O’Connor in supporting roles.
       By the end of the month, the 31 May 1961 DV reported that filming was underway in the dangerous terrain of the Sandia Mountains, east of Albuquerque. The production team was assisted by two men with oxygen tanks, as well as a standby ambulance unit, and Douglas claimed that the location was the most challenging of his career. David Miller injured his leg during a rockslide, according to the 19 May 1961 DV, and Douglas was badly hurt in the fight scene with Bill Raisch, as stated in the 21 Jun 1961 DV. The column referred to the film as a Joel Production, a subsidiary of Bryna. Joel Productions was named after Douglas’s second-born son, while his eldest child and future actor, Michael Douglas, who was a teenager at the time, was reportedly working on the “business side” of The Last Hero. Bryna Productions got its name from Kirk Douglas’s mother, Bryna Demsky.
       The day after shooting began, the 2 May 1961 DV “Film Assignments” listed the following crewmembers that may not have been credited onscreen: Fred Banker (unit publicist); Al Cline (camera operator); W. C. King and Robert Thomas (assistant cameramen); Bill Huffman (gaffer); Chris Putnam (best boy); Deke Smith and James Hilbert (grips); Julius Rosenkranz and Frank Nifong (props); and Walter Pelican (craft service). In addition, DV listed the following casting announcements: Collette Lyons (on 12 May 1961); Rosa Turich, Harry Hines, Rocky Ybarra , Daniel Nunez, Mike DeAnda, Audrey Betz, Don Carlos, Chuck Hamilton , Bob Strong, Ray Beltram, Jess Calvin, and George Keymas (on 16 Jun 1961); Rodolfo Hoyos, Charles Wagenheim, Gil Frye, and Erwin Neal (on 20 Jun 1961); and Don Gazzaniga and Wayne Feffley (on 3 Jul 1961).
       On 19 Jul 1961, Var announced that filming had recently completed, and a 25 Jul 1961 LAT article reported that the final budget came in under $2 million, due in part to David Miller’s “New Wave style.” Roughly two months later, Douglas planned to change the title to Chase a Hero, according to the 13 Sep 1961 DV, but the 12 Oct 1961 DV announced that the film would be released as Lonely Are the Brave.
       Despite generally positive reviews after opening nationwide in late Jun 1962, the film did not perform well at the box-office, and Douglas later blamed Universal-International for its “misconceived releasing strategy,” as noted in a 20 Dec 1967 Var article, which explained that the studio saturated the market with bookings instead of favoring a “slow playoff pattern.” Still, the film became highly regarded among cinephiles and film historians, with the 5 Nov 1968 DV referring to it as a “philosophic classic” and Alex Cox stating in his 27 Jul 2012 NYT article: “There is no greater Western, and certainly no more tragic one… It’s hard to imagine a film so radical, or so pessimistic, being made today.”
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
19 Feb 1958
p. 2.
Daily Variety
28 Aug 1958
p. 4.
Daily Variety
22 Feb 1961
p. 1.
Daily Variety
9 Mar 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
4 Apr 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
7 Apr 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 May 1961
p. 7.
Daily Variety
2 May 1961
p. 10.
Daily Variety
12 May 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
19 May 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
31 May 1961
p. 18.
Daily Variety
16 Jun 1961
p. 5.
Daily Variety
20 Jun 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
21 Jun 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
3 Jul 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
13 Sep 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
12 Oct 1961
p. 7.
Daily Variety
5 Nov 1968
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
25 Jul 1961
Section C, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
21 Jun 1962
Section C, p. 7.
New York Times
9 Jun 1961
p. 27.
New York Times
27 Jul 2012.
---
The Atlantic
5 Jul 2012.
---
Variety
5 Nov 1958
p. 3, 20.
Variety
30 Nov 1960
p. 7.
Variety
19 Jul 1961
p. 7.
Variety
2 May 1962
p. 6.
Variety
20 Dec 1967
p. 5.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Photog coordinator
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Stills
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Brave Cowboy by Edward Abbey (New York, 1956).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Last Hero
The Brave Cowboy
Chase a Hero
Release Date:
24 May 1962
Premiere Information:
Houston opening: 24 May 1962
Los Angeles opening 20 June 1962
New York opening: 27 June 1962
Production Date:
1 May--mid July 1961
Copyright Claimant:
Joel Productions
Copyright Date:
20 April 1962
Copyright Number:
LP24918
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
107
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Jack Burns, an itinerant cowboy whose individualism clashes with modern-day life, rides down from the mountains when he learns that his friend Paul Bondi has been jailed for helping illegal immigrants across the Mexican border. Hoping to help Bondi escape, Burns deliberately becomes involved in a barroom brawl and is thrown into the same jail, but Bondi prefers to serve his sentence rather than spend the rest of his life on the run. So Burns breaks out alone, gets food and ammunition from Bondi's wife, Jerri, with whom he has been romantically involved, and heads for the hills with his horse, Whisky. The local sheriff, a kindly and philosophic man, organizes a posse of seven deputies equipped with a jeep and a helicopter, while Burns, refusing to abandon his horse though he would make better time on foot, slowly climbs a steep mountainside. When the helicopter spots him, he shoots it down and heads for the Mexican border. Crossing a highway at night, Whisky balks at the oncoming traffic, and both the horse and Burns are hit by a diesel truck. The sheriff arrives, shoots the injured animal to end its misery, and quietly speaks the lonely cowboy's ... +


Jack Burns, an itinerant cowboy whose individualism clashes with modern-day life, rides down from the mountains when he learns that his friend Paul Bondi has been jailed for helping illegal immigrants across the Mexican border. Hoping to help Bondi escape, Burns deliberately becomes involved in a barroom brawl and is thrown into the same jail, but Bondi prefers to serve his sentence rather than spend the rest of his life on the run. So Burns breaks out alone, gets food and ammunition from Bondi's wife, Jerri, with whom he has been romantically involved, and heads for the hills with his horse, Whisky. The local sheriff, a kindly and philosophic man, organizes a posse of seven deputies equipped with a jeep and a helicopter, while Burns, refusing to abandon his horse though he would make better time on foot, slowly climbs a steep mountainside. When the helicopter spots him, he shoots it down and heads for the Mexican border. Crossing a highway at night, Whisky balks at the oncoming traffic, and both the horse and Burns are hit by a diesel truck. The sheriff arrives, shoots the injured animal to end its misery, and quietly speaks the lonely cowboy's epitaph. +

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

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