Cat Ballou (1965)

96 mins | Western, Comedy, Satire | 18 June 1965

Director:

Elliot Silverstein

Producer:

Harold Hecht

Cinematographer:

Jack Marta

Editor:

Charles Nelson

Production Designer:

Malcolm Brown

Production Company:

Harold Hecht Corp.
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HISTORY

According to the 17 May 1956 DV, the motion picture adaptation of Roy Chanslor’s novel, The Ballad of Cat Ballou, originated as a vehicle for Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster through Curtis’s company, Curtleigh Productions. By the following summer, however, the 31 Jul 1957 Var reported that the property was now being developed by Hecht-Hill-Lancaster (H-H-L) as part a newly updated contract with United Artists (UA). Although Chanslor was initially attached to adapt his work for the screen, the 6 Jun 1958 DV claimed William Bowers would write the script in London, England, while the H-H-L team began production of The Devil’s Disciple (1959, see entry). Nearly two years later, a 16 May 1960 DV item announced that Burt Kennedy had been hired as a new writer.
       Around this time, H-H-L dissolved, and The Ballad of Cat Ballou was sold to Columbia Pictures in 1962, as indicated in a 13 Sep 1963 DV brief. Harold Hecht remained onboard as the film’s producer through his own independent company, Harold Hecht Corp., and the 29 Jun 1964 DV reported that Elliot Silverstein had been selected to direct a screenplay by Walter Newman. One month later, the 24 Jul 1964 LAT announced that Frank R. Pierson was assigned to work on the script, which was completed by the end of the summer, as noted by the 3 Sep 1964 DV.
       Meanwhile, a 10 Jul 1964 LAT article reported the casting of Jane Fonda in the title role. The 13 Jul 1964 DV claimed Dick ... More Less

According to the 17 May 1956 DV, the motion picture adaptation of Roy Chanslor’s novel, The Ballad of Cat Ballou, originated as a vehicle for Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster through Curtis’s company, Curtleigh Productions. By the following summer, however, the 31 Jul 1957 Var reported that the property was now being developed by Hecht-Hill-Lancaster (H-H-L) as part a newly updated contract with United Artists (UA). Although Chanslor was initially attached to adapt his work for the screen, the 6 Jun 1958 DV claimed William Bowers would write the script in London, England, while the H-H-L team began production of The Devil’s Disciple (1959, see entry). Nearly two years later, a 16 May 1960 DV item announced that Burt Kennedy had been hired as a new writer.
       Around this time, H-H-L dissolved, and The Ballad of Cat Ballou was sold to Columbia Pictures in 1962, as indicated in a 13 Sep 1963 DV brief. Harold Hecht remained onboard as the film’s producer through his own independent company, Harold Hecht Corp., and the 29 Jun 1964 DV reported that Elliot Silverstein had been selected to direct a screenplay by Walter Newman. One month later, the 24 Jul 1964 LAT announced that Frank R. Pierson was assigned to work on the script, which was completed by the end of the summer, as noted by the 3 Sep 1964 DV.
       Meanwhile, a 10 Jul 1964 LAT article reported the casting of Jane Fonda in the title role. The 13 Jul 1964 DV claimed Dick Van Dyke expressed interest in making a cameo appearance, but he was not involved in the final film.
       According to a 9 Oct 1964 DV production chart, principal photography began 28 Sep 1964 under the shortened title Cat Ballou. The 7 Oct 1964 Var suggested that Pierson continued to rewrite the script throughout the early days of filming. In addition to work at the Columbia studio in Hollywood, CA, items in the 13 Oct 1964 DV and 5 May 1965 Var indicated that filming took place at the Columbia Ranch in Burbank, CA, and on location in Canon City, CO.
       A 2 Feb 1965 LAT article reported that actor Jay C. Flippen had his right leg amputated due to gangrene, which developed as a result of circulatory failure that occurred during filming.
       Cat Ballou marked the final feature film of Nat King Cole, who died of lung cancer on 15 Feb 1965, shortly after completing work on the soundtrack album.
       The 5 May 1965 Var reported the world premiere was scheduled for 7 May 1965 in Denver, CO, to benefit the Larry Tajiri Memorial Foundation supporting local community theater. According to the 5 May 1965 Var, Tajiri, an accomplished newspaper columnist and entertainment contributor for The Denver Post, visited the set of Cat Ballou shortly before his death. In conjunction with the event, early engagements were launched in eleven cities across the Southeastern U.S., including Knoxville, TN. Due to positive audience reception, the 26 May 1965 Var reported that the one-week booking at Knoxville’s New Riviera Theatre had been extended. According to the 28 May 1965 LAT, the Los Angeles opening would take place 18 Jun 1964 at the Warner Beverly Theatre. After seven weeks, the 3 Aug 1965 LAT announced its move to the Pix Theater in Hollywood. The New York engagement began 24 Jun 1965 at the Victoria and Trans-Lux 52nd Street Theatres.
       The 29 Jul 1965 Los Angeles Sentinel reported that Cat Ballou was heavily featured at the Hollywood Pavilion of that year’s New York World’s Fair, and the 3 Jul 1965 LAT noted it was the only American film to be screened at the West Berlin Film Festival.
       A 7 Apr 1965 DV article claimed that Columbia had been considering using television laugh track machines for drive-in screenings of feature films, beginning with test engagements on Cat Ballou. The studio hoped to boost comedies’ appeal at drive-ins, which lacked the benefit of audience reactions that often contributed to films’ success in traditional theaters.
       Lee Marvin won an Academy Award for Best Actor, while the film received nominations for Film Editing, Music (Scoring of Music—adaptation or treatment), Music (Song), and Writing (Screenplay—based on material from another medium). AFI ranked Cat Ballou #50 on its list of 100 Years…100 Laughs, and #10 on its “Top 10 of 10” list of greatest Westerns. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
17 May 1956
p. 2.
Daily Variety
6 Jun 1958
p. 4.
Daily Variety
16 May 1960
p. 1.
Daily Variety
13 Sep 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
29 Jun 1964
p. 7.
Daily Variety
13 Jul 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
3 Sep 1964
p. 15.
Daily Variety
9 Oct 1964
p. 12.
Daily Variety
13 Oct 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
7 Apr 1965
p. 1, 70.
Los Angeles Sentinel
29 Jul 1965
Section B, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
10 Jul 1964
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
24 Jul 1964
Section C, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
2 Feb 1965
Section A, p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
28 May 1965
Section D, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
19 Jun 1965
p. 19.
Los Angeles Times
3 Jul 1965
p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
3 Aug 1965
Section C, p. 10.
New York Times
25 Jun 1965
p. 36.
Variety
31 Jul 1967
p. 4.
Variety
7 Oct 1964
p. 46.
Variety
28 Oct 1964
p. 46.
Variety
14 Apr 1965
p. 22.
Variety
5 May 1965
p. 24.
Variety
26 May 1965
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Harold Hecht Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2nd unit dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
Miss Fonda's gowns
MUSIC
Mus
SOUND
Sd supv
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hairstyles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Ballad of Cat Ballou by Roy Chanslor (Boston, 1956).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"The Ballad of Cat Ballou" and other songs, music and lyrics by Mack David and Jerry Livingston.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Ballad of Cat Ballou
Release Date:
18 June 1965
Premiere Information:
Denver, CO premiere: 7 May 1965
Los Angeles opening: 18 June 1964
New York opening: 24 June 1965
Production Date:
began 28 September 1964
Copyright Claimant:
Harold Hecht Corp.
Copyright Date:
1 June 1965
Copyright Number:
LP30839
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastman Color by Pathé
Duration(in mins):
96
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Catherine Ballou, an aspiring schoolteacher, is traveling by train to Wolf City, Wyoming, to visit her rancher father, Frankie Ballou. En route she unwittingly helps accused cattle rustler Clay Boone elude his captor, the sheriff, when Boone's Uncle Jed, a drunkard disguised as a preacher, distracts the lawman. She reaches the ranch to find that the Wolf City Developing Company is trying to take away the ranch from her father, whose only defender is an educated Indian, Jackson Two-Bears. Clay and Jed appear and reluctantly offer to help Catherine. She also wires legendary gunfighter Kid Shelleen to come and help protect her father from fast-drawing Tim Strawn, alias Silvernose, the hired killer who is threatening Frankie. Shelleen arrives, a drunken stumblebum who is literally unable to hit the side of a barn when he shoots and whose pants fall down when he draws his gun. Strawn kills Frankie, but the townspeople refuse to bring him to justice, and Catherine becomes a revenge-seeking outlaw known as Cat Ballou. She and her four associates rob a train carrying the Wolf City payroll, and Shelleen, inspired by his love for Cat (unrequited because she loves Clay), shapes up and kills Strawn. Later he casually admits that Strawn was his brother. Cat poses as a prostitute and confronts town boss Sir Harry Percival, owner of the Wolf City Developing Company. A struggle ensues; Harry is killed; and Cat is sentenced to be hanged. Just as the noose is being placed around her neck, however, her gang arrives and stages a daring ... +


Catherine Ballou, an aspiring schoolteacher, is traveling by train to Wolf City, Wyoming, to visit her rancher father, Frankie Ballou. En route she unwittingly helps accused cattle rustler Clay Boone elude his captor, the sheriff, when Boone's Uncle Jed, a drunkard disguised as a preacher, distracts the lawman. She reaches the ranch to find that the Wolf City Developing Company is trying to take away the ranch from her father, whose only defender is an educated Indian, Jackson Two-Bears. Clay and Jed appear and reluctantly offer to help Catherine. She also wires legendary gunfighter Kid Shelleen to come and help protect her father from fast-drawing Tim Strawn, alias Silvernose, the hired killer who is threatening Frankie. Shelleen arrives, a drunken stumblebum who is literally unable to hit the side of a barn when he shoots and whose pants fall down when he draws his gun. Strawn kills Frankie, but the townspeople refuse to bring him to justice, and Catherine becomes a revenge-seeking outlaw known as Cat Ballou. She and her four associates rob a train carrying the Wolf City payroll, and Shelleen, inspired by his love for Cat (unrequited because she loves Clay), shapes up and kills Strawn. Later he casually admits that Strawn was his brother. Cat poses as a prostitute and confronts town boss Sir Harry Percival, owner of the Wolf City Developing Company. A struggle ensues; Harry is killed; and Cat is sentenced to be hanged. Just as the noose is being placed around her neck, however, her gang arrives and stages a daring rescue. +

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

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