The Last Hard Men (1976)

R | 98 mins | Western | 24 April 1976

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HISTORY

       During production, the press referred to the film as The Last Hard Man.
       The 3 Jul 1975 Var announced that principal photography was scheduled to begin 20 Oct 1975. No director had yet been assigned. On 22 Aug 1975, DV reported that art director Edward Carfagno and production manager Sam Manners left Los Angeles, CA, that day for Tucson, AZ, to scout locations. The 19 Apr 1976 HR stated that during Aug 1975, Carfagno and Manners scouted locations over a four-day period with the assistance of the state’s Motion Picture Development Office, covering 1,800 miles, which encompassed Sedona, Show Low, Snowflake, Globe, Flagstaff, Holbrook, Tucson, Florence Junction, and Cordes Junction. According to a news item in the 24 Sep 1975 HR, director Andrew V. McLaglan was to travel to AZ to scout locations as well.
       An article detailing various aspects of the production appeared in the 19 Apr 1976 HR. Photography began in AZ on 27 Oct 1975 and ended 13 Dec 1975, in the vicinities of “Old Tucson,” Tucson, San Manuel, Rio Rico, Mammoth, Gates Pass, Winkelman and Nogales. The state provided permits for use of state grazing land, and weekend travel for the production company’s trucks. Arrangements were made for the use of an antique train and railroad tracks, and for a river crossing. An article in the 18 Nov 1975 LAHExam reported that the railroad tracks belonged to a copper mill in San Manuel. Old Reno, an antique locomotive commonly used in westerns, was transported by truck from Old Tucson, ... More Less

       During production, the press referred to the film as The Last Hard Man.
       The 3 Jul 1975 Var announced that principal photography was scheduled to begin 20 Oct 1975. No director had yet been assigned. On 22 Aug 1975, DV reported that art director Edward Carfagno and production manager Sam Manners left Los Angeles, CA, that day for Tucson, AZ, to scout locations. The 19 Apr 1976 HR stated that during Aug 1975, Carfagno and Manners scouted locations over a four-day period with the assistance of the state’s Motion Picture Development Office, covering 1,800 miles, which encompassed Sedona, Show Low, Snowflake, Globe, Flagstaff, Holbrook, Tucson, Florence Junction, and Cordes Junction. According to a news item in the 24 Sep 1975 HR, director Andrew V. McLaglan was to travel to AZ to scout locations as well.
       An article detailing various aspects of the production appeared in the 19 Apr 1976 HR. Photography began in AZ on 27 Oct 1975 and ended 13 Dec 1975, in the vicinities of “Old Tucson,” Tucson, San Manuel, Rio Rico, Mammoth, Gates Pass, Winkelman and Nogales. The state provided permits for use of state grazing land, and weekend travel for the production company’s trucks. Arrangements were made for the use of an antique train and railroad tracks, and for a river crossing. An article in the 18 Nov 1975 LAHExam reported that the railroad tracks belonged to a copper mill in San Manuel. Old Reno, an antique locomotive commonly used in westerns, was transported by truck from Old Tucson, along with several passenger cars, and an early twentieth-century railroad station was constructed on the site. According to the article, Eugene Smith, a retired railroad engineer who had driven Old Reno in numerous productions, appeared in the film as a railroad employee. The film marked actor Charlton Heston’s seventh collaboration with producer Walter Seltzer.
       A news item in the 26 Jan 1976 DV announced that composer Leonard Rosenman would score for the film, although his name does not appear in onscreen credits.
       On 4 Mar 1976, DV reported that Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) which had originally rated the film “X,” changed the rating to “R.” The Association’s Code and Rating Administraton (CARA) offered an “R” rating only if “the threat of violent outburst” portrayed onscreen was deemphasized. The producers, along with distributor 20th Century-Fox, argued that the violence “was a dramatically valid consequence” of the kidnapping and rape of the protagonist’s daughter. After reassessing the film, CARA issued the “R” rating without demanding any changes to the final edit. The decision came in the wake of a similar case involving All the President’s Men (1976, see entry), which had its “R” rating changed to “PG,” despite the screenplay’s heavy use of vulgar language. However, the 15 Mar 1976 HR reported that The Last Hard Man was rated “unacceptable” by the American Humane Association (AHA) for its “objectionable use of horses.” It was the only current picture included on the Humane Association’s Mar 1976 classification bulletin.
       A review in the 3 May 1976 Box referred to the film by its new title, The Last Hard Men, released Apr 1976. It also mentioned a paperback novelization of the screenplay, published by Fawcett Books. On 28 May 1976, DV reported that the film was being removed from circulation and would likely be given a new title, following poor attendance on initial release. A reissue was planned for Mar 1977.
       Reviews were mixed. Although the 19 May 1976 MPHPD assessed the film’s box-office prospects as “bleak,” the 16 Apr 1976 HR considered it proof “that the Western is still a viable arresting form that can transcend clichés of characterization.”
      End credits conclude with the following statement: “Portions of this film were photographed at Old Tucson Studios, Tuscon, Arizona.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 May 1976.
---
Daily Variety
22 Aug 1975.
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Daily Variety
26 Jan 1976.
---
Daily Variety
4 Mar 1976.
---
Daily Variety
28 May 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 1976
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Apr 1976.
---
LAHExam
18 Nov 1975
p. A-12.
Los Angeles Times
28 Sep 1977
p. G-16.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
19 May 1976.
---
New York Times
24 Apr 1976
p. 16.
Variety
3 Jul 1975.
---
Variety
29 Oct 1975.
---
Variety
21 Apr 1976
p. 23.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Belasco/Seltzer/Thacher Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam asst
Gaffer
Key grip
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Const coord
COSTUMES
Men`s ward
Ladies' ward
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus ed
SOUND
Rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Wrangler
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Gun Down by Brian Garfield (New York, 1969).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Last Hard Man
Release Date:
24 April 1976
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 24 April 1976
Los Angeles opening: 28 September 1977
Production Date:
27 October--13 December 1975 in Arizona
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
28 April 1976
Copyright Number:
LP4603
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Lenses/Prints
Photographic equipment by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
98
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24522
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1909 Arizona, convicted killer Zach Provo works on a chain gang laying railroad track. Provo kills one guard with an iron spike and shoots the other with the dead man’s rifle. After the prisoners break their chains with sledgehammers, most escape into the desert, but six stay with Provo: Cesar Menendez, George Weed, Will Gant, Portugee Shiraz, Mike Shelby, and Lee Roy Tucker. All are seasoned criminals except for Shelby, who is nineteen years old. Menendez, a Mexican, objects to working with the bigoted Lee Roy, but Provo, who is half Navajo, believes Lee Roy to be a useful ally. The gang takes a freight train to Gila Bend to get horses and supplies, and Provo informs the others of his plan to get revenge on former territorial captain Sam Burgade. The next day, in Tucson, Sam enters the office of his successor, Noel Nye, offering to come out of retirement to assist with Provo’s capture. Noel does not require Sam’s help, believing that modern technology will provide all the assistance needed. Sam proves his worth by finding evidence of the gang on the train when it arrives in Tucson. He then notifies the press that a shipment from the U.S. Mint is due in town, hoping to attract Provo’s attention. Impressed by Sam’s understanding of Provo, Noel puts him on the case. That night, Sam advises his daughter, Susan, to marry Hal Brickman, a soft-spoken agricultural engineer from Massachusetts. Susan dismisses the idea, certain that Hal has none of the heroic characteristics of her father. However, when Susan learns that Sam is returning to ... +


In 1909 Arizona, convicted killer Zach Provo works on a chain gang laying railroad track. Provo kills one guard with an iron spike and shoots the other with the dead man’s rifle. After the prisoners break their chains with sledgehammers, most escape into the desert, but six stay with Provo: Cesar Menendez, George Weed, Will Gant, Portugee Shiraz, Mike Shelby, and Lee Roy Tucker. All are seasoned criminals except for Shelby, who is nineteen years old. Menendez, a Mexican, objects to working with the bigoted Lee Roy, but Provo, who is half Navajo, believes Lee Roy to be a useful ally. The gang takes a freight train to Gila Bend to get horses and supplies, and Provo informs the others of his plan to get revenge on former territorial captain Sam Burgade. The next day, in Tucson, Sam enters the office of his successor, Noel Nye, offering to come out of retirement to assist with Provo’s capture. Noel does not require Sam’s help, believing that modern technology will provide all the assistance needed. Sam proves his worth by finding evidence of the gang on the train when it arrives in Tucson. He then notifies the press that a shipment from the U.S. Mint is due in town, hoping to attract Provo’s attention. Impressed by Sam’s understanding of Provo, Noel puts him on the case. That night, Sam advises his daughter, Susan, to marry Hal Brickman, a soft-spoken agricultural engineer from Massachusetts. Susan dismisses the idea, certain that Hal has none of the heroic characteristics of her father. However, when Susan learns that Sam is returning to work, she fears for his safety and begs him to reconsider. He tells her of the time Provo killed four men while robbing a train, leading to a shootout with Sam and his posse that left the outlaw’s young Navajo wife dead. Knowing that Provo is intent on revenge, Sam believes he has no choice but to accept the assignment. Hal arrives moments later, and Sam, hoping to secure his daughter’s future, encourages the young man to visit as often as he likes. Meanwhile, as the gang robs a general store, Lee Roy refers to the storekeeper’s pregnant wife as “a Mexican pig.” With Provo’s approval, Menendez plunges a knife into Lee Roy’s back. Shelby, the literate member of the gang, reads Provo a newspaper article announcing the shipment of new money headed for Tucson, to be guarded by Sam upon its arrival. Aware that he is walking into a trap, Provo leads the gang to Tucson under the pretext of not disappointing Sam. After the shipment is safely in the bank, Sam puzzles over Provo’s absence, but when he returns home, he discovers that Provo has kidnapped Susan. Sam brings his plight to Noel, who maintains his faith in modern technology, until it becomes apparent that Provo has cut the telephone lines between Tucson and Phoenix. Positive that Provo is headed north to retrieve a cache of buried gold on the Navajo reservation, Sam and Nye organize a posse. Hal insists on joining, undeterred by Sam’s refusal to allow a “greenhorn” to come along. As the posse closes in on Provo, he offers his henchmen $4,000 in gold if they help him to defeat Sam. He then assigns Shelby to guard Susan as a deterrent to Gant and Shiraz, who are unable to control their sexual urges. Upon reaching Navajo country, Provo bribes the tribal police to allow the gang onto the reservation, and to bar the posse from entering. Fearing a reprisal from the Navajo, the posse turns back, leaving only Sam and Hal to face the kidnappers. The two men camp at the bottom of a hill, and set a trap in case one of Provo’s men is sent to spy on them. Before long, Weed is caught in the trap and, under threat of death, reveals Provo’s position to Sam. After tying Weed to a tree, Sam and Hal move their camp further up the hillside. The next morning, when Provo discovers his nemesis hiding nearby, he tries to draw Sam into the open by allowing Gant and Shiraz to have their way with Susan. Realizing that Provo is laying a trap, Hal knocks Sam unconscious before he can rescue his daughter. That night, Sam and Hal use gunpowder to start a brush fire that consumes the hillside. Provo, Menendez, Shelby and Susan take refuge on the other side of the hill, while Shiraz is burned alive. Abandoned by the gang, Gant hides among the rocks until morning, when he attempts to steal Sam’s horse. Sam, enraged over the rape of his daughter, bludgeons Gant to death with a rifle stock. As Sam makes his way up the hill, Provo and Menendez try to ambush him, but Sam foils the plot and kills Menendez. While attempting to avoid Sam, Shelby runs directly into Hal. Both men draw their weapons and Shelby is killed. Susan goes to her father, unaware that Provo is hiding nearby. The outlaw surprises Sam and inflicts several nonfatal gunshot wounds, but when he is about to cut the lawman’s heart out with a knife, Sam produces a pistol and kills Provo with a single shot. As Sam lays on the ground bleeding, Susan and Hal run to his aid. +

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

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