The Honkers (1972)

GP | 102-104 mins | Comedy-drama | March 1972

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HISTORY

Elliot Schick's onscreen credit reads "Production manager/Assistant director." As noted in the onscreen credits, the film was shot on location in and around Carlsbad, NM, although within the story, the town is called Trancton. The initial HR production charts include Shara St. John in the cast, but she was not in the released film. It is likely that her role was taken over by Anne Archer. The Honkers was Archer's first released feature film, although The All-American Boy (see above), released in 1973, actually was shot prior to The Honkers . The picture also marked the last film of director Steve Ihnat (1934--1972), who had been a character actor for many years. The picture also was Ihant's only theatrically released film as a director. He had directed a film made in 1970, Do Not Throw Cushions in the Ring , but that film was not released.
       Larry Mahan, who portrayed himself in the picture, was a well-known rodeo performer. Modern sources include Paul Brown, Buzz Henning, Chuck Henson, Chris Howell and Wayne McClellan in the cast. At one point in the film, a movie theater marquee is seen advertising The Hunting Party (see below). That picture, another Levy-Gardner-Laven film, was released in Jul 1971, while The Honkers was still in production. Several reviewers pointed out the similarities between The Honkers , JW Cooper and Junior Bonner (see entries below), which also were released in 1972 and centered on aging rodeo ... More Less

Elliot Schick's onscreen credit reads "Production manager/Assistant director." As noted in the onscreen credits, the film was shot on location in and around Carlsbad, NM, although within the story, the town is called Trancton. The initial HR production charts include Shara St. John in the cast, but she was not in the released film. It is likely that her role was taken over by Anne Archer. The Honkers was Archer's first released feature film, although The All-American Boy (see above), released in 1973, actually was shot prior to The Honkers . The picture also marked the last film of director Steve Ihnat (1934--1972), who had been a character actor for many years. The picture also was Ihant's only theatrically released film as a director. He had directed a film made in 1970, Do Not Throw Cushions in the Ring , but that film was not released.
       Larry Mahan, who portrayed himself in the picture, was a well-known rodeo performer. Modern sources include Paul Brown, Buzz Henning, Chuck Henson, Chris Howell and Wayne McClellan in the cast. At one point in the film, a movie theater marquee is seen advertising The Hunting Party (see below). That picture, another Levy-Gardner-Laven film, was released in Jul 1971, while The Honkers was still in production. Several reviewers pointed out the similarities between The Honkers , JW Cooper and Junior Bonner (see entries below), which also were released in 1972 and centered on aging rodeo performers.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
6 Mar 1972.
---
Daily Variety
13 May 1971.
---
Daily Variety
25 Feb 1972.
---
Filmfacts
1972
pp. 295-97.
Hollywood Reporter
12 May 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 1971
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jul 1971
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Feb 1972.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
4 May 1972.
---
Los Angeles Times
3 May 1972.
---
New York Times
18 May 1972
p. 55.
Time
29 May 1972.
---
Variety
1 Mar 1972
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
Asst dir trainee
PRODUCERS
Prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Chief elec
Key grip
Best boy-grip
Grip
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
Stills
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
COSTUMES
Western ward
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd eff ed
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Title des
Titles and optical eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod asst
Scr supv
Auditor
Loc auditor
Asst to the prod
Transportation
Driver
Driver
Cinemobile drive
Casting
Rodeo contractor
Craft services
UA rep
Caterer
STAND INS
Stunt coord
SOURCES
SONGS
"Easy Made for Lovin'" and "Special Day," composed and sung by Bobby Russell
"I'm a Rodeo Cowboy," composed and sung by Slim Pickens.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
March 1972
Production Date:
12 May--early July 1971 in Carlsbad, NM
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists Corp.
Copyright Date:
25 February 1972
Copyright Number:
LP40549
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
DeLuxe
Duration(in mins):
102-104
MPAA Rating:
GP
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In New Mexico, aging rodeo cowboy and chronic womanizer Lew Lathrop narrowly misses being recognized and caught by Jack Ferguson, who interrupts Lew's sexual tryst with Jack's wife Rita. Running away half dressed from the Fergusons' trailer, Lew hops into a pickup truck being driven by his patiently waiting best friend, Clete. The men laugh at Lew's predicament, but the older Clete warns Lew that he will get caught someday. Clete and Lew then drive to Trancton, their hometown, where Lew's estranged wife Linda and their teenage son Bobby live. Linda at first tries to throw Lew out, but he cajoles her into making love and letting him spend the night. The next morning, when she asks him why he has never signed their divorce papers, he says it is because she does not want him to. After bantering about her new boyfriend, used car salesman Royce Owen, whom Linda says is very kind to Bobby, she finally relents and decides to let Lew stay with her. Lew promises to pick Linda up after work that night, then goes to the rodeo grounds to meet Clete, who is a rodeo clown, and sign up for some of the riding events. Hoping to make some extra money, Lew takes a $150 bet from Jack to stay on a "bad old horse." With the help of Clete and some rodeo buddies, Lew is partially tied onto the horse's saddle and wins the bet, annoying Jack. Now feeling confident, Lew swaggers through town and buys a new hat. Seeing Lew walking down the street, Sheriff Mel Potter calls out and warns him to ... +


In New Mexico, aging rodeo cowboy and chronic womanizer Lew Lathrop narrowly misses being recognized and caught by Jack Ferguson, who interrupts Lew's sexual tryst with Jack's wife Rita. Running away half dressed from the Fergusons' trailer, Lew hops into a pickup truck being driven by his patiently waiting best friend, Clete. The men laugh at Lew's predicament, but the older Clete warns Lew that he will get caught someday. Clete and Lew then drive to Trancton, their hometown, where Lew's estranged wife Linda and their teenage son Bobby live. Linda at first tries to throw Lew out, but he cajoles her into making love and letting him spend the night. The next morning, when she asks him why he has never signed their divorce papers, he says it is because she does not want him to. After bantering about her new boyfriend, used car salesman Royce Owen, whom Linda says is very kind to Bobby, she finally relents and decides to let Lew stay with her. Lew promises to pick Linda up after work that night, then goes to the rodeo grounds to meet Clete, who is a rodeo clown, and sign up for some of the riding events. Hoping to make some extra money, Lew takes a $150 bet from Jack to stay on a "bad old horse." With the help of Clete and some rodeo buddies, Lew is partially tied onto the horse's saddle and wins the bet, annoying Jack. Now feeling confident, Lew swaggers through town and buys a new hat. Seeing Lew walking down the street, Sheriff Mel Potter calls out and warns him to stay out of trouble. After buying some liquor, Lew begins to talk with Deborah Moon, a young, beautiful Indian, whose father is the town's richest man. Although her sensuous flirting tempts Lew to drive off in her expensive sports car, he walks on. That afternoon, Lew drives out to see his uncle Harve at his ramshackle ranch. Although Lew is nearly broke himself, he offers Harve some money. Harve affably refuses, then asks if Lew has been to see his mother's grave. Lew, who is still bitter over his mother’s ill treatment of him and his father, scoffs at the suggestion, but Harve relates that she had many regrets before she died, prompting Lew to visit her grave. Later, while Lew, Clete and some friends play pool and drink in a bar, one of the customers makes a rude remark about Linda, prompting Lew to start hitting him with a pool cue. Lew is stopped from doing any serious harm but he is so drunk that he later drives through the fence at Linda's house. Already angry because Lew forgot to pick her up after work, Linda pushes Lew away as he tries to kiss her. She then introduces him to Royce, who drove her home. Lew drunkenly tries to insult Royce, but Royce is too kind to take the bait and leaves. Lew tries to hug Linda and apologize but she quietly says she knows that he will never change. When she puts him to bed, Lew says that he likes Royce. The next day, as the rodeo's opening day parade goes through town, Lew shows Bobby how to steal a hat and laughingly walks through the crowd as the hat shop proprietor tries to chase them down, attracting Potter's attention. Laughing at their ingenuity, Lew shows Bobby how to loop back through the crowd to return the hats before the frustrated proprietor can catch them. Later, as Bobby and Lew watch the rodeo, they wave to Royce in the stands. Bobby says that Royce thinks he should chose a profession instead of becoming a rodeo cowboy like Lew and admits that he likes Royce, who is kind to him and Linda. At the bronco busting event, Lew is victorious, but he is worried about Clete, who is too old to continue the dangerous job of being a rodeo clown. That night, at a local motel, half the town is drunk and disorderly. When Potter arrives with some of his men to start making arrests, Jack steps in and asks that Potter leave them alone, saying that he will pay for any damage. Lew then sends Bobby home with Clete. At Linda’s they laugh about the rodeo and past good times, and Linda tells Clete that she is proud of Lew but worries what will become of him. Meanwhile, as Lew and Deborah dance at the tavern, he excuses himself to go to the men's room. When he leaves the men's room, two cowboys, including the man he beat with the pool cue, attack him. As Lew is on the ground, the man he injured steps on his hand, wounding it so badly that Lew passes out. When he awakens, Lew finds himself in jail, with an unsympathetic Potter telling him that the charge is disturbing the peace. A short time later, Potter releases him without explanation, and when Lew goes outside, he sees Deborah, who explains that Potter released him because she threatened to tell Potter’s wife about his sexual preference for young Indian girls. Deborah then drives Lew outside town to one of her father’s oil wells, smokes marijuana and asks him if he has ever “made it with an Indian.” Although he seems annoyed by her actions, he stays and makes love to her. The next day, Linda, Bobby and Clete are worried because Lew never came home, but Clete learns that Deborah bailed him out of jail. In the stands at the rodeo, Linda tries to hide her tears from Royce, then, when Deborah’s car races up to the rodeo and Lew exits, Linda is hurt and angry. Clete and Bobby have also observed the entrance, and Bobby lashes out at Lew for worrying them. When Clete and Lew are alone, Clete starts to fight with Lew and says that they are through because he ruins everything. Lew goes into the shoot to start the Brahma bull event, sprays pain killers on his hand and has his friends tie it tightly onto the saddle. Meanwhile, one of Jack’s men reports that the pickup truck he saw outside of the trailer belongs to Lew, and Jack realizes that Lew had been sleeping with Rita. As Lew’s bull goes out of the shoot, it cannot buck him off because of the ties, but Lew slides off the side, leaving him vulnerable to being trampled by the bull. Clete immediately rushes in to help but is himself trampled. As the shocked crowd looks on, an ambulance arrives, and Bobby and Linda run to Clete. Royce goes to Lew to say how sorry he is and Lew reveals that Clete broke his neck and is dead. Late that afternoon, when the rodeo grounds are empty, Lew looks sadly at Royce, Linda and Bobby as they leave together. Just then, Jack drives by and angrily tells Lew that he is finished and that there will be an investigation because Clete died due to Lew’s actions. Lew then walks to the pickup, limping on alone. +

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

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