Open Season (1974)

R | 95 or 103 mins | Drama | 25 September 1974

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HISTORY


       While the picture was regarded by critics as an attempt at “an anti-war allegory,” as stated in the 25 Sep 1974 LAT review, it was widely condemned for indulging in sado-masochistic fantasy without establishing sympathetic characters. However, the 20 Aug 1974 HR review hailed the actors, called the script “cleverly paced” and noted that the photography was “remarkable.”
       The film was released on video with the title Recon Game.

      Actress Lorraine Clewes’s name is misspelled “Lorreaine Clewes” in the end credits. Props technician Mateos-Luna-Mengibar's name is misspelled "Menjibar."

              According to “Official Screen Credits for Academy Awards” from AMPAS library production files, the original script by David Osborn and Liz Charles-Williams was purchased 31 Oct 1973. An 8 Nov 1973 Var report that referred to the film by its working title, The Shoot, announced that filming was underway in Spain with a $1.5 million budget financed by producer José S. Vicuña’s Spanish company, Impala S.A., as well as by the Swiss studio, Arpa S.A. Var stated that principal photography was scheduled to continue until Christmas, and the film made its last appearance on HR production charts on 28 Dec 1973. While Columbia Pictures had acquired the domestic rights to the film for release in the U.S. and Canada before it went into production, Warner Bros. was reportedly in charge of distribution in Spain. As noted in a 10 Apr 1974 Var article, Impala made an exclusive deal with Warner Bros. in the late 1960s when the company expanded to include distribution. The 8 ... More Less


       While the picture was regarded by critics as an attempt at “an anti-war allegory,” as stated in the 25 Sep 1974 LAT review, it was widely condemned for indulging in sado-masochistic fantasy without establishing sympathetic characters. However, the 20 Aug 1974 HR review hailed the actors, called the script “cleverly paced” and noted that the photography was “remarkable.”
       The film was released on video with the title Recon Game.

      Actress Lorraine Clewes’s name is misspelled “Lorreaine Clewes” in the end credits. Props technician Mateos-Luna-Mengibar's name is misspelled "Menjibar."

              According to “Official Screen Credits for Academy Awards” from AMPAS library production files, the original script by David Osborn and Liz Charles-Williams was purchased 31 Oct 1973. An 8 Nov 1973 Var report that referred to the film by its working title, The Shoot, announced that filming was underway in Spain with a $1.5 million budget financed by producer José S. Vicuña’s Spanish company, Impala S.A., as well as by the Swiss studio, Arpa S.A. Var stated that principal photography was scheduled to continue until Christmas, and the film made its last appearance on HR production charts on 28 Dec 1973. While Columbia Pictures had acquired the domestic rights to the film for release in the U.S. and Canada before it went into production, Warner Bros. was reportedly in charge of distribution in Spain. As noted in a 10 Apr 1974 Var article, Impala made an exclusive deal with Warner Bros. in the late 1960s when the company expanded to include distribution. The 8 Nov 1973 Var stated that the picture was slated for release in Mar 1974, but according to contemporary reviews, the film did not open until 25 Sep 1974 in Los Angeles, CA. The 21 Aug 1974 Var review noted that the film was also shot in part in Michigan, although the end credits state that the picture was “Made at”: “Estudios Roma, Madrid; Pinewood Studios, England; Orthophonic Recording, Rome.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
2 Sep 1974
p. 4717.
Daily Variety
20 Aug 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Nov 1973
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Dec 1973
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 1974
p. 3, 9.
LAHExam
25 Sep 1974.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Sep 1974.
---
New York Times
2 Nov 1974
p. 16.
Variety
8 Nov 1973.
---
Variety
10 Apr 1974.
---
Variety
21 Aug 1974
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
Dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam asst
Cameras supplied by
Chief elec
Chief grip
Dir of photog, 2d unit
Cam op, 2d unit
Cam asst, 2d unit
Stillsman, Technicians
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Props, Technicians
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hairdresser
Makeup asst (Technicians)
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Accountant, Technicians
Prod secy, Technicians
Transport by
STAND INS
Stunt arranger
SOURCES
SONGS
"Casting Shadows," written and sung by John Howard.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Shoot
Recon Game
Release Date:
25 September 1974
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 25 September 1974 at Mann's Hollywood, El Rey, Palace and multiples
New York opening: 1 November 1974
Production Date:
early November--late December 1973 in Spain, Michigan and England
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastmancolor
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
95 or 103
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
Spain, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Hal Wolkowski leaves his mute and orphaned grandson, Petey, at the Halloween party of his neighbor, Helen, before heading out for several days on a trip. As Helen calls her guests to the table, her husband, Ken, and his friends, Greg and Arty, joke about their upcoming hunting excursion to upstate Michigan. Sometime later, the three Vietnam veterans drive a station wagon into the woods and eye beautiful women as they stop for food and ammunition. Delighted by the opportunity to resume a game from their past hunting trips, the men decide to stalk an attractive couple, Nancy Stillman and Marty, who are having an adulterous rendezvous. Driving alongside the couple’s car in their station wagon, the hunters signal for Marty to pull over and hold the lovers at gunpoint. After taking Marty’s wallet and forcing the couple into the station wagon, Ken and Greg drive the hostages to a remote campground as Arty takes command of Marty’s car and pushes it into a pond. Although Marty attempts to escape by boat, the men corner him in a boathouse and sink his vessel. The couple is escorted by raft to an island lodge that Ken, Greg and Arty built themselves. Ken chains Nancy to a kitchen table and orders her to cook and clean while Marty is instructed to act as a servant. At dinner, the men force Marty to drink, and when he inquires the price of their ransom, the hunters claim that Marty and Nancy are “guests.” Later, when Marty and Nancy are alone, Nancy suggests that she pursue a friendship with Ken to spark compassion ... +


Hal Wolkowski leaves his mute and orphaned grandson, Petey, at the Halloween party of his neighbor, Helen, before heading out for several days on a trip. As Helen calls her guests to the table, her husband, Ken, and his friends, Greg and Arty, joke about their upcoming hunting excursion to upstate Michigan. Sometime later, the three Vietnam veterans drive a station wagon into the woods and eye beautiful women as they stop for food and ammunition. Delighted by the opportunity to resume a game from their past hunting trips, the men decide to stalk an attractive couple, Nancy Stillman and Marty, who are having an adulterous rendezvous. Driving alongside the couple’s car in their station wagon, the hunters signal for Marty to pull over and hold the lovers at gunpoint. After taking Marty’s wallet and forcing the couple into the station wagon, Ken and Greg drive the hostages to a remote campground as Arty takes command of Marty’s car and pushes it into a pond. Although Marty attempts to escape by boat, the men corner him in a boathouse and sink his vessel. The couple is escorted by raft to an island lodge that Ken, Greg and Arty built themselves. Ken chains Nancy to a kitchen table and orders her to cook and clean while Marty is instructed to act as a servant. At dinner, the men force Marty to drink, and when he inquires the price of their ransom, the hunters claim that Marty and Nancy are “guests.” Later, when Marty and Nancy are alone, Nancy suggests that she pursue a friendship with Ken to spark compassion for their release, but the next evening the hunters become intoxicated and molest Nancy while relegating Marty to the kitchen. The following morning, Marty provokes a fight with Nancy, accusing her of active participation in her sexual exploitation, and the men set the couple free with a bag of supplies and a compass. Nancy realizes that Ken, Arty and Greg intend to hunt them as the men scare the couple off with gunshots and promise to permit them a half hour head start. The couple runs to the river and finds a raft, but as Marty starts the engine and gets away, Nancy falls overboard and is left behind. As the hunters steer their own raft and follow Marty to a nearby riverbank, Marty jumps on Ken and takes control of his rifle. During a gunfight with Arty and Greg, Marty is shot dead and Nancy returns to the lodge to steal a weapon. When Greg and Arty arrive home, they notice the front door is open and prepare for an attack. However, after a brief gunfight, Nancy runs out of bullets and begs for her life. As Greg prepares to execute her, a mysterious shooter fires, killing Greg and wounding Arty in the arm. Although Nancy attempts to escape, she is killed by Ken, who is surprised to learn from Arty about the unexplained gunman. Ken returns to the lodge to seek out his new adversary while Arty goes to the riverbank and swims away, apologizing to his friend for leaving. Meanwhile, Ken hears movement and fires, but is shocked to discover that he has only shot at Greg’s body, which is hanging from a rafter. Back at the river, Arty is shot dead by the mysterious gunman. Inside the lodge, a reel-to-reel tape recorder plays a message for Ken; a man’s voice describes himself as the father of Alisha, a young woman who committed suicide after she was raped by Ken and bore his child. The man explains that he changed his name and sought to track Ken down as the child grew. He eventually followed Ken and his friends to the lodge a year ago, where he witnessed the hunter’s game. Vowing to put an end to the mens’ murderous contest, the man warns Ken that he has only one minute to live. Just then, Hal Wolkowski appears, admonishing Ken that his “license to kill ran out after the war” as he shoots him dead. Sometime later, Wolkowski collects young Petey from Ken’s home. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.