The Villain (1979)

PG | 89 mins | Western, Comedy | 20 July 1979

Director:

Hal Needham

Writer:

Robert G. Kane

Producer:

Mort Engelberg

Cinematographer:

Robert Byrne

Production Designer:

Carl Anderson

Production Company:

The Villain Company
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HISTORY


       In a 14 Nov 1978 HR column, director Hal Needham described The Villain as a “‘Roadrunner’ cartoon done with live characters.” The picture marked Needham’s third feature film as director and reunited him with actor Kirk Douglas. Prior to focusing on directing, Needham was one of Hollywood’s top stuntmen and stunt coordinators and, although he did not receive onscreen credit, Needham worked as a stunt double for Douglas on In Harm’s Way (1965, see entry), The War Wagon (1967, see entry), and The Way West (1967, see entry), according to publicity material in AMPAS library files.
       A 4 Oct 1978 LAT article explained that the picture was financed independently by producer Mort Engelberg and Rastar Films, a production company founded by producer Ray Stark. Engelberg and Rastar had produced Needham’s directorial debut, Smokey and the Bandit (1977, see entry), which became one of the highest grossing films of 1977. The LAT article noted The Villain, budgeted at $4.5 million, while a 6 Dec 1978 Var article listed costs at $6 million.
       According to production notes, principal photography began 16 Oct 1978 on location in Monument Valley, AZ. Other filming sites in the state included Magma Mine, Benson, Rio Rico, the Flying V Ranch, and Western set of Old Tucson, outside Tucson, AZ. As mentioned in the 14 Nov 1978 HR column, shooting was scheduled to finish by 3 Dec 1978.
       Publicity materials stated that Joe Sargent, a former National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) engineer and telemetry ... More Less


       In a 14 Nov 1978 HR column, director Hal Needham described The Villain as a “‘Roadrunner’ cartoon done with live characters.” The picture marked Needham’s third feature film as director and reunited him with actor Kirk Douglas. Prior to focusing on directing, Needham was one of Hollywood’s top stuntmen and stunt coordinators and, although he did not receive onscreen credit, Needham worked as a stunt double for Douglas on In Harm’s Way (1965, see entry), The War Wagon (1967, see entry), and The Way West (1967, see entry), according to publicity material in AMPAS library files.
       A 4 Oct 1978 LAT article explained that the picture was financed independently by producer Mort Engelberg and Rastar Films, a production company founded by producer Ray Stark. Engelberg and Rastar had produced Needham’s directorial debut, Smokey and the Bandit (1977, see entry), which became one of the highest grossing films of 1977. The LAT article noted The Villain, budgeted at $4.5 million, while a 6 Dec 1978 Var article listed costs at $6 million.
       According to production notes, principal photography began 16 Oct 1978 on location in Monument Valley, AZ. Other filming sites in the state included Magma Mine, Benson, Rio Rico, the Flying V Ranch, and Western set of Old Tucson, outside Tucson, AZ. As mentioned in the 14 Nov 1978 HR column, shooting was scheduled to finish by 3 Dec 1978.
       Publicity materials stated that Joe Sargent, a former National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) engineer and telemetry specialist, was enlisted to advise the production on controlling the operation of the film’s rolling boulder by means of radio waves. Sergeant’s contribution to the special effects, which is not credited onscreen, was his initial experience working on a feature film.
       The 18 Jul 1979 HR review noted that six different black horses played the role of “Whiskey,” while the 18 Jul 1979 Var stated that the number was eight. Onscreen, the part is solely credited to a horse named Ott.
       As reported in a 19 Feb 1982 DV article, Needham sued the producers, claiming his company, Stuntman Inc., “received different treatment” in matters of equal profit participation among the parties of Rastar, Mort Engelberg, and Stuntman, Inc. In addition to asking for $250,000 in damages, Needham requested an audit of the picture’s finances. Information regarding the outcome of the litigation has not been determined.
      End credits include the acknowledgements: “Our special thanks for the assistance of the following: Bruce Babbitt, Governor of the State of Arizona; Bill MacCallum, Director of Motion Picture Development for the State of Arizona; Robert Shelton, President of Old Tucson; The Navajo Nation for granting us permission to film in Monument Valley; and a wonderful Arizona crew.”

              End credits are superimposed alongside scenes of “Cactus Jack’s” various sight gags from the film. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
1 Dec 1978.
---
Daily Variety
19 Feb 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Nov 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jul 1979.
---
Los Angeles Times
4 Oct 1978
Section H, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
3 Aug 1979
Section E, p. 20.
New York Times
20 Jul 1979
p. 4.
Variety
6 Dec 1978
p. 5.
Variety
18 Jul 1979
p. 14, 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Rastar-Mort Engelberg Production
A Hal Needham Film
From Rastar
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
Asst cam
Asst cam
Main title photog
Aerial cam
Stillman
Gaffer
Best boy/Elec
Lamp op
Lamp op
Key grip
Best boy/Grip
Dolly grip
L.A. grip
L.A. elec
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Painter
Prop maker
Prop maker
COSTUMES
Ann-Margaret's cost des by
Ward master
Costumer
Costumer to Kirk Douglas
SOUND
Sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Re-rec
Re-rec
Boomman
VISUAL EFFECTS
Main title des
Spec eff, boulder
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Chief makeup artist
Body makeup
Ann-Margret's makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
[Whiskey the horse] trained by
Scr supv
Unit pub
Insert car driver
Insert car driver
Ramrod
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Asst to prod
Asst to Hal Needham
Prod accountant
Secy to Hal Needham
Transportation capt
Asst transportation capt
First aid
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Prod services by
L.A. driver
L.A. driver
L.A. driver
L.A. driver
L.A. driver
L.A. driver
L.A. driver
L.A. driver
L.A. driver
L.A. driver
L.A. projectionist
L.A. craft service
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stunt woman
Stunt woman
Stunt woman
Stunt woman
Stunt woman
Stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
[Col by]
SOURCES
SONGS
"The Villain," music and lyrics by Buddy Cannon, Bob Younts and Billy Williams, performed by Mel Tillis
"Handsome Stranger," music and lyrics by Jimmy Darrell and Joe Smartt, performed by Mel Tillis
"Charmin'," music and lyrics by Buddy Cannon, Kenny Starr, Bob Younts and Jimmy Darrell, performed by Mel Tillis.
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 July 1979
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 20 July 1979
Los Angeles opening: 3 August 1979
Production Date:
16 October -- early December 1978 in Arizona
Copyright Claimant:
The Villain Company
Copyright Date:
17 September 1979
Copyright Number:
PA44982
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
89
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

A tough, but blundering outlaw named Cactus Jack Slade arrives in the Western town of Snakes End and attempts to rob the local bank. His explosives destroy the building, but fail to crack the safe. When Jack’s stubborn horse, Whiskey, refuses to help him escape, the bandit is caught and thrown in jail. Elsewhere, silver mine owner, Parody Jones, sends his attractive daughter, Charming, to Snakes End to collect a large cash loan from the bank. To ensure her safe return, Parody sends a telegram to Handsome Stranger, a strong, kind-hearted young cowboy, requesting he escort Charming back home. When Handsome greets Charming at the Snakes End train station, she is captivated by the muscular cowboy, yet the simpleminded Handsome appears oblivious to her flirtation. Meanwhile, the crooked owner of the bank, Avery Simpson, visits Jack in jail and offers to arrange for his release, plus $500 payment, if Jack will rob Charming. Avery explains that his bank has agreed to lend money to Parody, who put up his silver mine as collateral. If the cash never reaches the prospector, Simpson can keep the money and take control of the mine. Jack agrees to help with the swindle and receives a $20 advance, which he immediately spends at the saloon. Later, Simpson finds Jack in a hotel room, fast asleep and surrounded by liquor bottles, and warns that him that Charming has a new burly travel companion to guard the money. Jack assures Simpson that he can handle the situation. The next morning, Handsome accompanies Charming to the bank where they collect the money. ... +


A tough, but blundering outlaw named Cactus Jack Slade arrives in the Western town of Snakes End and attempts to rob the local bank. His explosives destroy the building, but fail to crack the safe. When Jack’s stubborn horse, Whiskey, refuses to help him escape, the bandit is caught and thrown in jail. Elsewhere, silver mine owner, Parody Jones, sends his attractive daughter, Charming, to Snakes End to collect a large cash loan from the bank. To ensure her safe return, Parody sends a telegram to Handsome Stranger, a strong, kind-hearted young cowboy, requesting he escort Charming back home. When Handsome greets Charming at the Snakes End train station, she is captivated by the muscular cowboy, yet the simpleminded Handsome appears oblivious to her flirtation. Meanwhile, the crooked owner of the bank, Avery Simpson, visits Jack in jail and offers to arrange for his release, plus $500 payment, if Jack will rob Charming. Avery explains that his bank has agreed to lend money to Parody, who put up his silver mine as collateral. If the cash never reaches the prospector, Simpson can keep the money and take control of the mine. Jack agrees to help with the swindle and receives a $20 advance, which he immediately spends at the saloon. Later, Simpson finds Jack in a hotel room, fast asleep and surrounded by liquor bottles, and warns that him that Charming has a new burly travel companion to guard the money. Jack assures Simpson that he can handle the situation. The next morning, Handsome accompanies Charming to the bank where they collect the money. They proceed out of town in Handsome’s wagon, while Jack saddles Whiskey and follows. Relying on his Badmen of the West handbook, Jack tries numerous schemes to detain the wagon, but the traps all backfire. At the request of Simpson, Native American chief Nervous Elk and his tribe shadow Jack, in case the bandit tries to abscond with the money. Meanwhile, Handsome and Charming continue on their journey, unsuspecting of the plot against them. At an overnight camp by a river, Charming attempts to seduce her escort, but she is disappointed when the naive youngster remains impervious to temptation. As Jack pursues the pair through “Indian County,” he throws away the outlaw handbook in frustration and approaches Nervous Elk about forming an alliance. Although Nervous Elk risks betraying the banker, the chief is more tempted by the money and agrees to help Jack capture the wagon. At their next overnight campsite, Charming is frightened by the sound of Native American drums nearby, but Handsome assures her that the Indians will not attempt to strike until dawn. Meanwhile, Jack disguises himself as a member of Elk’s tribe and prepares to lead the charge on Handsome’s camp. Most of Indians, however, prove to be inept horsemen and fumble during the early morning attack. As Handsome and Charming flee, they are almost caught by Elk and his deputy, Mashing Finger, but as soon as the pursuit reaches the Indian County border, the Native Americans retreat. In a final scheme to obtain the money and ravish the alluring Charming, Jack arrives at the Jones ranch ahead of the wagon. After searching the premises and finding no one home, he discovers several barrels of blasting powder. He sets an explosive trap, then waits for the two to arrive. When Handsome and Charming reach the house, the slow-witted cowboy notices the blasting powder, but nonetheless, accidently drops a match. Instead of threatening the house, however, the spark ignites a trail of powder leading back to the barn where Jack and Whiskey are hiding. Thanks to his shrewd horse, Jack narrowly escapes the blast. Aiming his guns, Jack confronts Handsome and Charming as they leave the house. Handsome prepares to fight, but Charming instructs him to hold his fire. She is more intrigued than scared by the rugged outlaw and questions him about his intentions. Determining that Jack and his villainous ways are a more attractive option than the do-gooder, Handsome, she switches sides and kisses the outlaw, who is overjoyed by the conquest. +

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

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