A Gunfight (1971)

GP | 89-90 or 94 mins | Western | June 1971

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HISTORY

Although there is a copyright statement on the film, the film was not registered for copyright. According to a Feb 1970 HR news item, A Gunfight was originally slated to be filmed in Spain. A Mar 1970 DV article announced that Ronald Lubin and Harold Jack Bloom's Harvest Productions, in conjunction with Kirk Douglas' Bryna Productions, would receive $2 million in financing from the Jicarilla Apache tribe for A Gunfight , keeping production in the United States, rather than abroad. The article indicated that the tribe had oil, natural gas and timber on its land and other diverse financial interests, and the business deal with film producers had received the approval of the U. S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. The piece stated that a European consortium of Dimitri de Grunwald and Alberto Caraco had originally offered to finance the production in Spain, and was offering $1.7 million for distribution rights in Europe. Joel Productions, which is listed onscreen, along with Harvest and Thoroughbred, was a Bryna subsidiary named after Douglas' son Joel.
       Lubin hoped to use as many Apaches as possible on the film crew, as no Native Americans appear in the film about two veteran gunfighters squaring off in the film's climax, set in a bullring. An Apr 1970 DV article noted that A Gunfight had been banned by the Mexican Film Bureau from Mexican territory on the "basis it would present a false image of Mexico and the Mexican people." There is no information that the production intended to shoot any part of the film in Mexico. A ... More Less

Although there is a copyright statement on the film, the film was not registered for copyright. According to a Feb 1970 HR news item, A Gunfight was originally slated to be filmed in Spain. A Mar 1970 DV article announced that Ronald Lubin and Harold Jack Bloom's Harvest Productions, in conjunction with Kirk Douglas' Bryna Productions, would receive $2 million in financing from the Jicarilla Apache tribe for A Gunfight , keeping production in the United States, rather than abroad. The article indicated that the tribe had oil, natural gas and timber on its land and other diverse financial interests, and the business deal with film producers had received the approval of the U. S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. The piece stated that a European consortium of Dimitri de Grunwald and Alberto Caraco had originally offered to finance the production in Spain, and was offering $1.7 million for distribution rights in Europe. Joel Productions, which is listed onscreen, along with Harvest and Thoroughbred, was a Bryna subsidiary named after Douglas' son Joel.
       Lubin hoped to use as many Apaches as possible on the film crew, as no Native Americans appear in the film about two veteran gunfighters squaring off in the film's climax, set in a bullring. An Apr 1970 DV article noted that A Gunfight had been banned by the Mexican Film Bureau from Mexican territory on the "basis it would present a false image of Mexico and the Mexican people." There is no information that the production intended to shoot any part of the film in Mexico. A May 1971 HR item noted that a special screening of A Gunfight would take place in Albuquerque, NM for the leaders of the Jicarilla Apache tribal leaders. A Gunfight marked the feature film debut of Eric Douglas (1958--2004), another son of Kirk Douglas, and of Keith Carradine, son of long-time character actor John Carradine. A Gunfight was shot on location in New Mexico. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
27 Jan 1970.
---
Daily Variety
27 Mar 1970
pp. 1, 21.
Daily Variety
20 Apr 1970.
---
Filmfacts
1971
pp. 463-66.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Feb 1970.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 1970.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 May 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 May 1971
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
14 Jul 1971.
---
New York Times
26 Aug 1971.
---
Saturday Review
12 Jun 1971.
---
Variety
26 May 1970.
---
Variety
26 May 1971
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr supv
SOURCES
SONGS
"A Gunfight," composed and sung by Johnny Cash.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
June 1971
Production Date:
began June 1970
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
89-90 or 94
MPAA Rating:
GP
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After a rattlesnake bites his horse, gunfighter-turned-prospector Abe Cross rides into a small Western town seeking help. The townspeople are immediately curious about the newcomer and when Abe goes to the bank to cash in his prospecting gold, his name quickly circulates. Having overheard that Abe is a well-known former gunfighter, young Bud Tenneray rushes home to tell his parents, Will and Nora, all about the new arrival, unaware that Will was also a gunslinger for many years. Meanwhile, at the general store, deputy marshal Tom Cater questions Abe, but when the marshal mentions Will, Abe assures him he has no interest in breaking the peace. That afternoon, Will walks to work at the Riata Palace Saloon where he is a bouncer, and saloon owner Marv Green tells him of the town’s mounting excitement over the inevitable meeting between the gunfighters. Will feigns indifference, but expresses interest in any financial reward if the prospect of the meeting will bring more patrons to the Riata. When Abe arrives at the saloon, he is immediately introduced to Will and as the men shake hands the spectators burst into cheers. Over drinks, Will and Abe grow acquainted, joking that the town’s continued speculation about them is so high they should sell tickets for a contest between them. Later, Abe shows interest in Jenny, a young saloon hostess, and the two spend the night together. The next day, Abe finds his horse ailing and shoots it to spare the animal further suffering. Refusing to sell the horse’s carcass for meat, Abe instead leases a wagon to transport the body out of ... +


After a rattlesnake bites his horse, gunfighter-turned-prospector Abe Cross rides into a small Western town seeking help. The townspeople are immediately curious about the newcomer and when Abe goes to the bank to cash in his prospecting gold, his name quickly circulates. Having overheard that Abe is a well-known former gunfighter, young Bud Tenneray rushes home to tell his parents, Will and Nora, all about the new arrival, unaware that Will was also a gunslinger for many years. Meanwhile, at the general store, deputy marshal Tom Cater questions Abe, but when the marshal mentions Will, Abe assures him he has no interest in breaking the peace. That afternoon, Will walks to work at the Riata Palace Saloon where he is a bouncer, and saloon owner Marv Green tells him of the town’s mounting excitement over the inevitable meeting between the gunfighters. Will feigns indifference, but expresses interest in any financial reward if the prospect of the meeting will bring more patrons to the Riata. When Abe arrives at the saloon, he is immediately introduced to Will and as the men shake hands the spectators burst into cheers. Over drinks, Will and Abe grow acquainted, joking that the town’s continued speculation about them is so high they should sell tickets for a contest between them. Later, Abe shows interest in Jenny, a young saloon hostess, and the two spend the night together. The next day, Abe finds his horse ailing and shoots it to spare the animal further suffering. Refusing to sell the horse’s carcass for meat, Abe instead leases a wagon to transport the body out of town to bury it. Will rides out after Abe and expresses envy at Abe’s unfettered lifestyle, but Abe says Will is fortunate to have a family and steady job. After Will disparages his miserly salary at the saloon where he admits he is little more than a sideshow oddity, Abe confesses that before prospecting he spent a period of time doing trick shooting with a wild-west show. Will then excitedly suggests that they act on Abe’s earlier jest about selling tickets to watch the two in a gunfight, pointing out that the winner would get all the money as the loser would be dead. Abe is stunned, then angered by Will’s brazenness, and returns to town. Unable to afford a new horse with his remaining prospecting money, Abe looks for work around town but the general store owner, Franco Alvarez, tells him that only ranchers are hiring. When Abe admits he knows nothing about ranching, Alvarez advises him to do what he knows. Resigned, Abe spots Will walking down the street and calls out an agreement to a gunfight for money. The pair then make arrangements with Alvarez, who also works as a bullfight promoter, to stage the fight in the town’s bullring on the following Sunday. Returning to his hotel room, Abe finds Jenny waiting and asks her about Will’s wife, Nora. Jenny reveals that Will and Nora have been reunited for only one year after spending several years separated. Struggling to support Bud on her own, Nora spent three years working for Alvarez, prompting speculation that she had become his mistress. Meanwhile, at the Tennerays’, Nora is dismayed to learn from Will of the gunfight and attempts to dissuade him. Will remarks bitterly about Alvarez’s apparent enthusiasm for arranging the fight, then reflects that the money will give them the opportunity to purchase a ranch and make a new start. When Nora accuses him of actually craving a return to his gunfighting fame, Will slaps her and departs. The next day, Nora visits Alvarez to express her disappointment at his involvement with the gunfight and declares that she will not return to him in the event of Will’s death. Over the next two days, wagers on the gunfight are made all over town and Abe negotiates for a new horse, to be paid off after the contest. El Paso Herald reporter Ed Fleury arrives on the afternoon stage, but Abe and Will refuse to pose for pictures or give interviews unless they are paid. Fleury agrees, and after he stages pictures with the men in the middle of town, a young cowboy confronts Will and Abe and challenges either of them to a gunfight so that he might also have a shot at the large pot of money. When Cater attempts to intervene, the young cowboy shoots him in the shoulder. As Abe helps carry the injured deputy away, Will decides to take up the young cowboy’s challenge and quickly kills him as Bud watches in awe. A troubled Nora later argues with Will about leaving Bud a legacy of violence, but Will protests that gunfighting is the only thing he knows and insists he will survive and gain Bud’s respect. Unknown to Will, Nora asks the recovering Cater to submit Will’s name as his replacement, but that night the town counsel rejects the proposition, expressing uncertainty about Will’s attitude toward the law. On the eve of the gunfight, Abe loses at gambling, but assures the winner he will be paid the next day. When Abe departs the Riata, Nora makes a feeble attempt to shoot him, but he is uninjured. Jenny rushes out to Abe and admits she is worried for him, but he tells her there is no way he can lose. The next day, the entire town, except Nora and Bud, attends the contest at the bullring. Will and Abe face each other as the stadium grows quiet and, with abrupt speed, the contest is over as Abe kills Will. The crowd is stunned and departs in silence. Abe pays off the horse and his gambling debts and invites Jenny to visit him in San Francisco, but she tells him he will never reach the city as his fame from the gunfight will provoke young gunslingers to pursue him. As Abe prepares to depart he sees Nora and Bud getting on the stage. Nora gazes at Abe, realizing that even had Will won the wager, he would not have settled down but sought new conflicts. Wearily accepting his own limited future, Abe rides out of town. +

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

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