Posse (1975)

PG | 94 mins | Western | 5 June 1975

Director:

Kirk Douglas

Cinematographer:

Fred Koenekamp

Editor:

John W. Wheeler

Production Designer:

Lyle Wheeler

Production Company:

The Bryna Company
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HISTORY

According to the 23 May 1973 Var, Posse was included as a deal “in principal” with Paramount Pictures’ acquisition of distribution rights to Scalawag (1973, see entry), produced by actor-director Kirk Douglas and his wife, Anne Douglas. Paramount agreed to supply $1 million for the film’s $2-million budget if the producers raised the other million.        Though the 6 Jun 1973 LAT and 15 Jun 1973 HR list Anne Douglas as a producer for Posse, her name does not appear onscreen.
       Documents on file at the AMPAS library stated that the film was based on a 1967 story treatment by Larry Cohen and a 1971 unpublished short story, titled “The Train,” by Robert Perham.
       The 16 Aug 1974 DV and 11 Oct 1974 HR gave conflicting start dates for principal photography in Tucson, AZ, as 23 Sep 1974 and 12 Oct 1974, respectively. The 9 Dec 1974 Box claimed the film started 23 Sep 1974 and ended in early Dec 1974.
       Posse was actor Jim Stacy’s first theatrical film performance since losing his left arm and left leg in an Oct 1973 motorcycle accident, the 26 Aug 1974 LAT reported. Although Kirk Douglas announced to the 23 May 1975 HR that Posse would be his last Western, he starred in several subsequent Westerns, including The Villain (1979, see entry).
       The 1 Jun 1975 LAT reported that the American Humane Association condemned Posse and two other films for tripping horses. A 1967 revision of a ... More Less

According to the 23 May 1973 Var, Posse was included as a deal “in principal” with Paramount Pictures’ acquisition of distribution rights to Scalawag (1973, see entry), produced by actor-director Kirk Douglas and his wife, Anne Douglas. Paramount agreed to supply $1 million for the film’s $2-million budget if the producers raised the other million.        Though the 6 Jun 1973 LAT and 15 Jun 1973 HR list Anne Douglas as a producer for Posse, her name does not appear onscreen.
       Documents on file at the AMPAS library stated that the film was based on a 1967 story treatment by Larry Cohen and a 1971 unpublished short story, titled “The Train,” by Robert Perham.
       The 16 Aug 1974 DV and 11 Oct 1974 HR gave conflicting start dates for principal photography in Tucson, AZ, as 23 Sep 1974 and 12 Oct 1974, respectively. The 9 Dec 1974 Box claimed the film started 23 Sep 1974 and ended in early Dec 1974.
       Posse was actor Jim Stacy’s first theatrical film performance since losing his left arm and left leg in an Oct 1973 motorcycle accident, the 26 Aug 1974 LAT reported. Although Kirk Douglas announced to the 23 May 1975 HR that Posse would be his last Western, he starred in several subsequent Westerns, including The Villain (1979, see entry).
       The 1 Jun 1975 LAT reported that the American Humane Association condemned Posse and two other films for tripping horses. A 1967 revision of a 1940 Motion Picture Association of America resolution warned that “excessive cruelty to animals shall not be portrayed and animals shall not be treated inhumanely.”
       The headline for the review of Posse in the 11 Jun 1975 LAHExam summed up what many critics commented about the film’s “amorality,” “healthy skepticism toward politicians,” and lack of a clear “good guy”: “Post-Watergate Western.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
9 Dec 1974.
---
Daily Variety
16 Aug 1974
p. 7.
Daily Variety
10 Oct 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Oct 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Oct 1974
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Oct 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 1974
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
23 May 1975
p. 4.
LAHExam
11 Jun 1975.
---
Los Angeles Times
6 Jun 1973
Section H, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
26 Aug 1974
Section E, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
1 Jun 1975
Section T, p. 28.
Los Angeles Times
11 Jun 1975
Section IV, p. 16.
New York Times
5 Jun 1975
p. 48.
Variety
23 May 1973.
---
Variety
28 May 1975
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Bryna Company Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
Still photog
Cam op
Cam op
Asst cam
Asst cam
Gaffer
Best boy
Key grip
Best boy
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Lead man
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Head painter
Asst painter
Greensman
COSTUMES
Ward supv
Ward asst
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus ed
SOUND
Prod mixer
Sd eff ed
Re-rec mixer
Boom man
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title by
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Make-up artist
Hairstylist
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Post-prod supv
Asst to the prod
Prod services furnished by
Scr supv
Transportation capt
Wrangler-ramrod
Medical man
Craft services
Prod auditor
Prod secy
Unit pub
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on a 1967 story treatment by Larry Cohen and an unpublished 1971 short story, "The Train," by Robert Perham.
DETAILS
Release Date:
5 June 1975
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 5 June 1975
Los Angeles opening: 11 June 1975
Production Date:
23 September -- early December 1974, in and around Tucson, AZ
Copyright Claimant:
Zeeuwse Maatschappij, N.V.
Copyright Date:
28 April 1975
Copyright Number:
LP44543
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor®
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
94
Length(in feet):
8,335
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24235
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

U.S. Marshal Howard Nightingale leads a well-trained posse of six men: John Wesley, John Lake, Krag, McCanless, Rains, and Reyno. He is also running for U.S. Senate. By bribing Pensteman, a member of Jack Strawhorn’s train robbery gang, to betray his companions, Nightingale and his men surround a barn where the outlaws are sleeping, set it afire, and kill every outlaw except Strawhorn, who shoots John Lake and steals his horse. Escaping to Tesota, Texas, Strawhorn kills Penstemen, and also murders the town sheriff, Buwalda, when the lawman attempts to arrest him. After Strawhorn leaves town, Nightingale’s personal train arrives, equipped with a passenger car and a large boxcar that contains a horse stables, boxes of dynamite, a printing press for making political and wanted posters, and a dark room for Nightingale’s personal photographer, Wiley. A ramp on the boxcar drops to the ground, allowing Nightingale and his men to ride their horses off the train, and the townspeople greet them as heroes. Meanwhile, in the nearby hills, Strawhorn joins Pepe, an outlaw he paid to assemble a new gang. He sets up an ambush for Nightingale at a mining camp, but when the posse arrives, Strawhorn’s gunmen fire too soon, and the professional man-hunters kill everyone except Strawhorn, who is captured and paraded back to Tesota. Wiley takes a photograph of Nightingale with his handcuffed quarry in front of the courthouse, then Strawhorn is locked in the county jail. He tells the marshal he no longer has the $40,000 his gang stole from the Texas and Arizona Railroad because the posse’s fire at the barn destroyed it. That night, during the town’s celebration of Strawhorn’s capture, Nightingale makes ... +


U.S. Marshal Howard Nightingale leads a well-trained posse of six men: John Wesley, John Lake, Krag, McCanless, Rains, and Reyno. He is also running for U.S. Senate. By bribing Pensteman, a member of Jack Strawhorn’s train robbery gang, to betray his companions, Nightingale and his men surround a barn where the outlaws are sleeping, set it afire, and kill every outlaw except Strawhorn, who shoots John Lake and steals his horse. Escaping to Tesota, Texas, Strawhorn kills Penstemen, and also murders the town sheriff, Buwalda, when the lawman attempts to arrest him. After Strawhorn leaves town, Nightingale’s personal train arrives, equipped with a passenger car and a large boxcar that contains a horse stables, boxes of dynamite, a printing press for making political and wanted posters, and a dark room for Nightingale’s personal photographer, Wiley. A ramp on the boxcar drops to the ground, allowing Nightingale and his men to ride their horses off the train, and the townspeople greet them as heroes. Meanwhile, in the nearby hills, Strawhorn joins Pepe, an outlaw he paid to assemble a new gang. He sets up an ambush for Nightingale at a mining camp, but when the posse arrives, Strawhorn’s gunmen fire too soon, and the professional man-hunters kill everyone except Strawhorn, who is captured and paraded back to Tesota. Wiley takes a photograph of Nightingale with his handcuffed quarry in front of the courthouse, then Strawhorn is locked in the county jail. He tells the marshal he no longer has the $40,000 his gang stole from the Texas and Arizona Railroad because the posse’s fire at the barn destroyed it. That night, during the town’s celebration of Strawhorn’s capture, Nightingale makes a lengthy political speech about the importance of law and order. The only Tesota resident unimpressed with him is Hellman, a one-armed, one-legged newspaper editor who thinks the marshal is too ambitious and too beholden to the Texas and Arizona Railroad, which supplies his personal train. During Nightingale’s lengthy speech, John Wesley makes love to Mrs. Katharine Cooper, the unfaithful wife of the local café owner, and deputies McCanless and Rains lure two young women into the train’s sleeping quarters. The various merchants watch with pity as Mr. Cooper abides the disappearance of his wife, and two of them, fathers of the girls, seethe with an anger they are too afraid to express. That night, Nightingale occupies the “presidential suite” of Tesota’s best hotel, run by Mrs. Ross. Though Mrs. Ross tries to seduce Nightingale, he fends off her attentions. Meanwhile, the disgruntled Wesley warns the other deputies that as soon as Nightingale becomes senator, he will abandon them. The next morning, aware of the disgruntlement, the marshal assures his men they will be hired by the railroad, but their jobs will pay less than their current wages. Nightingale locks Strawhorn in a cell built in his boxcar stable, and the train leaves for Austin, the Texas capital. Setting straw on fire to distract John Wesley, Strawhorn grabs his keys, and escapes by leaping on horseback from the moving train. Moments later, Nightingale stops the train and leads his posse after him, but Strawhorn doubles back and climbs into the locomotive. As Nightingale leaps into the cab after him, Strawhorn takes the marshal prisoner and handcuffs him. He puts the train in reverse and returns to Tesota, as the fire he set to escape spreads to the entire boxcar and touches off the posse’s dynamite. In Tesota, as the town’s firefighters put out the flames, Strawhorn carries Nightingale over his shoulder to the hotel and orders the presidential suite. When the posse arrives, Strawhorn instructs John Wesley to come to the hotel room, unarmed. Aiming a pistol at Nightingale’s head, he gives the posse ten minutes to replace the $40,000 it destroyed in the barn fire. Wesley and the others rob Tesota’s merchants, beat the ones who resist, and raise $30,000, which Strawhorn accepts as “close enough.” He returns the money to Wesley and tells him to distribute it evenly among the other posse members. When Mr. Cooper, the cuckolded café owner, goes after them with a gun, they shoot him dead. Strawhorn climbs on Nightingale’s horse and asks the posse members to join him. All but Krag accept the offer and ride out of town, leaving Hellman the key to unlock Nightingale’s handcuffs. The marshal and Krag stand alone, as the townspeople turn their backs and disappear into their homes. +

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

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