A Man Called Horse (1970)

GP | 114 mins | Western | 29 April 1970

Director:

Elliot Silverstein

Writer:

Jack DeWitt

Producer:

Sandy Howard

Cinematographer:

Robert Hauser

Production Designer:

Dennis Lynton Clark

Production Companies:

Sandy Howard Productions , Cinema Center Films
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HISTORY

On 5 Aug 1968, DV reported that Richard Harris had landed the leading role in a motion picture adaptation of Dorothy M. Johnson’s short story, “Man Called Horse,” which first appeared in the 7 Jan 1950 issue of Collier’s magazine. Jack DeWitt’s screenplay titled A Man Called Horse was set to be produced by Sandy Howard of Cinema Center Films (CCF). Elliot Silverstein joined the project as director the following week, and the 14 Aug 1968 DV named Gilbert Kurland as production manager on behalf of CCF. Five days later, DV announced that Marion Dougherty would serve as a casting consultant to help fill the remaining roles.
       According to a 1 Nov 1968 DV production chart, principal photography began in Mexico on 21 Oct 1968. Although the story is set in the Sioux territory of the early nineteenth century, a 13 Nov 1968 LAT article revealed that Mexican locations were substituted in an effort to accommodate Harris’s schedule and to avoid the worst part of the winter season in present-day South Dakota. Despite this change, several contemporary sources noted the filmmakers’ efforts to present an “authentic” depiction of Sioux life, including a 3 Nov 1968 LAT piece detailing production designer Denny Lynton Clark’s time researching historical dress and habitats with the modern Native Americans on South Dakota’s Rosebud Indian Reservation. Hundreds of specially designed teepees, costumes, and wigs were sent to the Sierra Mountain region near Durango, while seventy-five members of the Rosebud tribe were flown in to join the cast. In his 30 Apr 1970 review for the NYT, ... More Less

On 5 Aug 1968, DV reported that Richard Harris had landed the leading role in a motion picture adaptation of Dorothy M. Johnson’s short story, “Man Called Horse,” which first appeared in the 7 Jan 1950 issue of Collier’s magazine. Jack DeWitt’s screenplay titled A Man Called Horse was set to be produced by Sandy Howard of Cinema Center Films (CCF). Elliot Silverstein joined the project as director the following week, and the 14 Aug 1968 DV named Gilbert Kurland as production manager on behalf of CCF. Five days later, DV announced that Marion Dougherty would serve as a casting consultant to help fill the remaining roles.
       According to a 1 Nov 1968 DV production chart, principal photography began in Mexico on 21 Oct 1968. Although the story is set in the Sioux territory of the early nineteenth century, a 13 Nov 1968 LAT article revealed that Mexican locations were substituted in an effort to accommodate Harris’s schedule and to avoid the worst part of the winter season in present-day South Dakota. Despite this change, several contemporary sources noted the filmmakers’ efforts to present an “authentic” depiction of Sioux life, including a 3 Nov 1968 LAT piece detailing production designer Denny Lynton Clark’s time researching historical dress and habitats with the modern Native Americans on South Dakota’s Rosebud Indian Reservation. Hundreds of specially designed teepees, costumes, and wigs were sent to the Sierra Mountain region near Durango, while seventy-five members of the Rosebud tribe were flown in to join the cast. In his 30 Apr 1970 review for the NYT, Vincent Canby referred to studio production notes claiming that eighty percent of the dialogue was spoken in Lakotan, presented without subtitles. DV reported that new English-language dialogue was added by John T. Kelley just two days after filming began.
       The “realistic” portrayal of Sioux culture included multiple scenes of torture and nudity, for which Harris refused to use a double. Items in the 21 Nov 1968 and 29 Nov 1968 DV referred to wounds he sustained from being dragged across the ground by a rope, while the 13 Nov 1968 LAT revealed that a $15,000 prosthetic plastic torso was used for the “initiation” scene where “Lord John Morgan” is strung up by the skin of his chest. According to the 4 Dec 1968 LAT, Harris had final approval of the nude footage and distribution of any still photography.
       While the production was still on location, the 14 Jan 1969 DV noted that filmmakers had to shoot around Judith Anderson, who underwent treatment at a Mexico City hospital for eye irritation caused by the brown contact lenses she wore to portray a Native American woman. After eighty-three days in Mexico, the unit returned to the CBS Studio Center in Studio City, CA. A 3 Feb 1969 DV brief marked the beginning of the final ten days of photography. The schedule was slightly prolonged, however, as the 7 Feb 1969 and 12 Feb 1969 Var revealed that both leading actors had been sidelined when Harris fell ill with the flu and Anderson was hospitalized with a back injury. Although filming wrapped in late Feb 1969, the 3 Mar 1969 DV suggested that the delay was sufficient enough to force Harris to drop out of the starring role in a stage production of Hamlet in London, England. The 26 Nov 1969 Var reported a final negative cost “slightly over” $4 million.
       A 25 Mar 1970 Var brief stated that Academy Award-winning stuntman Yakima Canutt contributed to the film’s action sequences.
       On 26 Sep 1969, DV announced that Leonard Rosenman would conduct his score the following month using a forty-five-piece orchestra.
       According to the 22 Apr 1970 DV, the world premiere of A Man Called Horse was scheduled to take place the following day at the West Mall theater in Sioux Falls, SD. Regular engagements began 29 Apr 1970 at the Astor and Orpheum theaters in New York City, and the Loew’s Hollywood Theater in Los Angeles, CA.
       While the filmmakers of A Man Called Horse attempted to aid Hollywood’s recent shift toward more sympathetic Native American characters, the picture sparked mixed reactions from civil rights organizations. Items in the 28 Apr 1970 and 5 May 1970 DV reported that picketers with the American Indian Movement (AIM) protested outside the Lyric Theatre in Minneapolis, MN, calling for a boycott of all ticket sales. However, Sioux historian and technical consultant Clyde D. Dollar defended the film to the 29 Apr 1970 DV and asserted that their depiction was approved by the Rosebud people.
       A 14 Nov 1968 DV article indicated that property master Ernest King and makeup chief Byron Poindexter quit the production and were replaced by CCF amid a dispute regarding living stipends during their time in Mexico. The surname of supervising sound editor Jack Finlay is misspelled in onscreen credits as “Finley.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
5 Aug 1968
p. 1.
Daily Variety
14 Aug 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
19 Aug 1968
p. 4.
Daily Variety
23 Oct 1968
p. 13.
Daily Variety
1 Nov 1968
p. 14.
Daily Variety
14 Nov 1968
p. 17.
Daily Variety
21 Nov 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
29 Nov 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Jan 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
17 Jan 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
3 Feb 1969
p. 28.
Daily Variety
7 Feb 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
7 Feb 1969
p. 39.
Daily Variety
27 Feb 1969
p. 1.
Daily Variety
3 Mar 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
26 Sep 1969
p. 22.
Daily Variety
22 Apr 1970
p. 7.
Daily Variety
28 Apr 1970
p. 2.
Daily Variety
29 Apr 1970
p. 6.
Daily Variety
5 May 1970
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
3 Nov 1968
Section Q, p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
13 Nov 1968
Section G, p. 1, 8.
Los Angeles Times
4 Dec 1968
Section I, p. 23.
Los Angeles Times
18 Apr 1970
Section A, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
28 Apr 1970
Section D, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
30 Apr 1970
Section G, p. 13.
New York Times
30 Apr 1970
p. 41.
Variety
6 Nov 1968
p. 29.
Variety
12 Feb 1969
p. 61.
Variety
26 Feb 1969
p. 5.
Variety
25 Mar 1970
p. 30.
Variety
15 Apr 1970
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2nd unit dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2nd unit cam
Cam op
Asst cam
Asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Cost
MUSIC
Mus supv
Supv mus ed
Mus ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Mr. Harris' makeup
Hairstyles
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Scr supv
Prod asst
Historical adv
Sioux lang cons
Mus & dance cons
Stunt coordinator
Head grip
Head elec
Title & optical production des
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "Man Called Horse" by Dorothy M. Johnson in Collier's (7 Jan 1950).
DETAILS
Release Date:
29 April 1970
Premiere Information:
Sioux Falls, SD world premiere: 23 April 1970
Los Angeles and New York openings: 29 April 1970
Production Date:
21 October 1968--late February 1969
Copyright Claimant:
Sandy Howard Productions
Copyright Date:
27 March 1970
Copyright Number:
LP38188
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
114
MPAA Rating:
GP
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Lord John Morgan, an aristocratic Englishman, is on a hunting expedition in the Dakotas in the early 19th century. The Sioux attack his camp and scalp his companions, but marvelling at Morgan's blonde hair, they capture him and drag him to their camp, where Chief Yellow Hand gives him to an old squaw, Buffalo Cow Head. When he is not being tortured or ridiculed, he serves as a beast of burden for the squaw. Warned by Frenchman Batise, who is also a slave to the Sioux, not to try to escape, Morgan decides to raise his status by learning the Sioux's speech and customs; later, by killing two scouts of a Shoshone war party, he proves himself to the tribe. Morgan and Running Deer, the daughter of Chief Yellow Hand, fall in love, despite Buffalo Cow Head's objections, and wish to marry; Morgan, however, must first endure the torture of the Sun Vow in which he is hung high above the ground by the skin of his chest. After performing this ritual, he and Running Deer are married. Yellow Hand is killed in a Shoshone attack, during which Morgan leads the defense of the Sioux and kills a Shoshone chief. Running Deer, who is pregnant, also dies as a result of wounds from the attack. After agreeing to become Buffalo Cow Head's son to prevent her from becoming an outcast, Morgan is named tribal chief for his bravery, but when the old woman dies, he leaves the Sioux and sadly returns to ... +


Lord John Morgan, an aristocratic Englishman, is on a hunting expedition in the Dakotas in the early 19th century. The Sioux attack his camp and scalp his companions, but marvelling at Morgan's blonde hair, they capture him and drag him to their camp, where Chief Yellow Hand gives him to an old squaw, Buffalo Cow Head. When he is not being tortured or ridiculed, he serves as a beast of burden for the squaw. Warned by Frenchman Batise, who is also a slave to the Sioux, not to try to escape, Morgan decides to raise his status by learning the Sioux's speech and customs; later, by killing two scouts of a Shoshone war party, he proves himself to the tribe. Morgan and Running Deer, the daughter of Chief Yellow Hand, fall in love, despite Buffalo Cow Head's objections, and wish to marry; Morgan, however, must first endure the torture of the Sun Vow in which he is hung high above the ground by the skin of his chest. After performing this ritual, he and Running Deer are married. Yellow Hand is killed in a Shoshone attack, during which Morgan leads the defense of the Sioux and kills a Shoshone chief. Running Deer, who is pregnant, also dies as a result of wounds from the attack. After agreeing to become Buffalo Cow Head's son to prevent her from becoming an outcast, Morgan is named tribal chief for his bravery, but when the old woman dies, he leaves the Sioux and sadly returns to England. +

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

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