Clay Pigeon (1971)

R | 92-93 or 97 mins | Drama | August 1971

Directors:

Tom Stern, Lane Slate

Producer:

Tom Stern

Cinematographer:

Alan Stensvold

Editor:

Danford Greene

Production Designer:

Ned Parsons

Production Company:

Tracom Productions
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HISTORY

The title on the viewed print, a DVD release, was Trip to Kill . The film ends as the wounded and bloodied "Joe Ryan" swears at federal agent "Frank Redford" as Redford assures him that he will be "all right." Joe then strikes a pose emulating Christ on the crucifix. Over Joe's image, the offscreen explosion of a grenade is heard; whether Joe lives or dies in unclear. According to an Aug 1969 HR news item, Buddy Ruskin, who wrote the film’s story and screenplay with Jack Gross, Jr., was originally to develop the film for Acquarian Productions owned by songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. Tracom Productions, the company that provided the financing for Clay Pigeon , was an independent production company owned by Tom Stern, the film’s producer, co-director and star.
       According to a Jan 1971 DV article, Stern, who wrote, starred in and produced the 1969 American International Pictures film Hell’s Angels ’69 (see below), used the deferred profits he earned on that picture to finance Clay Pigeon . In exchange for Tracom providing the financing for Clay Pigeon , Stern signed a deal granting M-G-M distribution rights to the film, with M-G-M to receive 35% of the distributor’s gross for the first $1,000,000 in receipts, after which Tracom would split the receipts 50-50 for the U.S. and Canada. Under the deal, M-G-M would pay for the prints and advertising, and Tracom would retain the distribution rights for the rest of the world.
       The DV article noted that a "spectacular" car chase stunt featured in the film ... More Less

The title on the viewed print, a DVD release, was Trip to Kill . The film ends as the wounded and bloodied "Joe Ryan" swears at federal agent "Frank Redford" as Redford assures him that he will be "all right." Joe then strikes a pose emulating Christ on the crucifix. Over Joe's image, the offscreen explosion of a grenade is heard; whether Joe lives or dies in unclear. According to an Aug 1969 HR news item, Buddy Ruskin, who wrote the film’s story and screenplay with Jack Gross, Jr., was originally to develop the film for Acquarian Productions owned by songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. Tracom Productions, the company that provided the financing for Clay Pigeon , was an independent production company owned by Tom Stern, the film’s producer, co-director and star.
       According to a Jan 1971 DV article, Stern, who wrote, starred in and produced the 1969 American International Pictures film Hell’s Angels ’69 (see below), used the deferred profits he earned on that picture to finance Clay Pigeon . In exchange for Tracom providing the financing for Clay Pigeon , Stern signed a deal granting M-G-M distribution rights to the film, with M-G-M to receive 35% of the distributor’s gross for the first $1,000,000 in receipts, after which Tracom would split the receipts 50-50 for the U.S. and Canada. Under the deal, M-G-M would pay for the prints and advertising, and Tracom would retain the distribution rights for the rest of the world.
       The DV article noted that a "spectacular" car chase stunt featured in the film helped secure the M-G-M deal. Tracom arranged to defer the salaries of its staff as well as those of actors Telly Savalas, Robert Vaughn and Burgess Meredith, thus giving the company enough cash to hire Peter Lawford for a cameo role. Although the film began with Lane Slate as the director, as noted in Var review, Stern took over direction from Slate. Clay Pigeon was the only film directed by Stern, who shared an onscreen direction credit with Slate.
       According to Filmfacts , location filming was done in Los Angeles and Palm Springs, CA. Although publicity information located in the film’s production files at the AMPAS Library noted that Susan Forrest was to play "Lisa," Forrest’s appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Clay Pigeon marked the first and only film appearance of Marilyn Akin. A modern source adds Robert Jon Carlson to the cast.
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
6 Jan 1971
p. 1, 8.
Filmfacts
1972
pp. 113-14.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 1969.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Dec 1970
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jul 1971.
---
Los Angeles Times
4 Dec 1971.
---
New York Times
2 Mar 1972.
---
San Francisco Chronicle
17 Sep 1971.
---
Variety
21 Jul 1971
p. 24.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus coord
SOUND
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod asst
Prod asst
Car tech adv
Casting dir
Scr supv
Accountant
Prod's asst
Prod secy
STAND INS
Action scenes coord
Action scenes coord
SOURCES
SONGS
"I Could Be Singing" and "Gabriel's Mother's Highway Ballad # 16 Blues," words and music by Arlo Guthrie, courtesy Warner Bros. Records
"Law Is for Protection of the People," words and music by Kris Kristofferson, courtesy Monument Records
"Angeline," words and music by Buzz Clifford, courtesy Dot Records
+
SONGS
"I Could Be Singing" and "Gabriel's Mother's Highway Ballad # 16 Blues," words and music by Arlo Guthrie, courtesy Warner Bros. Records
"Law Is for Protection of the People," words and music by Kris Kristofferson, courtesy Monument Records
"Angeline," words and music by Buzz Clifford, courtesy Dot Records
"Ain't Gwine Whistle Dixie (Anymo')," words and music by Taj Mahal, courtesy Columbia Records
"Turned In," Listen to Me Mother" and "Mary Please Forgive Me," words and music by Bobby Jameson
"Sing Your Sadness," "Ba Ka Da" and "Nuances," words and music by Kathe Green.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Trip to Kill
Release Date:
August 1971
Production Date:
early November--early December 1970
Copyright Claimant:
Tracom Productions
Copyright Date:
29 July 1971
Copyright Number:
LP40889
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Metrocolor
Duration(in mins):
92-93 or 97
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
22924
SYNOPSIS

After falling on an enemy grenade in Vietnam, Joe Ryan is awarded the Silver Star, even though the weapon failed to explode. Returning home to Los Angeles, Joe, who feels he is living on “borrowed time,” grows his hair long, smokes marijuana and becomes a hippie. One day, on Hollywood Blvd., Joe encounters a police officer abusing some teenagers and playfully steals the officer’s motorcycle. Jailed for misconduct, Joe attracts the attention of Frank Redford, a ruthless agent from the Washington offices of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who, impressed by the fact that Joe won a Silver Star, tries to convince him to help trap Tallin, a syndicate drug lord operating out of Los Angeles, who uses the alias of Henry Neilson. Joe refuses to become a “clay pigeon,” arguing that narcotics dealers avoid prosecution by bribing politicians, while marijuana smokers are prosecuted to the letter of the law. Undeterred, Redford defies the orders of the police captain to leave Joe alone and decides to use him to flush out the drug dealer. Redford arranges for Joe’s release, then notifies the press that Neilson escaped after being arrested and hands them a picture of Joe, claiming that he is Neilson. Joe sees the story while staying with an addicted youth named Tracy at a commune operated by teenage runaways. When Neilson spots the article, he sends his two henchmen, Simon and Jason, to catch the imposter. The thugs visit Joe’s friend, eccentric sculptor Freedom Lovelace, demanding information about Joe’s whereabouts, and when Freedom refuses to cooperate, they break his arms and beat him mercilessly. Tracking Tracy to the ... +


After falling on an enemy grenade in Vietnam, Joe Ryan is awarded the Silver Star, even though the weapon failed to explode. Returning home to Los Angeles, Joe, who feels he is living on “borrowed time,” grows his hair long, smokes marijuana and becomes a hippie. One day, on Hollywood Blvd., Joe encounters a police officer abusing some teenagers and playfully steals the officer’s motorcycle. Jailed for misconduct, Joe attracts the attention of Frank Redford, a ruthless agent from the Washington offices of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who, impressed by the fact that Joe won a Silver Star, tries to convince him to help trap Tallin, a syndicate drug lord operating out of Los Angeles, who uses the alias of Henry Neilson. Joe refuses to become a “clay pigeon,” arguing that narcotics dealers avoid prosecution by bribing politicians, while marijuana smokers are prosecuted to the letter of the law. Undeterred, Redford defies the orders of the police captain to leave Joe alone and decides to use him to flush out the drug dealer. Redford arranges for Joe’s release, then notifies the press that Neilson escaped after being arrested and hands them a picture of Joe, claiming that he is Neilson. Joe sees the story while staying with an addicted youth named Tracy at a commune operated by teenage runaways. When Neilson spots the article, he sends his two henchmen, Simon and Jason, to catch the imposter. The thugs visit Joe’s friend, eccentric sculptor Freedom Lovelace, demanding information about Joe’s whereabouts, and when Freedom refuses to cooperate, they break his arms and beat him mercilessly. Tracking Tracy to the commune, Neilson and his thugs demand to know where Joe is hiding, and when she refuses to help them, they give her a lethal dose of heroin. Returning to the commune after the thugs have gone, Joe witnesses Tracy’s excruciating death and, enraged, tracks down Redford and thrashes him for his treachery. Simon, Jason and Neilson next visit Joe’s friend Saddle, a black drug addict, who, under torture, reveals that Joe is hiding in a deserted old mansion in the Hollywood Hills. They then proceed to the mansion, where Joe is in bed with his girl friend Angeline. Bursting into the bedroom, the thugs kill Angie and wound Joe, who escapes through a window and flees to the Hollywood Bowl. With the thugs in pursuit, Joe runs backstage and grabs an axe with which he impales Jason. Grabbing Jason’s shotgun, Joe shoots Simon and Neilson. The blast from the shell sends Neilson flying into the pool in front of the stage. Joe jumps in after him and, as Joe thrashes Neilson, Redford and the police arrive and pull Joe out of the water. Still defiant, the bloody Joe denounces Redford. +

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.