The Wild Pack (1972)

R | 99 or 102 mins | Drama | August 1972

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HISTORY

The viewed print was missing approximately ten minutes. At the film's premiere at the 1971 Moscow International Film Festival, it was titled The Sandpit Generals , but was re-titled The Wild Pack by distributor American International Pictures (AIP) when it was released in the U.S. According to a Jun 1972 Box news item, the title was changed to The Wild Pack because AIP felt it “would be a more effective and explanatory title.” According to Var news items, in 1984, it was re-titled as The Defiant , which was the title of the viewed print, when video distributor Arista Films acquired the picture.
       Hall Bartlett’s onscreen credit reads: “Directed, written and produced by.” Although the onscreen credits contain a copyright statement for “Hall Bartlett Productions and Hall Bartlett Personally,” the film is not included in copyright records. The film ends with a still photograph of “Bullet” leading his comrades in a demonstration at the governor’s palace as a single gunshot rings out. The ending cast credits feature the actors’ names superimposed over brief footage of them from the picture. The rest of the ending credits appear over scenes of Bullet wandering the beach.
       The film is faithful to Jorge Amado’s (1912—2001) bestselling, episodic novel, although in the book, Father Jose Pedro is not excommunicated. Instead, he is given a parish in an outlying village run by violent rebels, whom officials hope the priest can tame, given his experience with the youthful gang. In the book, the boys are known as the Captains of the Sands. The novel was the ... More Less

The viewed print was missing approximately ten minutes. At the film's premiere at the 1971 Moscow International Film Festival, it was titled The Sandpit Generals , but was re-titled The Wild Pack by distributor American International Pictures (AIP) when it was released in the U.S. According to a Jun 1972 Box news item, the title was changed to The Wild Pack because AIP felt it “would be a more effective and explanatory title.” According to Var news items, in 1984, it was re-titled as The Defiant , which was the title of the viewed print, when video distributor Arista Films acquired the picture.
       Hall Bartlett’s onscreen credit reads: “Directed, written and produced by.” Although the onscreen credits contain a copyright statement for “Hall Bartlett Productions and Hall Bartlett Personally,” the film is not included in copyright records. The film ends with a still photograph of “Bullet” leading his comrades in a demonstration at the governor’s palace as a single gunshot rings out. The ending cast credits feature the actors’ names superimposed over brief footage of them from the picture. The rest of the ending credits appear over scenes of Bullet wandering the beach.
       The film is faithful to Jorge Amado’s (1912—2001) bestselling, episodic novel, although in the book, Father Jose Pedro is not excommunicated. Instead, he is given a parish in an outlying village run by violent rebels, whom officials hope the priest can tame, given his experience with the youthful gang. In the book, the boys are known as the Captains of the Sands. The novel was the sixth and final entry in what Amado called “The Bahian Novels,” about the daily lives of the different peoples of his native Bahia.
       The Var review reported that, according to studio publicity, producer-director-writer Bartlett “first latched on the idea [of filming Amado’s novel] when in 1959 he watched hundreds of hungry children, wild dogs and buzzards fiercely competing for garbage in the slums of Bahia.” An Aug 1971 Var news item noted that Bartlett bought the rights to Amado’s novel in 1961, and quoted him as stating that the reason it took him so long to film it was because he “did not want to commit [himself] to a major studio…which may bring about the distortion of the main idea.” Although a 5 Aug 1968 DV news item reported that Burton Wohl co-wrote the screenplay with Bartlett, Wohl is not credited onscreen or in reviews.
       In an undated but contemporary LAHExam article contained in the film's clippings file at the AMPAS Library, columnist James Bacon reported that Bartlett spent $971,000 of his own money on the lengthy production. The picture was shot entirely on location in Bahia, Brazil and employed many native, nonprofessional actors, including numerous homeless boys from real street gangs. According to the picture’s pressbook, the bulk of the boys’ salaries were paid “in the form of a post-production trust fund” to insure their continued presence.
       The film won the grand prize at the 1971 Moscow International Film Festival but received only a limited release in the U.S. in 1972. According to Army Archerd’s 11 Sep 1973 column in DV , after the success of Bartlett’s 1973 film Jonathan Livingston Seagull (see above), Bartlett hoped to re-release The Wild Pack to wider acclaim. Bartlett asserted that AIP, which gave the film “a blood-and-guts-action campaign” that he disliked, never released the picture in major cities. Bartlett withdrew the film from distribution after the Dec 1972 death of James H. Nicholson, who co-founded AIP with Samuel Z. Arkoff. In Nov 1973, Bartlett was still seeking another distributor, according to DV .
       Star Kent Lane, who made his screen-acting debut in Bartlett’s 1969 film Changes (see above), was the son of actress Rhonda Fleming, Bartlett’s former wife. Also included in the cast were popular Brazilian musicians, poets and folk singers such as Dorival Caymmi, Eliana Pittman and Guilherme Lamounier, all of whom made their feature film debuts in The Wild Pack . Among the youthful actors making their screen debuts in the picture were Juarez Santalvo, Freddie Gedeon, Ademir da Silva, Peter Nielsen and Mark De Vries.
       On 26 Jul 1972, Var reported that Glenn W. Turner had filed suit against Bartlett and Fleming, as well as Bartlett’s production company, alleging that he had invested $325,000 in the picture “in the belief that it was to be a religious film.” Charging that “some parts [of the film] were profane,” Turner demanded the return of his investment as well as $500,000 in damages. At that point, the film had not yet been released in the United States. The outcome of the suit has not been determined. Another suit was filed against Bartlett in Nov 1973, according to a DV news item, by publicists George Thomas and Bert Ford. The pair alleged that although they had agreed to work on a deferred payment basis, Bartlett had promised them a $15,000 bonus if the picture won any major awards, yet did not pay them after its win at the Moscow festival. The disposition of that suit has also not been determined. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
9 Aug 1971.
---
Box Office
26 Jun 1972.
---
Box Office
31 Jul 1972.
---
Daily Variety
5 Aug 1968.
---
Daily Variety
26 Sep 1969.
---
Daily Variety
2 Aug 1972.
---
Daily Variety
11 Sep 1973.
---
Daily Variety
23 Nov 1973.
---
Filmfacts
1972
pp. 197-98.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jun 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 1972.
---
New York Times
23 Feb 1969.
---
Variety
4 Aug 1971.
---
Variety
17 Apr 1972.
---
Variety
26 Jul 1972.
---
Variety
2 Aug 1972
p. 18, 24.
Variety
19 Sep 1984
p. 35.
Variety
24 Oct 1984.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT

PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Head gaffer
Head grip
Asst head grip
Asst grip
ART DIRECTORS
Tech dir
Paintings and drawings
FILM EDITORS
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus supv, arr and cond
SOUND
Asst sd
Asst sd
Sd ed
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Asst prod mgr
Creative consultant
Asst to prod
Prod coord
Prod supv
Exec secy
Accounting
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Capitães de areia by Jorge Amado (Rio de Janeiro, 1937.)
AUTHOR
MUSIC
Special instrumentals by Companhia Brasileira de Discos.
SONGS
"When I See a Star," music by Dorival Caymmi, lyrics by Louis Oliveira, sung by Tisha Sterling
"When the Sun Comes Shining Through," music and lyrics by Guilherme Lamounier, sung by Tisha Sterling
"Dora," music by Dorival Caymmi, lyrics by Louis Oliveira
+
SONGS
"When I See a Star," music by Dorival Caymmi, lyrics by Louis Oliveira, sung by Tisha Sterling
"When the Sun Comes Shining Through," music and lyrics by Guilherme Lamounier, sung by Tisha Sterling
"Dora," music by Dorival Caymmi, lyrics by Louis Oliveira
"Sing with Me," music and lyrics by Guilherme Lamounier
special music sung by The Girls from Bahia and Oscar Castro Neves.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Sandpit Generals
The Defiant
Release Date:
August 1972
Premiere Information:
World premiere at Moscow International Film Festival: 23 July 1971
Production Date:
began 26 September 1969 in Bahia, Brazil
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
99 or 102
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In the waterfront district of Bahia, Brazil, a gang of orphaned boys known as the Sandpit Generals lives in a deserted warehouse on the beach and begs or steals whatever they need. The streetwise boys, who are a mixture of races and ages, are approached one day by Father Jose Pedro, an earnest priest who has found their hideout. Although the boys, especially the violent Dry Turn, mistrust authority figures, their teenage leader, Bullet, declares that the priest can stay the night while they decide his fate. Father Jose Pedro eventually gains the trust of the boys, who, despite their lonely and dangerous existence, love the freedom of the streets. Some of them are fueled by hatred caused by past mistreatment, including No Legs, a handicapped youth who was beaten by policemen, while others long for a better life, such as Lollypop, who feels called to become a priest. After the Generals commit a daring robbery of a wealthy residence, they are declared a major menace by the police, who determine to capture them immediately. One afternoon, dock worker João de Adão tells Bullet about his dead father, a strike leader. Although Bullet is pleased that his father struggled for an important cause, he dismisses João de Adão’s concerns for his safety, as well as his offer of a job on the docks, because of his loyalty to the other boys. One night, Father Jose Pedro tries to treat the boys to a ride on a carousel, but Dry Turn and No Legs are already working at the amusement park ride and after closing, give the others free rides and a ... +


In the waterfront district of Bahia, Brazil, a gang of orphaned boys known as the Sandpit Generals lives in a deserted warehouse on the beach and begs or steals whatever they need. The streetwise boys, who are a mixture of races and ages, are approached one day by Father Jose Pedro, an earnest priest who has found their hideout. Although the boys, especially the violent Dry Turn, mistrust authority figures, their teenage leader, Bullet, declares that the priest can stay the night while they decide his fate. Father Jose Pedro eventually gains the trust of the boys, who, despite their lonely and dangerous existence, love the freedom of the streets. Some of them are fueled by hatred caused by past mistreatment, including No Legs, a handicapped youth who was beaten by policemen, while others long for a better life, such as Lollypop, who feels called to become a priest. After the Generals commit a daring robbery of a wealthy residence, they are declared a major menace by the police, who determine to capture them immediately. One afternoon, dock worker João de Adão tells Bullet about his dead father, a strike leader. Although Bullet is pleased that his father struggled for an important cause, he dismisses João de Adão’s concerns for his safety, as well as his offer of a job on the docks, because of his loyalty to the other boys. One night, Father Jose Pedro tries to treat the boys to a ride on a carousel, but Dry Turn and No Legs are already working at the amusement park ride and after closing, give the others free rides and a brief, joy-filled respite from their hard lives. Soon after, Professor and Big João, two of the older Generals, find an orphaned, teenage girl feeding her young brother the dregs of discarded soda bottles. Impressed by the girl’s spirit and beauty, Professor and Big João take her and her brother to the warehouse, despite the rule that no women are allowed into the Generals’ lair. Dry Turn menaces the girl, Dora, but Bullet decides that she can stay and, to enforce his ruling, engages in a bloody fight with Dry Turn. Despite the boys’ initial wariness of Dora, she charms them by cleaning and cooking, and many of the boys, starved for affection, come to regard Dora as a “little mother” and sister, except for Bullet, who is attracted to her. One day, Bullet engages No Legs in a scam they have performed many times, in which the lame boy appeals to wealthy matrons who take him in. No Legs then “cases” their homes and helps the gang to rob them. Bullet instructs No Legs that the new target is a woman whose son Augusto died a year earlier, and that he should therefore give his name as Augusto to gain her sympathy. No Legs finagles entrance to the mansion and the soft-hearted resident, Doña Ester, is fooled by his phony tears. Soon, however, No Legs is won over by the lady’s generosity and kindness, and stalls in providing the gang with information, although Bullet constantly badgers him. Torn between his desire for a real home and his loyalty to his friends, No Legs breaks down in tears and is comforted by Doña Ester, who promises that she is now his mother. Although No Legs replies that he will never forget her, he betrays the matron by sneaking in the Generals to loot the house. As they are leaving, Doña Ester drives up and sees No Legs, who cries out in anguish that his name is not Augusto. That night, Bullet attempts to console No Legs by saying that Doña Ester will take him back, but the crying child turns away. Later, Bullet and Dora spend the day watching Professor draw and speculate what it would be like if he could gain entrance to an art school. Soon after, the Generals discover that Ezequiel, a rival gang leader, has offered to inform on them to the police. Determined to stop him, the Generals prepare for battle and during the ensuing attack, Bullet stabs Ezequiel to death in self-defense. As the days pass, Bullet and Dora spend more time together and, with her brother, become a family. The police have learned about Dora, however, and assume that she is a weak point they can exploit. Wanted posters for Bullet appear everywhere, and when Bullet and Dora ask Father Jose Pedro to marry them, he upbraids Bullet for being careless by going out in public. The priest pleads with the couple to wait, as they are too young to marry, and when he offers to smuggle Bullet out of the area, the angry youth retorts that he cannot leave the other Generals. Soon after, young gang member Almiro is stricken with smallpox. Some of the boys want to throw him out to prevent contagion, but Dora levels a pistol at them and insists that they wait for Bullet’s instructions. Upon Bullet’s return, Father Jose Pedro asks him to send Almiro to the hospital, but Bullet refuses, as few poor people ever return alive. Bullet then instructs Almiro to return to his grandfather, where he will be safe until the priest can bring a doctor who will “keep his mouth shut,” as doctors are required to report cases of smallpox so that the victims can be hospitalized. Although he is reluctant, Father Jose Pedro agrees, then recalls a recent meeting with the Chancellor of the parish: The Chancellor chides Father Jose Pedro for his dealings with the Generals, and when the priest insists that Jesus would want him to care for the hungry, alienated children rather than isolate himself in a church filled with gold and rich food, the Chancellor informs him that he will be excommunicated for his rebellion. In order to obtain medicine for Almiro, the Generals ransack a ship, but during the robbery, Big João falls to his death from a crane. When the boys conduct a traditional voodoo funeral for their comrade, the police raid the ceremony and capture Bullet and Dora. While Dora is taken to an orphanage, Bullet is sent to the reformatory, where the brutal commissioner beats him and orders him thrown into the “hole,” a tiny cell dug into the ground. With no water or food, exposed to the elements and unable to lie down, Bullet suffers terribly. Although he is freed from the hole eventually, Bullet refuses to reveal the gang’s hiding place and is sent to the fields to work. After the gang sneaks him some rope and a knife, he escapes, but when he and the other boys free Dora, they find that she has fallen ill from smallpox. Bullet and Dora spend one last night together on the beach, consummating their relationship, and the next morning, Dora dies. The anguished Bullet leads the funeral procession and, according to custom, slips Dora’s body into the sea. Soon after, Bullet, following in his father’s footsteps, leads the boys in a demonstration at the governor’s palace. +

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

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