Starbird and Sweet William (1975)

G | 90 mins | Adventure | June 1975

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HISTORY

End credits are preceded by the following statements: "Filmed on location in the San Bernardino National Forest; Our thanks to the men and women of the Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, for their cooperation; Acknowledgement is also made to the California Department of Fish and Game, (signed) Dick Alexander."
       A news item in the 12 Mar 1973 HR reported that producer Dick Alexander was seeking a young, handsome, and unknown Native American actor to star in his upcoming production, Starbird and Sweet William. However, Alexander is not credited on-screen as a producer. According to the 14 Mar 1973 Var, principal photography was scheduled to begin late Apr 1973.
       On 2 Jun 1975, Box announced the film’s scheduled Jun 1975 opening at twenty locations in the vicinities of Baton Rouge, LA, and Texarkana, TX.
       Cougar Releasing secured domestic distribution rights and planned a Jan 1978 release, according to the 17 Nov 1977 HR. The 19 Dec 1977 HR reported that the film would open in Erie, PA, the following month.
       A review in the 26 Jan 1976 Box described Starbird and Sweet William as a “pleasant motion picture experience for the entire ... More Less

End credits are preceded by the following statements: "Filmed on location in the San Bernardino National Forest; Our thanks to the men and women of the Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, for their cooperation; Acknowledgement is also made to the California Department of Fish and Game, (signed) Dick Alexander."
       A news item in the 12 Mar 1973 HR reported that producer Dick Alexander was seeking a young, handsome, and unknown Native American actor to star in his upcoming production, Starbird and Sweet William. However, Alexander is not credited on-screen as a producer. According to the 14 Mar 1973 Var, principal photography was scheduled to begin late Apr 1973.
       On 2 Jun 1975, Box announced the film’s scheduled Jun 1975 opening at twenty locations in the vicinities of Baton Rouge, LA, and Texarkana, TX.
       Cougar Releasing secured domestic distribution rights and planned a Jan 1978 release, according to the 17 Nov 1977 HR. The 19 Dec 1977 HR reported that the film would open in Erie, PA, the following month.
       A review in the 26 Jan 1976 Box described Starbird and Sweet William as a “pleasant motion picture experience for the entire family.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
2 Jun 1975.
---
Box Office
26 Jan 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Nov 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Dec 1977.
---
Variety
14 Mar 1973.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
American Mutual Productions Presents
A Dick Alexander Film
An American Mutual Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig scr, Orig scr
Narr wrt by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
2d unit photog
Key grip
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
SET DECORATOR
MUSIC
Mus comp and dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Forest Service coord
Animal specialist
Animals by
Trainer
Trainer
Crow by
Acrobatic flying by
Transportation
Craft service
Prod asst
Prod asst
SOURCES
SONGS
"Brother Bear," composed and sung by A Martinez.
PERFORMER
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Adventures of Starbird
Release Date:
June 1975
Premiere Information:
Baton Rouge, LA, and Texarkana, TX, openings: June 1975
Production Date:
late April 1973 in San Bernardino County, CA
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
90
MPAA Rating:
G
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Starbird, a young Native American, panics as the small airplane he is flying develops engine trouble over a forested area. The plane crashes, but Starbird survives. As he regains consciousness, he recalls proposing marriage to his girl friend, Nadene, who refuses him because he seems to have no pride in his heritage. Starbird explains that he wants to choose his own direction in life and asks Nadene to leave the reservation with him, but she refuses. Ramheart, another young member of the tribe, calls Starbird a coward and assaults him, saying that he no longer deserves to be among his people. Starbird also recalls the day he left the reservation, after his grandfather, Chief Elkhorn, expresses his disapproval of the boy’s rebellious nature. With no destination in mind, Starbird hitchhikes along the highway hoping to find work as a mechanic. A passing forest ranger drives Starbird to a nearby airport, where he finds employment repairing airplane engines. One day, a pilot invites Starbird along on a flight and allows the young man to copilot. Having never flown before, Starbird finds the experience exhilarating and soon after attempts an unauthorized solo flight, which results in the plane crash. As Starbird extricates himself from the wreck, he realizes that his left arm is broken and that he is a long way from town. He salvages a hatchet, a box of matches and some food from the plane before abandoning it. Having no choice but to set the broken bone himself, Starbird endures the pain as he braces his arm in the crotch of a small tree, then makes a splint ... +


Starbird, a young Native American, panics as the small airplane he is flying develops engine trouble over a forested area. The plane crashes, but Starbird survives. As he regains consciousness, he recalls proposing marriage to his girl friend, Nadene, who refuses him because he seems to have no pride in his heritage. Starbird explains that he wants to choose his own direction in life and asks Nadene to leave the reservation with him, but she refuses. Ramheart, another young member of the tribe, calls Starbird a coward and assaults him, saying that he no longer deserves to be among his people. Starbird also recalls the day he left the reservation, after his grandfather, Chief Elkhorn, expresses his disapproval of the boy’s rebellious nature. With no destination in mind, Starbird hitchhikes along the highway hoping to find work as a mechanic. A passing forest ranger drives Starbird to a nearby airport, where he finds employment repairing airplane engines. One day, a pilot invites Starbird along on a flight and allows the young man to copilot. Having never flown before, Starbird finds the experience exhilarating and soon after attempts an unauthorized solo flight, which results in the plane crash. As Starbird extricates himself from the wreck, he realizes that his left arm is broken and that he is a long way from town. He salvages a hatchet, a box of matches and some food from the plane before abandoning it. Having no choice but to set the broken bone himself, Starbird endures the pain as he braces his arm in the crotch of a small tree, then makes a splint from twigs and vines. Starbird feels a sudden sense of kinship toward the wildlife in the forest, reminding him of his people’s belief that animals are their brothers. He also remembers his grandfather’s advice to follow the river downstream if he is ever lost in the woods. Using his one good hand, Starbird builds a lean-to from pine branches, as a raccoon and a crow look on. After finishing his task, Starbird shares his food with the animals, which now include an orphaned bear cub. The next morning, Starbird hears the roar of a cougar nearby and makes a spear for protection. He finds the bear cub nibbling on sweet william flowers, inspiring Starbird to name the animal “Sweet William.” Starbird is drawn to a snowcapped mountain in the distance, which his people believe to be the home of the Great Spirit, so he begins his journey toward the sacred place with the raccoon, the bear cub, and the crow as his companions. The cougar reappears, intent on making a meal of the raccoon, but Starbird frightens the animal off with his spear. The group comes upon a stream, where Starbird and Sweet William catch fish to feed themselves and their friends. Afterward, Sweet William leads Starbird and the others up a rocky hillside to a lake, which stands between them and the mountain. Starbird builds a raft and the group crosses the lake in a few short minutes. Upon reaching the opposite shore, Sweet William frolics in the snow, unaware that a pair of poachers with a taste for bear meat are following his movements. A blast of gunfire alerts Starbird and he produces a variety of sounds to distract and mislead the hunters. As night approaches, the frustrated poachers decide to resume the chase the next day. Starbird searches the mountainside for Sweet William, witnessing a mating ritual between a pair of foxes along the way. He finds the bear hiding in a small cave, which becomes their shelter for the night. Inside the cave, with Sweet William and the raccoon helping him to stay warm, Starbird finds peace and contentment as he listens to the howl of a coyote and reflects on his people’s relationship with nature. The poachers return the next morning, positive that Sweet William has moved further up the mountain. Starbird awakes to the sound of his animal friends playing outside the cave, while the poachers set their sights on Sweet William. As the first shot is fired, the crow swoops down and confuses the hunters, while Starbird stands between them and Sweet William. When the poachers threaten to kill Starbird, a fur trapper named Maddie appears and orders them at gunpoint to drop their rifles. She tells Starbird to empty the guns and frisk the poachers for any spare ammunition, before sending them away. Starbird and his friends join Maddie as she and her pack mule make their way down the mountainside. After complimenting Starbird on his “way with critters,” she asks if he is responsible for the plane wreck in the valley. Starbird confesses, explaining that the plane was borrowed, not stolen, although the authorities may disagree. While he admits that trying to fly the plane was a foolish and dangerous mistake, he is glad for the experience of being stranded in the wilderness, because it brought him an understanding of his forefathers’ connection to nature. Maddie advises Starbird to turn himself in to the police. After saying goodbye to his animal friends and Maddie, Starbird raises his arms to the sky and prays for inner peace and courage. +

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

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