The Mountain Men (1980)

R | 100 mins | Western | 12 September 1980

Director:

Richard Lang

Cinematographer:

Michel Hugo

Editor:

Eva Ruggiero

Production Designer:

Bill Kenney

Production Company:

Aspen Productions
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HISTORY

The following acknowledgements appear in the end credits: “Special thanks to the State of Wyoming; Bridger-Teton National Forest; and Shoshone National Forest for permission to use portions of National Forest land in the filming of The Mountain Men.
       An article in the Feb 1981 IP reported that writer Fraser Clarke Heston, the son of actor Charlton Heston, began working on the screenplay after living among Alaskan Eskimos and Native Americans. On the strength of an outline he shared with his longtime friend and producer Martin Shafer, as well as producer Andrew Scheinman, the men sold the concept to executive producer Martin Ransohoff. A 18 Jan 1979 LAT article stated that Fraser researched the script in WY and at libraries. IP reported that Fraser set his story circa 1836, just as U.S. free trappers were hunting beavers to extinction for the lucrative fur trade, and silk hats came into vogue replacing those made with beaver fur. Fraser claimed that nearly all the characters in the story were modeled after real people and labeled the character “Bill Tyler” as “a 19th Century James Bond.”
       The company hired forty-eight college and high-school students as background actors from the Arapahoe, Shoshone-Bannock, and Shoshone nations to portray the Blackfoot, Crow, and Nez Perce tribes. The actors selected resided on the Wyoming, Montana, Lame Deer, Idaho, Fort Washkie, and Fort Hall reservations.
       A 15 Mar 1979 HR brief announced that principal photography on Wind River, the film’s working title, would begin on 1 May 1979. Another brief in the 24 Dec 1979 DV reported that the ... More Less

The following acknowledgements appear in the end credits: “Special thanks to the State of Wyoming; Bridger-Teton National Forest; and Shoshone National Forest for permission to use portions of National Forest land in the filming of The Mountain Men.
       An article in the Feb 1981 IP reported that writer Fraser Clarke Heston, the son of actor Charlton Heston, began working on the screenplay after living among Alaskan Eskimos and Native Americans. On the strength of an outline he shared with his longtime friend and producer Martin Shafer, as well as producer Andrew Scheinman, the men sold the concept to executive producer Martin Ransohoff. A 18 Jan 1979 LAT article stated that Fraser researched the script in WY and at libraries. IP reported that Fraser set his story circa 1836, just as U.S. free trappers were hunting beavers to extinction for the lucrative fur trade, and silk hats came into vogue replacing those made with beaver fur. Fraser claimed that nearly all the characters in the story were modeled after real people and labeled the character “Bill Tyler” as “a 19th Century James Bond.”
       The company hired forty-eight college and high-school students as background actors from the Arapahoe, Shoshone-Bannock, and Shoshone nations to portray the Blackfoot, Crow, and Nez Perce tribes. The actors selected resided on the Wyoming, Montana, Lame Deer, Idaho, Fort Washkie, and Fort Hall reservations.
       A 15 Mar 1979 HR brief announced that principal photography on Wind River, the film’s working title, would begin on 1 May 1979. Another brief in the 24 Dec 1979 DV reported that the movie had gone through two more title changes: Last of the Mountain Men had been switched to The Mountain Man.
       A 20 Jun 1979 DV article stated that the Grand Teton National Park in Jackson Hole, WY, was used for location shooting. IP reported that hairstylists and makeup artists prepared more than 100 stuntmen, background actors, and 300 Native Americans, during the ten days of shooting the rendezvous sequence. Research by Lon Bentley, responsible for Heston’s makeup, and makeup artist Del Armstrong, allowed the men to recreate authentic ceremonial paint on actors and horses. Actors and background actor were also outfitted with hundreds of long, black-haired wigs for their roles as Native Americans. For actor Brian Keith’s scalping scene, a special prosthesis was designed for use in two stages: a section of hair that a Native American warrior could yank away and later, the scarred patch of skin below.
       The picture’s eight-week schedule was completed on Jun 20 1979, according to an issue of DV dated the same day.
       A 1 Feb 1980 DV article stated that the American Humane Association’s Hollywood, CA, office director, Carmelita Pope, sent a letter to Ransohoff, withdrawing the organization’s approval after viewing the yet-to-be released film. Pope charged that scenes in which horses performed somersaults were done without the knowledge of Roy McGowan, the association’s field representative on the set. When Pope consulted individuals that worked closely with horses, she was informed that such a skill could not be accomplished without using a trip wire. Pope requested that McGowan’s name and any references to the association be removed from the final credits due to the dangerous work that went unsupervised by the association. Although the names of McGowan and the AHA do not appear in the end credits, filmmakers ran a statement vouching for the safety of its working animals.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
20 Jun 1979.
---
Daily Variety
24 Dec 1979.
---
Daily Variety
1 Feb 1980.
p. 8.
Daily Variety
23 Jul 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 1980
p. 3.
International Photographer
Feb 1981
pp.8-13, 17-18.
Los Angeles Times
18 Jan 1979.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Sep 1980
p. 10.
Marquee
4 Mar 1980
p. 25-26.
New York Times
13 Sep 1980
p. 14.
Variety
23 Jul 1980
p. 22.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures Presents
A Martin Ransohoff Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d unit asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Still photog
Key grip
2d unit dir of photog
2d unit cam op
2d unit cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Const supv
Set dec
COSTUMES
Men`s cost
Women`s cost
MUSIC
Mus mixer
Mus rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Mr. Heston's makeup
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Extras casting
Unit pub
Transportation coord
Head wrangler
Prod secy
Prod services by
Post prod services by
STAND INS
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt coord
White water stunts coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
[Col by]
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Mountain Man
Last of the Mountain Men
Wind River
Release Date:
12 September 1980
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 12 September 1980
Production Date:
1 May--20 June 1979 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Copyright Claimant:
Polyc International, B.V.
Copyright Date:
24 November 1980
Copyright Number:
PA87623
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
100
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In the 1836 Wyoming wilderness, fur trapper Bill Tyler is annoyed when fellow trapper Henry Frapp fires a shot in the air, causing Bill and his two horses to plunge in a lake. Bill complains that his horse could have been killed, and Henry accuses his friend of losing his zest for life. After discussing the going rate for beaver pelts and the Native American tribes in the area to avoid, the trappers decide to travel together. On their journey, Bill and Henry argue about which tribe, Crow or Blackfoot, intends to steal their horses. Henry also warns Bill that a fur merchant named Fontenelle has been offering trappers low prices. At night, the men hear thieves stealing horses and mules. Since Bill thinks they are outnumbered, he suggests that they go to sleep. In the morning, Bill steals back the horses, but a Native American named Cross Otter, and his men enter the camp and accuse Bill of stealing the horses first. As the men argue whose property has been stolen, the Blackfoot attack and kill a Crow. Later, the trappers and the Crow overpower members of the Blackfoot tribe. However, Bill is almost killed by a Blackfoot woman named Running Moon, and takes her hostage. Elsewhere, a Blackfoot warrior named Heavy Eagle vows to the Blackfoot chief that he will fight the Crow and the white man who has taken his wife, Running Moon. Meanwhile, Running Moon tells Bill that she wants to leave Heavy Eagle because he beats her. Bill is not interested in acquiring another wife, but he lets Running Moon stay. The following morning, she discovers that the trappers have left. The ... +


In the 1836 Wyoming wilderness, fur trapper Bill Tyler is annoyed when fellow trapper Henry Frapp fires a shot in the air, causing Bill and his two horses to plunge in a lake. Bill complains that his horse could have been killed, and Henry accuses his friend of losing his zest for life. After discussing the going rate for beaver pelts and the Native American tribes in the area to avoid, the trappers decide to travel together. On their journey, Bill and Henry argue about which tribe, Crow or Blackfoot, intends to steal their horses. Henry also warns Bill that a fur merchant named Fontenelle has been offering trappers low prices. At night, the men hear thieves stealing horses and mules. Since Bill thinks they are outnumbered, he suggests that they go to sleep. In the morning, Bill steals back the horses, but a Native American named Cross Otter, and his men enter the camp and accuse Bill of stealing the horses first. As the men argue whose property has been stolen, the Blackfoot attack and kill a Crow. Later, the trappers and the Crow overpower members of the Blackfoot tribe. However, Bill is almost killed by a Blackfoot woman named Running Moon, and takes her hostage. Elsewhere, a Blackfoot warrior named Heavy Eagle vows to the Blackfoot chief that he will fight the Crow and the white man who has taken his wife, Running Moon. Meanwhile, Running Moon tells Bill that she wants to leave Heavy Eagle because he beats her. Bill is not interested in acquiring another wife, but he lets Running Moon stay. The following morning, she discovers that the trappers have left. The men ride on to their rendezvous, an open-air trading post on Native American land. There, trappers drink, sing, dance and trade furs. When Fontenelle offers Bill $3 for each beaver skin, Bill is incensed, but learns that hats are now being made out of silk, and there is less demand for beaver. At night, Bill visits an elderly Native American named Iron Belly, who tells him that beaver can be hunted on Wind River Range, land belonging to the Blackfoot. Later, Running Moon finds Bill, throws him in the river, and kicks him in the groin, angry that Bill left her. When she says she has nowhere to go, he agrees to take her trapping. As the men and Running Moon travel to the Wind River Range, Heavy Eagle pursues them. In the evening, the trappers fend off more Blackfoot men, who try to steal horses and mules. Running Moon fears it is a sign from Heavy Eagle, who wants to reclaim her. The next day, Blackfoot men ambush Bill and Henry. Bill escapes, but Heavy Eagle scalps Henry. Back at camp, Bill and Running Moon share their sorrow over Henry’s death. On the trail, Bill and Running Moon make love, and she sews Bill a new shirt made out of animal skins. One day, Heavy Eagle and his men surround Bill and Running Moon by a river. Bill orders her to join Heavy Eagle, but she refuses. Heavy Eagle captures them, and later tells Bill that Running Moon is dead. Bill is given a spear and runs with the Blackfoot in pursuit. When Bill comes to a river, he hides in a beaver’s dam. Later, Heavy Eagle returns and tackles Bill, causing the men to fall in the river and fight as the current carries them downstream. Heavy Eagle saves himself by grabbing onto riverbank rocks, while Bill is swept over the falls. At the Blackfoot village, Running Moon refuses Heavy Eagle’s affection, and he rapes her. Soon, the Blackfoot chief visits, saying that Bill most likely died in the falls. However, Heavy Eagle says he will not rest until Bill’s head is on his spear. Elsewhere, Bill travels by foot, and finds carnage at a Crow village, where Heavy Eagle had captured Medicine Wolf. Later, Medicine Wolf tells Running Moon that if Bill were alive he would travel to the Madison River to be with other trappers. Soon, Bill reunites with Henry, who is not dead after all. Meanwhile, at the Blackfoot village, Running Moon frees Medicine Wolf and orders him to give Bill a message. When he finds Bill, Medicine Wolf says that Running Moon waits for Bill. Then, Medicine Wolf dies in Bill’s arms. Bill keeps the news to himself, although Henry guesses that Running Moon is alive and Bill plans to rescue her. Henry offers his help, but Bill prefers to search alone; however, Henry later joins Bill. The men soon meet two trappers, La Bont and Jim Walker, who have arrived to do some trapping in the Wind River range. Bill tells the men to hunt but stay out of his way. Later, Blackfoot men kill Jim, and La Bont becomes paranoid, thinking Bill murdered Jim and that he will be next. La Bont disappears, but is chased back to camp by the Blackfoot. Bill is ready to fight the men, but La Bont decides to make a horse trade with Heavy Eagle. However, Heavy Eagle attacks the trapper with a hatchet and scalps him. After Heavy Eagle raises La Bont’s bloody scalp victoriously in the air, the Blackfoot retreat. Later, Heavy Eagle and his men stage another attack. This time, Henry is shot by an arrow, and dies in Bill’s arms. In the morning, Bill rides into the Blackfoot village, where he reunites with Running Moon. However, Heavy Eagle, in war paint, and Bill charge on horses toward each other in a final showdown. As they topple to the ground, the fight continues. Heavy Eagle breaks free, but before he can kill Bill, Running Moon shoots him dead with Bill’s rifle. Later, Bill and Running Moon put Henry to rest in an open coffin made from sticks and branches. Afterward, they ride off in search of beaver on the Wind River Range. +

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

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