Fleshburn (1984)

R | 90 mins | Drama | 25 May 1984

Director:

George Gage

Producer:

Beth Gage

Cinematographer:

Bill Pecchi

Editor:

Sonya Sones

Production Companies:

Amritrage Productions, Fear Productions
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HISTORY

The film opens with a written prologue: “In 1975, Calvin Duggai deliberately abandoned five men to die in the desert because of an argument involving tribal rivalry and the powers of Indian witchcraft. Four psychiatrists testified that Duggai was not capable of distinguishing right from wrong and recommended he be institutionalized.”
       End credits include the following acknowledgments: “The producers wish to thank the following individuals and organizations for their help and cooperation in the making of this film: Stan Shapiro; Patty Moder; Susan Castano; Linda Gross; Max Fogel; Emery Sekaquaptewa; Bill Lewis and the U.S.D.A. Forest Service.” End credits also state: “This film was filmed entirely on location in and around Tucson, Arizona.”
       As noted in a 9 Jul 1981 LAT article, executive producer Ashok Amritraj and his brother, associate producer Vijay Amritraj, were professional tennis players. Ashok focused on the film industry upon retirement in 1980, while Vijay was occasionally involved in film projects as an actor or producer, while remaining one of the top players on the circuit. According to a 21 Jun 1983 HR article, the brothers’ company, Amritraj Productions, was the sole financier of the $3-million Fleshburn, which was titled Fear in a Handful of Dust during production.
       A 22 Apr 1983 NYT article revealed that actor Sonny Landham shared several traits with his character, “Calvin Duggai,” including being a Vietnam War veteran, part Native-American, and a former lawbreaker. A 3 Feb 1982 DV brief stated that actor Robert Ginty would star, but his name does appear in onscreen credits and his participation could not be confirmed.
       ... More Less

The film opens with a written prologue: “In 1975, Calvin Duggai deliberately abandoned five men to die in the desert because of an argument involving tribal rivalry and the powers of Indian witchcraft. Four psychiatrists testified that Duggai was not capable of distinguishing right from wrong and recommended he be institutionalized.”
       End credits include the following acknowledgments: “The producers wish to thank the following individuals and organizations for their help and cooperation in the making of this film: Stan Shapiro; Patty Moder; Susan Castano; Linda Gross; Max Fogel; Emery Sekaquaptewa; Bill Lewis and the U.S.D.A. Forest Service.” End credits also state: “This film was filmed entirely on location in and around Tucson, Arizona.”
       As noted in a 9 Jul 1981 LAT article, executive producer Ashok Amritraj and his brother, associate producer Vijay Amritraj, were professional tennis players. Ashok focused on the film industry upon retirement in 1980, while Vijay was occasionally involved in film projects as an actor or producer, while remaining one of the top players on the circuit. According to a 21 Jun 1983 HR article, the brothers’ company, Amritraj Productions, was the sole financier of the $3-million Fleshburn, which was titled Fear in a Handful of Dust during production.
       A 22 Apr 1983 NYT article revealed that actor Sonny Landham shared several traits with his character, “Calvin Duggai,” including being a Vietnam War veteran, part Native-American, and a former lawbreaker. A 3 Feb 1982 DV brief stated that actor Robert Ginty would star, but his name does appear in onscreen credits and his participation could not be confirmed.
       According to a 29 Apr 1983 HR item, principal photography began 25 Apr 1983 in Tucson, AZ, and was scheduled for five weeks.
       A 6 Mar 1984 HR article announced that Crown International had acquired domestic distribution rights, while Hemdale Films would manage overseas sales. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
3 Feb 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Apr 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Mar 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jun 1984
p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
9 Jul 1981
Section E, p. 5, 8.
Los Angeles Times
19 Sep 1984
Section I, p. 4.
New York Times
22 Apr 1983
Section C, p. 10.
New York Times
26 May 1984
p. 13.
Variety
30 May 1984
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Amritraj Productions Presents
A George Gage Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr/1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Co-exec prod
WRITERS
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Best boy
Key grip
FILM EDITORS
Ed consultant
Asst ed
Ed apprentice
Negative cutting
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
COSTUMES
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus supv
Addl mus by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd boom
Rerec sd mixer
Sd services
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles by
MAKEUP
Make-up/Hair
Make-up asst
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Tech adv
Bird trainer
Animal trainer
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Asst to the prod
Prod secy
Loc auditor
Prod asst
Tuscon casting
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Fear in a Handful of Dust by Brian Garfield (New York, 1978).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Fear in a Handful of Dust
Release Date:
25 May 1984
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 25 May 1984
Los Angeles opening: 14 September 1984
Production Date:
began 25 April 1983
Copyright Claimant:
Fear Productions
Copyright Date:
16 April 1984
Copyright Number:
PA221553
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
90
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27211
SYNOPSIS

In 1975, during a dispute with a rival tribe, Native-American and Vietnam War veteran, Calvin Duggai, left five men to perish in the desert. On the recommendation of four psychiatrists, who testified during his criminal trial, Duggai was committed to the State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Arizona. The mental health professionals determined he was incapable of differentiating right from wrong. Several years later, Duggai escapes from the sanitarium and hitchhikes a ride from a friendly man named Jim Brody, who is on his way home from a hunting trip. Although Duggai initially appears harmless, he suddenly holds a knife to Brody’s throat and forces him out of the vehicle. Hearing voices from his time in Vietnam urging him to kill the enemy, Duggai shoots Brody dead, leaves him on the side of the road, and steals his truck. Next, the revengeful Duggai kidnaps the four psychiatrists who had him institutionalized: husband and wife Jay and Shirley Pinter, Sam MacKenzie, and Earl Dana. Bound and gagged in the back of the truck, the hostages are driven along a deserted highway. Sometime late at night, Duggai arrives at a destination in the Arizona desert. As he drags the hostages from the truck, he deliberately breaks Earl Dana’s leg. Duggai informs the foursome they will suffer in retaliation for his torture at the mental hospital, and leaves them in the desert to die. Stranded with no provisions, the psychiatrists are also left without shoes. As soon as Duggai drives away, Shirley Pinter wants to search for the way out, but Sam MacKenzie, who recently left psychiatry ... +


In 1975, during a dispute with a rival tribe, Native-American and Vietnam War veteran, Calvin Duggai, left five men to perish in the desert. On the recommendation of four psychiatrists, who testified during his criminal trial, Duggai was committed to the State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Arizona. The mental health professionals determined he was incapable of differentiating right from wrong. Several years later, Duggai escapes from the sanitarium and hitchhikes a ride from a friendly man named Jim Brody, who is on his way home from a hunting trip. Although Duggai initially appears harmless, he suddenly holds a knife to Brody’s throat and forces him out of the vehicle. Hearing voices from his time in Vietnam urging him to kill the enemy, Duggai shoots Brody dead, leaves him on the side of the road, and steals his truck. Next, the revengeful Duggai kidnaps the four psychiatrists who had him institutionalized: husband and wife Jay and Shirley Pinter, Sam MacKenzie, and Earl Dana. Bound and gagged in the back of the truck, the hostages are driven along a deserted highway. Sometime late at night, Duggai arrives at a destination in the Arizona desert. As he drags the hostages from the truck, he deliberately breaks Earl Dana’s leg. Duggai informs the foursome they will suffer in retaliation for his torture at the mental hospital, and leaves them in the desert to die. Stranded with no provisions, the psychiatrists are also left without shoes. As soon as Duggai drives away, Shirley Pinter wants to search for the way out, but Sam MacKenzie, who recently left psychiatry and became a forest ranger, reminds her they will not get far barefooted in a desert at night with a companion who cannot walk. As the most resourceful outdoorsman of the foursome, Sam suggests they first concentrate on digging trenches before the sun rises, which will help cool them from the extreme desert heat. The psychiatrists privately recollect their interactions with Duggai and their recommendations for the patient. Prior to the kidnapping, Sam and Jay were already having doubts about their abilities as psychiatrists. Elsewhere in the desert, Duggai remains in close proximity to the hostages and relies on Indian rituals to conjure spells against them. In the morning, after the trenches are complete, the psychiatrists recall their knowledge of first aid to brace Earl’s leg. Sam creates a makeshift knife from found metal fragments and cuts open a cactus for the group to eat. Although the others are discouraged about their chances, Sam is confident they will survive. The group senses Duggai lurking nearby, ready to curtail any progress they make. As Jay becomes more impatient and wants to start walking, Sam reminds him they need to hone their survival skills before venturing out. He devises a plastic covering that can be used to collect moisture for drinking and makes a trap to catch rabbits. The group attempts to signal a small aircraft, but their screams and waves go unnoticed. Earl Dana, a homosexual who admits he has never been religious before, now finds comfort in God, which further aggravates Jay, who is already on edge. Shirley compares their situation to being mice in a maze with no exit. While resting in his trench, Sam recalls his wife’s suicide and being unable to save her. Later, Duggai trains a hawk to attack Sam. The others fend off the bird, but not before the animal lacerates Sam’s back. That night, Sam remains in his trench shaking as infection consumes his body. Delirious, he remembers Duggai accusing him of betrayal during a consultation session at the hospital, and Sam murmurs to himself that he thought he was helping the patient. When Sam recovers from the fever after three days, Shirley informs him that Jay set out to find salt to help alleviate Earl’s leg cramps, but has not returned. While Earl seems resigned to dying, Sam tells his former colleague that he must fight, and proposes to make a crutch so Earl can exercise his lame leg. In response, Earl accuses Sam of trying to prove that his willpower is greater than Duggai’s “witchcraft.” Nearby, Duggai observes Sam through the telescopic sight of a hunting rifle. While her husband is away, Shirley relies on Sam for emotional support. He wants to kiss her, but she resists the attraction that has always existed between them. When Sam estimates the nearest highway could be a hundred miles away, Shirley screams at him for letting them remain at the camp, becoming weaker, and unable to walk that far. As Sam tries to calm her, Duggai shoots at them, and Sam pushes Shirley into a trench until Duggai stops firing. Regaining her composure, Shirley suggests Sam search for the highway, while she stays with Earl. Before leaving that night, Sam instructs Shirley and Earl to travel north if he is not back in four days. On the trail, Sam encounters Jay, who has injured his foot, but Jay summons the strength to continue. While searching for the highway, the two men must dodge Duggai, who is tracking their route. At night, Duggai also spies on the camp while Shirley and Earl are sleeping. When Jay and Sam finally spot a road in the distance, Duggai intercepts them. Jay attacks Duggai with Sam’s makeshift knife, but is shot dead. Although Duggai binds Sam to a rock, the former psychiatrist manages to escape, more inspired than ever to outwit the Indian. Arriving at a river, Sam enjoys the fresh water until he sees Duggai bathing nearby. He confiscates Duggai’s rifle from inside the truck, but is unable to shoot the criminal when given the opportunity. As Duggai attempts to grab the rifle, the two men fall into the water and continue fighting. Sam bashes Duggai’s head against a rock and reclaims the gun. While Duggai would rather be shot dead, Sam wants to send him back to the hospital, which represents a worse punishment for the Indian. Sam knocks Duggai unconscious with the butt of the rifle and throws him in the back of the truck. When he returns to the campsite, Earl and Shirley are not there, and Sam worries that Duggai may have harmed them. Recovered from the blow, Duggai only laughs when Sam asks about his friends. Sam drives to search for them, and finally locates Shirley and Earl slowly walking north, ending their ordeal. +

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

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