The Bears and I (1974)

G | 89 mins | Adventure | October 1974

Director:

Bernard McEveety

Writer:

John Whedon

Producer:

Winston Hibler

Cinematographer:

Ted D. Landon

Production Designers:

John Mansbridge, LeRoy G. Deane

Production Company:

Walt Disney Productions
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HISTORY

As noted in the Box review on 30 Sep 1974, the film was a combination of both fictional and non-fictional elements from Robert Franklin Leslie’s book The Bears and I (1968). It was shot in the forests of British Columbia.
       HR production charts on 27 Jul 1973 report that shooting began 9 Jul 1973. An Aug 1973 edition of Disney News stated that Lake Chilko, BC, was the primary location for photography. Over one hundred miles away from the nearest town, the lake was reportedly only accessible by dirt road or hydroplane.
       Although only four individuals are credited for photography, the Var review on 16 Oct 1974 points out that a total of eight cinematographers worked on the film over a two-year period to capture the aging of the bear cubs. Their names are not specified.
       Actor Patrick Wayne, who stars in the role of “Bob Leslie,” is the son of actor John ... More Less

As noted in the Box review on 30 Sep 1974, the film was a combination of both fictional and non-fictional elements from Robert Franklin Leslie’s book The Bears and I (1968). It was shot in the forests of British Columbia.
       HR production charts on 27 Jul 1973 report that shooting began 9 Jul 1973. An Aug 1973 edition of Disney News stated that Lake Chilko, BC, was the primary location for photography. Over one hundred miles away from the nearest town, the lake was reportedly only accessible by dirt road or hydroplane.
       Although only four individuals are credited for photography, the Var review on 16 Oct 1974 points out that a total of eight cinematographers worked on the film over a two-year period to capture the aging of the bear cubs. Their names are not specified.
       Actor Patrick Wayne, who stars in the role of “Bob Leslie,” is the son of actor John Wayne.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
30 Sep 1974
p. 4725.
Daily Variety
11 Oct 1974
p. 3, 19.
Disney News
Aug 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jul 1973
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Sep 1973
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Oct 1974
p. 8, 17.
Los Angeles Times
8 Nov 1974.
---
New York Times
17 Jul 1975
p. 21.
Variety
16 Oct 1974
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit mgr/Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Narration wrt by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Photog, For Rio-Verde Productions, Ltd.
Photog, For Rio-Verde Productions, Ltd.
Photog, For Rio-Verde Productions, Ltd.
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
MUSIC
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Loc mgr
Key Canadian crew, For Rio-Verde Productions, Ltd.
Key Canadian crew, For Rio-Verde Productions, Ltd.
Key Canadian crew, For Rio-Verde Productions, Ltd.
Key Canadian crew, For Rio-Verde Productions, Ltd.
Key Canadian crew, For Rio-Verde Productions, Ltd.
Animal supv, For Rio-Verde Productions, Ltd.
Animal supv, For Rio-Verde Productions, Ltd.
Animal supv, For Rio-Verde Productions, Ltd.
Field prod, For Rio-Verde Productions, Ltd.
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Bears and I by Robert Franklin Leslie (New York, 1968).
SONGS
"Sweet Surrender," composed and performed by John Denver.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
October 1974
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: week of 8 October 1974
New York opening: 16 July 1975
Production Date:
9 July--early September 1993 in British Columbia
Copyright Claimant:
Walt Disney Productions
Copyright Date:
30 June 1974
Copyright Number:
LP43779
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
89
MPAA Rating:
G
Countries:
Canada, United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Vietnam veteran Bob Leslie hikes through the Whitebird Wilderness reserve on a quest to find Chief Peter A-Tas-Ka-Nay, the father of his friend and fellow soldier, Larch, who was killed in action. At Oliver Red Fern’s general store, Bob asks for the chief, but the men suspect him of being a “government man” and are uncooperative. When Bob explains that he was Larch’s friend, the chief calls him to his table. Expressing his condolences, Bob gives the chief his son’s belongings. Bob rents a cabin and a canoe. As he restores his new home, Bob observes a mother bear with three cubs. The chief visits Bob, bringing him Larch’s tools, and Bob gives the old man a photograph of his son. Some time later, Bob hears gunshots and discovers that Sam Eagle Speaker and his hunter friends have killed the mother bear. Bob decides to care for the cubs and names them Scratch, Patch and Rusty. Pleased with having a family for the first time in his life, Bob embraces his new role as a mother bear and teaches the cubs to survive in the wild. When the young bears raid his food, Bob returns to Oliver’s store and the cubs are attacked by dogs. With the bears safely hiding in a tree, Bob asks Oliver why no one helped him. Oliver says tribal customs uphold the bear as a brother and maintain that it is better for them to be killed than to live in captivity. Although Bob argues that he is only protecting the cubs until they can care for themselves, Sam accuses him ... +


Vietnam veteran Bob Leslie hikes through the Whitebird Wilderness reserve on a quest to find Chief Peter A-Tas-Ka-Nay, the father of his friend and fellow soldier, Larch, who was killed in action. At Oliver Red Fern’s general store, Bob asks for the chief, but the men suspect him of being a “government man” and are uncooperative. When Bob explains that he was Larch’s friend, the chief calls him to his table. Expressing his condolences, Bob gives the chief his son’s belongings. Bob rents a cabin and a canoe. As he restores his new home, Bob observes a mother bear with three cubs. The chief visits Bob, bringing him Larch’s tools, and Bob gives the old man a photograph of his son. Some time later, Bob hears gunshots and discovers that Sam Eagle Speaker and his hunter friends have killed the mother bear. Bob decides to care for the cubs and names them Scratch, Patch and Rusty. Pleased with having a family for the first time in his life, Bob embraces his new role as a mother bear and teaches the cubs to survive in the wild. When the young bears raid his food, Bob returns to Oliver’s store and the cubs are attacked by dogs. With the bears safely hiding in a tree, Bob asks Oliver why no one helped him. Oliver says tribal customs uphold the bear as a brother and maintain that it is better for them to be killed than to live in captivity. Although Bob argues that he is only protecting the cubs until they can care for themselves, Sam accuses him of having financial interests. Sam aims his rifle at the cubs and Bob fights him until the chief orders them separated. The chief tells Bob that his interference in the bears’ lives has violated the authority of the Great Spirit. He orders Bob to set the cubs free because their captivity will bring a curse on his people, but Bob secretly continues to care for them. Some time later, a seaplane from the National Department of Parks and Recreation lands at Bob’s dock. John McCarten and Commissioner Gaines explain that they are turning the reservation into a national park. The tribe must be relocated, but the elders refuse to negotiate. Commissioner Gaines asks Bob to act as a middleman, but Bob tells them he is not perceived favorably by the tribe, either. As Bob follows the men back to their plane, the chief watches from his boat. Later, when Bob orders natural history textbooks from Oliver’s store, the chief returns the photograph of Larch. When winter comes, the bears have doubled in size and Bob puts them in a nearby root cellar to hibernate. Oliver pays Bob a surprise visit to deliver the textbooks and Larch’s snowshoes, a gift from the chief. He tells Bob that the tribe realized he was not a government man when they saw him braving the winter climate. Bob asks why the tribe will not negotiate about the park and Oliver reminds him that his people have always been slighted by the white man. Bob immerses himself in the study of nature. When spring comes, he finds the bears are able to survive independently, but he is unconvinced that they can defend themselves until they fight off a cougar. Although the bears live on their own, they visit Bob when the chief and Oliver arrive with a letter from the park service, announcing construction at the tribal settlement. The chief concludes that Bob’s bears brought conflict to his people, but Bob argues that it is the tribe’s responsibility to negotiate with the government. Some time later, park officials arrive to begin demolition of the settlement but the tribe refuses to leave the land. Construction proceeds, but the tribal members retaliate and John calls the Commissioner for backup. Bob warns the chief that the confrontation may lead to violence. Meanwhile, Sam advocates an uprising and attacks Bob. When Bob returns to his camp, Sam shoots Patch and sets the cabin on fire. Across the lake, tribesmen and the park construction crew see smoke and race to put out the flames. Oliver helps Bob bring Patch to the temporary settlement. Working together, the tribesmen and the construction crew control the fire, but Patch’s condition worsens. Bob implores the chief for help, but he says that the bear’s fate is in the hands of the Great Spirit. Bob argues that the incident was caused by Sam, not the Great Spirit. Referring to the hard lessons he learned on the battleground, Bob says that both he and Larch gained respect for life and that his friend would be helping him save Patch if he was still alive. The chief takes the bear to his tee-pee and treats the wound, but he obliges Bob to set Patch free if he survives. Patch refuses to eat and the chief announces that the bear wants to die, but when Bob hand-feeds him, Patch takes the offering and soon recovers. When the Commissioner arrives, he contends that the land is government property, but the chief says his people would rather die than move and the elders head to a sacred site to fast. Although Bob tries to find a solution, John and the Commissioner say the only way for the tribe to remain on the reservation is if they become rangers. Bob pursues the elders and tells the chief that Larch believed that change was inevitable, but the chief refuses to break with tradition. Later, Bob reunites Patch with his siblings and the next morning he is greeted by the chief and Oliver. The chief tells Bob that as he fasted, he had a vision of a rainbow over the lake and knew the land would be restored to them. He proudly shows Bob his deputy ranger badge and says that the tribesmen will now earn an income for being caretakers of the forest. As the chief attributes the success to Bob’s release of the bears, Patch lumbers toward them. Although Bob demands the bear to go away, Patch swims after them and tries to crawl into the boat. The chief orders Bob to beat the bear with a rope to break their bond. When he does, Patch cries and returns to shore. Although it pains Bob to show cruelty to his loved one, he realizes it is for the best. He vows to pursue his study of nature and to work for the forestry service so that he might one day be able to see the bears again. +

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

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