Will Penny (1968)

109 mins | Western | 6 March 1968

Director:

Tom Gries

Writer:

Tom Gries

Cinematographer:

Lucien Ballard

Production Designers:

Hal Pereira, Roland Anderson

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

Will Penny was announced in the 13 Oct 1966 DV as an upcoming Paramount Pictures release, set to star Charlton Heston. For the role of “Horace Greeley Allen,” numerous young boys auditioned but filmmakers had a difficult time filling the role. According to a 12 May 1968 LAT article, producer Warren Seltzer took an unexpected interest in writer-director Tom Gries’s son, Jon, on a day when he had accompanied his father to the production office. Although the boy had no acting experience, they decided to perform a screen test with him and he won the part. He is credited onscreen as Jon Francis.
       Principal photography began on 8 Feb 1967 in Bishop, CA, as noted in various contemporary sources including a 10 Feb 1967 DV production chart. Location filming in Bishop entailed, among other things, a blizzard sequence that required six snow machines, according to a 6 Jan 1967 DV brief. Following the completion of location shooting in and around the Bishop area, filming resumed at the Paramount Pictures studio lot in Hollywood, CA. For verisimilitude on an outdoor set built one of the soundstages, Gries obtained permission from the California Department of Agriculture for the removal and transfer of a twenty-ton tree stump from an area outside Bishop. According to a 16 Mar 1967 LAT brief, some frontier sets that had been used on location were donated to the Laws Railroad Museum in Laws, CA, where the buildings were slated to be part of an “early western town to be erected around the museum.”
       After the picture’s release, Gries addressed the experience of working with ... More Less

Will Penny was announced in the 13 Oct 1966 DV as an upcoming Paramount Pictures release, set to star Charlton Heston. For the role of “Horace Greeley Allen,” numerous young boys auditioned but filmmakers had a difficult time filling the role. According to a 12 May 1968 LAT article, producer Warren Seltzer took an unexpected interest in writer-director Tom Gries’s son, Jon, on a day when he had accompanied his father to the production office. Although the boy had no acting experience, they decided to perform a screen test with him and he won the part. He is credited onscreen as Jon Francis.
       Principal photography began on 8 Feb 1967 in Bishop, CA, as noted in various contemporary sources including a 10 Feb 1967 DV production chart. Location filming in Bishop entailed, among other things, a blizzard sequence that required six snow machines, according to a 6 Jan 1967 DV brief. Following the completion of location shooting in and around the Bishop area, filming resumed at the Paramount Pictures studio lot in Hollywood, CA. For verisimilitude on an outdoor set built one of the soundstages, Gries obtained permission from the California Department of Agriculture for the removal and transfer of a twenty-ton tree stump from an area outside Bishop. According to a 16 Mar 1967 LAT brief, some frontier sets that had been used on location were donated to the Laws Railroad Museum in Laws, CA, where the buildings were slated to be part of an “early western town to be erected around the museum.”
       After the picture’s release, Gries addressed the experience of working with his own child in the 12 May 1968 LAT, describing it as a “marvelously rewarding experience on every level.” Nevertheless, Gries laughingly recalled one freezing outdoor scene in which he had asked Jon to lead a large horse to a corral. Frightened by the animal’s size, the boy had announced that he was quitting, but Gries had lured him back by handing over directing reins to boss wrangler Corky Randall, a cowboy whom Jon admired.
       A news brief in the 19 Jan 1968 DV reported that Dot Records would release the soundtrack album for the film. Meanwhile, Don Cherry had recorded the theme song, “The Lonely Rider,” as a single for Monument Records.
       Following mixed reviews, the picture took in $1.8 million in domestic film rentals in the year 1968, as noted in an 8 Jan 1969 Var box-office chart.
       Items in the 30 Jan 1967, 1 Feb 1967, and 10 Feb 1967 DV reported that Faith Dane, Michael Carr, and insurance broker Ronald F. Reagan had been added to the cast.
       Will Penny marked the first credited role in a feature film for Lee Majors, then known for his role on the television series The Big Valley (ABC, 15 Sep 1965—19 May 1969).
       The film acknowledged the cooperation of Inyo Forest and the United States Forest Service; The Bureau of Land Management and the United States Department of Agriculture; Inyo County; and The United States Department of the Interior. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
13 Oct 1966
p. 1, 19.
Daily Variety
30 Dec 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
6 Jan 1967
p. 6.
Daily Variety
26 Jan 1967
p. 6.
Daily Variety
30 Jan 1967
p. 3.
Daily Variety
1 Feb 1967
p. 4.
Daily Variety
10 Feb 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
10 Feb 1967
p. 10.
Daily Variety
22 Mar 1967
p. 20.
Daily Variety
19 Jan 1968
p. 10.
Daily Variety
26 Feb 1968
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
27 Jan 1967
Section D, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
17 Feb 1967
Section D, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
16 Mar 1967
Section D, p. 19.
Los Angeles Times
12 May 1968
Section D, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
24 Apr 1968
Section D, p. 11.
New York Times
11 Apr 1968.
---
Variety
8 Jan 1969
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Fred Engel-Tom Gries-Walter Seltzer Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
WRITER
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Men's cost
Ladies' cost
MUSIC
Orch
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstyles supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
SOURCES
SONGS
"The Lonely Rider," words and music by David Raksin and Robert Wells, sung by Don Cherry.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
6 March 1968
Premiere Information:
Philadelphia opening: 6 March 1968
New York opening: 10 April 1968
Los Angeles opening: 24 April 1968
Production Date:
began 8 February 1967
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures
Copyright Date:
31 December 1967
Copyright Number:
LP35656
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
109
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Will Penny, a middle-aged cowpuncher who has always been a loner, joins two younger men, Dutchy and Blue, in search of winter work after completing a long cattle drive in Montana in the 1880's. While hunting deer, the three men are attacked by the maniacal Preacher Quint and his three sons; in the ensuing gunfight Will kills one of the sons. Quint and his other two sons, Rafe and Rufus, ride off swearing vengeance on the cowboy. As soon as a doctor is found for the injured Dutchy, Will sets out on his own, gets a job as rider for a large ranch, and heads for a mountain shack to spend the winter. In the cabin he finds Catherine Allen, en route with her 10-year-old son, Horace, to join her husband in California. Obeying orders to evict squatters, he gives them 3 days to move. But when Will is ambushed by Quint and his sons, Catherine nurses him back to health; and in return he allows her to remain at the cabin with her son. The growing warmth between Will and Catherine is disrupted by Quint and his sons, who take Will prisoner and threaten Catherine with sexual assault. Will escapes, meets up with Blue and Dutchy, and with their help kills Quint and wounds his sons. Catherine wants to settle down with Will and help build a ranch, but Will realizes that he will always be a loner and rides off with Blue and ... +


Will Penny, a middle-aged cowpuncher who has always been a loner, joins two younger men, Dutchy and Blue, in search of winter work after completing a long cattle drive in Montana in the 1880's. While hunting deer, the three men are attacked by the maniacal Preacher Quint and his three sons; in the ensuing gunfight Will kills one of the sons. Quint and his other two sons, Rafe and Rufus, ride off swearing vengeance on the cowboy. As soon as a doctor is found for the injured Dutchy, Will sets out on his own, gets a job as rider for a large ranch, and heads for a mountain shack to spend the winter. In the cabin he finds Catherine Allen, en route with her 10-year-old son, Horace, to join her husband in California. Obeying orders to evict squatters, he gives them 3 days to move. But when Will is ambushed by Quint and his sons, Catherine nurses him back to health; and in return he allows her to remain at the cabin with her son. The growing warmth between Will and Catherine is disrupted by Quint and his sons, who take Will prisoner and threaten Catherine with sexual assault. Will escapes, meets up with Blue and Dutchy, and with their help kills Quint and wounds his sons. Catherine wants to settle down with Will and help build a ranch, but Will realizes that he will always be a loner and rides off with Blue and Dutchy. +

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

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