Two Rode Together (1961)

109 mins | Western | 12 July 1961

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HISTORY

Producer Stan Shpetner was inspired to make a Western with director John Ford and actor James Stewart after learning the two had always wanted to work together, as noted in an 18 Dec 1960 NYT article. In search of a property, Shpetner discovered Will Cook’s “Comanche Captives” serial, published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1959, and optioned screen rights. Once Ford and Stewart were on board, Shpetner brought the project to Columbia Pictures, and the studio agreed to finance. Titled Two Rode Together, the film was announced in a 3 Jun 1960 DV brief, which stated that Ford’s son, Patrick Ford, would be associated with the production, and listed Vera Miles and Barbara Rush as potential female leads. Shpetner was forced to leave another project – The Young Doctors, which was then titled The Final Diagnosis (1961, see entry) – due to scheduling conflicts, an item in the 16 Jun 1960 DV reported.
       Principal photography began in Brackettville, TX, on 17 Oct 1960, according to various contemporary sources including a 21 Oct 1960 DV production chart. The 16 Nov 1960 Var listed the Happy Shahan Ranch (a.k.a. “Alamo Village”) as the primary shooting location. Since The Alamo (1960, see entry) had recently been shot there, sets from that picture were reconstructed for Two Rode Together, as noted in a 24 Oct 1960 DV item.
       The 18 Dec 1960 NYT article stated that when Shpetner asked to visit set, the notoriously difficult Ford told him that no producers would be allowed, “but you ... More Less

Producer Stan Shpetner was inspired to make a Western with director John Ford and actor James Stewart after learning the two had always wanted to work together, as noted in an 18 Dec 1960 NYT article. In search of a property, Shpetner discovered Will Cook’s “Comanche Captives” serial, published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1959, and optioned screen rights. Once Ford and Stewart were on board, Shpetner brought the project to Columbia Pictures, and the studio agreed to finance. Titled Two Rode Together, the film was announced in a 3 Jun 1960 DV brief, which stated that Ford’s son, Patrick Ford, would be associated with the production, and listed Vera Miles and Barbara Rush as potential female leads. Shpetner was forced to leave another project – The Young Doctors, which was then titled The Final Diagnosis (1961, see entry) – due to scheduling conflicts, an item in the 16 Jun 1960 DV reported.
       Principal photography began in Brackettville, TX, on 17 Oct 1960, according to various contemporary sources including a 21 Oct 1960 DV production chart. The 16 Nov 1960 Var listed the Happy Shahan Ranch (a.k.a. “Alamo Village”) as the primary shooting location. Since The Alamo (1960, see entry) had recently been shot there, sets from that picture were reconstructed for Two Rode Together, as noted in a 24 Oct 1960 DV item.
       The 18 Dec 1960 NYT article stated that when Shpetner asked to visit set, the notoriously difficult Ford told him that no producers would be allowed, “but you can come as my friend.” Musician Danny Borzage, a longtime collaborator of Ford’s, reportedly “serenaded” the film crew in the style of “set-side, mood-creating” musicians popular during the silent film era.
       An advertisement in the 18 Nov 1960 DV stated that Riley Hill had appeared in the picture, and a 21 Dec 1960 LAT item listed Rian Garrick as a cast member set to play a “young cavalry officer.” Actor Andy Devine’s son, Ted Devine, and James Kirkwood were also reportedly cast, according to items in the 26 Oct 1960 DV and 14 Dec 1960 DV stated.
       An item in the 9 Nov 1960 LAT quoted unit publicist Rick Ingersoll as saying that Ford had had difficulty finding fifty Native Americans, for roles representing Comanche Indians, Lipan Apaches, and Seminoles. A recent weeklong search in San Antonio, TX, was said to have been unproductive because the local Native Americans were “too rich to care about donning war paint,” too assimilated into white culture, or “not ‘facially ferocious or physically imposing enough.’” The 16 Nov 1960 Var stated that casting director Thomas Roselle ultimately hired “200 nationals from Mexico” to portray Comanche Indians.
       In mid-Nov 1960, rain delays in Brackettville prompted an early location change to San Fernando Valley, CA, according to the 1 Dec 1960 Los Angeles Sentinel. In addition to exteriors in San Fernando Valley, interiors were scheduled to be filmed in Hollywood, CA. As stated in the 7 Dec 1960 DV, principal photography was set to conclude on 16 Dec 1960.
       The 31 Mar 1961 DV noted that Stanley Styne would write lyrics for a title song to be composed by George Duning.
       Two Rode Together was slated to open at the Paramount Theatre in Brooklyn, NY, on 12 Jul 1961, according to a 4 Jul 1961 NYT item. The release widened to multiple New York City theaters on 26 Jul 1961, as stated in the 27 Jul 1961 NYT review. Critical reception was mixed. While the 17 Aug 1961 LAT review described Two Rode Together as the “most disappointing western” of John Ford’s career, NYT praised James Stewart’s performance as a career best. The picture was the only American film from a major studio chosen to be screened at the Locarno Film Festival, according to a 2 Aug 1961 Var article, and the 31 Jan 1962 Var noted that it was named as one of the ten best films of 1961 by the recently re-launched film magazine, N.Y. Film Bulletin. Box-office earnings were listed as “disappointing” $1.6 million in the 10 Jan 1962 Var.
       The picture was one of the first seven to be shown as part of Trans World Airline’s (TWA) new “midair film projection” program for first-class passengers, the 31 Aug 1961 NYT noted.
       Around the same time the film was released, Bantam Books published a paperback version of Will Cook’s Comanche Captives.
       Following Two Rode Together, Ford and Stewart reteamed for another two Westerns: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962, see entry), and Cheyenne Autumn (1964, see entry). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
3 Jun 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
8 Jun 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
16 Jun 1960
p. 1.
Daily Variety
12 Sep 1960
p. 6.
Daily Variety
14 Oct 1960
p. 14.
Daily Variety
19 Oct 1960
p. 4.
Daily Variety
21 Oct 1960
p. 6.
Daily Variety
24 Oct 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
26 Oct 1960
p. 26.
Daily Variety
14 Nov 1960
p. 4.
Daily Variety
18 Nov 1960
p. 15.
Daily Variety
7 Dec 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Dec 1960
p. 12.
Daily Variety
31 Mar 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
19 Jun 1961
p. 3.
Los Angeles Sentinel
1 Dec 1960
Section C, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
9 Nov 1960
Section C, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
21 Dec 1960
Section B, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
17 Aug 1961
Section C, p. 9.
New York Times
18 Dec 1960.
---
New York Times
4 Jul 1961
p. 13.
New York Times
23 Jul 1961.
---
New York Times
27 Jul 1961
p. 23.
New York Times
31 Aug 1961
p. 24.
Variety
16 Nov 1960
p. 17.
Variety
16 Nov 1960
p. 20.
Variety
2 Aug 1961
p. 15.
Variety
10 Jan 1962
p. 58.
Variety
31 Jan 1962
p. 5.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A John Ford Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the serial "Comanche Captives" by Will Cook, published in Saturday Evening Post (1959).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 July 1961
Premiere Information:
Brooklyn, NY, opening: 12 July 1961
New York opening: 26 July 1961
Production Date:
17 October--16 December 1960
Copyright Claimant:
John Ford Productions
Copyright Date:
1 July 1961
Copyright Number:
LP20449
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastman Color
Duration(in mins):
109
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the 1880's, Guthrie McCabe, a cynical, mercenary Texas marshal, is asked to join cavalry officer Jim Gary in rescuing some white prisoners long held captive by the Comanches. McCabe is reluctant to accept but allows himself to be persuaded by a combination of Army pressure, the offer of a salary, the promise of a fee for each captive returned, and the opportunity to take a vacation from Belle Aragon, a saloon owner who has marriage on her mind. In exchange for two rifles, McCabe and Gary obtain the release of Running Wolf, a white boy raised as an Indian, and Elena, a young Mexican woman who has been forced to become the squaw of Comanche warrior Stone Calf. As the little group leaves the Indian camp, Stone Calf tries to reclaim his woman, and McCabe kills him. Back at the fort, none of the families who anxiously awaited the return of their relatives recognize Running Wolf, and he is claimed only by the mentally deranged Mrs. McCandless, who insists the wild boy is her son. However, as she frees him of his bonds, he murders her. The inflamed settlers capture and lynch the youth, but before he dies it is discovered that he is actually the brother of Marty Purcell, a young settler with whom Gary has fallen in love. Meanwhile, Elena has been shunned by the narrow-minded officers' wives. McCabe leaves the fort to resume his marshal's job and discovers that he has been replaced by his inept deputy in the interim. Disenchanted, he rides off with Elena in search of a better ... +


In the 1880's, Guthrie McCabe, a cynical, mercenary Texas marshal, is asked to join cavalry officer Jim Gary in rescuing some white prisoners long held captive by the Comanches. McCabe is reluctant to accept but allows himself to be persuaded by a combination of Army pressure, the offer of a salary, the promise of a fee for each captive returned, and the opportunity to take a vacation from Belle Aragon, a saloon owner who has marriage on her mind. In exchange for two rifles, McCabe and Gary obtain the release of Running Wolf, a white boy raised as an Indian, and Elena, a young Mexican woman who has been forced to become the squaw of Comanche warrior Stone Calf. As the little group leaves the Indian camp, Stone Calf tries to reclaim his woman, and McCabe kills him. Back at the fort, none of the families who anxiously awaited the return of their relatives recognize Running Wolf, and he is claimed only by the mentally deranged Mrs. McCandless, who insists the wild boy is her son. However, as she frees him of his bonds, he murders her. The inflamed settlers capture and lynch the youth, but before he dies it is discovered that he is actually the brother of Marty Purcell, a young settler with whom Gary has fallen in love. Meanwhile, Elena has been shunned by the narrow-minded officers' wives. McCabe leaves the fort to resume his marshal's job and discovers that he has been replaced by his inept deputy in the interim. Disenchanted, he rides off with Elena in search of a better life. +

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

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