The King and Four Queens (1956)

84 mins | Comedy-drama, Western | December 1956

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HISTORY

This film's working title was The Last Man in Wagon Mound . The film was a co-production between Clark Gable's company and one owned by actress Jane Russell and her then-husband, Robert Waterfield. An Apr 1955 HR news item reported that Gable was to have a participation deal in the film's profits, and stated that producer David Hempstead wrote the screenplay with Margaret Fitts. Only Fitts and Richard Alan Simmons, however, receive onscreen credit for the screenplay. According to the film's pressbook, the principal exterior set, the town of Wagon Mound, was constructed seventeen miles from St. George, UT. According to news items, interiors were shot at the Samuel Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood, where the scoring was also completed. The onscreen credits list Howard Bretherton as film editor, but other sources list David Bretherton, Howard's son, and a pressbook contained in copyright records displays Howard Bretherton's name handwritten over the crossed-out, typed name "David Brotherton [sic]."
       A HR production chart adds John Compton to the cast, but his appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. According to an 18 Sep 1956 HR news item, because of concern over how the film would end, director Raoul Walsh shot three different versions and planned to allow preview audiences to determine the best choice. Additional HR news items noted that United Artists had arranged for a novelization of the film with Dell Publishing Co. and that Gable would be making his television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show in an interview filmed on location in Utah. The interview was noteworthy as Gable had been a ... More Less

This film's working title was The Last Man in Wagon Mound . The film was a co-production between Clark Gable's company and one owned by actress Jane Russell and her then-husband, Robert Waterfield. An Apr 1955 HR news item reported that Gable was to have a participation deal in the film's profits, and stated that producer David Hempstead wrote the screenplay with Margaret Fitts. Only Fitts and Richard Alan Simmons, however, receive onscreen credit for the screenplay. According to the film's pressbook, the principal exterior set, the town of Wagon Mound, was constructed seventeen miles from St. George, UT. According to news items, interiors were shot at the Samuel Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood, where the scoring was also completed. The onscreen credits list Howard Bretherton as film editor, but other sources list David Bretherton, Howard's son, and a pressbook contained in copyright records displays Howard Bretherton's name handwritten over the crossed-out, typed name "David Brotherton [sic]."
       A HR production chart adds John Compton to the cast, but his appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. According to an 18 Sep 1956 HR news item, because of concern over how the film would end, director Raoul Walsh shot three different versions and planned to allow preview audiences to determine the best choice. Additional HR news items noted that United Artists had arranged for a novelization of the film with Dell Publishing Co. and that Gable would be making his television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show in an interview filmed on location in Utah. The interview was noteworthy as Gable had been a harsh critic of the medium and had previously refused to do television publicity for any of his films.

More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
22 Dec 1956.
---
Daily Variety
19 Dec 1956
p. 3.
Film Daily
3 Jan 1957
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Apr 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 1956
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Sep 1956
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Nov 1956
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Dec 1956
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 1956
p. 1, 4, 30.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
22 Dec 1956
p. 194.
New York Times
22 Dec 1956
p. 13.
Variety
19 Dec 1956
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Ed supv
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Master prop man
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men's ward
Ladies' ward
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Orch
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
SOURCES
SONGS
"In the Sweet Bye and Bye," music by Harry Von Tilzer, lyrics by Vincent P. Bryan
"Red River Valley," traditional.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Last Man in Wagon Mound
Release Date:
December 1956
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 21 December 1956
Production Date:
began mid May 1956 at Samuel Goldwyn Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Russ-Field Corp. and Gabco Productions, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
18 December 1956
Copyright Number:
LP8133
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
84
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18248
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the Old West, confidence man Dan Kehoe outrides a trio of pursuing horsemen and reaches a small town where a funeral director and a bartender tell him about the five McDade widows in the nearby town of Wagon Mound. Ma McDade had four sons, Boone, Matt, Prince and Roy, who two years earlier, robbed a stagecoach of one hundred thousand dollars in gold and retreated to Wagon Mound, but were followed by a sheriff and his posse. The boys were hiding in a barn when an explosion shattered it, killing all but one of the brothers. The identity of the brother who escaped is unknown. The bartender, a member of the posse, tells Dan that the gold's location was never discovered and that the brothers’ respective wives, Sabina, Ruby, Birdie, and Oralie, joined their husbands’ tough, old, widowed mother to await the return of the one living brother and their share of the spoils. Recognizing the potential for riches, Dan decides to head for Wagon Mound. Before Dan leaves, the bartender gives him a twenty-dollar piece with a bullet hole in it that he found near the barn and tells him that all the brothers wore one around their necks. Feigning that he is on the run from the law, Dan rides past a “Keep Out” sign into the burned-out town of Wagon Mound, and is shot in the arm by Ma. The four young widows are excited by the arrival of the handsome, virile stranger and are soon competing for his attention. To explain his presence there, Dan pretends to have met a man who told him that if he was ever in trouble, he should ... +


In the Old West, confidence man Dan Kehoe outrides a trio of pursuing horsemen and reaches a small town where a funeral director and a bartender tell him about the five McDade widows in the nearby town of Wagon Mound. Ma McDade had four sons, Boone, Matt, Prince and Roy, who two years earlier, robbed a stagecoach of one hundred thousand dollars in gold and retreated to Wagon Mound, but were followed by a sheriff and his posse. The boys were hiding in a barn when an explosion shattered it, killing all but one of the brothers. The identity of the brother who escaped is unknown. The bartender, a member of the posse, tells Dan that the gold's location was never discovered and that the brothers’ respective wives, Sabina, Ruby, Birdie, and Oralie, joined their husbands’ tough, old, widowed mother to await the return of the one living brother and their share of the spoils. Recognizing the potential for riches, Dan decides to head for Wagon Mound. Before Dan leaves, the bartender gives him a twenty-dollar piece with a bullet hole in it that he found near the barn and tells him that all the brothers wore one around their necks. Feigning that he is on the run from the law, Dan rides past a “Keep Out” sign into the burned-out town of Wagon Mound, and is shot in the arm by Ma. The four young widows are excited by the arrival of the handsome, virile stranger and are soon competing for his attention. To explain his presence there, Dan pretends to have met a man who told him that if he was ever in trouble, he should go to Wagon Mound. Although Ma wonders why the man, possibly her only living son, did not send her a message, she allows Dan to stay overnight, but locks him in his room. The next day, Ma assigns the aloof and enigmatic Sabina to change the bandage on Dan’s wound and announces that he will be leaving later that day. Dan meets the other widows, the flighty Birdie, a former “actress”; the conniving Ruby and the demure Oralie, all of whom are anxious to win over Dan. Ma cannot tolerate her man-hungry, daughters-in-law lusting after Dan and is anxious that he move on. Just as Dan is about to leave, Sheriff Tom Larrabee and a posse arrive, having been told that Dan is the returning McDade brother. After the sheriff informs Dan that there is a five-thousand dollar reward for the capture of McDade and another five thousand if the gold is recovered, Dan offers to notify him if the brother returns by ringing the church bell. When the posse leaves, Dan manages to convince Ma that he should stay on a little longer until the rains come. Later, each of the young widows, except Sabina, attempts to seduce Dan into forming an alliance to find the gold and leave with her. When Ruby tells Dan that she is sure that Ma knows where the gold is hidden, Dan disappears and when Ma searches for him, he watches as she checks a gravesite in the cemetery. The rains come and as Dan prepares to depart, Sabina tells him she is surprised that he is leaving without the gold and observes that the coin he carries must have come from its original owner, who sent him to collect the gold. When Dan denies knowing where the gold is hidden, Sabina admits that she knows where it is and has only been waiting for a strong man to help her recover it. Sabina and Dan agree that they will meet later, outside of town. The other women watch sadly as Dan rides off, but he returns secretly to take the buckboard and, when he meets Sabina, shows her that he already has the gold on board. Stunned, Sabina asks why he waited for her and Dan explains that, of the four women, he found her to be the most compatible. Meanwhile, Ruby alerts Ma that Sabina is missing and Ma rushes to the grave, but finds it empty. While they ride in the buckboard, Sabina confesses to Dan that Boone was the brother who survived but that they were never married. Shortly after Boone told her about the gold, he was killed and she decided to pose as his widow. Suddenly, the church bell tolls as Ma alerts the sheriff. Soon the posse is hot on their heels and Dan, aware that they will be caught, decides to cut his losses by stopping the buckboard and unloading all of the gold except for one sack, which he gives to Sabina. After telling her to ride on and give the sack to a priest, who is safekeeping his other money, Dan says he will catch up with her later. When the sheriff and posse arrive, Dan informs them that it was he who rang the bell, as he had found the gold and needed an escort, and that he has taken the five thousand due him as a reward. Dan then rides to the mission, where the priest tells him that, upon being informed by Dan’s lovely wife that Dan had been hanged, he gave all of the money to her. Dan chases after Sabina, but finds her waiting for him with the money intact. After Sabina suggests to Dan that they make a good team because they are kindred souls, and that it is no fun winning the game if you are alone, they ride off together.
+

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.