The Unforgiven (1960)

119-120 or 125 mins | Western | April 1960

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HISTORY

The film's working titles were The Siege at Dancing Bird and The Siege at Dancing Burg . LeMay's novel, The Unforgiven , was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post under the title Kiowa Moon (6 Mar--27 Apr 1957). Onscreen credits state that Dimitri Tiomkin's music was "Recorded in Rome, Italy with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra." On 29 Jan 1957, Var reported that J. P. Miller had been given the assignment to write the screenplay version of Alan LeMay's novel, but his contribution to the final film has not been confirmed.
       Contemporary news items listed a number of actors and actresses who were considered for parts in the film: Richard Burton, Kirk Douglas and Robert Mitchum (probably for the role of "Cash Zachary"), Eva Le Gallienne (for the role of "Matilda Zachary") and Natalie Wood (for the role of "Rachel Zachary"). An Apr 1958 item in DV noted that Delbert Mann was set to direct the picture, but by Aug 1958, Huston had been signed.
       According to publicity items, the film was shot entirely in Durango, Mexico. A 27 Feb 1959 HR item reported that production was halted when Audrey Hepburn was thrown from a horse during filming. According to a 9 Mar 1959 article in LAT , Huston recruited Mexican director Emilio Fernández to work on the production as the supervisor of the outdoor action scenes. The article stated that Fernández would also play the role of a "bloodthirsty Kiowa Indian." The extent of his contribution to the completed film is ... More Less

The film's working titles were The Siege at Dancing Bird and The Siege at Dancing Burg . LeMay's novel, The Unforgiven , was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post under the title Kiowa Moon (6 Mar--27 Apr 1957). Onscreen credits state that Dimitri Tiomkin's music was "Recorded in Rome, Italy with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra." On 29 Jan 1957, Var reported that J. P. Miller had been given the assignment to write the screenplay version of Alan LeMay's novel, but his contribution to the final film has not been confirmed.
       Contemporary news items listed a number of actors and actresses who were considered for parts in the film: Richard Burton, Kirk Douglas and Robert Mitchum (probably for the role of "Cash Zachary"), Eva Le Gallienne (for the role of "Matilda Zachary") and Natalie Wood (for the role of "Rachel Zachary"). An Apr 1958 item in DV noted that Delbert Mann was set to direct the picture, but by Aug 1958, Huston had been signed.
       According to publicity items, the film was shot entirely in Durango, Mexico. A 27 Feb 1959 HR item reported that production was halted when Audrey Hepburn was thrown from a horse during filming. According to a 9 Mar 1959 article in LAT , Huston recruited Mexican director Emilio Fernández to work on the production as the supervisor of the outdoor action scenes. The article stated that Fernández would also play the role of a "bloodthirsty Kiowa Indian." The extent of his contribution to the completed film is undetermined. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
4 Apr 1960.
---
Box Office
11 Apr 1960.
---
Daily Variety
13 Mar 1957.
---
Daily Variety
4 Apr 1958.
---
Daily Variety
30 Mar 60
p. 3.
Film Daily
30 Mar 60
p. 6.
Filmfacts
29 Apr 1960
pp. 73-75.
Harrison's Reports
2 Apr 60
p. 54.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jan 59
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jan 1959
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Feb 59
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
1 May 59
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
8 May 59
p. 30.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Mar 60
p. 3.
Life
16 May 1960.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
28 Oct 1957.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
4 Sep 1958.
---
Los Angeles Times
19 May 1958.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 Oct 1958.
---
Los Angeles Times
23 Oct 1958.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Mar 1959.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 May 1960.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
2 Apr 60
p. 643.
New York Times
7 Apr 60
p. 46.
Newsweek
18 Apr 1960.
---
Saturday Review
16 Apr 1960.
---
The Exhibitor
30 Mar 60
p. 4690.
Time
11 Apr 1960.
---
Variety
29 Jan 1957.
---
Variety
30 Mar 60
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Unforgiven by Alan LeMay (New York, 1957).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Siege at Dancing Bird
The Siege at Dancing Burg
Release Date:
April 1960
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 6 April 1960
Production Date:
mid January--early February 1959
early March--early May 1959
Copyright Claimant:
James Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
6 April 1960
Copyright Number:
LP16849
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
119-120 or 125
Length(in feet):
10,859
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19245
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the Texas Panhandle sometime after the Civil War, young Rachel Zachary is enjoying a free-spirited gallop on the open range, when she is disturbed by the sight of a strange man. The old man lifts his saber aloft, tells her she is "no Zachary" and shouts that he is "the sword of God." Later, the man appears outside the Zachary cabin, prompting Rachel's mother Matilda, who recognizes the man, to aim her gun at him and chase him off. Soon after, Rachel's brother Ben, who has been on a long trip to Wichita, joins his two younger brothers, Cash and Andy, as they round up horses for the next drive to Kansas. Ben's partner, Zeb Rawlins, brings his family to the Zachary ranch for a visit, during which young Georgia Rawlins announces her interest in Ben, and shy Charlie Rawlins admits he hopes to marry Rachel. Over dinner, the families also discuss their various victories over the "Kiowa devils," Indians from the nearby hills who killed Will Zachary some years earlier. Ben and Cash later search for the mysterious old man, whom Ben knows to be "a Kelsey," but he disappears into a wind storm. One day three Kiowa Indians appear on the Zachary ranch. A young man named Lost Bird offers several horses in exchange for Rachel, who, Abe Kelsey has informed him, is his long-lost sister. Ben angrily replies that Rachel was adopted by the Zacharys after her white parents were massacred in their wagon by Kiowas. The Indians ride away, but after they begin frequenting the area, the local cowboys and their families start to gossip among themselves. ... +


In the Texas Panhandle sometime after the Civil War, young Rachel Zachary is enjoying a free-spirited gallop on the open range, when she is disturbed by the sight of a strange man. The old man lifts his saber aloft, tells her she is "no Zachary" and shouts that he is "the sword of God." Later, the man appears outside the Zachary cabin, prompting Rachel's mother Matilda, who recognizes the man, to aim her gun at him and chase him off. Soon after, Rachel's brother Ben, who has been on a long trip to Wichita, joins his two younger brothers, Cash and Andy, as they round up horses for the next drive to Kansas. Ben's partner, Zeb Rawlins, brings his family to the Zachary ranch for a visit, during which young Georgia Rawlins announces her interest in Ben, and shy Charlie Rawlins admits he hopes to marry Rachel. Over dinner, the families also discuss their various victories over the "Kiowa devils," Indians from the nearby hills who killed Will Zachary some years earlier. Ben and Cash later search for the mysterious old man, whom Ben knows to be "a Kelsey," but he disappears into a wind storm. One day three Kiowa Indians appear on the Zachary ranch. A young man named Lost Bird offers several horses in exchange for Rachel, who, Abe Kelsey has informed him, is his long-lost sister. Ben angrily replies that Rachel was adopted by the Zacharys after her white parents were massacred in their wagon by Kiowas. The Indians ride away, but after they begin frequenting the area, the local cowboys and their families start to gossip among themselves. When Charlie finally proposes to Rachel, she kisses him in the hope of arousing jealousy in Ben, whom she loves. On his way home, however, Charlie is killed by Kiowas as Kelsey looks on. Rachel attempts to comfort Charlie's mother, but the grief-stricken woman screams that it was Rachel, "a red-hide nigger," who caused his death. Anxious to settle the ugly rumors about Rachel, Ben and his men capture Kelsey and lead him before Charlie's bereaved parents with a noose around his neck. When Zeb demands the truth, Kelsey reveals that years before, he and Will Zachary had killed many Kiowas in revenge for an Indian-led massacre. Zachary took a crying Kiowa baby back to Matilda, who reared the child as her own, then later, when the Indians had kidnapped Kelsey's son Aaron, Zachary refused to swap little Rachel for Aaron. Kelsey had hounded the Zachary family for years after his boy was killed. At this public disclosure of Rachel's secret identity, Matilda beats Kelsey's horse, causing the old man to be hanged. The settlers all shun the Zachary family, and when Matilda later admits that Will had taken the Kiowa infant to replace the baby girl Matilda had just lost, Cash insults Rachel, calls the Zacharys "Injun lovers" and rides away in a drunken stupor. Lost Bird and two warriors approach the Zachary cabin under a sign of peace while dozens of Kiowas wait on the far side of the river. To prevent a battle, Rachel insists on joining them. Finally exhibiting his love for Rachel, Ben orders her to stay in the cabin and has young Andy kill one of the warriors. The shooting leads to a full-scale battle, and the four Zacharys kill many Indians. Rachel, who had wondered if she could kill her "own kind," is assured by Ben that they are similar in blood only. At the Rawlins ranch, Cash hears gunshots and prepares to respond, but Georgia begs him to stay and marry her. The Kiowas send cattle to stampede the Zachary cabin, whereupon Ben sets the house on fire and retreats to the root cellar with Andy, Rachel and his mortally wounded mother. As the fire subsides and the Indians prepare to enter the cellar, Cash arrives, and he and Ben shoot the remaining Kiowas. Lost Bird, however, quietly enters the cellar and looks questioningly at Rachel. In response, she shoots him dead. The Zacharys climb out of the cellar and survey their burned home, their dead mother and a landscape littered with Kiowa bodies. Then, however, their attention is drawn skyward as a flock of birds takes flight. +

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

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