Broken Lance (1954)

96 mins | Western | August 1954

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HISTORY

According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Legal Files at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, Richard Murphy's screenplay for Broken Lance was based on Philip Yordan's screenplay for the 1949 Twentieth Century-Fox film House of Strangers (see below). Yordan's screenplay, in turn, was based on Jerome Weidman's 1941 novel I'll Never Go There Any More . According to the SAB , Yordan was given sole screen credit for the story of Broken Lance , even though it was based on a "slight story line" from Weidman's novel.
       On 7 Dec 1953, HR 's "Rambling Reporter" column announced that Ben Gazzara and Montgomery Clift had been considered for roles in the film. The legal files add that Dolores Del Rio was originally contracted for the role of "Señora Devereaux." On 5 Mar 1954, HR stated that Del Rio had to be replaced because she could not get the necessary visa in time. Fox borrowed Spencer Tracy from M-G-M for the production. According to studio publicity material contained in the AMPAS Library file on the film, Chief Geronimo Kuthlee, grandson of the legendary Geronimo, appeared in the film in a small role. HR news items include Harry Carter and George Wallace in the cast, but their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed. The publicity material also notes that ninety percent of the picture was filmed in Arizona's Santa Cruz Valley.
       Legal files list Elgin and Nogales, AZ, as specific location sites. Yordan won an Academy Award for Best Original Story for his work on the film. Actress Katy Jurado was nominated for an ... More Less

According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Legal Files at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, Richard Murphy's screenplay for Broken Lance was based on Philip Yordan's screenplay for the 1949 Twentieth Century-Fox film House of Strangers (see below). Yordan's screenplay, in turn, was based on Jerome Weidman's 1941 novel I'll Never Go There Any More . According to the SAB , Yordan was given sole screen credit for the story of Broken Lance , even though it was based on a "slight story line" from Weidman's novel.
       On 7 Dec 1953, HR 's "Rambling Reporter" column announced that Ben Gazzara and Montgomery Clift had been considered for roles in the film. The legal files add that Dolores Del Rio was originally contracted for the role of "Señora Devereaux." On 5 Mar 1954, HR stated that Del Rio had to be replaced because she could not get the necessary visa in time. Fox borrowed Spencer Tracy from M-G-M for the production. According to studio publicity material contained in the AMPAS Library file on the film, Chief Geronimo Kuthlee, grandson of the legendary Geronimo, appeared in the film in a small role. HR news items include Harry Carter and George Wallace in the cast, but their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed. The publicity material also notes that ninety percent of the picture was filmed in Arizona's Santa Cruz Valley.
       Legal files list Elgin and Nogales, AZ, as specific location sites. Yordan won an Academy Award for Best Original Story for his work on the film. Actress Katy Jurado was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. In addition to the 1948 film, which was directed by Joseph Mankiewicz and starred Edward G. Robinson, Richard Conte and Susan Hayward, Weidman's novel and Yordan's screenplay were the basis of a 30 Nov 1956 CBS network television broadcast on the 20th Century Fox Hour , entitled "The Last Patriarch," starring Walter Slezak, John Cassavetes and Vince Edwards. In 1961, James B. Clark directed Esther Williams and Cliff Robertson in The Big Show , a Fox production that is considered by some modern sources to be a remake of Weidman's novel. In 1975, according to the legal files, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. requested a 16mm print of Broken Lance because it had been deemed an adaptation of Shakespeare's play King Lear . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
31 Jul 54
p. 50.
Box Office
7 Aug 1954.
---
Daily Variety
16 Dec 1953.
---
Daily Variety
23 Jul 54
p. 3.
Film Daily
23 Jul 54
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Nov 1953
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 1953
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Feb 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Mar 1954
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 1954
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Apr 1954.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 1954
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 54
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Aug 1954
p. 1.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
31 Jul 54
p. 89.
New York Times
30 Jul 54
p. 9.
Variety
29 Jul 54
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
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Cost des by
MUSIC
Mus cond
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hair styling by
PRODUCTION MISC
Spec photog eff
DETAILS
Release Date:
August 1954
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 29 July 1954
Production Date:
2 March--1 May 1954
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
29 July 1954
Copyright Number:
LP4080
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
96
Length(in feet):
8,648
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16964
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the 1880s, soon after being paroled from a Southwest prison, rancher Joe Devereaux, a half-breed, is taken to see the governor, an old friend of Joe's father Matt, who has arranged a meeting between Joe and his three white half-brothers, Ben, Denny and Mike. Determined to take over the ranch now that their father is dead, the brothers offer Joe $10,000 to move to Oregon and forget the place. Joe refuses the offer, throwing the money into a spittoon, and then goes to the deserted Devereaux ranch house. While staring at a portrait of Matt, Joe's thoughts go back to a time when his father was still alive: One day, Matt discovers that his sons Mike and Denny are part of a gang of rustlers who are stealing cattle from him. Matt strikes Mike when he tries to justify the rustling by complaining about his father's low wages. Ben also demands higher wages and sides with his two rebellious brothers, and only Joe remains loyal to his father. As punishment, Matt banishes Ben, Mike and Denny, giving them only a few stolen cattle to support themselves. Days later, Matt is upset to find that Joe has brought home Mike and Denny, and that his exiled sons are mingling with his dinner guests. The guests include the governor and his young daughter Barbara, with whom Joe is smitten. Soon after discovering that his cattle are dying, Matt learns that his herd has been poisoned by waste in the river coming from the Associated Western Copper Mine. Matt and his sons demand that the owner of the mine, McAndrews, stop polluting the river, and when ... +


In the 1880s, soon after being paroled from a Southwest prison, rancher Joe Devereaux, a half-breed, is taken to see the governor, an old friend of Joe's father Matt, who has arranged a meeting between Joe and his three white half-brothers, Ben, Denny and Mike. Determined to take over the ranch now that their father is dead, the brothers offer Joe $10,000 to move to Oregon and forget the place. Joe refuses the offer, throwing the money into a spittoon, and then goes to the deserted Devereaux ranch house. While staring at a portrait of Matt, Joe's thoughts go back to a time when his father was still alive: One day, Matt discovers that his sons Mike and Denny are part of a gang of rustlers who are stealing cattle from him. Matt strikes Mike when he tries to justify the rustling by complaining about his father's low wages. Ben also demands higher wages and sides with his two rebellious brothers, and only Joe remains loyal to his father. As punishment, Matt banishes Ben, Mike and Denny, giving them only a few stolen cattle to support themselves. Days later, Matt is upset to find that Joe has brought home Mike and Denny, and that his exiled sons are mingling with his dinner guests. The guests include the governor and his young daughter Barbara, with whom Joe is smitten. Soon after discovering that his cattle are dying, Matt learns that his herd has been poisoned by waste in the river coming from the Associated Western Copper Mine. Matt and his sons demand that the owner of the mine, McAndrews, stop polluting the river, and when the miner rejects their demand, Matt vows to get an injunction against him. Before leaving the mine, Matt punches McAndrews and destroys the mining company's refinery. Later, Barbara tells Joe that she is not concerned about his Indian roots, but her father, who is prejudiced against Indians, wants the couple separated. When Matt discovers the governor's prejudice, he determines to have him removed from office. A trial concerning Matt and the mining company gets underway with Van Cleve, McAndrews' lawyer, making the case that Matt never sought to use the proper legal channels to handle his dispute with the miners, and that his attack was premeditated. During the trial, Matt's lawyer makes a deal with Van Cleve, in which McAndrews agrees to drop his charges in exchange for a promise by Matt to repair the damage from the attack on the mine. Matt reluctantly accepts the deal but is troubled by the part of the bargain that requires Joe to take the blame for the attack and be jailed. The court defeat, along with the shame he suffers when Ben, Mike and Denny refuse to abide by the provisions of the deal, causes Matt to have a stroke. After making a partial recovery, Matt tries to get Joe out of prison by asking Ben to sacrifice his share of the ranch, but Ben refuses. Matt dies while following Ben on a horse. Joe is permitted to leave prison to attend his father's funeral, during which he formally severs his ties with his brothers and proclaims a blood feud. As Joe comes out of his reverie, his mother enters the house and persuades him to forget revenge and leave the country. Joe decides to take her advice, but when Ben intercepts him with the intent to kill him, the two half-brothers engage in a hand-to-hand battle that ends when Two Moons, the Indian ranch foreman, shoots Ben dead. Time passes, and Joe and Barbara, now married, visit Matt's grave. There, Joe sees the down-turned lance, the Indian symbol for a blood feud, and breaks it in half, thus ending the fight forever. +

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.