Zachariah (1971)

GP | 91-93 mins | Western | February 1971

Director:

George Englund

Producer:

George Englund

Cinematographer:

Jorge Stahl

Editor:

Gary Griffen

Production Designer:

Assheton Gorton

Production Companies:

George Englund Productions, ABC Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

As the onscreen credits roll, shots of “Zachariah” opening the parcel containing his gun are crosscut with shots of a three-man rock-and-roll band peforming in the desert. In onscreen credits, writers Philip Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman and Philip Proctor are listed as "known as The Firesign Theatre." According to Filmfacts, the members of The Firesign Theatre, a quartet of improvisational comedians, publicly rejected the film because their original script had been severely edited. An Aug 1969 HR news item noted that Joe Massot, who co-wrote the film with The Firesign Theatre, was originally slated to direct. An undated, but contemporary, HR news item in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library noted that Massot resigned as director over "differences in opinion in regard to production." A 30 Jan 1970 ad featured in HR during the film’s production stated that Ginger Baker was to play drummer “Job Cain.” According to Filmfacts, Zachariah was filmed in Baja, California and Sonora, Mexico. Although HR production charts place actors Tom Reese and Richard Bull, folk singer Obray Ramsey and songwriter Byard Ray in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Ramsey and Ray did, however, write two songs for the film.
       In an Aug 1969 HR news item, Paul Lazarus III, the creative affairs vice-president of ABC Pictures, noted that Zachariah would be the first "rock western", while others sources stated that it was advertised as the first "electric western." Although the film was a period piece, it contained many anachronisms and ...

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As the onscreen credits roll, shots of “Zachariah” opening the parcel containing his gun are crosscut with shots of a three-man rock-and-roll band peforming in the desert. In onscreen credits, writers Philip Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman and Philip Proctor are listed as "known as The Firesign Theatre." According to Filmfacts, the members of The Firesign Theatre, a quartet of improvisational comedians, publicly rejected the film because their original script had been severely edited. An Aug 1969 HR news item noted that Joe Massot, who co-wrote the film with The Firesign Theatre, was originally slated to direct. An undated, but contemporary, HR news item in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library noted that Massot resigned as director over "differences in opinion in regard to production." A 30 Jan 1970 ad featured in HR during the film’s production stated that Ginger Baker was to play drummer “Job Cain.” According to Filmfacts, Zachariah was filmed in Baja, California and Sonora, Mexico. Although HR production charts place actors Tom Reese and Richard Bull, folk singer Obray Ramsey and songwriter Byard Ray in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Ramsey and Ray did, however, write two songs for the film.
       In an Aug 1969 HR news item, Paul Lazarus III, the creative affairs vice-president of ABC Pictures, noted that Zachariah would be the first "rock western", while others sources stated that it was advertised as the first "electric western." Although the film was a period piece, it contained many anachronisms and motifs relating to the 1970s, among them, the use of electric guitars and instruments, a reference to "all natural" food, Go-Go dancers, groupies and used-car salesmen. In 2005, when the film Brokeback Mountain was released, it was touted as the "first gay western." However, in 1971, several reviewers commented on the underlying homosexuality of Zach and “Matthew's" relationship in Zachariah. The NYT review reviewer commented that Zachariah was “…the first movie to parody the Western with the apparent intention of propagandizing homosexual love.” The Village Voice reviewer commented “…The plot is simplicity itself: boy gets boy, boy loses boy; boy gets boy in the end. No pun intended. Just before denouement time…Belle Starr is hustled through to lend a hetero note to the proceedings.” In the film itself, one character actually calls Zach "a little fag." Zachariah was the first starring role of John Rubenstein, the son of famed pianist Arthur Rubenstein.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
22 Feb 1971
---
Daily Variety
22 Jan 1971
---
Filmfacts
1971
pp. 78-80
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 1969
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Aug 1969
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jan 1970
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jan 1970
p. 14
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jan 1970
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Mar 1970
p. 14
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jan 1971
---
New York Times
25 Jan 1971
p. 20
Variety
27 Jan 1971
p. 17
Village Voice
18 Feb 1971
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Assoc des
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
COSTUMES
Nino Novarese
Cost des
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus scored and cond
Mus coord
Mus ed
SOUND
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Lyle J. Burbridge
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
PRODUCTION MISC
David Silver
Prod mgr
Prod asst
Kenneth O'Brien
Prod asst
Scr supv
Head wrangler
Gun coach
Auditor
Loc auditor
Secy to dir
Prod secy
Unit pub
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Drum Solo" by Elvin Jones; "Camino Waltz" by John Rubinstein.
SONGS
"We're the Crackers," music and lyrics by Joe McDonald; "All I Need" and "Poor but Honest Crackers," music and lyrics by Barry Melton; "Country Fever" and "Laguna Salada," music and lyrics by Joe Walsh, Jim Fox and Dale Peters; "The Ballad of Job Cain," music and lyrics by Doug Kershaw; "Grave Digger," music and lyrics by Michael Kamen and Martin Fulterman; "Shy Ann," music and lyrics by Byard Ray; "Down in the Willow Garden," music and lyrics by Byard Ray, Obray Ramsey and Arthur Gorson.
SONGWRITERS/COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
February 1971
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 18 Jan 1971; New York opening: 24 Jan 1971
Production Date:
late Jan--mid Mar 1970 in Mexico
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
ABC Pictures Corp.
31 December 1970
LP45702
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Metrocolor
Duration(in mins):
91-93
MPAA Rating:
GP
Countries:
Mexico, United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In the 1870s, when Zachariah, a young homesteader who yearns for the romanticism of the Old West, receives a mail-order gun, he howls with glee and rides into town to show his close friend, Matthew, his treasure. After Zach asks Matthew, a blacksmith by trade, to forge him some silver bullets for “fancy shooting,” the two friends take up target practice. Soon after, The Crackers, a renegade rock-and-roll band who rob banks on the side, come to town and perform at the local saloon. As Zach and Matthew dance to the music, a disgruntled patron sneers at Zach’s gun, calls him a “little fag” and forces him to draw. When Zach outdraws the man and kills him, Matthew is ecstatic, but Zach is shaken by the thought of killing a man. Zach rides off into the mountains to avoid prosecution, and soon after, Matthew joins him to report that the authorities have overlooked the shooting to pursue The Crackers, who robbed the express office. Galvanized by the news, Zach announces that he is going to be a gunfighter, and after Matthew presents him with a silver bullet, the friends ride out to find The Crackers and ask for a job. Zach and Matthew soon discover that the renegades are inept, and as they fail at robbery after robbery, the reward offered for their capture plummets. Consequently, when Zach comes upon a man playing a fiddle who tells him about infamous black bandit Job Cain, who is living in Apache Wells, Zach determines to seek Cain out to learn what “makes him the best.” Although Matthew is hesitant at first, the friends ...

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In the 1870s, when Zachariah, a young homesteader who yearns for the romanticism of the Old West, receives a mail-order gun, he howls with glee and rides into town to show his close friend, Matthew, his treasure. After Zach asks Matthew, a blacksmith by trade, to forge him some silver bullets for “fancy shooting,” the two friends take up target practice. Soon after, The Crackers, a renegade rock-and-roll band who rob banks on the side, come to town and perform at the local saloon. As Zach and Matthew dance to the music, a disgruntled patron sneers at Zach’s gun, calls him a “little fag” and forces him to draw. When Zach outdraws the man and kills him, Matthew is ecstatic, but Zach is shaken by the thought of killing a man. Zach rides off into the mountains to avoid prosecution, and soon after, Matthew joins him to report that the authorities have overlooked the shooting to pursue The Crackers, who robbed the express office. Galvanized by the news, Zach announces that he is going to be a gunfighter, and after Matthew presents him with a silver bullet, the friends ride out to find The Crackers and ask for a job. Zach and Matthew soon discover that the renegades are inept, and as they fail at robbery after robbery, the reward offered for their capture plummets. Consequently, when Zach comes upon a man playing a fiddle who tells him about infamous black bandit Job Cain, who is living in Apache Wells, Zach determines to seek Cain out to learn what “makes him the best.” Although Matthew is hesitant at first, the friends pledge to stay together and head for Apache Wells. At the saloon there, the friends watch in awe as a man calls out Cain. After gunning the man down, Cain furiously plays a drum solo. When Zach impulsively blurts out that he wants to join Cain’s gang, Cain tries to goad the friends into facing off with each other to see who is faster, but Zach challenges Cain instead. When the mock gunfight ends in a draw between Zach and Cain, Zach tells Matthew that he fears one day he will be provoked into a showdown with him and has decided to leave. Disgusted, Matthew renounces his friendship with Zach and stays behind with Cain. As he rides off alone into the mountains, Zach comes across a way station operated by The Old Man. Greeting him with an armload of organic vegetables, the beatific Old Man directs Zach to hang up his guns and join him for dinner. The next morning, Zach, still yearning for excitement, heads for Camino to meet legendary prostitute Belle Starr. Once there, Zach enters a steam bath in which he is massaged by towel-clad women smoking marijuana, after which he dons a white buckskin suit and presents himself to Belle. When Belle asks what he can do for her, he impresses her with his quick draw and the two fall into bed together, after which Belle proclaims “he is the best.” The next day, however, Zach announces that Camino is not what he is looking for and leaves Belle to return to The Old Man. Meanwhile, Cain leaves Matthew in charge of Apache Wells while he goes to Camino with the rest of the gang. Overjoyed by Zach’s return, The Old Man takes him into the desert, where they cavort on the sand dunes and Zach discards his dude clothes. The Old Man then advises Zach to slow down and not be in a hurry to die. Later, a stage carrying Matthew, garbed from head to toe in black, arrives at the way station. Matthew, surprised to see Zach unarmed and dressed in a faded work shirt and jeans, boasts to his old friend that he is on his way to Camino to kill Cain. After Matthew leaves, Zach pulls his gun down from the hook and begins to shoot at targets. Distressed, The Old Man shows Zach an innocent animal that he has killed during practice and refuses to talk to him again. Contrite, Zach tries to give The Old Man an arrowhead he found, and after accepting the gift, The Old Man dies. In Camino, meanwhile, Matthew calls out Job and kills him. He then returns to the way station where Zach invites him to stay. Paranoid about being “out in the open,” Matthew challenges Zach to a gunfight, and when Zach refuses, tries to provoke him by trampling his vegetable garden. Zach stalls by dismantling his gun to clean it, and by the time he has reassembled his weapon, it is too dark to fight. When Matthew insists upon drawing anyway, Zach protests that he has no bullets, to which Matthew responds by yanking the silver bullet off the chain Zach wears around his neck. Yelling that the bullet is “for a vampire and not a friend,” Zach tackles Matthew, then mounts his horse and rides off. Firing his gun and screaming that he is going to kill Zach, Matthew runs after him, then collapses in tears, looks at the bullet and begins to laugh. After tossing away the bullet, Matthew rides after Zach, and when he catches up to him, the two friends hug.

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

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