When the Legends Die (1972)

PG | 105 or 107 mins | Drama | August 1972

Director:

Stuart Millar

Writer:

Robert Dozier

Producer:

Stuart Millar

Cinematographer:

Richard Kline

Production Designer:

Angelo Graham

Production Company:

Sagaponack Films, Inc.
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HISTORY

The opening credits include the following written statement: " When the Legends Die was photographed in Colorado and New Mexico with the help of the Southern Ute Tribe." According to a 13 Sep 1971 DV news item, portions of the film were shot on location in Durango, CO. Although the credits indicate that When the Legends Die marked Frederic Forrest's feature film debut, he appeared in the Canadian 1969 Astral Film production Futz! (see above). A DV item noted that Forrest was part Cherokee.
       According to a 1968 Publishers Weekly news item, Hal Borland's novel When the Legends Die was originally purchased by producer Stuart Millar for Universal Studios. The film marked Millar's first directorial effort. Although he continued to produce for films and television, the only other feature film he directed was the 1975 release Rooster Cogburn . A DV Jan 1970 item stated that Robert Blake had been set to star in the film and indicated the film was co-written by Robert Dozier and Frank Conroy. Conroy's contribution to the final script, if any, has not been determined. ... More Less

The opening credits include the following written statement: " When the Legends Die was photographed in Colorado and New Mexico with the help of the Southern Ute Tribe." According to a 13 Sep 1971 DV news item, portions of the film were shot on location in Durango, CO. Although the credits indicate that When the Legends Die marked Frederic Forrest's feature film debut, he appeared in the Canadian 1969 Astral Film production Futz! (see above). A DV item noted that Forrest was part Cherokee.
       According to a 1968 Publishers Weekly news item, Hal Borland's novel When the Legends Die was originally purchased by producer Stuart Millar for Universal Studios. The film marked Millar's first directorial effort. Although he continued to produce for films and television, the only other feature film he directed was the 1975 release Rooster Cogburn . A DV Jan 1970 item stated that Robert Blake had been set to star in the film and indicated the film was co-written by Robert Dozier and Frank Conroy. Conroy's contribution to the final script, if any, has not been determined. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
21 Aug 1972
p. 4515.
Daily Variety
20 Jan 1970.
---
Daily Variety
13 Sep 1971.
---
Daily Variety
24 Sep 1971.
---
Filmfacts
1972
pp. 499-502.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 1966.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 1971
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 1971
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 1971
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 1972
p. 3, 8.
Los Angeles Times
20 Sep 1972.
---
New York Times
20 Oct 1972
p. 37.
Newsweek
6 Nov 1972.
---
Publishers Weekly
22 Jul 1968.
---
Publishers Weekly
1 Dec 1971.
---
Time
6 Nov 1972.
---
Variety
9 Aug 1972
p. 24.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Stuart Millar Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st grip
Asst cam
Asst cam
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
COSTUMES
Ward man
MUSIC
Mus comp
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup artist
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Scr supv
Asst to the prods
Tech adv
Rodeo coord
Unit pub
Loc auditor
Transportation foreman
Studio casting
STAND INS
Stunt coord
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel When the Legends Die by Hal Borland (Philadelphia, 1963).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"When You Speak to the Kids," "The Riderless Wagon" and "Summer Storm," words and music by Bo Goldman and Glenn Paxton, sung by Freddie Hart and Kenni Huskey.
DETAILS
Release Date:
August 1972
Production Date:
20 September--early November 1971
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
23 August 1972
Copyright Number:
LP42093
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
DeLuxe
Duration(in mins):
105 or 107
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the hills of Colorado, Ute Tribal Reservation representative Blue Elk seeks out young Thomas Black Bull who is living alone with his pet bear after the death of his father. Convincing the boy that he is needed to teach tribal members forgotten old customs, Blue Elk escorts Tom and his bear to the reservation. Once there, however, the superintendent, a white man, tells Tom that he must give up the old traditions to learn new ways. Despite his protests, Tom is placed in a classroom where other native boys mock his appearance and pet bear, who has been chained up outside. When Tom tries to break out that night, he is apprehended and locked in an empty room where he chants to the gods for consolation. The next morning, Blue Elk takes Tom and the bear back into the hills where he chains the bear to a tree and threatens to leave the animal there to starve unless Tom agrees to return voluntarily to the reservation. Over the next several years, Tom grows up at the reservation but remains a loner, comfortable only with horses. When Tom loses a job watching over a herd of wild horses due to his catching and breaking several without permission, the superintendent advises him to learn a trade or be destined to become a worthless drunk. In town soon after, bronco rider Tex Walker teasingly offers Tom a dollar if he can bring him his horse tied up across the street, knowing that the animal is barely tamed. Tom easily thwarts the horse’s attempts to buck him off, which is witnessed by former ... +


In the hills of Colorado, Ute Tribal Reservation representative Blue Elk seeks out young Thomas Black Bull who is living alone with his pet bear after the death of his father. Convincing the boy that he is needed to teach tribal members forgotten old customs, Blue Elk escorts Tom and his bear to the reservation. Once there, however, the superintendent, a white man, tells Tom that he must give up the old traditions to learn new ways. Despite his protests, Tom is placed in a classroom where other native boys mock his appearance and pet bear, who has been chained up outside. When Tom tries to break out that night, he is apprehended and locked in an empty room where he chants to the gods for consolation. The next morning, Blue Elk takes Tom and the bear back into the hills where he chains the bear to a tree and threatens to leave the animal there to starve unless Tom agrees to return voluntarily to the reservation. Over the next several years, Tom grows up at the reservation but remains a loner, comfortable only with horses. When Tom loses a job watching over a herd of wild horses due to his catching and breaking several without permission, the superintendent advises him to learn a trade or be destined to become a worthless drunk. In town soon after, bronco rider Tex Walker teasingly offers Tom a dollar if he can bring him his horse tied up across the street, knowing that the animal is barely tamed. Tom easily thwarts the horse’s attempts to buck him off, which is witnessed by former rodeo rider Red Dillon, who then offers Tom a job. When Tom explains that he does not have a permit to leave the reservation, Red meets with the superintendent who provides papers that place Tom in Red’s care. Red then takes Tom to his small farm that he runs with cook and handyman Meo and, over the next several days, works with Tom to improve his bronco riding skills. At the next rodeo, Tom wins handily, but Red criticizes his ride as too tame. In a bar afterward, Tex invites Tom for a drink while deriding him with ugly slurs about being an Indian. A drunken Red knocks Tex out after which he announces that Tom is his “boy,” then calls for bets on Tom’s ride the next day. Tom’s continued success cements his partnership with Red and over the next several weeks the men follow the rodeo circuit throughout the region. After Tom wins several competitions, however, Red asks him to lose intentionally and, although puzzled, Tom complies. Red then pretends to let several irate bettors goad him into forcing Tom to ride again so that they might win back their money by betting that Tom will lose. When Tom wins, Red gleefully collects their winnings. Although Tom silently disapproves, he agrees to repeat the behavior through the next several competitions. At one show, a frustrated Tex reveals the scam to several glum losers and in a fury they attack Red until Tom comes to his rescue. Driving away from the melee, Tom expresses his discomfort with Red’s tactics, but Red dismisses his objection. Later that night, Tom asks what the point of his winning is when Red continually drinks and gambles away the money. Red reminds Tom that he would be selling blankets on the reservation without him, but when Tom continues to protest, Red angrily beats up the young man. Soon after, Red and Tom return to the circuit where Tom continues winning and losing at Red's behest. One night, as a drunken Red lolls in their motel, Tom abruptly snaps and beats Red savagely. The next morning he sells Red’s pickup and buys a flashy red convertible then retrieves the bleary Red. At a gas station stop, while Red goes inside to purchase some liquor, Tom abruptly drives away, abandoning him. Several miles down the road, Tom stops, takes Red’s saddle out of the trunk and flings it into the river. Over the next several months, Tom continues on the rodeo circuit alone, where his brutal treatment of the horses gains him the nickname “Killer Tom Black.” Tom’s success leads him to the national championships, but during his ride he is thrown off the horse, which then rolls over him, breaking his leg. Tom recovers slowly in the hospital with no incentive to get well until a nurse, Mary, grows interested in him. Touched by her kindness and attention, Tom moves in with Mary when he is released from the hospital. Although Tom appreciates Mary’s genuine affection, he soon grows frustrated by his limitations in finding work and leaves her. Tom returns to Red's farm, where his haggard former partner happily greets him and relates that he has lived alone since Meo’s sudden death. Red reacts with surprise when Tom presents him with a beautiful new saddle and, acknowledging that he has followed Tom’s career through newspapers and magazines, suggests the men resume their partnership. When Tom hesitates, Red lashes out, accusing the younger man of failing without his influence. Tom cuts Red off, stating that he earned several thousand dollars the previous year on his own, but has grown tired and fed up with the rodeo circuit life. Red does not reply, but retires with a bottle of Tom's liquor. That night, Tom awakens to hear Red driving away. The following morning, the town physician, Dr. Wilson, arrives to report that Red is holed up in a motel desperately ill with cirrhosis that has plagued him for many months. Tom hastens to the motel where Red feebly greets him before dying. At the funeral service, Tom leaves the saddle on top of Red’s grave, then returns to the farm, which he burns down as dictated by Indian ritual. The next day Tom goes back to the Ute reservation where he meets the new head of the facility, a native tribal chairman. When the chairman asks what he wants, Tom explains that he was brought to the reservation to teach the old ways but was ignored. He declares that he has since learned the new ways and now only wants to be left alone with the horses. +

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

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