THE MISSOURI BREAKS
DIRECTED BY ARTHUR PENNmissouri-breaks-nicholson-and-brando.jpg
MUSIC BY JOHN WILLIAMS
MUSIC BY JOHN WILLIAMS
INFORMATION FROM IMDb
Tom Logan is a horse thief. Rancher David Braxton has horses,
and a daughter, worth stealing. But Braxton has just hired Lee Clayton,
an infamous "regulator", to hunt down the horse thieves; one at a time.
Marlon Brando ... Lee Clayton
Jack Nicholson ... Tom Logan
Randy Quaid ... Little Tod
Kathleen Lloyd ... Jane Braxton
Frederic Forrest ... Cary
Harry Dean Stanton ... Calvin
John McLiam ... David Braxton
John P. Ryan ... Si (as John Ryan)
Sam Gilman ... Hank Rate
Steve Franken ... The Lonesome Kid
Richard Bradford ... Pete Marker
James Greene ... Hellsgate Rancher
Luana Anders ... Rancher's Wife
Danny Goldman ... Baggage Clerk
Hunter von Leer ... Sandy (as Hunter Von Leer)
Virgil Frye ... Woody
R.L. Armstrong ... Bob (as R. L. Armstrong)
Daniel Ades ... John Quinn (as Dan Ades)
Dorothy Neumann ... Madame
Charles Wagenheim ... Freighter
Vern Chandler ... Vern
Thomas McGuane ... (written by)
Robert Towne ... (uncredited)
Elliott Kastner ... producer
Marion Rosenberg ... associate producer
Robert M. Sherman ... producer
Michael C. Butler ... director of photography (as Michael Butler)
According to Robert Silva's "Dustin Hoffman in Spurs? Method Actors Show the Old West Who's Boss,"
the whole production was affected by Marlon Brando's bizarre behavior,
which allegedly included biting a frog and catching grasshoppers at the end of the day's shooting.
Marlon Brando's performance in this film was mostly improvised.
Director Arthur Penn eventually gave up on him and decided to just let him act whatever way he wanted.
Jack Nicholson once said of co-star Marlon Brando appearing in this movie,
"The ground quaked for weeks before he arrived."
Nicholson added that Brando was "exceedingly cooperative" and "gentle as a lamb."
Original publicity reported that Marlon Brando ad-libbed so much
that a special stenographer had to be flown in from California
to record Brando's ad hoc poetry and spontaneous dialogue.
The "Missouri Breaks" of the title refers to the film's main setting,
the rugged north-central Montana region where the Missouri River is said to have "breaks"
cutting into the land due to the rough rising of the river.
Jack Nicholson did not like the fact that Marlon Brando used cue cards while filming.
In their scenes together, Nicholson broke his concentration every time Brando shifted his gaze
to the cue card behind the cameraman.
In an interview in TIME magazine published on May 24, 1976,
it was reported that actor Marlon Brando "changed the entire flavor of his character,
a bounty hunter called Robert E. Lee Clayton, by inventing a deadly hand weapon
resembling both a harpoon and a mace that he uses to kill."
Brando said, "I always wondered why in the history of lethal weapons no one invented that particular one.
It appealed to me because I used to be very expert at knife throwing."
Co-stars Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando were neighbors, living on Mulholland Drive in Hollywood, CA.
They had never worked together prior to this film.
The term "regulator" refers to a professional gunman, which is what
Robert E. Lee Clayton (Marlon Brando) was.
Although he receives top billing, Marlon Brando does not make his first appearance until
36 minutes into this film.
Warren Oates and Harry Dean Stanton were originally touted to star in this movie,
in the parts played by Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando.
Robert Towne did an uncredited rewrite of Thomas McGuane's screenplay.
Due to the production's alleged mistreatment of animals,
this film was placed on the American Humane's Association "unacceptable" list.
Animal action on this picture was not monitored by the AHA.
According to "The Straight Dope", " . . . the producer refused to allow an AHA rep
on the film's location in Billings, Montana, and the shooting left one horse dead from drowning,
another crippled after being purposely tripped by wires
[a practice specifically prohibited by an agreement between the AHA and the major studios],
and several others injured in a stampede sequence.
Consequently, this film was placed on the AHA's "unacceptable" list,
a continually updated index of offending films."
Contract negotiations with Marlon Brando were not finalized by the time
of the first day of principal photography, and so Brando refused to work.
So on what was to be the first day of filming, the cast and crew played football.
Reportedly, director Arthur Penn had his hands full placating Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson
during production, as they both took an instant dislike to each other.
This is evident in how few scenes there are between the two and,
in those few scenes, both actors were generally shot separately
so as not be near each other too much.
This was Marlon Brando's first film in three years. His previous one was Last Tango in Paris (1972).
After this film, Marlon Brando and Frederic Forrest worked together again on Francis Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979).
Steve McQueen turned down the role played by Marlon Brando, claiming he had retired from acting.
Released the same year as several other big-budget Westerns,
including Robert Altman's Buffalo Bill and the Indians,
or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976), Don Siegel's The Shootist (1976)
and Clint Eastwood's The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976).
Of them all, only the latter two were well-received by critics and public alike.
Thomas McGuane was not happy with the way this film turned out,
how his script--he believed--was essentially used as a basis for improvisation
and the way it was received by critics and the public alike.
Martin Scorsese considered directing this film.
Animal rights groups were upset with the producers, because several small animals
were deliberately killed on film and several horses were drowned in the river crossing scenes.
Marlon Brando appeared in drag, wearing a dress in this movie.
The brand of gun that Robert E. Lee Clayton (Marlon Brando) carried was a Creedmoor rifle.
This was director Arthur Penn's third Western, after The Left Handed Gun (1958)
and Little Big Man (1970).
Writer and script doctor Robert Towne conceived the film's final showdown,
which solved the story problems caused by Marlon Brando's ad-libbing and changes to the screenplay.
This film reunited Jack Nicholson with three co-stars who all were all members
of the horse thieves outlaw gang in the movie.
These were Little Tod (Randy Quaid), Si (John P. Ryan), and Calvin (Harry Dean Stanton),
who all worked with Nicholson, respectively, on The Last Detail (1973),
Five Easy Pieces (1970) and various early films of Nicholson.
This film was promoted as a revisionist star-laden Western in much the same light
as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). However, it was not what audiences got.
Film debut of Kathleen Lloyd.
Thomas McGuane originally wrote the screenplay with the intention of also directing the movie.
This film was one of a number of revisionist, oddball or wacky Westerns made during the 1970s.
This film marked Marlon Brando's third Western, after One-Eyed Jacks (1961) and The Appaloosa (1966).
Cast members Kathleen Lloyd, Frederic Forrest and John P. Ryan
had appeared together in Larry Cohen's mutant baby sequel, It Lives Again (1978).
Ryan appeared in the original It's Alive (1974).
When Tom and Jane mount the same horse, one in front each other,
her modern white underwear appears for a while.
When Marlon Brando and Randy Quaid are crossing the Missouri River,
there, far in the distance, cars driving on an interstate can be seen
Red Lodge, Montana, USA
Virginia City, Montana, USA
Billings, Montana, USA
Bovey Restorations, Nevada City, Montana, USA