The Last Hunt (1956)

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    • The Last Hunt (1956)



      23522 - The Last Hunt.jpg


      Plot Summary
      Set in the early 1880s, this is the story of one of the last buffalo hunts in the Northwest. Sandy McKinzie is tired of hunting buffalo, and tired of killing-Charley on the other hand relishes the hunt and enjoys killing buffalo and Indians. When Charley kills an Indian raiding party, and takes their squaw as his own, tension develops between the two hunters, and matters will only be settled in a showdown.
      Written by Buxx Banner

      Robert Taylor ... Charlie Gilson
      Stewart Granger ... Sandy McKenzie
      Lloyd Nolan ... Woodfoot
      Debra Paget ... Indian Girl
      Russ Tamblyn ... Jimmy O'Brien
      Constance Ford ... Peg
      Joe De Santis ... Ed Black
      Ainslie Pryor ... Buffalo Hunter #1
      Ralph Moody ... Indian Agent
      Fred Graham ... Bartender
      Ed Lonehill ... Spotted Hand
      Terry Wilson ... 2nd Buffalo Hunter (uncredited)
      and many more...

      Richard Brooks

      Writing Credits
      Richard Brooks ... (screenplay)
      Milton Lott ... (based on the novell)

      Dore Schary ... producer

      Daniele Amfitheatrof

      Russell Harlan

      US government marksmen actually shot and killed buffalo during production as part of a scheduled herd-thinning.

      The January 1997 issue of "Films in Review" carried a detailed reappraisal of the film.

      In August 1957, this film was being shown on a double bill with Pete Kelly's Blues (1955).

      The film's premiere was at the State Theatre in Sioux Falls, SD on February 16, 1956. Russ Tamblyn and his wife Venetia Stevenson (whom he'd married on February 14th) were in attendance.

      While filming a scene with Stewart Granger, Anne Bancroft was injured on her horse and was replaced by Debra Paget.

      Filmed with the working title "Operation Buffalo."

      Since the story takes place during the winter, Stewart Granger wore full winter clothing for his role. The movie was actually filmed during the summer months in Custer State Park in South Dakota. At one point, temperatures reached triple digits, Granger passed out from heat exhaustion and the crew had to cut away his clothes to revive him.

      Stewart Granger and Richard Brooks were reportedly not fond of one another. It stemmed from the fact that Brooks had married Granger's ex-wife, Jean Simmons.

      Anne Bancroft was originally cast in the role of the Indian Girl.

      This was the first motion picture for Lloyd Nolan in over a year and a half. He had been working on stage in The Caine Mutiny Court Trial.


      Memorable Quotes

      Filming Locations
      Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA
      Custer State Park - 13329 U.S. Highway 16A, Custer, South Dakota, USA
      Sylvan Lake, South Dakota, USA

      Watch the Movie

      Best Wishes
      London- England

      The post was edited 6 times, last by ethanedwards ().

    • The Last Hunt (1956)

      The Last Hunt is a 1956 MGM western film directed by
      Richard Brooks and produced by Dore Schary.
      The screenplay was by Richard Brooks from the novel The Last Hunt, by Milton Lott.
      The music score was by Daniele Amfitheatrof and the cinematography by Russell Harlan.

      The film stars Robert Taylor and Stewart Granger, with Lloyd Nolan, Debra Paget and Russ Tamblyn.

      Original novel
      The New York Times said "except for A.B. Guthrie's "The Big Sky" and "The Way West" I can think of no novel about the Old West published within the last fifteen years as good as "The Last Hunt," by Milton Lott. This is the real thing, a gritty, tough, exciting story reeking with the pungent smells of dead buffalo and of dirty men." W.R. Burnett called it an "undeniably able and interesting book."


      MGM bought the film rights and announced it as a vehicle for Stewart Granger in February 1955. "It's real Americana," said the star. Richard Brooks was assigned the job of adapting and directing. The film was the first of only three westerns directed by Brooks, and was his first film following the critically acclaimed Blackboard Jungle (1955).

      In March Robert Taylor was announced as co-star. Russ Tamblyn was then given the lead support part as a half Indian.

      Lloyd Nolan was also cast - his first film role in over a year and a half, during which time he had played
      The Caine Mutiny Court Martial on stage.
      Anne Bancroft was cast as the Indian girl.

      Eighty percent of the movie was shot on location over a seven-week period. This took place at the Badlands National Park and Custer State Park in South Dakota during the then-annual "thinning" of the buffalo herd.

      Actual footage of buffalo being shot and killed (by government marksmen) was used for the film. Harvey Lancaster of Custer was the main marksman for the filming.

      The story takes place during the winter but was actually filmed during the scorching summer months in Custer State Park. When temperatures reached triple digits, Stewart Granger, whose costume consisted of full winter clothing, passed out from heat exhaustion and the crew had to cut away his clothes to revive him.

      Granger and director Brooks were reportedly not fond of one another, especially after Brooks married Granger's ex-wife, Jean Simmons.

      After three weeks of filming, Anne Bancroft was injured during filming after falling from a horse. She was replaced by Debra Paget.

      During filming Dore Schary announced Taylor and Granger would be reteamed in another western, The Return of Johnny Burro with Granger playing a villain and Taylor a hero.However the film was not made.

      Box office
      The film earned $1,750,000 in North American rental during its first year of release. It recorded admissions of 1,201,326 in France.

      According to MGM records, the film earned $1,604,000 in the US and Canada and $1,379,000 overseas,
      resulting in a loss of $323,000.


      User Review

      Killing's like...err, like the only real proof you are alive.
      20 November 2012 | by Spikeopath (United Kingdom)

      spike wrote:

      The Last Hunt is directed by Richard Brooks who also adapts the screenplay from the novel of the same name written by Milton Lott. It stars Robert Taylor, Stewart Granger, Debra Paget, Lloyd Nolan and Russ Tamblyn. Out of MGM it's a CinemaScope/Eastman Color production with music by Daniele Amfitheatrof and cinematography by Russell Harlan.

      Buffalo hunter Sandy McKenzie (Granger) is tired of the hunt, but after a quirk of fate leaves him financially struggling, he accepts an invitation from Charles Gilson (Taylor) to go out on another profitable hunt. But when out on the range, Charlie starts to show a sadistic streak, and after his capture of an Indian girl (Paget), the two men are driven even further apart. Something will have to give.

      It's quite often forgotten that one of the key weapons of war is food. The buffalo was an integral animal to the Native American way of life for a number of reasons, be it food, shelter, clothes or religious worth, it was an animal of great substance. So killing them off was a viable tactic for the white man during the Indian wars. The start of Richard Brooks' film tells us that in 1853 there were 60 million buffalo in the West, but within 30 years their number would be only 30 thousand...

      What unfolds in this bleak but most potent of pictures, is a tale of men emotionally battered, albeit differently, by the war, a tale tinted (tainted) by racism and ecological concerns. Essentially it's Granger's tired of it all Sandy McKenzie against Taylor's blood lust racist Charles Gilson. In the middle is Paget's Indian girl, who is courted by McKenzie but owned unwillingly by Gilson, while on the outskirts observing are the skinners, half-breed Jimmy (Tamblyn) and Woodfoot (Nolan). McKenzie can barely pull the trigger to shoot the buffalo, his inner torment etched all over his face, but Gilson can fire rapidly, a maniacal glee surfaces with each buffalo death he administers. To Gilson, one less buffalo is one less Indian, his hatred of the Indian born out when he gets chance to kill those Indians that come to be in his way.

      Is it the same kind of feeling you get around a woman?

      The screenplay positively pings with intelligence and thought for its subjects, crucial given that it is essentially an intimate five character piece. Brooks is aware that the themes dwelling in his movie need to be handled with care, to take a sledgehammer to make a point would be wrong. With the exception of Paget (not her fault as she plays it as written) he garners great performances from his cast, with Taylor and Granger excellent and proving to be good foil for each other. Taylor has Gilson as outright scary and nasty, but there is a shade of sympathy asked of us viewers for he is a troubled mind. When a rumble of thunder pierces the sky above the group's camp, Gilson thinks it's a buffalo herd in flight, off he goes frantically in search of more kills, practically frothing at the mouth. This man clearly needs help, but out there on the frontier there is no help for battle scarred minds.

      With actual footage of buffalo killings cut into the film (part of the government thinning of the herd programme), there's plenty to feel sombre about. However, there is great beauty to be found by way of Russell Harlan's photography out of Badlands National Park and Custer State Park. These lands were once home to much pain and misery, but forever beautiful they be and in Harlan's hands they offer up another reason why The Last Hunt is essential viewing for the Western fan. It's brilliant, one of the unsung classics of 50s Westerns and proof positive that Robert Taylor, when challenged to do so, could indeed act very well. 9/10
      Best Wishes
      London- England

      The post was edited 6 times, last by ethanedwards ().