The Unforgiven (1960)

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    Photo with the courtesy of lasbugas

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    Burt Lancaster- The Unforgiven

    Information from IMDb

    Plot Summary
    Odd Western about racial intolerance focuses around Kiowa
    claim that the Zachary daughter is one of their own, stolen in a raid.
    The dispute results in other whites' turning their backs on the Zacharys when the truth
    is revealed by Mother. Murphy plays Cash, the hotheaded brother who reacts violently
    to learning his "sister" is a "red-hide Indian."
    He leaves the family but returns to help them fight off an Indian raid during
    which Hepburn kills her Kiowa brother, thus choosing sides once and for all.
    Written by rita.richardson

    Full Cast
    Burt Lancaster ... Ben Zachary
    Audrey Hepburn ... Rachel Zachary
    Audie Murphy ... Cash Zachary
    John Saxon ... Johnny Portugal
    Charles Bickford ... Zeb Rawlins
    Lillian Gish ... Mattilda Zachary
    Albert Salmi ... Charlie Rawlins
    Joseph Wiseman ... Abe Kelsey
    June Walker ... Hagar Rawlins
    Kipp Hamilton ... Georgia Rawlins
    Arnold Merritt ... Jude Rawlins
    Doug McClure ... Andy Zachary
    Carlos Rivas ... Lost Bird

    Writing Credits
    Ben Maddow (screenplay)
    Alan Le May (novel) (as Alan LeMay)

    Original Music
    Dimitri Tiomkin

    Franz Planer

    Before filming began, director John Huston and star Burt Lancaster took actress Lillian Gish out to the desert to teach her how to shoot, which she would have to do in the film. However, Huston was astounded to discover that Gish could shoot more accurately, and faster, than both he and Lancaster, who thought themselves expert marksmen. It turned out that early in her career Gish was taught how to shoot by notorious western outlaw and gunfighter Al J. Jennings, who had become an actor after his release from a long prison sentence for train robbery and was in the cast of one of her films. She found that she liked shooting and over the years had developed into an expert shot.

    Audrey Hepburn was seriously injured when she was thrown by a horse between scenes. Hepburn, who was several months pregnant, spent six weeks in the hospital healing from a broken back, and when she returned to the set, was able to complete her role wearing a back brace, which her wardrobe had to be redesigned to hide. Sadly, she suffered a miscarriage a few months later, which some blamed on her injury from this movie. John Huston blamed himself for the mishap and hated this movie. Hepburn, however, bore no ill will towards the director. While Hepburn was in hospital, Huston filmed scenes using a double.

    During the filming 'Audie Murphy' and a friend decided to go duck hunting on a nearby lake. The boat capsized and Murphy nearly drowned, but was saved by a female photographer who had been taking pictures nearby.

    Average Shot Length (ASL) = 8.7 seconds

    "The Unforgiven" was Audrey Hepburn's only Western.

    DOP Oswald Morris says in his memoirs he was offered this film.

    The original writer J. P. Miller and original director Delbert Mann originally envisioned "The Unforgiven" as a gritty, unglamorous, but accurate picture of post-Civil War Texas life, much as John Ford had earlier done with Alan LeMay's "The Searchers." Hecht/Hill/Lancaster wanted to ensure its commerciality and change the film's direction. They wanted to cast Kirk Douglas as Lancaster's brother, which would throw off the balance in the brothers' relationship. His first effort at a rewrite did not work and after fifty pages into the second rewrite, the writer quit the film and broke off his relationship with the producers. Mann soon followed. They wee replaced by Ben Maddow, John Gay, and John Huston. When it was decided not to use Douglas, Tony Curtis and then Richard Burton were cast before Audie Muephy was ultimately chosen.

    Director Huston saw the film as an opportunity to make a serious comment on race relations, but the company thought anything along those lines should take a back seat to making it a commercial success as action/adventure. Lancaster's biographer Gary Fishgall quotes two of Huston's biographers who assert that Huston did not quit because he needed his $300,000 salary to restore his Irish manor house and saw the location shoot as an opportunity to indulge his passion for pre-Columbian art.

    According to Murphy's biographer Don Graham, the script called for Lancaster to slap the war hero at one point, and that enraged the war hero to such a degree that witnesses thought that Murphy, who carried a gun, would have killed Lancaster under different circumstances. Director Huston eventually defused the situation.

    According to Lancaster biographer Gary Fishgall, Lancaster and co-star Audie Murphy were engaged in an invitational tournament at a new golf course near Durango. Huston had an airplane filled with 2000 ping-pong ball with anti-Mexican and profane language and had them dropped all over the course, making it impossible to continue as none of the players could find their golf balls. Lancaster, who co-sponsored the event, was furious with Huston.

    In the scene where the piano is delivered, Lancaster's hair style changes again and again, from trimmed to long, from wind swept to coiffured.

    In the closeup scenes of Rachel, her false eyelashes are quite obvious.

    When Ben goes out with his brother Cash to find Abe Kelsey, he is not wearing neckerchief. Later in the country, when he dismounts, he is using a neckerchief.

    Factual errors
    When the piano is delivered, Mrs. Zachary sits down to play it, and it is in perfect tune. Not possible! Moving a piano always knocks it out of tune, and moving a piano in a wagon across that terrain would have made it terribly out of tune.

    In the copyright notice on "The End' screen, the year is given as MCMLVIX (it should be MCMLIX).

    Memorable Quotes

    Filming Locations
    Durango, Mexico

    Watch This Trailer



    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 2 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • The Unforgiven is a 1960 American western film filmed in Durango, Mexico.
    It was directed by John Huston and stars Burt Lancaster, Audrey Hepburn,
    Audie Murphy, Charles Bickford and Lillian Gish.
    The story is based upon a novel by Alan Le May.

    The film, uncommonly for its time, spotlights the issue of racism
    against Native Americans and people believed to have Native American
    blood in the Old West.
    The movie is also known for problems behind the scenes.
    Huston often said this was his least satisfying movie.

    User Review


    John Huston takes on racism
    2 December 2006 | by (United States)

    This classic film from one of the greatest directors of the 20th century boasts an incredible cast: Audrey Hepburn, Lillian Gish (silent films), Burt Lancaster, Audie Murphy (war hero), a young Doug McClure, all of whom show classic acting at its finest. Go beneath the dialogue and watch the body movements, facial expressions and withheld, unspoken emotion of these superb actors (esp Gish and Lancaster). Check out the incredible performance of the wraith-like, howling itinerant evangelist (Joseph Wiseman) who seems to know the "secret". The score by Dmitri Tiomkin is terrific, with a minimum of Hollywood-style Native American drumming (and flute playing. Indeed, the music played by the Kiowas during the "break" was fascinating. Although the story is set in 1800s Texas panhandle, the theme is universal and hard-hitting: racism, and a family divided by their differing views. I found the portrayal of the Kiowa culture to be accurate, esp the use of costumes and rituals. Remember, this film was made in 1960, a time when racial intolerance was rarely put on film, and the fair presentation of Native Americans was almost non-existent. Indeed, this is why Huston wanted this project. Remarkably, this film is NOT pro-Indian or pro-settler, rather it's an honest depiction of a clash of cultures. My only disappointment, a minor one, was that the film ended rather abruptly for my taste, almost as if they ran out of film. But then again, I'm not a director!

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited once, last by ethanedwards ().