In 1930, in Belgium, Gabrielle van der Mal is the stubborn daughter of the prominent surgeon Dr. Pascin Van Der Mal that decides to leave her the upper-class family to enter to a convent, ... See full summary »
Director Billy Wilder salutes his idol, Ernst Lubitsch, with this comedy about a middle-aged playboy fascinated by the daughter of a private detective who has been hired to entrap him with the wife of a client.
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
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. See more »
When Rachel goes riding bareback and first sees the old soldier, the cinch holding a saddle on is clearly visible as she sits on the horse talking. See more »
[yelling at a cow eating grass growing on the Zachary family's roof]
Shoo now! Shoo! Ain't you got no better manners than to eat at the top of a house?
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In the old American West, an apocalyptic horseman startles lovely, dark-haired Audrey Hepburn (as Rachel) with some prophetic proclamations. Later, matriarchal widow Lillian Gish (as Matilda Zachary) takes aim at the old codger, but he leaves without enticing a bullet from Ms. Gish's shotgun. Gish runs her ranch with three very able bodied sons - Burt Lancaster (as Ben), Audie Murphy (as Cash), and young Doug McClure (as Andy). Ms. Hepburn is the fair-haired clan's adopted sister. As it turns out, a local Native American (Kiowa) tribe wants to right an old wrong by taking Hepburn away from her adopted family. Or else, everyone dies!
John Huston's "The Unforgiven" is a flawed, but excellent film. It does seem like some positive thesis regarding race relations - explicitly "Injuns" / implicitly others - was being attempted. But, however well-meaning the project started out, the end result is a negative. All was lost, for me, the moment Mr. Lancaster orders young Mr. McClure to make a pivotal killing. That doesn't mean the movie isn't exciting or aesthetically appealing. Hepburn's authenticity should invite no criticism; remember, she is supposed to be fooling even Mr. Murphy's keen sense of "Injun" smell; yet, she sounds too liltingly "finishing school" sophisticated for the role.
As good as he is, Lancaster doesn't really command the film's attention, either. He and Hepburn are saddled (sorry) with a love story subplot dependent upon the characters being aware they are not really brother and sister, and Hepburn being ready for action. This goes nowhere. There are several other great performers in the cast, but the film belongs to the "Zachary" family members. McClure as Lancaster's wide-eyed younger brother is nicely cast. But, the real energy comes from the characters played by Gish and Murphy; both have a couple of great cinematic moments, though, like others involved here, they had off-screen problems during the filming.
******* The Unforgiven (4/6/60) John Huston ~ Burt Lancaster, Audrey Hepburn, Lillian Gish, Audie Murphy
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