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Lonely Are the Brave (1962)

Approved | | Drama, Western | 1962 (UK)
A fiercely independent cowboy arranges to have himself locked up in jail in order to then escape with an old friend who has been sentenced to the penitentiary.



(screenplay), (novel)

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Jerry Bondi
Sheriff Morey Johnson
Michael Kane ...
Paul Bondi
Deputy Sheriff Gutierrez
Rev. Hoskins
William Mims ...
First Deputy Arraigning Burns (as Bill Mims)
Old Man
Lalo Rios ...


In order to free his best friend Bondi, Jack Burns lets himself be imprisoned only to find out that Bondi does not want to escape. Thus Burns breaks out on his own and is afterwards being chased by sheriff Johnson with helicopters and jeeps. Written by Volker Boehm

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Life can never cage a man like this!


Drama | Western


Approved | See all certifications »





Release Date:

1962 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Last Cowboy  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Edward Abbey's 1956 novel "The Brave Cowboy", on which this film was based, was set in the 1940s era of the military draft and centered on the hero's friend, an anti-draft libertarian who goes to jail for defying the law that required men to register. In the screenplay, however, the character's "crime of principle" was changed to assisting illegal immigrants. See more »


9 minutes into the movie when Jerry Bondi is putting ham into the frying pan, the bread bin next to her is shut. A couple of seconds later, it is open. See more »


[first lines]
[to his horse, as he watches jets leave contrails across the sky]
Jack Burns: Time we took off, too.
See more »


Referenced in American Playhouse: True West (1984) See more »

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User Reviews

Be A Cowboy Hero
13 April 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Kirk Douglas has said often enough that Lonely Are The Brave is his favorite among the films he's done. I think of it the same way that Bette Davis says about Dark Victory that the role of Judith Traherne is 98% of me.

Like the film's Jack Burns Kirk Douglas has charted his own way through life in Hollywood the way Jack Burns does. Burns's problem is that he's a man born a century too late.

Run another of Kirk Douglas's classic westerns Man Without A Star side by side. Dempsey Rae in that film isn't too much different from Jack Burns, in fact they have opinions on certain subjects almost identical.

But the frontier that Dempsey dealt with in that film has changed, it just doesn't exist any more. But Burns won't recognize it. I'm also not so sure how much film and television have influenced 1962's Jack Burns in the way a cowboy should behave.

Kirk is returning to his home town from God knows what and meets up with Gena Rowlands who is married to his best friend Michael Kane. Kane's in jail for helping illegal immigrants cross the US/Mexican border. What to do but be a cowboy hero and bust him from jail. So Kirk gets himself in a nasty bar fight with one armed Bill Raisch and gets tossed in sheriff Walter Matthau's jail. While there Deputy George Kennedy works him over.

So when Kirk's ready to bust jail, Kane refuses to go to his surprise. But that doesn't stop Kirk who breaks loose and the chase is on.

The non-conformist part of Jack Burns certainly must have appealed to Kirk Douglas. He invests so much of himself in Burns it's hard to tell where Kirk leaves off and Burns begins. And he's one of the most appealing of all the roles Kirk Douglas has. You root for this law breaking maverick every step of the way.

Mention must also go to Walter Matthau as the wise and laconic sheriff who really does understand Douglas's mentality as no one else really does. In a lot of ways it's like the Charles Bronson classic Death Hunt where Mountie Lee Marvin truly is sorry he's on this particular job. Of course if Douglas had actually killed someone in eluding the law, Matthau's duty would have been clear.

The ending is truly an ironic one as the cowboy loses that part of him that makes him a unique American icon.

Absolutely don't miss Lonely Are The Brave when it is broadcast, especially fans of Kirk Douglas.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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