In 1909, when young Paiute Indian Willie Boy returns to his California reservation to be with Lola, whose father disapproves of him, a killing in self defense takes place, triggering a massive man hunt for Willie.
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Based on true events, Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here, tells the story of one of the last Western manhunts, in 1909. Willie Boy, a Native American, kills his girlfriend's father in self defense, and the two go on the run, pursued by a search posse led by Sheriff Christopher Cooper. Written by
Jon Hertzberg <email@example.com>
Abraham Polonsky said to a USC film class at the time that he purposely shot and edited the manhunt sequences with characters moving in all directions across the screen, rather than in the usual way wherein both the runners and pursuers would move in the same direction across the shots (i.e. left to right) to enhance the impression of urgent suspense in a chase. Instead Polonsky was looking for a different feel for the audience, of the characters wandering, feeling their way through the landscape. He implied he was willing to sacrifice some suspense to externalize the characters' confusion. Polanski also said that for Katharine Ross' brief, artfully lit nude shot, he exposed the film correctly but then produced a high-contrast copy of the same film frames with deep blacks and transparent lights, then bi-packed both pieces of films together to rephotograph. The high contrast overlay ensured that the shadows on Katherine's body were black -- so that the image could not reveal more in the shadows than it was supposed to. See more »
Willie Boy's original clothing and Cooper's haircut are more 1960s that 1900s. See more »
Did you see that crazy Calvert go by?
Ate his dust.
When did you get back to Banning, Willie Boy?
Five o'clock freight.
Goin' to the fiesta?
Is that where you're goin', Tom?
Trailin' Mr. Calvert with a tow just in case he breaks down - or breaks his neck.
Well, I guess that's where I'm goin'.
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Robert Blake in top form but the movie is a flawed western...
TELL THEM WILLIE BOY IS HERE has top-notch color photography by Conrad Hall, a thinking man's script that is character driven, and good performances all around by a cast that includes ROBERT REDFORD, ROBERT BLAKE, SUSAN CLARK, BARRY SULLIVAN and KATHARINE ROSS. But it's a lumbering tale that takes a good hour before the dust begins to settle and we get some action along with the character development of both Blake and Redford.
Every scene is painfully slow in getting to the payoff so that the film seems a lot longer than one hour and thirty-six minutes. The first hour is devoted to the manhunt for an Indian killer (Blake) and then the plot involves the arrival of President Taft in 1909 California and the effort to protect him from any kind of assassination attempt.
Redford's role as the reluctant sheriff is never too clear since he's a man of a very few words (a regular Gary Cooper type), so it's up to Blake to carry much of the film and he does. He's terrific as the Indian lad who's trigger happy when the posse starts getting too close.
The last twenty minutes should have been a model of suspense as they close in on Willie Boy, but it's allowed to drag out interminably.
Summing up: Character driven tale had the potential to be a fine western, but badly paced direction of Abraham Polonsky is no help nor is the sluggish script. Film was released after BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID put Redford on the map but was never a big box-office success.
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