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Tom Horn (1980) Poster

(1980)

Trivia

Five directors worked on this film, but were either fired or left because of disagreements with Steve McQueen. It is widely believed that McQueen directed much of the movie himself.
Filmed at the beginning of 1979, Steve McQueen was already very ill with cancer. He began coughing up blood towards the end of filming, but assumed he had pneumonia.
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The film was a critical and commercial failure on release.
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According to an article about Steve McQueen's western films in Cowboys & Indians Magazine (to celebrate the DVD release of Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958)), McQueen thoroughly researched the life of Tom Horn by spending time with famed western novelist Louis L'Amour, who had many of Horn's letters in his private collection.
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Steve McQueen's weight loss was said to be due to a crash diet.
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Due to an unfavorable critical response the film only had a limited release and was soon withdrawn from theaters.
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Steve McQueen gave up smoking cigarettes after developing a persistent cough at the end of 1978, just before filming began.
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United Artists were planning a film about Tom Horn at the same time, to star Robert Redford.
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An alternate ending was shot where the townspeople filed out of the building where Horn was executed. The sole person left in the room was one of the "kid deputies" standing guard at the door.
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When Gary Combs tested the replica gallows trapdoor system, the "Peter Pan" safety cable broke, causing him to suffer a rope burn on his neck when the breakaway knot released, saving his life.
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The type of gallows used to hang Horn from are called "Julian Gallows". This device uses water to initiate the action. Not as efficient as the more conventional method, reportedly the first use of the contraption (not for Horn) required a wait of 30 minutes before the trap dropped.
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When the film was released some critics suggested that Steve McQueen had lost his charismatic screen presence after being away for too long. He had retired from acting after The Towering Inferno (1974), returning three years later to make An Enemy of the People (1978) which was never properly released.
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Steve McQueen had struggled to find film work after the failure of An Enemy of the People (1978).
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The film was heavily re-edited ahead of its March 1980 release, but still flopped.
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At the premiere Steve McQueen denied newspaper reports that he had lung cancer.
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In February 1980 Steve McQueen's cancer was found to have spread. On 11 March 1980, just 17 days before this film premiered, the "National Enquirer" reported that his condition was terminal.
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Tom Horn's rifle (a Winchester 1894 in .30-30) was also used to put down the famous bronco Steamboat (the basis for the 'bucking horse and rider' on Wyoming license plates) after he was injured at a rodeo in Salt Lake City in 1914.
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William Goldman wrote an early version of the screenplay, with Don Siegel attached as director. Siegel dropped out after disagreements with Steve McQueen (whom Goldman found to be extremely eccentric), and Goldman's script, which McQueen rejected, was later the basis for Mr. Horn (1979). This was rushed into production to compete with this film, making it onto the airways several months ahead of the film's much-delayed release.
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According to director Arthur Penn, the real-life Tom Horn was the inspiration for the villainous Marlon Brando character in his film The Missouri Breaks (1976). In interviews, Penn described his screenwriter, Thomas McGuane, as an expert on the life of Tom Horn, which may be why McGuane is also one of the screenwriters on this rather different version of Horn's adventures.
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The rifle Horn uses to such deadly effect in the film is an original Winchester Model 1876 in .45-60 caliber, fitted with a custom tang sight. Manufactured from 1877-1894, the Model '76 was an obsolete arm by the turn of the century, when the events of the story take place. All the available historical sources state that Horn actually used a .30-30 Winchester Model 1894 for his controversial activities as a "stock detective" in Wyoming. Horn gave this rifle to rancher C.B. Irwin not long before Horn's execution on November 20, 1903. It resides today in the collection of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.
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This was the first and only Steve McQueen vehicle to receive an R rating.
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Post-production was fraught - the producers attempting both a linear version of the film and then another telling the story in flashback, before settling on the former approach. The film was still being reedited ahead of its March 1980 release date, but to no avail - it received poor reviews and was another box office failure.
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This was William Wiard's only feature film directing credit.
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After Don Siegel quit as director, he was replaced with Elliot Silverstein and then James William Guercio, who was fired after three days by Steve McQueen, who then wanted to direct himself but DGA rules forbidding actors from taking over direction once filming had begun scotched these plans and instead TV movie director William Wiard was brought in to finish the film.
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Steve McQueen initially wanted to adapt Harold Pinter's play Old Times but First Artists insisted that he instead film this, a script they had owned for some time, as the final film in the star's three picture deal he had signed with them under Warner Bros.
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Average Shot Length = ~6.5 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~6.4 seconds.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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