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In Pursuit of Treasure (1972) Poster

Trivia

Scott Glenn film debut.
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The AFI came into being in 1967 thanks to funding from Lyndon B. Johnson's newly created National Endowment for the Arts. AFI's founding director, George Stevens Jr., saw a chance to use federal money not only to study the history and theory of film, but also to fund independent films - and connect with the New Hollywood of the Warren Beattys and Robert Townes that was boisterously emerging from the canyons and flat lands to the east of Greystone. By 1969 Stevens was ready to undertake the school's biggest gamble - the complete funding of a film project chosen from among its fellows' scripts. The film would not simply be a big-budget student movie - the finished product would receive commercial distribution, people would see it in theaters Kaye had once wanted to make a movie about pioneers from the doomed Donner Party, but the story he and Stevens settled on was an allegorical Western concerning a mining enterprise on the frontier - though not any frontier that John Ford fans would have recognized.

"It was set in the scientific future, it had robots in it," Kaye recalls. "A small group of disenfranchised people in this small town come at night and try to tear apart the mining operation."

Specifically, the disenfranchised were a tribe of Indians who had been forced off their ore-rich land by private speculators who surrounded the mine with a giant red, electrified fence. The story focused on them and a young man who comes West and falls in love with the wife of the mine's overseer. It was inspired by persistent legends, fueled by Southwestern cave petroglyphs, of Aztec gold having been buried in North America.
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In Pursuit of Treasure was shot over 11 weeks in 1970 with Panavision cameras in Kanab, Utah, with union waivers, a $220,000 budget and even logistical help from the state's National Guard. It featured young actors Scott Glenn, Elizabeth Hartman and Bonnie Bedelia, along with such veterans as Marc Lawrence and Jay Silverheels, the Mohawk* actor known as Tonto in the Lone Ranger TV series. Czech cinematographer Bedrich Batka would eventually shoot most of the principal photography, with Deschanel heading up the second unit.
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Later in 1972, however, Kaye stole the AFI's work print and drove with the 10 reels in the back seat of his car to New York, stopping in Kansas City to visit director Robert Altman. Taking Altman's advice, Kaye arranged a showing of his work in progress in the basement screening room of Rizzoli Bookstore in Manhattan. Kaye's bad luck continued in New York, as his art-world audience was politely unimpressed with the very rough cut that had yet to be scored. Kaye had to borrow $20 just to get the projectionist to rewind his film. So there Kaye was, Broke, busted - the film no good. When he got back to L.A. a friend told him the FBI is looking for him The suits at AFI had discovered In Pursuit of Treasure was missing.
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