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The Last Hunt (1956)

Not Rated | | Drama, Western | 18 July 1956 (Portugal)
In 1883 South Dakota, two buffalo hunters start a personal feud over a captured squaw and a stand-off with a Dakota raiding party over some stolen horses.

Director:

Richard Brooks

Writers:

Richard Brooks (screen play), Milton Lott (novel)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Robert Taylor ... Charles Gilson
Stewart Granger ... Sandy McKenzie
Lloyd Nolan ... Woodfoot
Debra Paget ... Indian Girl
Russ Tamblyn ... Jimmy O'Brien
Constance Ford ... Peg
Joe De Santis ... Ed Black (as Joe DeSantis)
Ainslie Pryor Ainslie Pryor ... First Buffalo Hunter
Ralph Moody ... Indian Agent
Fred Graham ... Bartender
Ed Lonehill Ed Lonehill ... Spotted Hand
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Storyline

Set in the early 1880s, this is the story of one of the last buffalo hunts in the Northwest. Sandy McKinzie is tired of hunting buffalo, and tired of killing-Charley on the other hand relishes the hunt and enjoys killing buffalo and Indians. When Charley kills an Indian raiding party, and takes their squaw as his own, tension develops between the two hunters, and matters will only be settled in a showdown. Written by Buxx Banner <buxx572@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The WEST'S BIGGEST, BOLDEST STORY! (original print ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Western

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 July 1956 (Portugal) See more »

Also Known As:

A Última Caçada See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,121,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,604,000, 31 December 1956

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,983,000, 31 December 1956
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Since the story takes place during the winter, Stewart Granger wore full winter clothing for his role. However. the movie was actually filmed during the summer months in Custer State Park in South Dakota. At one point temperatures reached triple digits, Granger passed out from heat exhaustion and the crew had to cut away his clothes to revive him. See more »

Goofs

[All goofs for this title are spoilers.] See more »

Quotes

Sandy McKenzie: You know Charlie you're a special case. I never known a gun to wear a man before.
See more »

Connections

Featured in MGM Parade: Episode #1.20 (1956) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Killing's like...err, like the only real proof you are alive.
20 November 2012 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

The Last Hunt is directed by Richard Brooks who also adapts the screenplay from the novel of the same name written by Milton Lott. It stars Robert Taylor, Stewart Granger, Debra Paget, Lloyd Nolan and Russ Tamblyn. Out of MGM it's a CinemaScope/Eastman Color production with music by Daniele Amfitheatrof and cinematography by Russell Harlan.

Buffalo hunter Sandy McKenzie (Granger) is tired of the hunt, but after a quirk of fate leaves him financially struggling, he accepts an invitation from Charles Gilson (Taylor) to go out on another profitable hunt. But when out on the range, Charlie starts to show a sadistic streak, and after his capture of an Indian girl (Paget), the two men are driven even further apart. Something will have to give.

It's quite often forgotten that one of the key weapons of war is food. The buffalo was an integral animal to the Native American way of life for a number of reasons, be it food, shelter, clothes or religious worth, it was an animal of great substance. So killing them off was a viable tactic for the white man during the Indian wars. The start of Richard Brooks' film tells us that in 1853 there were 60 million buffalo in the West, but within 30 years their number would be only 30 thousand...

What unfolds in this bleak but most potent of pictures, is a tale of men emotionally battered, albeit differently, by the war, a tale tinted (tainted) by racism and ecological concerns. Essentially it's Granger's tired of it all Sandy McKenzie against Taylor's blood lust racist Charles Gilson. In the middle is Paget's Indian girl, who is courted by McKenzie but owned unwillingly by Gilson, while on the outskirts observing are the skinners, half-breed Jimmy (Tamblyn) and Woodfoot (Nolan). McKenzie can barely pull the trigger to shoot the buffalo, his inner torment etched all over his face, but Gilson can fire rapidly, a maniacal glee surfaces with each buffalo death he administers. To Gilson, one less buffalo is one less Indian, his hatred of the Indian born out when he gets chance to kill those Indians that come to be in his way.

Is it the same kind of feeling you get around a woman?

The screenplay positively pings with intelligence and thought for its subjects, crucial given that it is essentially an intimate five character piece. Brooks is aware that the themes dwelling in his movie need to be handled with care, to take a sledgehammer to make a point would be wrong. With the exception of Paget (not her fault as she plays it as written) he garners great performances from his cast, with Taylor and Granger excellent and proving to be good foil for each other. Taylor has Gilson as outright scary and nasty, but there is a shade of sympathy asked of us viewers for he is a troubled mind. When a rumble of thunder pierces the sky above the group's camp, Gilson thinks it's a buffalo herd in flight, off he goes frantically in search of more kills, practically frothing at the mouth. This man clearly needs help, but out there on the frontier there is no help for battle scarred minds.

With actual footage of buffalo killings cut into the film (part of the government thinning of the herd programme), there's plenty to feel sombre about. However, there is great beauty to be found by way of Russell Harlan's photography out of Badlands National Park and Custer State Park. These lands were once home to much pain and misery, but forever beautiful they be and in Harlan's hands they offer up another reason why The Last Hunt is essential viewing for the Western fan. It's brilliant, one of the unsung classics of 50s Westerns and proof positive that Robert Taylor, when challenged to do so, could indeed act very well. 9/10


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