6.7/10
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88 user 34 critic

The Unforgiven (1960)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, Western | 6 April 1960 (USA)
The neighbors of a frontier family turn on them when it is suspected that their adopted daughter was stolen from the local Kiowa tribe.

Director:

John Huston

Writers:

Ben Maddow (screenplay), Alan Le May (based on a novel by) (as Alan LeMay)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Burt Lancaster ... Ben Zachary
Audrey Hepburn ... Rachel Zachary
Audie Murphy ... Cash Zachary
John Saxon ... Johnny Portugal
Charles Bickford ... Zeb Rawlins
Lillian Gish ... Mattilda Zachary
Albert Salmi ... Charlie Rawlins
Joseph Wiseman ... Abe Kelsey
June Walker ... Hagar Rawlins
Kipp Hamilton ... Georgia Rawlins
Arnold Merritt ... Jude Rawlins
Doug McClure ... Andy Zachary
Carlos Rivas ... Lost Bird
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Storyline

Western about racial intolerance focuses around Kiowa claim that the Zachary daughter is one of their own, stolen in a raid. The dispute results in other whites turning their backs on the Zacharys when the truth is revealed by Mother. Cash, the hotheaded brother, reacts violently upon learning his "sister" is a "red-hide Indian." He leaves the family but returns to help them fight off an Indian raid. Written by <rita.richardson@arch2.nara.gov>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A NEW TRIUMPH FROM ACADEMY AWARD WINNER JOHN HUSTON (original ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 April 1960 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Siege at Dancing Bird See more »

Filming Locations:

Durango, Mexico

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Richard Burton was originally cast in the Audie Murphy role but declined it due to his strong superstitious beliefs. A fortune teller had predicted he would die at 33, so he did not do any film work at all in 1959. He also rejected $350k to play Christ in Nick Ray's " King of Kings " in Spain for the same reason. See more »

Goofs

When Ma Zachary lies dead on the table, her chest and stomach still move up and down from her breathing. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[yelling at a cow eating grass growing on the Zachary family's roof]
Rachel Zachary: Shoo now! Shoo! Ain't you got no better manners than to eat at the top of a house?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in California Dreams: The Unforgiven (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

The Battle Hymn of the Republic
(uncredited)
Lyrics by Julia Ward Howe
Music by William Steffe
Sung by Abe Kelsey
Also used as a theme when Portugal pursues Abe
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
John Huston Starts Trouble in Durango
23 May 2010 | by wes-connorsSee all my reviews

In the old American West, an apocalyptic horseman startles lovely, dark-haired Audrey Hepburn (as Rachel) with some prophetic proclamations. Later, matriarchal widow Lillian Gish (as Matilda Zachary) takes aim at the old codger, but he leaves without enticing a bullet from Ms. Gish's shotgun. Gish runs her ranch with three very able bodied sons - Burt Lancaster (as Ben), Audie Murphy (as Cash), and young Doug McClure (as Andy). Ms. Hepburn is the fair-haired clan's adopted sister. As it turns out, a local Native American (Kiowa) tribe wants to right an old wrong by taking Hepburn away from her adopted family. Or else, everyone dies!

John Huston's "The Unforgiven" is a flawed, but excellent film. It does seem like some positive thesis regarding race relations - explicitly "Injuns" / implicitly others - was being attempted. But, however well-meaning the project started out, the end result is a negative. All was lost, for me, the moment Mr. Lancaster orders young Mr. McClure to make a pivotal killing. That doesn't mean the movie isn't exciting or aesthetically appealing. Hepburn's authenticity should invite no criticism; remember, she is supposed to be fooling even Mr. Murphy's keen sense of "Injun" smell; yet, she sounds too liltingly "finishing school" sophisticated for the role.

As good as he is, Lancaster doesn't really command the film's attention, either. He and Hepburn are saddled (sorry) with a love story subplot dependent upon the characters being aware they are not really brother and sister, and Hepburn being ready for action. This goes nowhere. There are several other great performers in the cast, but the film belongs to the "Zachary" family members. McClure as Lancaster's wide-eyed younger brother is nicely cast. But, the real energy comes from the characters played by Gish and Murphy; both have a couple of great cinematic moments, though, like others involved here, they had off-screen problems during the filming.

******* The Unforgiven (4/6/60) John Huston ~ Burt Lancaster, Audrey Hepburn, Lillian Gish, Audie Murphy


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