A fiercely independent cowboy gets himself locked up in prison to escape with an old friend.


David Miller


Dalton Trumbo (screenplay), Edward Abbey (novel)
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Kirk Douglas ... John W. "Jack" Burns
Gena Rowlands ... Jerry Bondi
Walter Matthau ... Sheriff Morey Johnson
Michael Kane Michael Kane ... Paul Bondi
Carroll O'Connor ... Hinton
William Schallert ... Harry
George Kennedy ... Deputy Sheriff Gutierrez
Karl Swenson ... Rev. Hoskins
William Mims ... First Deputy Arraigning Burns (as Bill Mims)
Martin Garralaga ... Old Man
Lalo Rios Lalo Rios ... Prisoner


In order to free his best friend Paul Bondi from jail, cowboy Jack Burns gets himself imprisoned only to find out that Bondi does not want to escape. Thus Burns breaks out on his own and is afterwards being chased in the mountains by sheriff Johnson with a helicopter and jeeps. Written by Volker Boehm

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Life can never cage a man like this!


Drama | Western


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Uncredited film debut of Bill Bixby (Airman in the helicopter). See more »


Picture of Harry Truman in the Sheriff's office, typically the President's portrait in a law enforcement office would be the current office holder. At the time this film was made (1962), it should have been a portrait of JFK. See more »


[first lines]
[to his horse, as he watches jets leave contrails across the sky]
Jack Burns: Time we took off, too.
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Crazy Credits

the credits at the beginning of the film use a font with uppercase consonants and lower case vowels (of various sizes) , but for the names only. See more »


Oh! Susanna
Composed by Stephen Foster
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User Reviews

A Sad Story.
6 October 2013 | by AaronCapenBannerSee all my reviews

Kirk Douglas stars as an independent modern day cowboy named Jack Burns who laments the age he lives in, and all the restrictive laws it represents. When Burns finds out an old friend is in prison, he makes the extraordinary decision to get himself arrested, and sent into that prison so that he can help his friend escape! Unfortunately for him, his friend does not want to escape, so Burns leaves on his own, which causes the authorities to pursue him, though he is now on horseback, and they are in jeeps and helicopters, leading to a sad an inevitable outcome...

Interesting film is a well acted and directed(David Miller) story of a stubborn man who is worthy of sympathy for being born a century too late, but his stubbornness brings the problem on himself, so viewer can only relate to his plight to a point, and the sheriff in pursuit(played by Walter Matthau) is in the right. By the end, the character I really felt bad for was that horse.

Look for Bill Bixby in his film debut as a helicopter pilot.

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English | Spanish

Release Date:

25 May 1962 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Last Hero See more »


Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Joel Productions See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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