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Jeremiah Johnson (1972) Poster

Trivia

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Trapper John Johnston's body was buried in the Veterans Administration cemetery in Los Angeles, CA. After the movie came out, Johnston's body was reburied at Old Trail Town in Cody, WY. Robert Redford was a pallbearer in the reburial ceremony attended by 2,000 people.
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Many of the locations for the film were shot on or near Robert Redford's property in Utah (he owned approximately 600 acres there at the time), although some locations were as much as 600 miles away.
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Based upon a real-life trapper named John Johnston, nicknamed "Crow Killer" and "Liver Eater Johnston" for his penchant for cutting out and eating the livers of Crow Indians he had killed (several Crows had murdered his wife and he swore vengeance against the entire tribe).
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Robert Redford has described this as his favorite of all his movies. He likes that Johnson suffers but he continues on.
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Scores of American Indians from northern Utah were hired as actors, extras and background artists.
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As he lived in the Utah region, star Robert Redford often acted as a tour guide for the film's location scouts and recces.
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Liver Eatin' Johnston's wife (who was pregnant at the time) was actually killed by a random raiding party of Blackfeet, not as revenge for a violation of their burial grounds. She was killed in the spring while Johnston was off trapping and he didn't return to find her body until several months later. He identified the band that had killed her because he recognized a Tennessee rifle he had given her in the possession of a Blackfeet warrior. Also, rather than isolated incidents as shown in the movie, Johnston often recruited other mountain men as well as Indians (particularly Flatheads) to help him with his vendetta. The part about the warriors sent to kill him and told not to return without his scalp was true.
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Reportedly, Robert Redford did many of his own stunts. Redford also apparently paid the stunt guild accordingly so as to not put any stuntman out of work.
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According to the book "Crow Killer", the Crazy Woman was a real person who had settled in the Wolf Tail Valley. After her children were killed and her husband taken captive, she remained in her cabin. Liver Eatin' Johnson, Del Gue and Anton Sepulveda were among the mountain men who "avenged" her. One popular story was that the mountain man known as "Hatchet Jack" was actually her husband who had gone insane after being scalped and tortured by the Blackfeet when they took him away. It was known that Hatchet Jack had been scalped at some point in his life and that he was mentally unbalanced. Johnson refers to this when he tells the Crazy Woman that he cannot find any sign of her husband, but that he might return if he escaped from the Indians.
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Robert Redford once said of doing his own stunts on the film: "I like the tough stuff. Half the fun of making movies is doing the action scenes. Anyone can say words. Don't get me wrong. The stunt guys are really necessary and I never do the stunts where a pro can pull it off safer and better. But I do like to do the action where the camera is too close to tell a lie and the movie's insurance men are back at the office making out policies".
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The movie's technical director was a Flathead American Indian from Montana. One of his key jobs was to act as coach for Delle Bolton, who was playing Jeremiah Johnson's Indian wife Swan.
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One of seven pictures director Sydney Pollack made with actor Robert Redford.
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A complete Flathead Indian village was constructed in a remote mountain area which had become famous for its ancient archaeological prehistoric dinosaur discoveries.
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The movie's scenes set in summer were filmed near St. George, UT, which is where star Robert Redford's earlier western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) was filmed.
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Casting for the role of Swan, Jeremiah's wife, took three months. After auditioning for a role in a different film, actress Delle Bolton was spotted by the casting director. She was interviewed along with 200 Native American women and eventually won the role.
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According to writer John Milius, he didn't get along with Robert Redford and Sydney Pollack and was fired. Milius claimed that subsequent writers couldn't write as he did, and the only one who made a contribution to the script was Edward Anhalt. After Anhalt left the project, Pollack and Redford rehired Milius to finish the film.
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This was Delle Bolton's only film.
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Robert Redford once said of the freezing cold temperatures on the shoot: "We had seven cases of frostbite, four cases of strep throat, two cases of pneumonia--and only three cases of Napoleon brandy! One week the thermometer didn't get up to zero once. Even the horses balked at coming out of their stalls. [Sydney Pollack] wondered where it was all going to end. I had a good idea, because I live there all year-round and know how tough a Utah winter can be. The weather couldn't have been rougher for the crew, but terrific for the finished film".
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Sydney Pollack referred to this film as his "silent movie".
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According to Sydney Pollack, it took him over two weeks to photograph the sequence with an actual 600-pound grizzly bear.
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Robert Redford fought to have the movie filmed in Utah, but the studio wanted an L.A. soundstage. Sydney Pollack put up his own money to make up the difference to film on location.
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The picture was based on two published sources: the non-fiction "Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson" by Raymond W. Thorp and Robert Bunker (1958) and the fictional "Mountain Man: A Novel of Male and Female in the Early American West' (1965) by Vardis Fisher.
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The real-life "mountain men" of the Rocky Mountains spoke a language that was a combination of Spanish, St-Louis French and quasi-frontier English.
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According to the short documentary, The Saga of Jeremiah Johnson (1972), the movie shot in sections of Utah that had never been accessed before, except by actual "mountain men".
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Part of a 1970s / early 1980s cycle of Hollywood "mountain man" films, including Man in the Wilderness (1971), Death Hunt (1981), The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams (1974), Jeremiah Johnson (1972), Adventures of the Wilderness Family 3 (1979), Mother Lode (1982) and The Mountain Men (1980).
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Not until the very end of shooting the picture did director Sydney Pollack decide the fate of what would happen to Jeremiah Johnson (Robert Redford) at the end of the film, though in reality, Redford decided.
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The role of Jeremiah Johnson was originally to be played by Lee Marvin and then Clint Eastwood, with Sam Peckinpah attached to direct. However, after Peckinpah and Eastwood did not get along, Peckinpah left the project and Eastwood decided to make Dirty Harry (1971) instead. Warner Bros. then stepped in and set up John Milius' screenplay as a vehicle for Robert Redford. With still no director attached, Redford talked Sydney Pollack into taking the helm; the two were looking for another film to collaborate on after This Property Is Condemned (1966).
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Director Sydney Pollack, producer Joe Wizan and art director Ted Haworth drove over 26,000 miles scouting locations for the movie.
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During principal photography the temperature dropped as low as -25° Fahrenheit.
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State and national parks and forests in Utah featured in the movie included the Uinta National Forest in Provo; the Zion National Park in Springdale; the Wasatch National Forest (aka the Wasatch-Cache National Forest) in Salt Lake City; the Snow Canyon State Park in Ivins and the Ashley National Forest in Vernal.
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According to Sydney Pollack, Robert Redford directed the pacing: "He became another kind of actor, far more internal."
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Filming locations that could not be accessed by car or truck were scouted instead from the air.
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The campfire scene near the beginning of the movie is nearly identical to the main feature of Jack London's short story "To Build a Fire", except for the fate of the main character.
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Actors John Rubinstein and Tim McIntire were given the assignment of providing the film's music as the budget was so tight, the production couldn't afford a named composer.
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"Fort Hawley", mentioned twice in the movie, was the actual historical Fort Hall, a well-known trading post established in 1834 along the Snake River in present-day southern Idaho. There actually was a Fort Hawley located below Fort Benton on the south side of the Missouri, 20 miles above the Musselshell River.
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The Italian release title of the film was called "Red Crow You Will Not Have My Scalp".
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Almost 100 locations were utilized during production.
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The film was entered into competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 1972. It was the first western to be entered in the competition.
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The term "Plews" refers to the best quality beaver pelts.
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John Milius was paid $5000 for his first take on the screenplay. He was hired for various rewrites and ended up earning in the region of $80,000.
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Principal photography began in January 1971, but unexpected changes in weather threatened production. Even after Sydney Pollack mortgaged his home to make up for budgetary constraints, production was very limited as threat of going over budget loomed. "The snows of St. George in southern Utah were terrible," said Pollack, "and we were using Cinemobiles as the lifelines. There was no way I was going to let it overrun, and [Robert Redford] was a superb partner in keeping us tight. In the end it was the greatest way to learn production, because I was playing with my own money." Struggling with weather and budgetary concerns, very rarely was there time or money to shoot any second takes.
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Sydney Pollack called this one of the most "purely visual films" he ever made.
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Robert Redford is known for his active role as a wilderness conservationist. He says this mythic tale about a mountain man is exactly the movie he wanted to do.
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Robert Redford worked a lot behind the scenes. Sydney Pollack claimed that he was always "riding snowmobiles and digging us out and laboring."
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Delle Bolton was coached by a Flathead on how to act as a chief's daughter and a mountain man's wife.
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This was the seventh highest grossing film of 1972.
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Bad weather plagued the production but they were still able to bring the film in on time and on budget.
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The film took 7-1/2 months to edit. "It's a picture that was made as much in the editing room as it was in the shooting," said Sydney Pollack. 'It was a film where you used to watch dailies and everybody would fall asleep, except /Robert Redford (I)'] and I, because all you had were these big shots of a guy walking his horse through the snow. You didn't see strong narrative line. It's a picture made out of rhythms and moods and wonderful performances."
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In Finland this film is called "Silmä silmästä", which means 'an eye for an eye' in English.
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The picture was shot in Utah where Robert Redford owns a ranch and property. The state is also home to where his Sundance Film Festival is held each year. Redford's later contemporary cowboy picture, The Electric Horseman (1979), was partially shot in Utah.
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A short ten-minute promotional featurette was made for this film and distributed in theaters. It is called The Saga of Jeremiah Johnson (1972) and is included on the Warner Home Video DVD.
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The movie was made before Robert Redford's The Candidate (1972) but not released until after it, in December of 1972, to capitalize on and coincide with the publicity surrounding the 1972 US elections.
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The movie features opening overture running for around three minutes and then in the middle of the film about a two minute entr'acte (French for "between the acts") intermission. The film's DVD release restores the overture and the exit music which were deleted from the home video releases.
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Paul Benedict (AKA) Mr. Bentley from the Jefferson plays the Reverend in this movie, but if you take close notice, he also is uncredited as Frozen Hatchet Jack.
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According to Sydney Pollack, in the original script, Johnson was a "Paul Bunyan type who ate trees."
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Film debut of Josh Albee.
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It took around three months to cast the major female role of "The Swan" (aka "Swan"), the indigenous American Indian wife character of Robert Redford.
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The temperature went to such freezing cold levels during the shoot that the density of the ground became the same as that of concrete.
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David Rayfiel did an uncredited rewrite on the screenplay.
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The film score was composed by John Rubinstein and Tim McIntyre, both of whom are best known as actors.
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The soundtrack LP was not released until 1976 by Warner Bros. Records. On October 5, 2009, a restored and extended version of the LP was released by Film Score Monthly.
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This is Robert Redford's first film role with a beard. He sports a moustache in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).
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Star Robert Redford had previously starred in another snowbound movie called Downhill Racer (1969) which had been made and released around three years earlier.
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Johnson never answers the question about the Crows.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Robert Redford once said of what happens to his character at the end of the movie: "[Sydney Pollack] wanted me to freeze to death but I preferred to leave Johnson's fate up to the audience's imagination by having him disappear into the mountains". 'The Virgin Film Guide' noted that "That ambiguous fate is exactly what happened to the real Johnson".
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Notoriously, influential New Yorker critic Pauline Kael based much of her review around the idea that in the final shot Johnson flips Paints-His-Shirt-Red off, as she saw the movie without her spectacles.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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