AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Director: Gary Nelson (Dir)
Release Date:   Sep 1973
Premiere Information:   World premiere in Houston, TX: 1 Aug 1973
Production Date:   early Jun--early Oct 1972 in Santa Fe, NM
Duration (in mins):   93
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Cast:   Glenn Ford (Santee)  
    Michael Burns (Jody [Deaks])  
    Dana Wynter (Valerie [Santee])  
    Jay Silverheels (John Crow)  
    Harry Townes (Sheriff [Stu] Carter)  
    John Larch (Banner)  
    Robert Wilke (Deaks)  
    Robert Donner (J. C.)  
    Taylor Lacher (Lance)  
    John Bailey (Homesteader)  
    X Brands (Hook)  
    Caruth C. Byrd (Piano player)  
    Chuck Courtney (Grayson)  
    Lindsay Crosby (Horn)  
    William Ford (Postmaster)  
    John Hart (Cobbles)  
    Russ McCubbin (Rafe)  
    Robert Mellard (Jonesy)  
    Brad Merhege (Santee's son)  
    Boyd Morgan (Stagecoach driver)  
    Ben Zeller (Freddie)  

Summary: After following the written instructions of his outlaw father to wait at a stagecoach stop for three weeks, young Jody Deaks finally reunites with Deaks, who arrives with three members of his gang. Although happy to see his son, Deaks reveals that the gang is on the run from a determined and shrewd bounty hunter, Santee, but Jody insists on accompanying them to Mexico. Soon after they depart, Deaks splits the group, intending to reconvene at a river crossing, but Santee anticipates their plan and confronts two gang members at the river who resist and are killed. Frustrated when Santee does not delay to bury the dead but continues his pursuit, Deaks decides to ambush him at a rocky pass, but sends Jody away with the horses. Unexpectedly confronted by Santee from behind, Deaks’s surviving partner tries to shoot him but is gunned down. Santee asks Deaks to surrender and the outlaw pleads for the life of his son, whom he summons. After agreeing to come peaceably, however, Deaks reaches for a gun, forcing Santee to kill him as Jody looks on, horrified. Although carrying a pistol, the stunned Jody hurls it away yet vows revenge on Santee. After retrieving the bodies of the gang, Santee suggests Jody accompany him if he wants to have a proper burial service for his father and the youth follows him sullenly back to Bakertown. There, Santee turns over the dead bodies to his longtime friend Sheriff Stu Carter, who reveals his plans to retire to begin farming. Later at the town stable, Santee discovers Jody has sold three of the horses to purchase a gun, which the youth declares he will use on the bounty hunter in the future. When Santee rides off, Jody, who has nowhere else to go, rides with him. At dawn the next morning, Jody joins Santee at the campfire and notices numerous scars on the older man's chest. Santee reluctantly explains that several years earlier, he was sheriff of Bakertown and after he allowed the notorious Banner gang access to the town, Banner shot him in an unprovoked attack and left him for dead. Santee adds that upon recovering, he gave up his sheriff’s position and became a bounty hunter. Santee then invites Jody to accompany him to his Three Arrows Ranch, but warns him that no one discusses his work there. A day later, Santee and Jody arrive at the ranch, and are welcomed by top hand John Crow and Santee’s wife Valerie. Over the next few days, Jody strikes up a friendship with John, who is impressed by the young man’s knowledge of horses. Although Jody finds himself unexpectedly content, he is nevertheless confused when the Santees offer him a place at the ranch if he wants to stay. Hoping to understand the family better, Jody later asks John about the name of the ranch as the Santee brand and ranch signs depict only two arrows. John relates that Santee purchased the land to build a ranch for Val and their ten-year-old son, but the boy was shot to death by Banner during his attack on Santee. John explains that Santee became a bounty hunter out of guilt over his son’s death and that although Val cannot bear her husband’s profession, she does not protest. Over the next few weeks, Jody grows more comfortable with the Santees and learns to brand cattle and round up wild horses. One afternoon while Santee and Val are out riding together, they hear several distant shots and track them to a small valley where they find Jody target practicing. When tentatively questioned by Santee, Jody states that the ranch has enough seasoned hands and he does not wish to live off the family for free, so suggests that he train to be Santee’s bounty hunting partner. Although Santee agrees to consider this, Val privately advises Jody not to walk in any man’s shoes but his own. Back at the Three Arrows, Val confesses to her husband that she hopes that he never goes out again. After Jody has been at the ranch for eight months, Stu pays a visit and notices the ranch sign now has three arrows. In private, Stu informs Santee that the old Banner gang has been sighted near Bakertown and is likely headed for Mexico. After Stu dines with the family, Santee privately tells him he is not going out after outlaws again and hopes to surprise Val with this news. Stu congratulates Santee and rides back to town. The following morning, Banner and his gang ride into Bakertown where Stu meets them to ask to keep the peace, but Banner shoots him and several townspeople while the gang robs the bank. When Santee learns of the murders he chastises himself for not returning to town with Stu, but Val points out that Stu did not ask for help. Incensed, Jody declares they must go after the Banner gang, but Santee reveals he has promised Val to give up bounty hunting. The next morning when Santee learns Jody has ridden off alone, Val agrees he must go after him. While Santee tracks Jody, the Banner gang arrives in a small border town where Banner insists that they relax and enjoy their plunder before going on to Mexico. When Santee locates Jody, the younger man is pleased and the pair sets off together after Banner. Arriving that night in the small town, Santee and Jody see Banner’s men in the saloon. Santee advises Jody not to hesitate and make his shots count. After Jody climbs upstairs, he breaks inside and attacks an outlaw as Santee opens fire downstairs. A brutal gun battle ensues with Jody eventually killing two more men before joining Santee in cornering Banner on the stairwell. Before dawn the next morning, Val and John hear a wagon arriving at the Three Arrows. Peering through the darkness, Val is relieved to see Santee, but saddened to see the wagon carrying a casket bearing Jody. 

Production Company: American Video-Cinema, Inc.  
  Vagabond Productions, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Crown International Pictures  
Director: Gary Nelson (Dir)
  Mike Messinger (Asst dir)
Producer: Cal Habern (Exec prod)
  Deno Paoli (Prod)
  Edward Platt (Prod)
  Rosalee Berman (Assoc prod)
  Bob Franchini (Assoc prod)
Writer: Brand Bell (Wrt)
  Tom Blackburn (Wrt)
Photography: Donald Morgan (Dir of photog)
  Larry Boelens (Gaffer)
  Calvin Sterry (Key grip)
Art Direction: Mort Rabinowitz (Art dir)
Film Editor: George W. Brooks (Film ed)
  Don Ruth (Asst film ed)
Set Decoration: Leonard Mazzola (Set dec)
  Michael Ross (Prop master)
Costumes: Dick Bruno (Ward)
Music: Don Randi (Mus comp & cond)
  Ving Hershon (Mus ed)
Sound: Robert Post (Sd mixer)
  Chuck Wilborn (Sd)
  Stevens Editorial (Sd eff)
  Glen Glenn Sound (Rec)
Special Effects: Lombardi Enterprises, Inc. (Spec eff)
  Howard A. Anderson Co. (Titles & opticals)
  Image Transform, Inc. ((Videotape transfer))
Make Up: Lou Lacava (Makeup)
  Caroline Elias (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: Claude Sinton Jr. (Prod mgr)
  Kathryn Joyce King (Scr supv)
  Lou Dyer (Unit pub)
  Caruth C. Byrd Enterprises, Inc. (Prod coord)
  J. "Skeet" Wilson (Prod coord)
Stand In: Chuck Courtney (Stunt coord)
MPAA Rating: PG
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "Jody," music by Don Randi, lyrics by Bob Silver and Pete Willcox, sung by The Raiders, featuring Paul Revere and Mark Lindsay.
Composer: Don Randi
  Bob Silver
  Pete Willcox
Source Text:

Physical Properties: Sd:

Genre: Western
Subjects (Major): Bounty hunters
  Family relationships
Subjects (Minor): Cattle
  Fathers and sons
  Indians of North America

Note: Although a copyright statement appears onscreen, the picture was not registered by Crown International Pictures, Inc. until 15 Jun 2000, at which time it was issued number RE-831-655. According to an early HR production chart, the film was being shot in Mexico, but a later chart indicated New Mexico. Onscreen credits state that the film was shot in Santa Fe, NM.
       Several news items reported that Santee was the first theatrical feature to be videotaped then transferred to film for theatrical distribution. However, the first theatrical release of a motion picture originally videotaped then transferred onto film was the 1963 Warner Bros. release Hamlet (see above). Several other video-to-film features also were released prior to Santee . Although a number of news items, as well as the Var , LAT and other reviews list the original story by Brand Bell and the screenplay by Tom Blackburn, only Bell received onscreen credit for the script. Although their appearance in the film has not been confirmed, HR production charts add Dick McGuire and Ron Casebolt to the cast.  

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   13 Aug 1973   p. 4615.
Daily Variety   24 May 1972.   
Daily Variety   31 May 1972.   
Daily Variety   9 Jul 1973.   
Daily Variety   25 Sep 1973.   
Hollywood Reporter   25 May 1972.   
Hollywood Reporter   9 Jun 1972   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Jun 1972.   
Hollywood Reporter   6 Oct 1972   p. 11.
Los Angeles Times   25 Jul 1974.   
Variety   3 Oct 1973   p. 14.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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