AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Alternate Title: Valdez, il Mezzosangue
Director: John Sturges (Dir)
Release Date:   14 Jul 1976
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles opening: 14 Jul 1976
Production Date:   began 17 Oct 1972 in Almeria, Spain
Duration (in mins):   98
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Cast:   Charles Bronson (Chino Valdez)  
    Jill Ireland (Louise)  
    Marcel Bozzuffi (Maral)  
    Vincent Van Patten (Jamie Wagner)  
    Fausto Tozzi (Cruz)  
    Ettore Manni (Sheriff)  
    Melissa Chimenti (Indian girl)  
    Corrado Caipa (Indian)  
    Jose Nieto    
    Diana Loris (Indian)  
    Conchita Munoz    
    Florencio Amarilla (Little Bear)  
    Luis Prendes    
    Bruno Boschetti    
    Henry Vidon    

Summary: A young boy, Jamie Wagner, rides across the desert to a horse ranch owned by a Native American, Chino Valdez. After Jamie spends the night, Chino gives him a job, and they drive a herd of horses into town. While Chino is being paid for the horses, a stagecoach arrives. Chino watches as Maral, a wealthy rancher, and his sister, Louise, get off the stage. Ricardo, a Mexican rancher, says he knows what is in Chino’s "dirty Indian mind," so Chino punches him. Ricardo draws his six-shooter, but Maral says to put it away. The Sheriff tells Chino not to make any more trouble. In a saloon, Chino beats five men into unconsciousness, so the sheriff orders him to leave town. Back at the ranch, Chino and Jamie look for a pregnant mare when Jamie spots a stallion running free. Chino says that it is “Flag”, his prize stud, who has breeding papers that go all the way back to England. When they find the mare, they discover she has given birth, but her sides are all cut up from barbed wire. Chino puts her out of her misery. They take the colt home, name him “Banner,” and nurse him by the fireplace. Later, Chino inspects his land when he sees a new barbed wire fence stuck with pieces of horseflesh. Chino rides to Maral’s house, but finds only Louise home. She explains that Maral is her half-brother and she is English. When Maral returns, he says that, according to the newest survey, Chino’s ranch is on his land and he can do what he wants with the fence. Before Chino leaves, Louise asks if she can come to see his horses. The next day, Louise arrives in British riding attire to buy a horse, but when Chino sees her sitting sidesaddle, he refuses to sell. She leaves in a huff, but returns the next day wearing pants. Chino gives her a quick riding lesson, which ends when she takes offense with Chino’s contention that she will never be a good rider because all of her “woman parts” bounce too much. A few days later, Louise interrupts Chino’s bath. As he tries to cover up, Louise says that he looks and sounds like a horse and threatens to wash his back. Chino is intimidated, but gives in to her requests for more lessons. One day, Louise watches Chino as he ropes a wild mustang. She begs him to let it go, telling Chino that she cannot stand how scared the horse is. Later, Louise watches as Flag copulates with a mare. She looks at Chino and, frightened, runs away. However, he catches her, spins her around, then kisses her and soon they are making love. Sometime later, Maral and his men threaten to burn down Chino’s ranch if he goes near Louise again. The next day, Chino and Jamie deliver two sides of beef to a Cheyenne camp. A young woman greets Chino and they go into her teepee, leaving Jamie to wander about. The children play with Jamie's blond hair until he pushes them away. That night, a woman tries to seduce Chino, but fails. When she leaves, Chino tells Jamie that when he was young, he, too, searched for a new life and met the Cheyenne. He liked them, so he stayed for a few years. However, he could see their way of life was dying out, so he decided to get a place of his own. He explains that he came back on this day to think over his problem, but they will go back to the ranch at sunrise. Upon returning home, Chino cuts a small pine for a Christmas tree. He and Jamie then ride into town for the Christmas Eve celebrations. As Jamie joins the children to break a piñata, Chino finds Louise and sneaks away with her into an empty building. Chino tells Louise that Maral threatened him, so he has decided that the only way to handle the situation is to marry her. She accepts and leaves before four of Maral’s men appear wielding knives. Chino fights the men off with a long handled pot until the sheriff arrests them all. The next day, Maral finds his sister waiting for Chino at the church and threatens to kill Chino if she does not go home. After she leaves, Chino enters the church where he is ambushed by Maral and his men. Chino is tied to the back of a horse and dragged back to his ranch where the men whip him until he is almost unconscious. Maral orders Chino to leave by the end of the day, or his men will kill him. Jamie takes Chino back to the Cheyennes, who nurse him back to health. When Chino and Jamie return home, they find that one of Maral’s men has slit Banner’s throat. The next morning, Chino buries the colt and stands watch over his herd. Four of Maral’s men appear and try to kill Flag, but they are gunned down by Chino. In the ensuing gunfight, Chino kills five men, and then unleashes a stampede of his horses. As Chino yells that he is leaving, Maral allows him to ride out of the canyon. However, Chino goes back to the ranch house and, with the exception of one horse he gives to Jamie, he drives off the remainder of his herd. He tells the boy they must go their separate ways. Chino then sets his house on fire and rides away. 

Distribution Company: Intercontinental Releasing  
Director: John Sturges (Dir)
  Roberto Cocco (Prod mgr)
  Vicente Sempere (Prod mgr)
  Tony Tarruella (Asst dir)
  Roberto Bodegas (Asst dir)
Producer: John Sturges (Prod)
Writer: Clair Huffaker (Scr)
Photography: Armando Nannuzzi (Dir of photog)
  Alfonso Avincola (Still photog)
  Giuseppe Berardini (Cam op)
  Jose A. Villalba Rodriguez (Asst cam op)
Art Direction: Mario Garbuglia (Art dir)
Film Editor: Peter Zinner (Supv ed)
  Vanio Amici (Ed)
  Giorgio De Vincenzo (Asst ed)
Set Decoration: Boris Juraga (Set dresser)
Costumes: Osanna Guardini (Cost des)
Music: Guido De Angelis (Mus)
  Maurizio De Angelis (Mus)
  Radiofilmusica S.p.A. - Rome (Published by)
Make Up: Giannetto De Rossi (Makeup)
Production Misc: John Franco (Scr supv)
  Javier Gordillo Martin (Prod asst)
  Marguerite Theoule (Prod asst)
Color Personnel: Technicolor® ([Col by])
MPAA Rating: PG
Country: Italy, France, Spain and United States
Language: English

Source Text: Based on the novel The Valdez Horses by Lee Hoffman (Garden City, 1967).
Authors: Lee Hoffman

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Peter Rodgers Organization 1/5/1976 dd/mm/yyyy PA944879

Physical Properties: Sd:
  col: Eastmancolor

Genre: Drama
Subjects (Major): Cowboys
Subjects (Minor): Brothers and sisters
  Indians of North America
  Indians of North America--Mixed blood
  Mexican Americans
  Wild horses
  Whips and whippings

Note: The end credits include the following written statements: "Vasca Navale Studios - Rome" and "An Italo-Spanish-French Co-production; Produzioni De Laurentiis Inter. MA. Co. S.p.A. - Rome; Coral Producciones Cinematograficas - Madrid; Universal Productions France - Parigi."
       Chino had multiple working titles. While a 2 Jun 1969 HR news item referred to the film as The Valdez Horses, a 26 Sep 1972 HR news item called it Chino’s Horses and the 15 Nov 1972 DV stated the title was Wild Horses.
       The print viewed for this record had no end credits.
       A 27 Mar 1969 HR article announced that Bruce Cohn Curtis purchased the film rights to Lee Hoffman’s 1967 novel, The Valdez Horses. He planned to produce the film for National General and, on 2 Jun 1969, HR stated that Stewart Stern had been hired to write screen adaptation. However, a 29 Aug 1972 DV news item announced that Curtis sold The Valdez Horses to Dino De Laurentiis as part of a multi-picture deal in which Curtis would produce. Charles Bronson was already cast in the starring role.
       According to the 25 Oct 1972 Var, principal photography began in 17 Oct 1972 in Almeria, Spain. Over 150 wild horses were “rounded up” for the production by two cowboys, brought from the U.S. The production had an eight week schedule. At that time, John Sturges was listed as producer, not Curtis, and Clair Huffaker had taken over Stern’s role as screenwriter.
       A piece in the 20 Oct 1972 LAHExam stated that twelve of the film’s horses died from what was believed to be a cold virus and that the remaining animals were quarantined. Filming was suspended for an undisclosed amount of time until authorities permitted the use of Spanish horses.
       While a 15 Nov 1972 DV news item announced that Paramount Pictures acquired distribution rights to Wild Horses, the 25 Feb 1976 HR stated that International Releasing Corp. (IRC) acquired the domestic distribution rights. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   29 Aug 1972.   
Daily Variety   15 Nov 1972.   
Hollywood Reporter   27 Mar 1969.   
Hollywood Reporter   2 Jun 1969.   
Hollywood Reporter   26 Sep 1972.   
LAHExam   20 Oct 1972.   
Variety   25 Oct 1972   

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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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