Name Occurs Before Title
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New York opening: 19 Jan 1977; Los Angeles opening: 3 Nov 1976
began 24 Nov 1975 in Toronto, Canada
Duration (in mins):
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Gloria Carlin Chetwynd
While deer hunting, National Guardsmen Rex, Lou, Zeke, Pete, and Bob come upon a river and spot another group of hunters on the other side. One of the other hunters raises his rifle and fires. Peter drops to the ground, shot in the head. When Rex orders his men to return fire, a gun battle ensues until Zeke shoots a man between the eyes. The other group scatters, dragging their fallen comrade with them. After realizing the bullet has only grazed Pete’s skull, the men hike back to their car and drive towards the nearest hospital. As they discuss the shooting on the drive, Lou is worried about the legal ramifications of killing a man. His companions argue it was self-defense, but Lou insists it is not that simple. Hearing police sirens, the men go to Lou’s home instead of the hospital where they call Jim, a local veterinarian, who tends to Pete’s wound. Afterward, Rex announces they are not going to report the shooting. When Lou protests, Rex explains that the other hunters will report the man’s death as a hunting accident since they cannot admit they started a firefight. Everyone, including Lou, promises to keep the shooting a secret. Later that night, Rex returns home to find his estranged wife, Ellen, waiting for him. She wonders why he is not with his girlfriend on a Saturday night. He reminds her that he is willing to give her a divorce, but prefers the status quo. A few days later, Rex sees an obituary that fits the description of the dead hunter. He calls the widow, Mrs. Graham, pretending to be a college friend of the deceased and asks to pay his respects. Mrs. Graham is drunk when Rex arrives at her house, and she explains she was told her husband was killed in a hunting accident. She flirts with Rex, who takes his leave by saying he has to attend a National Guard meeting. That night at the armory, Rex tells Lou that he believes Graham’s friends did not report the shooting because they intend to seek revenge; Rex believes Graham’s friends will come gunning for them. Lou wants to go to the police, but Rex has made up his mind to fight it out. The next day, Rex discovers that Lou shared their conversation with Zeke. When Rex confronts Lou, demanding to know Lou’s alliance, Lou declines to defend his fellow guardsman. Rex then calls the rest of the group to a meeting at the armory and is surprised to see Lou in attendance. Briefing the men on his plans, Rex predicts that the enemy will be waiting for them at their hunting grounds on Saturday morning, probably with heavily armed reinforcements. He argues that they must recruit more men and be heavily armed. He orders Lou to procure automatic weapons, as well as helmets and flak jackets. However, Lou begs his friends to stop the madness before there is a slaughter. Rex insists he is not looking for a fight, but vows to retaliate if one of the other hunters fires first. Later, Rex orders Sargent Bellows from the armory to supply him with enough equipment, grenades and automatic weapons for twenty men. When Bellows protests, Rex says he will expose Bellows for stealing the armory’s rifles and selling them. Bellows gives in to the blackmail. On Saturday morning, Ellen tells Rex that Lou informed her about the “mission” and begs Rex not to go, fearing he will be killed. She offers to grant him the divorce he wants under the condition that he call off the fight, but he tells her it will be all right and leaves. Rex gathers his army, and they discover that Bellows forgot to pack the flak jackets. Lou unexpectedly meets them near the river and after a brief discussion, the men agree to take him along. While Zeke checks out the far bank, Rex deploys his troops over the snow-covered ground. A young recruit tells Rex that they are wasting their time. To prove it, he stands in plain sight and discharges his weapon. Across the river, camouflaged men leap from well-prepared foxholes and open fire, riddling the recruit’s body with bullets. Rex’s men are quickly massacred as Rex passes out from a head wound. Much later, a permanently blinded Rex lies in a hospital room and thinks about his fallen friends. In his mind, he sees the mangled dead bodies of his troops and wishes that he had gotten to the river earlier so that he could have slaughtered the other side first.
Essex Enterprises Ltd.
Getty Picture Corporation
Stonehenge Productions Corporation
Harmar Productions Limited
A Melniker/Ben Efraim Presentation
A Getty Picture Corporation and Essex Enterprises Ltd. Production
Avco Embassy Pictures
Herbert G. Luft
(Dir of photog)
(1st asst cam)
Film House Toronto
William F. White Ltd.
(Mus comp and cond)
Major Tom Brown
(Asst to prod)
Canada and United States
Based on the novel
by Douglas Fairbairn (Garden City, NY, 1973).
Essex Enterprises, Ltd.
United States. National Guard
The following written statements appear in the end credits: "Filmed on locations around Toronto, Canada;" and "The Producers wish to acknowledge the kind cooperation of: Famous Players Film Company, a division of Famous Players Limited; The Royal Canadian Military Institute Museum; The Prince Hotel; Bad Boy Appliances and Furniture Ltd.; Toronto Squash Club; Waldorf-Astoria Hotel; City TV-Channel Seventy-Nine; Queen-Bee Productions Ltd."
A 20 Feb 1973
news brief announced that executive producer and writer Dick Berg of Stonehenge Productions Corporation purchased the film rights to Douglas Fairbairn’s sought after novel,
before it was published. According to the 9 Mar 1973
Berg first became aware of the novel by a full-page advertisement in the same publication and paid $85,000 for the property, which reunited him with Fairbairn after ten years. In 1962, Berg produced a television adaptation of a Fairbairn novella that was broadcast as
The Voice of Charlie Pont
anthology series on the American Broadcast System (ABC). The episode won six Emmy awards and featured a young Robert Redford, whom Berg hoped to cast in
A news item in the 4 Apr 1973
stated that production was planned for the fall of 1973. However, a 19 Jul 1974
brief reported that the start date for principal photography was now scheduled for sometime in Nov 1974 with Stonehenge co-producing with Getty Picture Corporation. The 8 Dec 1975
announced that filming began 24 Nov 1975 in Toronto, Canada.
An 8 Dec 1975
brief, announced that Best International had acquired the worldwide distribution rights to the film while distribution in the U.S. was to be handled by Avco Embassy.
According to a piece in the 1 Apr 1976
Avco Embassy Pictures screened previews of
and the Swedish film
The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea
during a nationwide promotional campaign in Apr 1976.
8 Dec 1975.
1 Apr 1976.
20 Feb 1973.
4 Apr 1973.
19 Jul 1974.
28 May 1976
New York Times
20 Jan 1977.
9 Mar 1973
2 Jun 1976
Display Movie Summary
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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