Last Hunt, The (1956): Richard Brooks Western, Starring Robert Taylor, Stewart Granger, Lloyd Nolan, Debra Paget, Russ Tamblyn (as half Indian)

Richard Brooks directed and wrote the Western, The Last Hunt, from Milton Lott’s highly acclaimed novel of the same title.

The film stars Robert Taylor and Stewart Granger, with Lloyd Nolan, Debra Paget and Russ Tamblyn (as half Indian) in supporting roles.

Anne Bancroft was cast as the Indian girl. After three weeks of shooting, Bancroft was injured after falling from a horse; she was replaced by Debra Paget.

The music score was by Daniele Amfitheatrof and the cinematography by Russell Harlan.

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Theatrical Film Poster

Sandy McKenzie (Stewart Granger) sets out on his last hunt with his new partner, the obsessive Charles Gilson (Robert Taylor).

While McKenzie has grown tired of buffalo hunting, Gilson derives pleasure from his “stands” – killing a herd of buffalo at one time.

When Gilson chases down and kills an Indian raiding party, he takes an Indian woman and her child captive. The presence of the native woman causes tension and Gilson becomes paranoid and deranged, leading to stand-off between the two former partners.

In the final scene, McKenzie and the woman emerge from shelter to find that Gilson, though wearing buffalo hide as protection from the cold, has frozen to death during the night, while waiting to ambush them.

The music score was by Daniele Amfitheatrof and the cinematography by Russell Harlan.

MGM bought the film rights and announced it as a vehicle for Stewart Granger in February 1955.

The film was the first of only three westerns directed by Brooks, and his first film after the critically acclaimed Blackboard Jungle (1955).

Granger and director Brooks were reportedly not fond of one another, especially after Brooks married Granger’s ex-wife, Jean Simmons.

The film earned $1,750,000 in American rental during its first year of release. It recorded admissions of 1,201,326 in France.

According to MGM records, the film earned $1,604,000 in the US and $1,379,000 overseas, resulting in a loss of $323,000.

“The public couldn’t stand it”, said Brooks. “In England most of the scenes with the buffalo were cut out. In the States they couldn’t stand it because of their own guilt… I learnt something very valuable: when you deal with a subject that is traditional, don’t deny it to the public… If you want to do the real thing, the way the West really was, do it on a small budget and don’t expect any miracles.”


Cast

Robert Taylor as Charles Gilson
Stewart Granger as Sandy McKenzie
Lloyd Nolan as Woodfoot
Debra Paget as Indian Girl
Russ Tamblyn as Jimmy O’Brien
Constance Ford as Peg
Joe DeSantis as Ed Black
Ainslie Pryor as First Buffalo Hunter
Ralph Moddy as Indian Agent
Fred Graham as Bartender
Ed Lonehill as Spotted Hand

Credits:

Directed by Richard Brooks
Screenplay by Brooks, based on novel by Milton Lott
Produced by Dore Schary
Cinematography Russell Harlan; Eastmancolor

Edited by Ben Lewis
Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof

Production and distribution: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Release date: April 30, 1956 (US)

Running time: 108 minutes
Budget $2,121,000
Box office $2,983,000