M | | Drama, Western
In 1909, when young Paiute Indian Willie Boy returns to his California reservation to be with Lola, whose father disapproves of him, a killing in self defense takes place, triggering a massive man hunt for Willie.
Abraham Polonsky said to a USC film class at the time that he purposely shot and edited the manhunt sequences with characters moving in all directions across the screen, rather than in the usual way wherein both runners and pursuers would move in the same direction across the shots (i.e., left to right) to enhance the impression of urgent suspense in a chase. Instead, Polonsky was looking for a different feel for the audience, of the characters wandering, feeling their way through the landscape. He implied he was willing to sacrifice some suspense to externalize the characters' confusion. He also said that for Katharine Ross' brief, artfully lit nude shot, he exposed the film correctly but then produced a high-contrast copy of the same film frames with deep blacks and transparent lights, then bi-packed both pieces of films together to rephotograph. The high-contrast overlay ensured that the shadows on Ross' body were black--so that the image could not reveal more in the shadows than it was supposed to.
Did you see that crazy Calvert go by?
Willie Boy: Ate his dust.
Tom: When did you get back to Banning, Willie Boy?
Willie Boy: Five o'clock freight.
Tom: Goin' to the fiesta?
Willie Boy: Is that where you're goin', Tom?
Tom: Trailin' Mr. Calvert with a tow just in case he breaks down - or breaks his...
Many of the hats worn in the film are not the style worn during the early part of the 20th century. Some in fact, could only have been sewn using machines created in the 1950s, nearly half a century after the films setting.
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