The Last Hunt, 1956, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on August 20 at 12 noon est. Closed captioned.
A personal note: Mr. Taylor is superb in this picture. He should have had at least an Oscar nomination. However, there are graphic scenes of buffalo being killed that really bother me.
Have no illusions, this IS a morality story. Granger is the troubled ex-buffalo hunter, tempted back to the plains one more time by kill-crazed Taylor. Granger can see the end is near, and feels deeply for the cost of the hunt-on the herds, the Indians and the land itself. Taylor, on the other hand admittedly equates killing buffalo, or Indians to ‘being with a woman.’ While Granger’s role of the tortured hunter is superb, it’s Taylor who steals the show, as the demented, immoral ‘everyman’ out for the fast buck and the good times. There’s not a lot of bang-bang here, but the story moves along quickly, and we are treated to a fine character performance by Nolan. The theme of this story is just as poignant today, as in the 1800s-man’s relationship to the land and what’s on it, and racism. Considering when this was made, the Censors must have been wringing their hankies during the scenes in the ‘bawdy house’, Taylor’s relationship with the squaw, and much of the dialogue. Although downbeat, this is truly a great western picture. Review by bux for the IMDB.
Here’s a few photos on the set:
Here’s a wonderful story from Charles Tranberg’s book Robert Taylor: a Biography, Bear Manor Media, pages 279-280.
The only thing about Brooks which Bob didn’t like was the fact that he was constantly swearing on the set, and not just mild expletives but some of the bluest language imaginable. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t have bothered a man’s man like Bob Taylor, except that on location there were many sightseers who often turned up who could hear Brooks bellowing “F— this” and “F— that” over a bull horn. Many of these sightseers were women and children and Bob, always the gentleman, wasn’t one to use that kind of language in front of them. Bob spoke with MGM publicity director George Nichols about it one night. Bob and Nichols hatched a plan to take Brooks out for a drive with Bob driving and Brooks in the middle. Nichols and Bob would talk back and forth to one another using the dirtiest language imaginable with Brooks not getting a word in edge wise sitting in the middle. The ploy apparently worked because he returned to the set Brooks stopped using the offensive language.