Alvarez Kelly


1h 56m 1966
Alvarez Kelly

Brief Synopsis

A suave Mexican cattleman inadvertently gets involved in the Civil War.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Action
Historical
War
Western
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, opening: 6 Oct 1966
Production Company
Ray David Productions
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures
Country
United States
Location
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 56m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

During the Civil War, when the Union Army is trying to starve the people of Richmond into submission, renegade adventurer Alvarez Kelly delivers a herd of 2,500 cattle to U. S. Army Maj. Albert Stedman at a Virginia plantation. But Confederate guerrilla Tom Rossiter wins the aid of the plantation owner's daughter, Charity Warwick, in devising a way to steal the herd for the South. Kelly is coerced to aid in the plot when Rossiter kidnaps him, shoots off one of his fingers, and threatens to continue unless he cooperates. Although Kelly agrees to teach the Confederates how to handle cattle, he secretly arranges for Rossiter's reluctant girl friend, Liz Pickering, to escape from the South on a blockade runner. Despite the bitter hatred between the two men, the raid on the Warwick plantation is successful. But the problem then becomes one of transporting the cattle over a bridge which Stedman has fortified with 500 soldiers. Unable to bypass the bridge, Kelly stampedes the cattle into the Union lines. A bloody and disorganized battle follows, during which Kelly risks his life to rescue a Confederate officer and Rossiter shoots one of his own men who has turned against Kelly. When the herd is safely across the bridge, Rossiter frees Kelly to go his own way.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Action
Historical
War
Western
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, opening: 6 Oct 1966
Production Company
Ray David Productions
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures
Country
United States
Location
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 56m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

Alvarez Kelly


Based on a true Civil War incident, Alvarez Kelly (1966) tells the story of a renegade adventurer (William Holden) - the title character - who delivers a herd of 2500 cattle to Union forces on a Virginia plantation. The Union is trying to starve out the people of Richmond, Virginia, and to stop them, Confederate Colonel Tom Rossiter (Richard Widmark) will go to any length, including kidnapping Kelly, shooting off two of his fingers, and threatening to continue the treatment unless the cattle herder helps him steal the herd from under the Union troops. A bitter hatred grows between the two men, and although Kelly agrees to the scheme, he uses it to help Rossiter's reluctant lover, Liz Pickering, escape to the north on a blockade runner. The raid on the plantation is successful but the problem arises of getting the herd over a bridge fortified with 500 Union soldiers. In the film's climactic set piece, Kelly stampedes the cattle into Union lines, bringing on a bloody and chaotic battle.

Alvarez Kelly was William Holden's first picture after a two-year absence from the screen. By then his drinking problem was well known to everyone in Hollywood, and director Edward Dmytryk, who only worked with Holden once before (when he was a bit player in Million Dollar Legs, 1939), had misgivings. Holden had concerns about his director too. Dmytryk was considered one of the industry's hottest young directors in the late 1940s, especially after the dark, intense thriller Crossfire (1947), a story of murder and racial tension. But his rising career was damaged by the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigations of communist activity in Hollywood. A longtime political leftist who was briefly a Communist Party member during World War II, Dmytryk refused to cooperate with the committee. He became part of what was known as the unfriendly "Hollywood Ten," a group of writers and directors who refused to give testimony before Congress and had their careers disrupted or ruined as a result. After spending several months in jail, Dmytryk decided to renounce his former party ties and testified again before HUAC, this time naming names. Many in Hollywood never forgave him for that, and although he always expressed his belief that he had done the right thing, his decision cast a shadow over the rest of his career. Later in life, he gave up directing altogether and became a film professor, first at the University of Texas at Austin and later at the University of Southern California. He wrote several books on filmmaking and two volumes of memoirs before his death in 1999.

Politics didn't get in the way of William Holden and Richard Widmark's friendship during the making of the picture, although it certainly could have. Widmark was a staunch liberal Democrat who considered Holden a rather staid Establishment conservative (except when he had a few drinks and started laughing and flirting with the girls). The two men, loners at heart, often indulged in some alcohol-fueled benders during the location shooting in Louisiana, although Widmark was generally more in control and watchful of the reckless, hard-drinking Holden.

Holden was an unending source of problems during production. He never failed to show up for work, but most mornings he arrived badly hungover with bloodshot eyes and a puffy face. He was often unable to remember his lines, so Dmytryk was forced to shoot around him or reduce his scenes to very short takes. He also contracted salmonella in Louisiana, and production was suspended for six weeks as a result. But Widmark always had the greatest affection for him, and the feeling was apparently mutual - although sometimes oddly expressed. When Widmark got the flu and was confined to his hotel room, Holden recalled that his friend had once played the drums, so he bought him a snare drum to occupy him during his recovery. "That four months of being constantly together on a film location was the equivalent of ten or fifteen years of friendship," Widmark later told Holden's biographer Bob Thomas.

Producers: Sol Siegel, Ray David
Director: Edward Dmytryk
Screenplay: Elliott Arnold, Franklin Coen
Cinematography: Joseph MacDonald
Editing: Harold F. Kress
Production Design: Walter M. Simonds
Original Music: Johnny Mercer, Johnny Green
Principal Cast: William Holden (Alvarez Kelly), Richard Widmark (Col. Tom Rossiter), Janice Rule (Liz Pickering), Patrick O'Neal (Major Albert Steadman), Victoria Shaw (Charity Warwick), Roger C. Carmel (Captain Angus Ferguson), Arthur Franz (Captain Towers), Harry Carey, Jr. (Corporal Peterson), Richard Rust (Sergeant Hatcher).
C-110m. Letterboxed.

by Rob Nixon

Alvarez Kelly

Alvarez Kelly

Based on a true Civil War incident, Alvarez Kelly (1966) tells the story of a renegade adventurer (William Holden) - the title character - who delivers a herd of 2500 cattle to Union forces on a Virginia plantation. The Union is trying to starve out the people of Richmond, Virginia, and to stop them, Confederate Colonel Tom Rossiter (Richard Widmark) will go to any length, including kidnapping Kelly, shooting off two of his fingers, and threatening to continue the treatment unless the cattle herder helps him steal the herd from under the Union troops. A bitter hatred grows between the two men, and although Kelly agrees to the scheme, he uses it to help Rossiter's reluctant lover, Liz Pickering, escape to the north on a blockade runner. The raid on the plantation is successful but the problem arises of getting the herd over a bridge fortified with 500 Union soldiers. In the film's climactic set piece, Kelly stampedes the cattle into Union lines, bringing on a bloody and chaotic battle. Alvarez Kelly was William Holden's first picture after a two-year absence from the screen. By then his drinking problem was well known to everyone in Hollywood, and director Edward Dmytryk, who only worked with Holden once before (when he was a bit player in Million Dollar Legs, 1939), had misgivings. Holden had concerns about his director too. Dmytryk was considered one of the industry's hottest young directors in the late 1940s, especially after the dark, intense thriller Crossfire (1947), a story of murder and racial tension. But his rising career was damaged by the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigations of communist activity in Hollywood. A longtime political leftist who was briefly a Communist Party member during World War II, Dmytryk refused to cooperate with the committee. He became part of what was known as the unfriendly "Hollywood Ten," a group of writers and directors who refused to give testimony before Congress and had their careers disrupted or ruined as a result. After spending several months in jail, Dmytryk decided to renounce his former party ties and testified again before HUAC, this time naming names. Many in Hollywood never forgave him for that, and although he always expressed his belief that he had done the right thing, his decision cast a shadow over the rest of his career. Later in life, he gave up directing altogether and became a film professor, first at the University of Texas at Austin and later at the University of Southern California. He wrote several books on filmmaking and two volumes of memoirs before his death in 1999. Politics didn't get in the way of William Holden and Richard Widmark's friendship during the making of the picture, although it certainly could have. Widmark was a staunch liberal Democrat who considered Holden a rather staid Establishment conservative (except when he had a few drinks and started laughing and flirting with the girls). The two men, loners at heart, often indulged in some alcohol-fueled benders during the location shooting in Louisiana, although Widmark was generally more in control and watchful of the reckless, hard-drinking Holden. Holden was an unending source of problems during production. He never failed to show up for work, but most mornings he arrived badly hungover with bloodshot eyes and a puffy face. He was often unable to remember his lines, so Dmytryk was forced to shoot around him or reduce his scenes to very short takes. He also contracted salmonella in Louisiana, and production was suspended for six weeks as a result. But Widmark always had the greatest affection for him, and the feeling was apparently mutual - although sometimes oddly expressed. When Widmark got the flu and was confined to his hotel room, Holden recalled that his friend had once played the drums, so he bought him a snare drum to occupy him during his recovery. "That four months of being constantly together on a film location was the equivalent of ten or fifteen years of friendship," Widmark later told Holden's biographer Bob Thomas. Producers: Sol Siegel, Ray David Director: Edward Dmytryk Screenplay: Elliott Arnold, Franklin Coen Cinematography: Joseph MacDonald Editing: Harold F. Kress Production Design: Walter M. Simonds Original Music: Johnny Mercer, Johnny Green Principal Cast: William Holden (Alvarez Kelly), Richard Widmark (Col. Tom Rossiter), Janice Rule (Liz Pickering), Patrick O'Neal (Major Albert Steadman), Victoria Shaw (Charity Warwick), Roger C. Carmel (Captain Angus Ferguson), Arthur Franz (Captain Towers), Harry Carey, Jr. (Corporal Peterson), Richard Rust (Sergeant Hatcher). C-110m. Letterboxed. by Rob Nixon

Quotes

Now the main thing to remember is...cattle are like women. Sometimes you have to be firm with them. Sometimes you have to be gentle. And sometimes you have to give them a slap on the rump.
- Alvarez Kelly
You disappoint me, Mr. Kelly. After what happened to your home, I should think your sympathies would be with us.
- Charity Warwick
I have no sympathies, only instincts. And they shy away from losers.
- Alvarez Kelly
You used to have ten fingers. Now you have nine. Tomorrow, you'll have eight. You stay stubborn, the day after that then you'll have seven. The day after that...it's up to you. You decide whether you want to end up with a pair of stumps...or lend us your talent. You decide.
- Col. Tom Rossiter
Money, whiskey and women... your three deities. Tell me something, Mr. Kelly. Have they made you a happy man?
- Maj. Albert Stedman
No, but not as miserable a one as you.
- Alvarez Kelly

Trivia

Notes

Location scenes filmed in and around Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States October 1966

Released in United States Fall October 6, 1966

Released in United States on Video May 11, 1994

Released in United States October 1966 (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

Released in United States Fall October 6, 1966

Released in United States on Video May 11, 1994