Stay Away, Joe


1h 41m 1968
Stay Away, Joe

Brief Synopsis

A young Indian tries to save his failing reservation by selling grazing rights to a corrupt tycoon.

Photos & Videos

Stay Away, Joe - Elvis Presley Publicity Stills

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Western
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1968
Premiere Information
Birmingham, Alabama, opening: 8 Mar 1968
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Stay Away, Joe by Dan Cushman (New York, 1953).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Joe Lightcloud, a brawling, half-Navajo rodeo champion, persuades an Arizona congressman to give Charlie, his father, 20 heifers and a young bull with which to build a herd on the Indian reservation. But at a party given by Joe for his Navajo neighbors, the bull, mistaken for a cow, is killed and barbecued by the drunken revelers, thus confirming the belief of Joe's stepmother, Annie, that anything initiated by Joe leads to trouble. Searching for another bull, Joe is sidetracked by Glenda Callahan, a lusty, gun-toting older woman with whom he was once involved. When he meets Glenda's daughter, Mamie, who has been kept in strict social isolation, Joe arranges to get Glenda out of town, then to give another party and romance Mamie. Though Joe does manage to borrow a second bull, a rodeo animal, it is definitely not interested in breeding. Meanwhile, Joe's half sister, Mary, has met a young white man whose mother is coming to call, and Annie is eager to redecorate the house before the visit. Gradually the heifers are all sold by Annie to subsidize the renovation, and Charlie is in danger of being jailed for selling government property. At the last minute, however, Joe saves the day by taking the borrowed bull to a rodeo, using the animal to win a big stake, and investing the money in a new herd.

Photo Collections

Stay Away, Joe - Elvis Presley Publicity Stills
Here are a few close-up stills of Elvis Presley taken to help publicize Stay Away, Joe (1968).

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Western
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1968
Premiere Information
Birmingham, Alabama, opening: 8 Mar 1968
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Stay Away, Joe by Dan Cushman (New York, 1953).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

Stay Away Joe - Stay Away, Joe


Elvis Presley goes West in Stay Away, Joe (1968), playing bronco-riding, half-Navajo Joe Lightcloud who has returned home to raise cattle - and eyebrows. As one of the advertisements brandished, "Elvis goes West ... and the West goes wild!" If his cowherd is a success, the government will help Lightcloud's family and the rest of the Indian reservation. In between beer chugging, brawling and singing to the prize bull, Lightcloud manages to rustle some cattle and save the day in one of the King's more unlikely film ventures.

This was not the first time Presley had played a character who is part Indian. In a more traditional Hollywood Western, Flaming Star (1960), Elvis had played a man struggling with his mixed heritage in 19th century Texas. And a year after Stay Away, Joe, he would return again to the Western genre in the drama Charro!, playing a reformed bandit wrongly accused of a crime.

Presley had high hopes for his 26th movie, Stay Away, Joe, seeing it as an opportunity to play a more sophisticated comedy role and hone his acting skills. Although the critics panned the whole film, Presley said he learned a lot on the set. "I guess I'd like to prove myself as an actor, and to do that I'll have to take more chances," he said in a Cosmopolitan interview at the time of filming. "You can learn an awful lot just by hanging out with real good professionals, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't pickup on something from the other actors." Unfortunately, he didn't get much help from the scriptwriters who gave him come-on lines like "She can chew on my moccasins anytime she wants to!"

Shot on location in Sedona, Arizona, the supporting cast of Stay Away, Joe includes Burgess Meredith as Joe Lightcloud's full-blooded Navajo father -- a drastic change from the character of the Penguin he was playing at the time in the television series Batman. As the tavern owner whose daughter is the object of Elvis' affection, Joan Blondell turns in another fine performance in a career that stretched over decades, from The Public Enemy (1931) to Grease in 1978. Katy Jurado, cast in the role of Lightcloud's step-mother, was a veteran of such iconic Westerns as High Noon (1952) and One-Eyed Jacks (1961). A few days prior to shooting, she broke several bones in her foot, causing her to limp but exploited it as a physical trait for her character. The director, Peter Tewksbury, had helmed such popular sitcoms as Father Knows Best and My Three Sons.

Unlike most of his previous films, Stay Away, Joe didn't prominently feature Presley's singing although he did croon "Stay Away" over the opening credits and serenade a bull with "Dominick." The latter was a performance he begged not to have to do and half-jokingly said that if he ever died, he wished that the song wouldn't be released. In 1993, 16 years after his death at the age of 42, the song was released by RCA on a compilation CD of soundtracks from Clambake (1967), Kissin' Cousins (1964) and Stay Away, Joe.

Stay Away, Joe earned some additional notoriety when it was nominated for a Golden Turkey Award by writers Harry and Michael Medved in their best-selling book. Under the category of "The Most Ludicrous Racial Impersonation in Hollywood History," Elvis ran against such worthy contenders as Robby Benson as a Chicano in Walk Proud (1979), Charles Mack and George Moran as Black Americans in Hypnotized (1932) and Marlon Brando as an Okinawan in The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956); he lost to the latter.

Producer: Douglas Laurence
Director: Peter Tewksbury
Screenplay: Michael A. Hoey, Burt Kennedy, Dan Cushman (novel)
Cinematography: Fred J. Koenekamp
Film Editing: George W. Brooks
Art Direction: Carl Anderson, George W. Davis
Music: Jack Marshall
Cast: Elvis Presley (Joe Lightcloud), Burgess Meredith (Charlie Lightcloud), Joan Blondell (Glenda Callahan), Katy Jurado (Annie Lightcloud), Thomas Gomez (Grandpa), L.Q. Jones (Bronc Hoverty).
C-102m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Amy Cox
Stay Away Joe - Stay Away, Joe

Stay Away Joe - Stay Away, Joe

Elvis Presley goes West in Stay Away, Joe (1968), playing bronco-riding, half-Navajo Joe Lightcloud who has returned home to raise cattle - and eyebrows. As one of the advertisements brandished, "Elvis goes West ... and the West goes wild!" If his cowherd is a success, the government will help Lightcloud's family and the rest of the Indian reservation. In between beer chugging, brawling and singing to the prize bull, Lightcloud manages to rustle some cattle and save the day in one of the King's more unlikely film ventures. This was not the first time Presley had played a character who is part Indian. In a more traditional Hollywood Western, Flaming Star (1960), Elvis had played a man struggling with his mixed heritage in 19th century Texas. And a year after Stay Away, Joe, he would return again to the Western genre in the drama Charro!, playing a reformed bandit wrongly accused of a crime. Presley had high hopes for his 26th movie, Stay Away, Joe, seeing it as an opportunity to play a more sophisticated comedy role and hone his acting skills. Although the critics panned the whole film, Presley said he learned a lot on the set. "I guess I'd like to prove myself as an actor, and to do that I'll have to take more chances," he said in a Cosmopolitan interview at the time of filming. "You can learn an awful lot just by hanging out with real good professionals, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't pickup on something from the other actors." Unfortunately, he didn't get much help from the scriptwriters who gave him come-on lines like "She can chew on my moccasins anytime she wants to!" Shot on location in Sedona, Arizona, the supporting cast of Stay Away, Joe includes Burgess Meredith as Joe Lightcloud's full-blooded Navajo father -- a drastic change from the character of the Penguin he was playing at the time in the television series Batman. As the tavern owner whose daughter is the object of Elvis' affection, Joan Blondell turns in another fine performance in a career that stretched over decades, from The Public Enemy (1931) to Grease in 1978. Katy Jurado, cast in the role of Lightcloud's step-mother, was a veteran of such iconic Westerns as High Noon (1952) and One-Eyed Jacks (1961). A few days prior to shooting, she broke several bones in her foot, causing her to limp but exploited it as a physical trait for her character. The director, Peter Tewksbury, had helmed such popular sitcoms as Father Knows Best and My Three Sons. Unlike most of his previous films, Stay Away, Joe didn't prominently feature Presley's singing although he did croon "Stay Away" over the opening credits and serenade a bull with "Dominick." The latter was a performance he begged not to have to do and half-jokingly said that if he ever died, he wished that the song wouldn't be released. In 1993, 16 years after his death at the age of 42, the song was released by RCA on a compilation CD of soundtracks from Clambake (1967), Kissin' Cousins (1964) and Stay Away, Joe. Stay Away, Joe earned some additional notoriety when it was nominated for a Golden Turkey Award by writers Harry and Michael Medved in their best-selling book. Under the category of "The Most Ludicrous Racial Impersonation in Hollywood History," Elvis ran against such worthy contenders as Robby Benson as a Chicano in Walk Proud (1979), Charles Mack and George Moran as Black Americans in Hypnotized (1932) and Marlon Brando as an Okinawan in The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956); he lost to the latter. Producer: Douglas Laurence Director: Peter Tewksbury Screenplay: Michael A. Hoey, Burt Kennedy, Dan Cushman (novel) Cinematography: Fred J. Koenekamp Film Editing: George W. Brooks Art Direction: Carl Anderson, George W. Davis Music: Jack Marshall Cast: Elvis Presley (Joe Lightcloud), Burgess Meredith (Charlie Lightcloud), Joan Blondell (Glenda Callahan), Katy Jurado (Annie Lightcloud), Thomas Gomez (Grandpa), L.Q. Jones (Bronc Hoverty). C-102m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Amy Cox

TCM Remembers - Katy Jurado


KATY JURADO, 1924 - 2002

Katy Jurado, an Oscar nominee and major actress in Westerns, died July 5th at the age of 78. She was born in Guadalajara, Mexico on January 16th 1924 as Maria Cristina Estella Marcela Jurado Garcia, daughter of a cattle rancher and an opera singer. Jurado started to appear in Mexican films in 1943. After 15 films in her native country, director Budd Boetticher saw Jurado attending a bullfight (Jurado wrote about the subject for Mexican newspapers) and cast her in his Bullfighter and the Lady (1952), her Hollywood debut. For much of her career Jurado alternated between the two film industries. In the US, she was memorable for the sensual energy she brought to roles in High Noon (1952), One-Eyed Jacks (1961) which was directed by Marlon Brando, Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) and John Huston's Under the Volcano (1984). She was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for Broken Lance (1954). Jurado's Mexican films were in a broader range of genres and included Luis Bunuel's El Bruto (1952), Ismael Rodriguez's We the Poor and Miguel Littin's The Widow Montiel (1979). She won three Ariel Awards (Mexican equivalent to the Oscars) and one special award. She was married to Ernest Borgnine from the end of 1959 to summer 1963. One of her final films was The Hi-Lo Country (1998), a contemporary Western directed by Stephen Frears and co-starring Woody Harrelson, Billy Crudup and Penelope Cruz.

by Lang Thompson

DOLORES GRAY, 1924 - 2002

Broadway and nightclub star Dolores Gray died June 26th at the age of 78. Her movie career was brief but consisted of high-profile MGM musicals which guaranteed her a place in film history. Gray was born in Chicago on June 7th, 1924 (and where, according to a common story, she was accidentally shot by a gangster as a child and had a bullet in her lung her entire life). As a teenager she began singing in California until Rudy Vallee featured her on his radio show. Gray moved to Broadway in 1944 and then to the London stage in 1947, solidifying her reputation as a singer/actress while constantly giving the gossip columnists plenty to write about. She had two small singing roles in Lady for a Night (1941) and Mr. Skeffington (1944) but didn't really light up the big screen until It's Always Fair Weather (1955) even though Gray reportedly didn't much care for the role. Her rendition of "Thanks a Lot, But No Thanks," which has her gunning down a slew of male dancers on-stage and kicking them through trap doors, is a genuine showstopper. Three more unforgettable musical roles quickly followed: Kismet (1955), The Opposite Sex (1956, which Gray turned down Funny Face to do) and Designing Women (1957). That was it for Gray's film career. She kept busy with TV appearances (mostly singing though she did one 1988 episode of the cult show Dr. Who) and a busy recording and nightclub schedule. In 1987, she appeared in a British production of Follies at Stephen Sondheim's request.

by Lang Thompson

ROD STEIGER, 1925 - 2002

From the docks of New York to the rural back roads of Mississippi to the war torn Russian steppes, Rod Steiger reveled in creating some of the most overpowering and difficult men on the screen. He could be a total scoundrel, embodying Machiavelli's idiom that "it's better to be feared than loved" in the movies. But as an actor he refused to be typecast and his wide range included characters who were secretly tormented (The Pawnbroker, 1965) or loners (Run of the Arrow, 1965) or eccentrics (The Loved One, 1965).

Along with Marlon Brando, Steiger helped bring the 'Method School' from the Group Theater and Actors Studio in New York to the screens of Hollywood. The Method technique, taught by Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, insisted on complete immersion into the character's psyche and resulted in intense, dramatic performances and performers. Steiger made his first significant screen appearance as Brando's older brother in On the Waterfront (1954). Their climatic scene together in a taxicab is one of the great moments in American cinema.

It was a short leap from playing a crooked lawyer in On the Waterfront to playing the shady boxing promoter in The Harder They Fall (1956). Based on the tragic tale of true-life fighter Primo Carnera, The Harder They Fall details the corruption behind the scenes of professional boxing bouts. Steiger is a fight manager named Nick Benko who enlists newspaperman Eddie Willis (Humphrey Bogart in his final screen appearance) to drum up publicity for a fixed prizefight. While the boxing scenes were often brutally realistic, the most powerful dramatic moments took place between Steiger and Bogart on the sidelines.

As mob boss Al Capone (1959), Steiger got to play another man you loved to hate. He vividly depicted the criminal from his swaggering early days to his pathetic demise from syphilis. In Doctor Zhivago (1965), Steiger was the only American in the international cast, playing the hateful and perverse Komarovsky. During the production of Dr. Zhivago, Steiger often found himself at odds with director David Lean. Schooled in the British tradition, Lean valued the integrity of the script and demanded that actors remain faithful to the script. Steiger, on the other hand, relied on improvisation and spontaneity. When kissing the lovely Lara (played by Julie Christie), Steiger jammed his tongue into Christie's mouth to produce the desired reaction - disgust. It worked! While it might not have been Lean's approach, it brought a grittier edge to the prestige production and made Komarovsky is a detestable but truly memorable figure.

Steiger dared audiences to dislike him. As the smalltown southern Sheriff Gillespie in In The Heat of the Night (1967), Steiger embodied all the prejudices and suspicions of a racist. When a black northern lawyer, played by Sidney Poitier, arrives on the crime scene, Gillespie is forced to recognize his fellow man as an equal despite skin color. Here, Steiger's character started as a bigot and developed into a better man. He finally claimed a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance as Sheriff Gillespie.

Steiger was an actor's actor. A chameleon who didn't think twice about diving into challenging roles that others would shy away from. In the Private Screenings interview he did with host Robert Osborne he admitted that Paul Muni was one of his idols because of his total immersion into his roles. Steiger said, "I believe actors are supposed to create different human beings." And Steiger showed us a rich and diverse cross section of them.

by Jeremy Geltzer & Jeff Stafford

TCM Remembers - Katy Jurado

KATY JURADO, 1924 - 2002 Katy Jurado, an Oscar nominee and major actress in Westerns, died July 5th at the age of 78. She was born in Guadalajara, Mexico on January 16th 1924 as Maria Cristina Estella Marcela Jurado Garcia, daughter of a cattle rancher and an opera singer. Jurado started to appear in Mexican films in 1943. After 15 films in her native country, director Budd Boetticher saw Jurado attending a bullfight (Jurado wrote about the subject for Mexican newspapers) and cast her in his Bullfighter and the Lady (1952), her Hollywood debut. For much of her career Jurado alternated between the two film industries. In the US, she was memorable for the sensual energy she brought to roles in High Noon (1952), One-Eyed Jacks (1961) which was directed by Marlon Brando, Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) and John Huston's Under the Volcano (1984). She was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for Broken Lance (1954). Jurado's Mexican films were in a broader range of genres and included Luis Bunuel's El Bruto (1952), Ismael Rodriguez's We the Poor and Miguel Littin's The Widow Montiel (1979). She won three Ariel Awards (Mexican equivalent to the Oscars) and one special award. She was married to Ernest Borgnine from the end of 1959 to summer 1963. One of her final films was The Hi-Lo Country (1998), a contemporary Western directed by Stephen Frears and co-starring Woody Harrelson, Billy Crudup and Penelope Cruz. by Lang Thompson DOLORES GRAY, 1924 - 2002 Broadway and nightclub star Dolores Gray died June 26th at the age of 78. Her movie career was brief but consisted of high-profile MGM musicals which guaranteed her a place in film history. Gray was born in Chicago on June 7th, 1924 (and where, according to a common story, she was accidentally shot by a gangster as a child and had a bullet in her lung her entire life). As a teenager she began singing in California until Rudy Vallee featured her on his radio show. Gray moved to Broadway in 1944 and then to the London stage in 1947, solidifying her reputation as a singer/actress while constantly giving the gossip columnists plenty to write about. She had two small singing roles in Lady for a Night (1941) and Mr. Skeffington (1944) but didn't really light up the big screen until It's Always Fair Weather (1955) even though Gray reportedly didn't much care for the role. Her rendition of "Thanks a Lot, But No Thanks," which has her gunning down a slew of male dancers on-stage and kicking them through trap doors, is a genuine showstopper. Three more unforgettable musical roles quickly followed: Kismet (1955), The Opposite Sex (1956, which Gray turned down Funny Face to do) and Designing Women (1957). That was it for Gray's film career. She kept busy with TV appearances (mostly singing though she did one 1988 episode of the cult show Dr. Who) and a busy recording and nightclub schedule. In 1987, she appeared in a British production of Follies at Stephen Sondheim's request. by Lang Thompson ROD STEIGER, 1925 - 2002 From the docks of New York to the rural back roads of Mississippi to the war torn Russian steppes, Rod Steiger reveled in creating some of the most overpowering and difficult men on the screen. He could be a total scoundrel, embodying Machiavelli's idiom that "it's better to be feared than loved" in the movies. But as an actor he refused to be typecast and his wide range included characters who were secretly tormented (The Pawnbroker, 1965) or loners (Run of the Arrow, 1965) or eccentrics (The Loved One, 1965). Along with Marlon Brando, Steiger helped bring the 'Method School' from the Group Theater and Actors Studio in New York to the screens of Hollywood. The Method technique, taught by Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, insisted on complete immersion into the character's psyche and resulted in intense, dramatic performances and performers. Steiger made his first significant screen appearance as Brando's older brother in On the Waterfront (1954). Their climatic scene together in a taxicab is one of the great moments in American cinema. It was a short leap from playing a crooked lawyer in On the Waterfront to playing the shady boxing promoter in The Harder They Fall (1956). Based on the tragic tale of true-life fighter Primo Carnera, The Harder They Fall details the corruption behind the scenes of professional boxing bouts. Steiger is a fight manager named Nick Benko who enlists newspaperman Eddie Willis (Humphrey Bogart in his final screen appearance) to drum up publicity for a fixed prizefight. While the boxing scenes were often brutally realistic, the most powerful dramatic moments took place between Steiger and Bogart on the sidelines. As mob boss Al Capone (1959), Steiger got to play another man you loved to hate. He vividly depicted the criminal from his swaggering early days to his pathetic demise from syphilis. In Doctor Zhivago (1965), Steiger was the only American in the international cast, playing the hateful and perverse Komarovsky. During the production of Dr. Zhivago, Steiger often found himself at odds with director David Lean. Schooled in the British tradition, Lean valued the integrity of the script and demanded that actors remain faithful to the script. Steiger, on the other hand, relied on improvisation and spontaneity. When kissing the lovely Lara (played by Julie Christie), Steiger jammed his tongue into Christie's mouth to produce the desired reaction - disgust. It worked! While it might not have been Lean's approach, it brought a grittier edge to the prestige production and made Komarovsky is a detestable but truly memorable figure. Steiger dared audiences to dislike him. As the smalltown southern Sheriff Gillespie in In The Heat of the Night (1967), Steiger embodied all the prejudices and suspicions of a racist. When a black northern lawyer, played by Sidney Poitier, arrives on the crime scene, Gillespie is forced to recognize his fellow man as an equal despite skin color. Here, Steiger's character started as a bigot and developed into a better man. He finally claimed a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance as Sheriff Gillespie. Steiger was an actor's actor. A chameleon who didn't think twice about diving into challenging roles that others would shy away from. In the Private Screenings interview he did with host Robert Osborne he admitted that Paul Muni was one of his idols because of his total immersion into his roles. Steiger said, "I believe actors are supposed to create different human beings." And Steiger showed us a rich and diverse cross section of them. by Jeremy Geltzer & Jeff Stafford

Quotes

She can chew on my mocassin anytime.
- Joe Lightcloud

Trivia

Notes

Copyright length: 95 min. Location scenes filmed in Sedona, Arizona.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Spring March 1968

Released in United States on Video December 6, 1988

Released in United States Spring March 1968

Released in United States on Video December 6, 1988