The Last Hunt

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The Last Hunt
Theatrical Film Poster
Directed by Richard Brooks
Produced by Dore Schary
Written by Richard Brooks
Based on novel by Milton Lott
Starring Robert Taylor
Stewart Granger
Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof
Cinematography Russell Harlan
Edited by Ben Lewis
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • April 30, 1956 (1956-04-30)
Running time
108 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2,121,000[1]
Box office $2,983,000[1]

The Last Hunt is a 1956 MGM western film directed by Richard Brooks and produced by Dore Schary. The screenplay was by Richard Brooks from the novel The Last Hunt, by Milton Lott. The music score was by Daniele Amfitheatrof and the cinematography by Russell Harlan.

The film stars Robert Taylor and Stewart Granger, with Lloyd Nolan, Debra Paget and Russ Tamblyn.


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 a pleasure from his "stands" – killing an entire 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 increasingly paranoid and deranged, leading to a stand-off between the two former partners.

In the final scene, McKenzie and the woman emerge from shelter to find that Gilson, though wearing a buffalo hide as protection from the cold, has frozen to death during the night, while waiting to ambush them.[2]

Original novel[edit]

The New York Times said "except for A.B. Guthrie's "The Big Sky" and "The Way West" I can think of no novel about the Old West published within the last fifteen years as good as "The Last Hunt," by Milton Lott. This is the real thing, a gritty, tough, exciting story reeking with the pungent smells of dead buffalo and of dirty men."[3] W.R. Burnett called it an "undeniably able and interesting book."[4]


MGM bought the film rights and announced it as a vehicle for Stewart Granger in February 1955. "It's real Americana," said the star.[5] Richard Brooks was assigned the job of adapting and directing.[6] The film was the first of only three westerns directed by Brooks, and was his first film following the critically acclaimed Blackboard Jungle (1955).

In March Robert Taylor was announced as co-star.[7] Russ Tamblyn was then given the lead support part as a half Indian.[8]

Lloyd Nolan was also cast - his first film role in over a year and a half, during which time he had played The Caine Mutiny Court Martial on stage.[9] Anne Bancroft was cast as the Indian girl.[10]


Eighty percent of the movie was shot on location over a seven-week period. This took place at the Badlands National Park and Custer State Park in South Dakota during the then-annual "thinning" of the buffalo herd.[11]

Actual footage of buffalo being shot and killed (by government marksmen) was used for the film. Harvey Lancaster of Custer was the main marksman for the filming.

The story takes place during the winter but was actually filmed during the scorching summer months in Custer State Park. When temperatures reached triple digits, Stewart Granger, whose costume consisted of full winter clothing, passed out from heat exhaustion and the crew had to cut away his clothes to revive him.

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

After three weeks of filming, Anne Bancroft was injured during filming after falling from a horse. She was replaced by Debra Paget.[12][13]

During filming Dore Schary announced Taylor and Granger would be reteamed in another western, The Return of Johnny Burro with Granger playing a villain and Taylor a hero.[14] However the film was not made.


Box office[edit]

The film earned $1,750,000 in North American rental during its first year of release.[15] It recorded admissions of 1,201,326 in France.[16]

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


Actor Role
Robert Taylor Charles Gilson
Stewart Granger Sandy McKenzie
Debra Paget Indian Girl
Lloyd Nolan Woodfoot
Russ Tamblyn Jimmy
Constance Ford Peg
Joe De Santis Ed Black

Comic book adaption[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c 'The Eddie Mannix Ledger’, Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study, Los Angeles
  2. ^ Film Score Monthly - The Last Hunt. Accessed 21 January 2016
  3. ^ Books of The Times By ORVILLE PRESCOTT. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 13 Oct 1954: 29.
  4. ^ Struggle Unto Death: THE LAST HUNT. By Milton Lott. 399 pp. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. $3.95. By W.R. BURNETT. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 31 Oct 1954: BR4.
  5. ^ Stewart Granger to Do Film on Buffalo Hunting in '70s Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 11 Feb 1955: a10.
  6. ^ FOX APPROPRIATES $1,000,000 FOR TV: Studio Will Convert Plant to New Medium Films -- Some Space Already Leased By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 12 Feb 1955: 10.
  7. ^ METRO SCHEDULES FILM ABOUT BISON: Robert Taylor and Stewart Granger Will Be Teamed for 'The Last Hunt' By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 26 Mar 1955: 12.
  8. ^ Sinatra and Debbie Reynolds to Co-Star in 'Tender Trap' Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 09 Apr 1955: 12.
  9. ^ Nolan Shuns Hero Movie Role; So Star with Taylor, Granger Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 29 Apr 1955: a6.
  10. ^ Lucille Ball, Arnaz Plan Stage Musical Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 11 July 1955: b10.
  11. ^ HOLLYWOOD BULLETINS: M-G-M Prepares to Invade the Buffalo Country -- Busy Studio -- Other Items By WILLIAM H. BROWNELL Jr.HOLLYWOOD.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 12 June 1955: X5.
  12. ^ Moreno Quits Natives; Paget Now in 'Last Hunt'; Clift Eyed for Tolstoy Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 20 Aug 1955: 13.
  13. ^ DEVIL'S DISCIPLE' PLANNED AS FILM: Hecht-Lancaster Arranging With Pascal Estate to Do Shaw's Great Comedy By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 20 Aug 1955: 20.
  14. ^ Drama: 'Johnny Burro' to Reteam Taylor, Granger; Korda to Do 'Burlington Bertie' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 13 Oct 1955: B15.
  15. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, January 2, 1957
  16. ^ Box office information for Stewart Granger films in France at Box Office Story
  17. ^ "Dell Four Color #678". Grand Comics Database. 
  18. ^ Dell Four Color #678 at the Comic Book DB

External links[edit]