A Time for Killing
A Time for Killing is a 1967 Western film directed originally by Roger Corman but finished by Phil Karlson. Filmed in Panavision and Pathécolor, it stars Glenn Ford, George Hamilton, Inger Stevens, and Harrison Ford (credited as Harrison J. Ford) in his first credited film role.
|A Time for Killing|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Phil Karlson|
|Produced by||Harry Joe Brown|
|Screenplay by||Halsted Welles|
|Based on||The Southern Blade|
by Nelson Wolford
|Music by||Mundell Lowe|
|Edited by||Roy V. Livingston|
Sage Western Pictures Inc.
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Budget||$2 million or over $500,000|
During the Civil War, Confederate soldiers escape from a Union prison and head for the Mexican border. Along the way, they kill a Union courier bearing the news that the war is over. Keeping the message a secret, the captain has his men go on and they soon find themselves in a battle with the Union search party who also is unaware of the war's end.
- Inger Stevens as Emily Biddle
- Glenn Ford as Maj. Tom Wolcott
- Paul Petersen as Blue Lake
- Timothy Carey as Billy Cat
- Kenneth Tobey as Sgt. Cleehan
- Richard X. Slattery as Cpl. Paddy Darling
- Harrison J. Ford as Lt Shaffer
- Kay E. Kuter as Owelson
- Dick Miller as Zollicoffer
- Emile Meyer as Col. Harries
- Marshall Reed as Stedner
- George Hamilton as Capt. Dorrit Bentley
- Max Baer Jr. as Sgt. Luther Liskell
- Todd Armstrong as Lt. 'Pru' Prudessing
- Dean Stanton as Sgt. Dan Way
The film was based on a 1961 novel The Southern Blade. The Los Angeles Times called it "fast moving" The New York Times said it was full of "military stereotypes" but that it was written with "professional skill."
In October 1964 the screen rights to the novel were purchased by producer Harry Joe Brown. He set up the project at Columbia where he joined forces with Roger Corman.
By the end of 1964, Roger Corman was one of the most successful low-budget filmmakers in Hollywood, mostly working for American International Pictures. "Everything had been interesting, artistically satisfying, economically satisfying," Corman said eighteen months later. "But I decided I was going nowhere and wanted to move directly into the business." So he accepted a contract with Columbia.
Corman had a deal to make three films with Columbia. "But every idea I submitted was too strange, too weird," he later said. "Every idea they had seemed to ordinary to me. Ordinary pictures don't make money today [in 1966] because audiences today are too intelligent... It's a young people's audience... They can see the average for free on TV. You've got to give them something a little more complex artistically and intellectually. To show something you can't see on TV leads inevitably to unusual material."
Corman says the ideas he submitted to Columbia were a biopic of Baron Von Ritchofen, a story of the St Valentine's Day Massacre and an adaptation of Only Lovers Left Alive. (He would end up making the first two films for other studios).
Eventually he agreed on three films. The first was The Southern Blade, which he was to produce along with Harry Joe Brown. The others were Iwo Jima (about the Battle of Iwo Jima) and Robert E. Lee, a biopic of the famous general. (Later Robert E. Lee would go to United Artists and the proposed third Columbia film would be a war film, The Day They Let the Prisoners Out, by Peter Bogdanovich.)
However, Columbia and Corman clashed and Corman wound up returning to AIP where he directed the hugely successful The Wild Angels. "The main difference between the minors and the majors is the amount of freedom allowed," Corman said. He and the studio came to terms once they agreed to give him a free hand with the script.
In April 1966 Glenn Ford signed to star. The following month Cliff Robertson signed to co star. Eventually Robertson dropped out and was replaced by George Hamilton whose fee was a reported $100,000. Inger Stevens and Max Baer Jnr also joined the cast.
Warren Beatty had been offered the lead role but turned it down. However he was impressed by Towne's writing, and later hired the writer to do uncredited work on the script for Bonnie and Clyde, which led to a long collaboration between the men. )
The film was Harrison Ford's first film with a credited role; despite not having a middle name, he was billed as "Harrison J. Ford" (where the "J" did not stand for anything) to avoid confusion with the silent film actor of the same name.
Roger Corman Replaced
The original score of the film was composed by Van Alexander who was given seven weeks to compose 45 minutes of music for the film. He collaborated with Ned Washington for a title song by Eddy Arnold. Though producers Harry Joe Brown, Jonie Taps and Columbia's Mike Frankovich were enthusiastic about Alexander's score, once the film was met with a disastrous reception at a preview it was decided to restore the film with a guitar score by Mundell Lowe. Alexander never composed another score for a feature film.
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- Horror With a Rich, Happy Ending By PETER BARTHOLLYWOOD. New York Times 12 Sep 1965: X17.
- Suzy Takes Lead in 'Love' Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 4 June 1966: 23.
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- MOVIE CALL SHEET: Deborah Kerr Gets Script Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 2 Aug 1965: d16.
- 'Texas' Next for Presley Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 23 Apr 1966: 23.
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- Biskind, Peter Star: The Life and Wild Times of Warren Beatty Simon and Schuster, April 3, 2010 p 78-79
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- Train on a 'Foreign' Track Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 1 July 1966: d11.
- p. 23 Joyner, C. Courtney Glenn Ford Interview in The Westerners: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Writers and Producers McFarland, October 14, 2009
- p. 95 Albright, Brian Monte Hellman Interview in Wild Beyond Belief!: Interviews with Exploitation Filmmakers of the 1960s and 1970s McFarland, April 9, 2008
- D'Arc, James V. (2010). When Hollywood came to town: a history of moviemaking in Utah (1st ed.). Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith. ISBN 9781423605874.
- Alexander, Van & Fratallone, Stephen From Harlem to Hollywood: My Life in Music BearManor Media, August 14, 2015