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.[3]

A Time for Killing
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPhil Karlson
Produced byHarry Joe Brown
Screenplay byHalsted Welles
Based onThe Southern Blade
1961 novel
by Nelson Wolford
Shirley Wolford
StarringGlenn Ford
George Hamilton
Inger Stevens
Music byMundell Lowe
CinematographyKenneth Peach
Edited byRoy V. Livingston
Sage Western Pictures Inc.
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • November 1, 1967 (1967-11-01)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2 million[1] or over $500,000[2]

It was also known as The Long Ride Home.[4]


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.



Original Novel

The film was based on a 1961 novel The Southern Blade. The Los Angeles Times called it "fast moving"[5] The New York Times said it was full of "military stereotypes" but that it was written with "professional skill."[6]

In October 1964 the screen rights to the novel were purchased by producer Harry Joe Brown.[7] He set up the project at Columbia where he joined forces with Roger Corman.

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.[2]

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."[2]

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.[2] (He would end up making the first two films for other studios).[2]

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.[8] (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.[9])

In June 1965 the title of The Southern Blade was change to The Long Way Home.[10] Filming was meant to start in September 1965.[11]

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.[2]

Corman had the script rewritten by Robert Towne with whom he had collaborated a number of times, most recently on The Tomb of Ligeia (1965).


In April 1966 Glenn Ford signed to star.[12] The following month Cliff Robertson signed to co star.[13] Eventually Robertson dropped out and was replaced by George Hamilton whose fee was a reported $100,000.[14] Inger Stevens and Max Baer Jnr also joined the cast.[15]

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.[16] )

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.[17]

Roger Corman Replaced

Filming started in June 1966 in Kanab, Utah.[18]

By the end of the month, Corman had left the project and been replaced by Phil Karlson. Columbia gave no reason for this decision.[19] [20] Once Corman left, his editor Monte Hellman also left the project.[21]

Parts of the film were shot in Zion, Glen Canyon, Kanab movie fort, Paria, and the Coral Pink Sand Dunes in Utah. Filming also took place in Old Tucson, Arizona.[22]


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.[23] Alexander never composed another score for a feature film.

See also


  1. Beverly Gray, Roger Corman: Blood Sucking Vampires, Flesh Eating Cockroaches and Driller Killers, AZ Ferris 2014 p 65-66
  2. Cormann--Whiz Kid of the B's Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times 10 June 1966: d16.
  3. Duke, Brad. Harrison Ford: The Films. USA: McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-4048-1.
  4. LONG RIDE HOME, The Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 37, Iss. 432, (Jan 1, 1970): 188.
  5. FOR CHILDREN AGES 12 TO 16 McKenzie, Dorothy C. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]19 Nov 1961: O30.
  6. A Reader's Report on Five Current Titles By MARTIN LEVIN. New York Times 10 Dec 1961: BR48.
  7. McDowall Joins Cast of 'That Darn Cat' Los Angeles Times 17 Oct 1964: B6.
  8. Horror With a Rich, Happy Ending By PETER BARTHOLLYWOOD. New York Times 12 Sep 1965: X17.
  9. Suzy Takes Lead in 'Love' Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 4 June 1966: 23.
  10. Wagner Signed for 'Target' Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 11 June 1965: C23.
  11. MOVIE CALL SHEET: Deborah Kerr Gets Script Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 2 Aug 1965: d16.
  12. 'Texas' Next for Presley Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 23 Apr 1966: 23.
  13. Robertson to Take 'Ride' Los Angeles Times 3 May 1966: d17.
  14. Hamilton to Spend Summer on a Film The Washington Post, Times Herald 24 May 1966: B4.
  15. Robson to Direct 'Detective' Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times2 June 1966: d12.
  16. Biskind, Peter Star: The Life and Wild Times of Warren Beatty Simon and Schuster, April 3, 2010 p 78-79
  17. Arbuckle, Alex. "8 years before 'Star Wars', Harrison Ford struggled in tiny bit parts". Mashable. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  18. Julie Newmar Joins 'Waves' Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 14 June 1966: c15.
  19. Train on a 'Foreign' Track Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 1 July 1966: d11.
  20. p. 23 Joyner, C. Courtney Glenn Ford Interview in The Westerners: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Writers and Producers McFarland, October 14, 2009
  21. p. 95 Albright, Brian Monte Hellman Interview in Wild Beyond Belief!: Interviews with Exploitation Filmmakers of the 1960s and 1970s McFarland, April 9, 2008
  22. D'Arc, James V. (2010). When Hollywood came to town: a history of moviemaking in Utah (1st ed.). Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith. ISBN 9781423605874.
  23. Alexander, Van & Fratallone, Stephen From Harlem to Hollywood: My Life in Music BearManor Media, August 14, 2015
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