Mr. Horn

Mr. Horn is a 1979 television film chronicling the life of Tom Horn. It was directed by Jack Starrett from a screenplay by William Goldman.

Mr. Horn
Written byWilliam Goldman
Directed byJack Starrett
StarringDavid Carradine
Music byJerry Fielding
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Lee Rich
Producer(s)Robert L. Jacks
Elliott Kastner
Catherine McCabe (associate producer)
Octavio ElĂ­as (associate producer): Mexico
Production location(s)Mexicali, Baja California Norte, Mexico
CinematographyJorge Stahl Jr.
Editor(s)Michael McCroskey
Running time180 minutes
Production company(s)Lorimar Productions
Original networkCBS
Original release
  • February 1, 1979 (1979-02-01)

This version came out just prior to the 1980 feature film Tom Horn, which starred Steve McQueen.


Tom Horn is recruited by Al Seiber to work as a scout during the Apache Wars with the goal of tracking down Geronimo. They take part in the Battle of Cibecue Creek and the Crawford affair where they fight with Mexican soldiers who kill Emmet Crawford. Horn eventually helps track down and capture Geronimo. He has a brief relationship with Crawford's widow.

Years later Horn becomes a Pinkerton, tracking down and killing cattle rustlers. He gets involved in a range war and is convicted of killing a boy. In 1903 he is executed.


Historical accuracy

Comparing this movie to documented history shows many factual errors. Karen Black's character of Ernestina Crawford, sister to Emmet Crawford in the movie, was completely fictitious. General Crook appears in the movie after the point he historically died.


William Goldman had come across the story of Tom Horn while researching that of Butch Cassidy and became fascinated with him, calling Horn "the most talented man who ever lived" in the Wild West,[2] deciding to write a screenplay about him. In 1974 it was announced Goldman, Robert Redford and Sydney Pollack had formed a company, the Horn Company, to make the movie.[3] " Like Jeremiah [Johnson], the script is very mythic," said Pollack.[4] Goldman was reportedly paid $500,000 for his work.[5]

In 1977 Mike Medavoy at United Artists announced he had bought William Goldman's script to star Redford.[6] Pollack was still attached and he got David Rayfield to rewrite the script.[7] Around this time it was announced that Steve McQueen had been developing his own Tom Horn movie.[8]

Walter Coblenz was assigned to produce. "He is a hero of Western lore," said the producer. "Our picture will be very much about the man, his life and times. This is a distinct personality, the last of a breed, a man who was there in the last days of the real west. When he died, a good part of that life also died forever."[8]

However Redford then dropped out of the project. The script was acquired by Lorimar Productions to be made for CBS.[9] Robert Jacks, who produced, later said:

What we had was a very expensive William Goldman script. If it was done as a movie it would take $12 million and 95 days of shooting. We did it for a third of that and on a 50 day schedule. It was a long script, and we had to cut 50 minutes out of the first part ... It's really better suited for television ... I feel David Carradine was born to play Tom Horn. The similarity between their characters is incredible.[10]


Filming took place on location in Mexico, starting July 1978, near Mexicali and Tecate.[11]


The Los Angeles Times called Goldman's script "spare and witty and wonderful" and the movie "marvellous".[12] The New York Times called it a "neat, extremely absorbing flick."[13]

William Goldman later admitted he never saw the mini series. "Couldn't bring myself to ... this was one of my bad experiences."[2]


  1. "Karen Black". IMDb. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
  2. Goldman, William, Which Lie Did I Tell?, Bloomsbury 2000 p 267
  3. New Company Set Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 15 Aug 1974: g17.
  4. SYDNEY POLLACK: THE WHY WE ARE Erens, PatriciaView Profile. Film Comment11.5 (Sep/Oct 1975): 24-29.
  5. Screenwriter as Star: Shaking the Shackles Laskos, Andrew. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 29 Aug 1976: k1.
  6. Movies: Yesterday's heroism--Could it cure today's ailing western? Siskel, Gene. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 20 Feb 1977: e2.
  7. FILM CLIPS: A MOVIE OF LIFE WITH PAPA Kilday, Gregg. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 04 May 1977: h16.
  8. He'll Leave the Diving to Them Lee, Grant. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 09 Mar 1977: f8.
  9. TV: Hollywood's Best Coming Attraction: The Force, You Might Say, Is With the Tube IN HOLLYWOOD, THE FORCE IS WITH THE TUBE LOVENHEIM, ROBERT. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 05 Mar 1978: e1.
  10. Evening News 1 Feb 1979
  11. WOR Is Rescheduling Some of Its Talk Shows: 'Mr. Horn,' Western Miniseries, Will Star David Carradine 'Newstime' Sends 24-Hour News To Cable Television Stations By RICHARD F. SHEPARD. New York Times 6 July 1978: C19.
  12. TELEVISION REVIEW: 'MR. HORN,' THE WHITE INDIAN Smith, Cecil. Los Angeles Times 1 Feb 1979: f1
  13. TV: Man Who Took Geronimo By JOHN J. O'CONNOR. New York Times1 Feb 1979: C24.
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