Silent Tongue is a 1994 American western horror film written and directed by Sam Shepard. It was filmed in the spring of 1992, but not released until 1994. It was filmed near Roswell, New Mexico and features Richard Harris, Sheila Tousey, Alan Bates, Dermot Mulroney and River Phoenix.
|Directed by||Sam Shepard|
|Written by||Sam Shepard|
|Music by||Patrick O'Hearn|
|Distributed by||Trimark Pictures|
The film is about a young man named Talbot Roe (Phoenix), who's gone insane over the death of his wife. Talbot's father, Prescott Roe (Harris) feels his son's pain and wants to find him a new wife. He goes back to the place where he bought Talbot's first wife, from Eamon McCree (Bates). He finds the dead wife's sister (Tousey), who is a champion horse rider and Mr. McCree's daughter, which makes her only half-Indian. Roe asks McCree if he could have his last daughter for his son, but McCree refuses. Then, Roe kidnaps her and tries to get her to help him, and she takes the deal for gold and four horses. But Talbot isn't taking any chances for her—he's too afraid that she'll try to take his wife's corpse from him. And for the last few nights, he sees the ghost of his dead wife, who wants him to destroy her corpse, but he won't.
- Richard Harris as Prescott Roe
- Sheila Tousey as Awbonnie / Ghost
- Alan Bates as Eamon McCree
- River Phoenix as Talbot Roe
- Dermot Mulroney as Reeves McCree
- Jeri Arredondo as Velada McCree
- Tantoo Cardinal as Silent Tongue
- Bill Irwin as Comic
- David Shiner as Straight Man
- Tommy Thompson as Medicine Show Band Performer
- Jack Herrick as Medicine Show Band Performer
- Bland Simpson as Medicine Show Band Performer
- Clay Buckner as Medicine Show Band Performer
- Chris Frank as Medicine Show Band Performer
- Arturo Gil as Little Person Acrobat #1
Delay in release
The film was the last to be released featuring a performance by River Phoenix, who died on October 31, 1993 from a drug overdose. The film's release was delayed, and Phoenix continued to work on The Thing Called Love (the film he had just completed at the time of his death), which was released before Silent Tongue.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 38% based on 16 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 4.9/10. Peter Travers from Rolling Stone awarded the film 4/4 stars, calling it "a demanding chunk of Shepard frontier poetry that shuns pretty-boy posturing".