The Scalphunters

Synopsis: Trapper Joe is on his way to the town with all of his gain of hides of the last winter. However a group of Indians stops him and takes all of his hides, leaving him the escaped slave Joseph instead. But Joe has no use for Joseph and is determined to get his property back and follows them. Before he can do anything, the Indians are raided themselves by a group of scalphunters under the greedy Howie. Not only the hides, but also Joseph falls into their hands. Now Joe follows them alone and tries to trick the numerical superior group out of his hides.
Genre: Comedy, Western
Director(s): Sydney Pollack
Production: United Artists
  Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
102 min

# My mother was a Baptist, boys

# My father was a Jew

# My sister married an orphan

# At the battle of Waterloo

# Don't ever kiss a Hindu, boys

# Unless you are engaged

# True love is never found with girls

# Who dance upon the stage

# Andy Jackson saw a bear

# And chased him up a tree

# A hound dog would have caught the fox

# If he hadn't stopped to...

# My mother was a Baptist, boys

# My father was a Jew

# My sister married an orphan

# At the battle of Waterloo

Hello, Two Crows.

Like hell we will.

Damn your eyes,

I spent all winter getting them furs.

And they're not for trade here.

What the hell do I want with him?

I don't care how you got him.

Wait a minute. I know he's brave as

a buffalo. You don't have to slice him up.

I don't want him.

You're all right, Two Crows.

You ought to be a white man.

You'd be captain of the steamboat

and president of the bank.

Just cos you own this damn country.

What are you standing there for?

Can't you speak English?

- No, sir.

- What do you mean, "No, sir"?

I mean I wish I didn't.

Come over here.

Turn around.

You sure don't look like you're worth

a winter trapping of furs.

No, sir, I'm not.

In fact, sir, I'm not worth anything.

- What's your name?

- Joseph Winfield Lee.

Formerly of the Comanche tribe,

until stolen by the Kiowas.

- You're far from home. You run away?

- As the spirits directed me, sir.

You don't talk like a field slave.

You kill anybody when you ran off?

No, sir. That's contrary to the law.

You think what those Indians did to me

was the law?

- Just cos I'm trespassing?

- No, sir.

Caveat emptor legalis semper.

Let the buyer beware.

- I've heard that said.

- Where'd you learn them wise remarks?

I was privileged to associate with one of

the best-educated families in Louisiana.

- I can read, write and cipher.

- Don't brag on it.

- Pick up that bag. Let's go.

- Where to?

To get my furs back.

Where the hell do you think?

Can I ask you a question, sir? How

do you plan to fight all those Kiowas?

By natural application of superior tactics,

Massachusetts wit, and left-handed skill.

Oh. You're gonna shoot 'em, sir.

Hell, no.

There's a cask of trade rum in that pack.

Them Indians'll have a drunk party

and I'll get back my packhorse and furs.

- What about me, sir?

- I'll sell you to the highest bidder.

Could you make that to a Comanche?

You seem to have a prejudice

against serving the white race.

I don't mean to be narrow in my attitude.

Could I ask you what's your name, sir?

Joe Bass.

Well, Mr Bass, couldn't you kinda

consider me a captured Comanche?

I came on foot as far as the Comanches.

It was my intention

to circle south to Mexico.

The Mexicans have a law against slavery.

And since those Indians captured me from

Indians, I now have full Indian citizenship.

- Joseph Lee, you ever study the law?

- No, sir.

Neither did I. But you ain't got a chance

in hell of calling yourself an Indian.

You're African.

Slave by employment, black by colour.

You ain't gonna walk good enough

to catch them Kiowas.

- I guess I'm a failure as a packhorse, sir.

- A man don't ever say quit, Joseph Lee.

No, sir. He doesn't.

Hand me that bag.

Crab onto her tail.

See the superiority of the white-skinned

race when it comes to walking.

My ancestors were famous as liars,

walkers and patriots. Are you patriotic?

Yes, sir. Fourth of July

I generally set up quite a holler.

Of course, if someone came along now

they might figure you own me.

- You're riding, I'm walking.

- But that's not the case.

In a manner of speaking, you are

the image of my packhorse and fur pelts.

- I'd take good care of 'em, wouldn't I?

- Yes, sir.

They're a valuable

wholesale or retail commodity.

You wouldn't be thinking of

grabbing those reins and running off?

I doubt it, sir.

- You doubt it?

- I'm not sure of the directions.

I haven't any food and, as a Comanche,

I might run into those Kiowas again.


You hear that? Two Crows and his boys

are in that gully having a hell of a time.

You just sit here and rest

for about five minutes while I take a look.

Pick 'em up.

- I've decided what I'm gonna do with you.

- Sell me to Egypt.

I'm gonna sell you in St Louis. You'll retail

for about 15 mules and 10 bales of cotton.

- Yes, sir.

- Don't try to run. You can't get nowhere.

- Yes, sir.

- And shut up.

Yes, sir.


Well, Mr Bass, there they are. Co get 'em.

Just like that?

I'd say they're considerably

under the influence.

- You ever fight 12 drunk Indians?

- No, sir. But I'd like to see it done.

As a Comanche,

what I'd do is run off their horses.

You're an African Comanche.

But you're right.

- You see that brush?

- Yes, sir.

- I want you to get down there.

- Right now, sir?

When it gets dark.

That's mesquite. It'll burn.

- I want you to start a fire.

- What'll you do, sir?

When they go for the fire,

I'll stampede their horses.

They'll be so drunk, I'll get my packhorse

and furs and be gone.

- Can I say something, Mr Bass?

- What is it?

If you're gonna sell me back into being

a runaway slave, do it all yourself.

Of course, if you help me get to Mexico,

then maybe I'll help you.

Joseph Lee, I expect that someday

you'll be president of the Bank of Omaha.

But right now you're going down there

and do as I tell you.

Or I'll skin your black carcass.

Cet my rifle. Co on.

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William W. Norton

William Wallace "Bill" Norton, Jr. (September 24, 1925 – October 1, 2010) was an American screenwriter. Later in life, he was convicted of gun running in France when he tried to send arms from the United States to the Irish National Liberation Army in Northern Ireland. After being released from prison, he moved to Nicaragua, where he shot and killed an intruder in his Managua home. He later spent a year living in Cuba but became disillusioned with Communism and was reportedly smuggled from Mexico into the U.S. by his ex-wife. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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