The Unforgiven

Synopsis: Western about racial intolerance focuses around Kiowa claim that the Zachary daughter is one of their own, stolen in a raid. The dispute results in other whites turning their backs on the Zacharys when the truth is revealed by Mother. Cash, the hotheaded brother, reacts violently upon learning his "sister" is a "red-hide Indian." He leaves the family but returns to help them fight off an Indian raid.
Director(s): John Huston
Production: United Artists
125 min

Shoo, now, shoo.

Ain't you got no better manners

than to eat at the top of a house?



What day is today?

Tuesday, I think, Mama. I'm not sure.

Butter tastes kind of wild to me.

Must be the green in springtime grass.

- Guipago!

- Rachel!

Rachel, the bread.

Tuesday's bread day.

You've got to make the bread.

You ain't friends with me yet, are you?

Well, neither am I.


you gray-haired old grass eater.

You're only half horse, you know that?

The other half is a mean old Kiowa Indian.


Rachel, honey, you'll break your neck!

Both of you!

You ain't gonna let

no little old skein of geese scare you?

They're only human.

Just fly a little higher than us folk, that's all.

Get up, Guipago.

Howdy, mister.

We got food down at the soddy,

if you care to partake.

What's your name, girl?


Rachel what?

Rachel Zachary.

You're no Zachary.

Not a Zachary born...

but Ma says it's no different

than if I were flesh...

and blood.

How do you know who I am, mister?

I've never seen you before.

I am the sword of God...

the fire and the vengeance...

whereby the wrong shall be righted

and the truth be told.

Well, I declare.

Just what did he look like, Rachel?

Like something blown in by the wind.

He had a saber.

- Who is he, Mama?

- I don't know.

Some crazy old hunter, I suppose.

But he knows us...

or about us, me being a foundling and all.

Nothing so wonderful about that.

Everybody in Texas knew your ma and pa...

or heard about them, anyway.

- But the way that he talked...

- Prairie fever.

What's that?

Worst thing you can get. Loneliness.

I was touched by it myself, once or twice.

If it wasn't I had a daughter to talk to...

Go in the root cellar and get me some

carrots and potatoes to put in the stew.


How do, Miss Zachary?

I'd have come sooner,

but I had a long way to ride.

Seven years.

You can't kill me.

The god of vengeance will blind your eye.

Death for death, and blood for blood.


Mama, who are you talking to?


How many times do I have to tell you

to get off my house?

Sorry-looking carrots.

Mama, what's the matter?

You got tears in your eyes.

No, I ain't.

Truth be told, I don't feel like cooking

with no men in the house.

And your brother Ben away so long.

I wish Ben were here right now.

Right now.

It's a long ride to Wichita,

and even longer to ride back.

It's a long ride to Wichita,

and even longer to ride back.

I can't wait, Mama.

I just can't.

Look at your bread.

It's rising just beautiful, Mom.

Take it out

before it gets too beautiful to eat.

Should I take some out

to the boys on the range?

No. If those big lunks,

Cash and Andy, want fresh bread...

let them ride home and get it.

which counts up to 81 so far!

All we need is 150.

If I don't have them before Ben arrives...

I'll get down on all fours

and strap a saddle to my back.

Ben promised to take me along to Wichita

and show me how to live.

You got a far piece to go.

You ain't even shaved yet!

Ben says they have girls there

which only have first names!

"Ben says..."

Unless I miss my guess,

that'll be brother Ben.

I see you made it, Ben.

Looks that way, don't it?

How's Ma and Rachel?


- How you doing, Ben?

- Pretty good, brother.

I don't know about the pretty part,

but you didn't go to Wichita to be good.

What's her name, Ben?

- Tell the truth, I don't recall.

- Don't recall?

By gee, if that ain't the way to live!

- Fine looking bunch of riders.

- Why not? I handpicked them.

- Off the barroom floor.

- They're sober now.

Boys, you can set down here.

No better shade within six miles.

The water in that creek is drinkable,

provided you don't put nothing in it.


The one with no whiskers,

is he Injun or ain't he?

When I go to hire a man,

I don't generally start out by insulting him.

What does he call himself?

Johnny Portugal.

They change their names.

All I know,

he's the best horse tamer in Texas.

The wind's in the right direction,

I can smell Injun a mile off!

I hate to disappoint you, Cash.

That smell's coming off of me.

I ain't changed my dirt

since Wichita, Kansas.

- How much did you pay for the fancy soap?

- One silver dollar.

Ain't nothing in Wichita

less than one silver dollar!

Don't matter, though.

Beef at the Railhead's 30 cents.

We must have a million pounds

walking around with our brand on it.

For the first time in our life,

we're gonna be rich.




I'm so happy to see you!

Don't you cheat, you two.


You can look now.

What do you think?

I'm dreaming, ain't I?

Ain't I, Ben?

- You must have paid a fortune of money.

- Not a red cent. Nothing at all.

I made a bet with a man

I could lift it off the floor by myself.

Cash, Andy.

Easy, now.

Must be getting weak.

Did that in Wichita with one finger.

Look here, Rachel. See how it opens.

You're playing the wrong end, daughter!

What makes you so happy, Mama?

Because you ain't sick or dead

or scalped or something worse!

Nothing could kill me,

except lightning out of the sky.

And then it'd have to hit twice.

I believe that.

What tune is that, Mama?

What tune is that, Mama?


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Sounds like angels!

What is it, Ma?

A piano!

Lord have mercy, a piano!

Hallelujah, amen.

Ben Zachary

must be counting on a golden year...

to lay his money out for a piano.

- Giddyup.

- But, Pa!

- I want to change my dress. Please, Pa?

- What's the matter with this dress?

Do you want your daughter to get married,

or don't you?

Take more than a fancy dress

to catch a Zachary. Go ahead.


Give me that gun.


- What's the matter, child?

- You snake-bit or something?

- An old man!

- What old man?

He had only one eye,

and he wore a saber. A long saber.

Get back in the wagon. Put your hat on.

I seen him, and he sure seen me,

because he got that one eye full, Mama.

Down in the valley

hear the wind blow

Roses like sunshine

violets like dew

Angels in heaven

know I love you

God love you, Ben,

for staying partners with a man like me.

It's been a burden...

doing business with a God-fearing,

honest, decent man.

And crippled.

Indian knife done that, Mathilda.

Indian squaw, Rachel, honey.

The while he was tied captive

by them Kiowa.

Kiowa devils.

We licked them good last time,

didn't we, partner?

Us and our picayune neighbors?

Four years ago Christmas,

down there by the wash.

You flushed them and I shot them.

- They ain't showed a feather in four years.

- Four good years for buzzard.

Groundhog, blue potatoes

and all the alkali salt you can eat!

Froze to the saddle.

A sunburn right through your clothes!

And that twister two years ago,

like a big black dog chasing his tail.

The turnaround, down in the spring...

when the creek dried up,

and they died by the hundreds.

Great God in the morning!

But now...

this year, Mother, fat!

By the grace of God.

Fat as ever I've seen him

in all my long days.

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Ben Maddow

Benjamin D. Maddow (August 7, 1909 in Passaic, New Jersey – October 9, 1992 in Los Angeles, California) was a prolific screenwriter and documentarian from the 1930s through the 1970s. Educated at Columbia University, Maddow began his career working within the American documentary movement in the 1930s. In 1936 he co-founded the short-lived left-wing newsreel The World Today. Under the pseudonym of David Wolff, Maddow co-wrote the screenplay to the Paul Strand–Leo Hurwitz documentary landmark, Native Land (1942). He earned his first feature screenplay credit with Framed (1947). Other screenplays include Clarence Brown's Intruder in the Dust (1949, an adaptation of the William Faulkner novel), John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle (1950, for which he received an Academy Award nomination), Johnny Guitar (1954, credited to Philip Yordan, God's Little Acre (1958, an adaptation of the Erskine Caldwell novel officially credited to Philip Yordan as a HUAC-era "front" for Maddow), and, again with Huston, an Edgar Award for Best Mystery Screenplay) and The Unforgiven (1960). As a documentarian he directed and wrote such films as Storm of Strangers, The Stairs, and The Savage Eye (1959), which won the BAFTA Flaherty Documentary Award. Maddow made his solo feature directorial debut with the striking, offbeat feature An Affair of the Skin (1963), a well-acted story of several loves and friendships gone sour and marked by the rich characterisations which had distinguished his best screenplays. In 1961, Maddow and Huston co-wrote the episode "The Professor" of the 1961 television series The Asphalt Jungle. In 1968 he wrote a screenplay based on Edmund Naughton's novel McCabe; while a film adaptation of the novel was ultimately produced as McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Maddow wasn't credited on the film. His final screenplay was for the horror melodrama The Mephisto Waltz (1970). more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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