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The Unforgiven
The Unforgiven
Actors: Burt Lancaster, Audrey Hepburn, Audie Murphy, John Saxon, Charles Bickford
Director: John Huston
Genres: Westerns, Indie & Art House, Drama
NR     2003     2hr 5min

Legendary director John Huston is "at the top of his form" (Time) with this "powerful, exciting" (The Film Daily) tale of forbidden love set against America's most rugged and ruthless frontier. Starring Burt Lancaster, Aud...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Burt Lancaster, Audrey Hepburn, Audie Murphy, John Saxon, Charles Bickford
Director: John Huston
Creators: Burt Lancaster, Franz Planer, Russell Lloyd, Harold Hecht, James Hill, Alan Le May, Ben Maddow
Genres: Westerns, Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Westerns, Indie & Art House, Love & Romance
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 05/20/2003
Original Release Date: 04/06/1960
Theatrical Release Date: 04/06/1960
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 2hr 5min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 11
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
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Movie Reviews

Underrated Classic
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've always wondered why this film is never spoken in the same breath with "Shane" or "The Searchers". "Great" Westerns are usually described as being epic in scale, but "The Unforgiven" has an authentic feel to it. From the dusty look everything has, to the sod hut the family lives in, to the realistic period dress, this movie has a look that is unlike any other I have seen. The DVD has the best print and sound I have seen and heard since the film was released in 1960, with sharper definition and bolder colors than before (obviously better than the VHS tape). Some viewers may find tiny faults here and there, but overall this film needs to be viewed by any lover of Western movies."
The Unforgiven (1960)
stingerski | Hudson, FL USA | 08/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is the best western I have ever seen. I knew it would be a classic at age 10 when I first saw it in a movie theater in Tacoma, Washington. And time has not changed that. I would give it 6 stars, if possible. The cast and their performances are brilliant, especially Charles Bickford as the clan patriarch, Burt Lancaster, Audrey Hepburn, and all the others. The music is grand and the plot is ever so interesting. No western that I have ever seen has even come close to undertaking the complexities of race relations (a term scarcely known in 1850) in the Wild West. One of the most intense scenes I have ever seen on film is when they are about to hang the old Hunter, Abe Kelsey. This is simply a John Huston masterpiece. Every camera shot is outstanding and the dialog is superb. You can never forget Kelsey's warning, "You ALL turn to devils! Devils!" Incidentally, altho I have forgotten his real name (John Wiseman?) I believe he also had a bit part in "Masada" as another type of prophet-patriarch. Forget about the fluff & huff of modern, politically correct "westerns" of today's producers, with their blow-dried hair doos. If you want an authentic western at its best, this is a must see. And you're entire family can watch it. No -F- words, of course. That in itself is testimony to another era of golden film making -- all acting, no cheapness. "The Unforgiven" goes into my book as one of the top 10, all time great movies."
Audrey Hepburn as an American Indian?
L. W. Barnes | Alabama, United States | 06/14/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This film doesn't rank as a classic or great Western in my opinion, but it's worth a look. The sets and cinematography are probably the most realistic I've ever seen in a Western: the dustiness, the sod-roofed cabin, the griminess of the actors, the plain (very plain) clothing, etc. However, I found it a bit hard to accept Audrey Hepburn portraying an American Indian (even though she is an exceptional actress, she isn't a convincing Indian). Her speech patterns differ greatly from everyone else's in the film, and when she says "ain't ya?" with her European-style speech, it made my skin crawl. She just appears anachronistic in this film; it's not Audrey's style or form. However, Charles Bickford, Lillian Gish, and Audie Murphy are all excellent in their respective roles. Burt Lancaster has seen better films, though. In addition, the chemistry was absent between he and Hepburn. She obviously had a schoolgirl-type crush on her adopted big brother, but I never felt that his supposedly romantic feelings for her were genuine. The lynching scene is effectively horrifying, as is the final scenes of mass slaughter. This is a disturbing movie, and although quite dated, it does address race relations between the pioneering whites and the American Indians (of course, all from the pioneers' point of view, which was typical of 1950s Westerns). Worth a look, but I wouldn't purchase it unless you are an intense Western fan or just want to see Audrey Hepburn in an incredibly unusual role."
Forbidden blood, forbidden love
Steven Hellerstedt | 03/03/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Tempers reach a fever pitch and a post-Civil War Texas community threatens to explode when people begin to suspect the adopted daughter of a respected family is a Kiowa Indian.
John Huston directed THE UNFORGIVEN in 1960, one of the last of the `message' westerns of that era which includes such notables as BROKEN ARROW (message = practice racial tolerance) and HIGH NOON (message = McCarthyism is bad.) I'm not a big fan of message westerns. Too often the sermon drowns out the story. As they used to say, if I want a message I'll call Western Union.
Still, Huston was one of the smartest directors around and the cast - Audrey Hepburn, Burt Lancaster, Lillian Gish, and Audie Murphy - are all first-rate.
Audrey Hepburn, the luminous Audrey Hepburn, plays the young woman was a foundling and now is the subject of an increasingly acrimonious dispute over her pedigree. Gish plays the foster mother and Lancaster and Murphy the Kiowa-hating half-brothers. Murphy a little top heavy with hate, Lancaster a little light in the keel when called on to remember the brother part. They aren't really kin, one coyly tells the other early on.
The first half of THE UNFORGIVEN is pretty interesting. There's a wild, one-eyed wraith, dressed in torn and faded Confederate gray, claiming to be the `sword of God' and warning any and all of Hepburn's true heritage. A young John Saxon plays a half-breed wrangler named Portugal who... well, rather mysteriously disappears rather early on. It has nothing to do with the plot per se, it's just that his character suddenly just isn't in the movie anymore. And that's the rub. Huston builds and maintains an intriguing story up until the last act, which is nothing more than a protracted shoot-`em-up that ends with survivors locking hands and singing Kumbaiyah. Huston usually tacks a brilliant ending onto his movies, and the one here is lame by anyone's standards. I think I know why this is so.
According to a reliable internet source THE UNFORGIVEN was attended by more than its share of misfortune leading to tragedy. Hepburn, pregnant during filming, was seriously injured in a horse riding accident between scenes. She was hospitalized, returned in a neck brace, and after the movie was completed ultimately miscarried the baby. Director John Huston blamed himself for the accident and reportedly hated this movie. Huston's disdain is, I think, apparent. How else to explain an interesting set-up followed by one of the weakest last acts he ever filmed? My guess is that somewhere along the line Huston simply lost interest in the movie, and he wrapped it up in a tried and true and uninspirited and insipid manner.
THE UNFORGIVEN is okay, not great and not always really very good. One of Huston's lesser efforts.