Geronimo: An American Legend

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Geronimo: An American Legend
Geronimo film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Walter Hill
Produced by Neil Canton
Walter Hill
Written by John Milius
Starring Wes Studi
Jason Patric
Robert Duvall
Gene Hackman
Matt Damon
Pato Hoffmann
Narrated by Matt Damon[1]
Music by Ry Cooder
Cinematography Lloyd Ahern
Edited by Donn Aron
Carmel Davies
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • December 10, 1993 (1993-12-10)
Running time
115 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $35 million
Box office $18,635,620[2]
228,707 admissions (France)[3]

Geronimo: An American Legend is a 1993 film, directed by Walter Hill from a screenplay by John Milius and starring Wes Studi, Jason Patric, Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall and Matt Damon. It was released on December 10, 1993 by Columbia Pictures.


The film follows the events leading up to the capture of Geronimo in 1886. The Apache Indians have reluctantly agreed to settle on a U.S. government approved reservation. Not all the Apaches are able to adapt to the life of corn farmers, and one in particular, Geronimo, is restless. Pushed over the edge by broken promises and unnecessary actions by the government, Geronimo and 30 other warriors form an attack team which humiliates the government by evading capture, while reclaiming what is rightfully theirs. The plot centers upon Charles Gatewood (Jason Patric), the U.S. cavalry lieutenant charged with capturing the elusive Apache leader with the assistance of a scout leader Al Sieber (Robert Duvall) and a young graduate Britton Davis (Matt Damon). Gatewood is torn by a grudging respect for Geronimo and his people, and his duty to his country. But then all the white men in the film have respect for Geronimo, even as they are trying to hunt him down and kill him. Brigadier General George Crook (Gene Hackman), charged with overseeing the forced settlement of the Apaches on reservations has nothing but admiration for Geronimo.



Walter Hill had a development deal at Carolco. They approached him wanting to make a Western that focused on an Indian and Hill was enthusiastic. He initially considering doing a movie on Crazy Horse "but for various reasons I thought it was a little too difficult."[7] Eventually Geronimo was selected and John Milius hired to write a draft. "I like Geronimo just as he was, a human predator," said Milius.[8]

Hill said the title of the film should have been The Geronimo War. "The conception was you make the film from the last time he came in and broke off and was sent away," he said. "The last time he broke off the reservations. This had been a recurring pattern. I thought that would be more accurate."[7]

According to Hill, Milius' screenplay was more inclusive of Geronimo's early years and Milius was reluctant to revise it so he had it rewritten by Hill and Larry Gross.[7] "This movie certainly presents a heroic view of Geronimo," said Hill.[8]

The movie was eventually transferred from Carolco to Columbia.[9]

The part of Al Sieber was expanded when Robert Duvall was cast.[10] The character of Sieber was meant to ride off into the sunset at the end of the movie but during filming Hill felt that the running time was going to be too long and so decided to kill off the character. "If I'd known I was going to die I might not have done the movie," said Duvall. "I've died nine times in films." However part of Duvall's deal to make the film did mean his company, Butcher's Run Films, signed a deal with Columbia.[11]

The film was shot in Utah, Tucson, Arizona, and Culver City, California.[7]

Another film on Geronimo came out around the same time, a made for TV movie.


The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Sound (Chris Carpenter, Doug Hemphill, Bill W. Benton and Lee Orloff).[12]

The film had a mixed reception from critics[13][14][15] but was praised by Native American groups.[16] Philip French of London's Observer called it one of the greatest Westerns of all time.[17]

Walter Hill later expressed dissatisfaction with the title:

It’s not about Geronimo. It should have been called The Geronimo War... It’s as much about the Army as it is Geronimo. That came out of my reading of historical accounts, and realizing that so much of what we think we know about the Indian campaigns is wrong. The Army is generally depicted as the enemy of the Apache, but in many cases, the people who were most sympathetic to their plight were those soldiers.[18]

Box office[edit]

The film was a box office bomb. Earning only $18 million on a $35 million budget .[19] The movie dropped to number 7 the following week.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Geronimo Doesn't Bow To Stereotypes". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  2. ^ "Geronimo: An American Legend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-01-12. 
  3. ^ Box office figures for Walter Hill films in France at Box Office Story
  4. ^ Galbraith, Jane (1993-12-14). "Q&A WITH WES STUDI : 'I Came Into the Business at the Right Time'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  5. ^ "Wes `Geronimo') Studi Wary Of Political Correctness". Chicago Tribune. 1993-12-16. Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  6. ^ "Geronimo' Co-star Keeps A Low Profile". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Interview with Walter Hill Chapter 8", Directors Guild of America accessed 12 June 2014
  8. ^ a b Geronimo, Still With a Few Rough Edges: It's Still Geronimo, But With Edges By ERIK ECKHOLM. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 05 Dec 1993: H19.
  9. ^ The View From the Top: Why 'Lethal Weapon 3' Should Outlast 'Alien3' Pond, Steve. The Washington Post (1974-Current file) [Washington, D.C] 29 May 1992: D6.
  10. ^ Kubrick's 'Wartime' Odyssey Pond, Steve. The Washington Post (1974-Current file) [Washington, D.C] 16 Apr 1993: B7.
  11. ^ Robert Duvall Strikes Sweet Deal: 'Geronimo' lands him lead role in his own production company INTERVIEW Bonnie Churchill Special to The Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current file) [Boston, Mass] 11 Jan 1994: 15.
  12. ^ "The 66th Academy Awards (1994) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  13. ^ McCarthy, Todd (1993-12-12). "Geronimo: An American Legend". Variety. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  14. ^ "Geronimo: An American Legend". Washington Post. 1993-12-10. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  15. ^ "Geronimo: An American Legend". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  16. ^ Mathews, Jack (1993-12-05). "The Right Geronimo? : Native Americans call Walter Hill's 'Geronimo' the most honest look yet at the feared Apache leader, but the director is not so sure". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  17. ^ CINEMA Hill's warrior charge The Observer (1901- 2003) [London (UK)] 16 Oct 1994: C9
  18. ^ Jon Zelazny, 'Kicking Ass with Walter Hill', The Hollywood Interview, 8 Sept 2009 accessed 12 Jan 2012
  19. ^ Pristin, Terry (1993-12-14). "Weekend Box Office : Sequels Take 2 of Top 3 Spots". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-12. 
  20. ^ Fox, David J. (1993-12-20). "Pelican' Soars at the Box Office Movies: The mystery, with Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington, takes in more than $16 million. `Mrs. Doubtfire,' `Schindler's List' also do well.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 

External links[edit]