Savages (1974 film)

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Savages
Directed by Lee H. Katzin
Produced by Leonard Goldberg (producer)
Shelley Hull (associate producer)
Aaron Spelling (producer)
Written by William Wood (telaplay)
Robb White (novel)
Starring Andy Griffith
Sam Bottoms
Noah Beery, Jr.
James Best
Randy Boone
Jim Antonio
James Chandler
Music by Murray MacLeod
The Orphanage[disambiguation needed]
Cinematography Tim Southcott
Edited by John Woodcock
Production
company
Distributed by ABC
Release dates September 11, 1974
Running time 74 min.
Country United States
Language English

Savages is a 1974 American TV film directed by Lee H. Katzin and based on the novel Deathwatch by Robb White. It stars Andy Griffith and Sam Bottoms.

Synopsis[edit]

The Mojave Desert

A successful Los Angeles lawyer and hunter, Horton Madec, (Andy Griffith) receives a rare permit to hunt Bighorn Sheep in the nearby Mojave Desert. He hires a timid college student currently working as a filling station attendant named Ben (Sam Bottoms), who will drive him into the desert with his Jeep CJ and help show Madec where the bighorn are. Ben is studying to be a geologist, so therefore he knows the desert very well. After Madec accidentally shoots an ewe with his .30-06 Winchester Model 70 rifle, he buries it and although Ben is disappointed, he agrees that they should pretend like the incident never happened. However, Ben realizes that what Madec shot was no female sheep; upon noting a bloody human hand underneath the grass. Horrified, Ben digs it up and realizes that Madec has actually shot a local prospector named Winnie Haas, who was Ben's friend and mentor. Madec apologizes, but argues that he can't afford to sit in jail, as he is too important and has a family to take care of. Refusing to cover it up, Ben argues that the honest thing to do would be for the two of them to report the accidental shot, but Madec refuses, even going as far to bribe Ben with thousands of dollars just to keep quiet about the incident. It is then that Madec decides to eliminate the only witness to the crime - Ben. Madec forces Ben to strip down to nothing but his shorts at gunpoint. He intends to make up a story saying that the two became separated, Ben went crazy, tore off all his clothes and died within a matter of hours due to dehydration and heat. Ben attempts to escape by walking forty-five miles to the nearest highway. Madec watches Ben the entire distance while aiming at him with his rifle. After trying to climb the nearby Big Lizard butte, Ben is shot by Madec, causing him to fall and injure his back. Time is running out as he begins to hallucinate. Suffering from dehydration, hunger, sunburn, and gunshot wounds, Ben needs to find, food, water, shelter, and a weapon. Ben later gets a slingshot from the prospector's tent and uses it to breathe after he buries himself to avoid Madec finding him. Ben eventually uses survival techniques the prospector taught him to locate water inside a cave, later overpowering Madec by lighting his tent on fire, distracting him and allowing him to shoot Madec in the hand with the slingshot. He then drives them back to town and attempts to convince the local police to believe his story, however Madec's story is more meticulously detailed and convincing to them. Madec claims that Ben shot the prospector after a drunken dispute, backing up his story by stating that he never knew the prospector. As the police can't find the slingshot, either, they have to go with Madec's story. However, right as Madec is preparing to leave town and filling up with gasoline, there is something lodged in the pump. Ben unclogs it by putting a pole into the underground tank and unearthing the slingshot which Madec had earlier put there and hidden from the police. The local police believe Ben's story and tell Madec to get a lawyer, only for Madec to reply that he is a lawyer. They apologize to Ben for the confusion and Ben replies that he only wanted to report an accident.

Differences between the novel and film[edit]

  • In the film, Madec carries a large-caliber .30-06 hunting rifle, most likely a Winchester Model 70 with custom wooden furniture. In the novel, he carries a .358 Norma Magnum of an unspecified type.
  • In the novel, Madec is portrayed as a younger character with more of a terse and unfriendly personality. In the film, Madec is more polite, however, and he even offers Ben a cigar at one point. Madec is also much older here, as well as more patient and calculated. Madec in the film also has a handicap, a bum leg. He uses his handicap to bring him sympathy in the trial at the end of the film.
  • In the novel, Madec seems to be determined to win against Ben. In the film, Madec reveals to Ben that his handicap made him test his wits like most athletes exercise. Madec sees the duel as more of a game in the film, and enjoys it. Madec of the novel just wants to get it over with.
  • In the novel, Ben realizes right away that he shot a prospector and Madec admits his mistake, although he doesn't seem to feel bad about it. In the film, Madec knows that he killed a man and deliberately tries to cover it up, lying to Ben that he shot a female.
  • In the novel, it begins with Madec and Ben already in the desert. In the film, it begins with the two meeting each other for the first time and agreeing to the business deal.
  • In the novel, Madec throws the slingshot away in a wastebasket at the local hospital. In the film, he submerges it inside an underground gasoline tank at the local gas station.

References[edit]

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