The Cheyenne Social Club
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|The Cheyenne Social Club|
Original cinema poster
|Directed by||Gene Kelly|
|Produced by||James Lee Barrett|
|Written by||James Lee Barrett|
Sue Ane Langdon
|Music by||Walter Scharf|
|Cinematography||William H. Clothier|
|Edited by||Adrienne Fazan|
|Distributed by||National General Pictures (US)|
Cinerama Releasing (UK)
|Box office||$5,250,000 (US/Canada) (rentals)|
The Cheyenne Social Club is a 1970 American western comedy film written by James Lee Barrett, directed and produced by Gene Kelly, and starring James Stewart, Henry Fonda and Shirley Jones. The film is about an aging cowboy who inherits a brothel and decides to turn it into a respectable boarding house, against the wishes of both the townspeople and the ladies working there.
In 1867, John O'Hanlan and Harley Sullivan are aging cowboys working on open cattle ranges in Texas. John gets a letter from an attorney in Cheyenne, Wyoming, that his disreputable and now deceased brother, D.J., left him something called The Cheyenne Social Club in his will. After making the 1,000 mile (1,600 km) trek to Cheyenne, John and Harley learn The Cheyenne Social Club is a high-class brothel next to the railroad. John soon falls into disfavor when his efforts to close the Club are opposed by both the ladies at the Club and the men of Cheyenne. John also learns his brother's will had a provision the property would revert to the railroad if the ladies moved. Jenny, the Club's madam, is assaulted by a man named Bannister. John kills Bannister and regains popularity. Bannister's relatives come to Cheyenne for revenge, but John, Harley and Jenny successfully fight them off. The Sheriff advises that even more of the Bannisters' relatives will soon come to town. John transfers ownership of the property to Jenny and he and Harley return to Texas.
- James Stewart as John O'Hanlan
- Henry Fonda as Harley Sullivan
- Shirley Jones as Jenny
- Sue Ane Langdon as Opal Ann
- Elaine Devry as Pauline
- Jackie Russell as Carrie Virginia
- Jackie Joseph as Annie Jo
- Sharon DeBord as Sara Jean
- Robert Middleton as Barkeep
- Robert J. Wilke as Corey Bannister
- Dabbs Greer as Jedediah W. Willowby
Set in a brothel with suggestive dialogue, this was one of the few off-color films that James Stewart did. He also specifically asked that his friend Fonda be cast; they had most recently worked together two years previously in Firecreek. Stewart and Fonda's first film together had been the musical comedy On Our Merry Way (1948), and they had also both appeared in How the West Was Won (1962) but had no scenes together despite playing best friends.
The exteriors were shot at two Western film lots near Santa Fe, New Mexico: the Eaves Movie Ranch, which was built for the film, and Bonanza Creek Ranch. The interiors were shot at the Samuel Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood.
The Cheyenne Social Club turned a small profit, and was poorly received by critics. It didn't receive any notoriety until decades later with numerous cable television broadcasts. Barrett's script earned a 1970 Writers Guild of America nomination for "Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen", but lost to Neil Simon for The Out-of-Towners.
- "All-time Film Rental Champs", Variety, 7 January 1976 p 46