Vigilante Force poster
|Directed by||George Armitage|
|Produced by||Gene Corman|
|Written by||George Armitage|
|Music by||Gerald Fried|
|Edited by||Morton Tubor|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|September 9, 1976 (USA)|
Vigilante Force is a 1976 American action film concerning a Vietnam War veteran (Kris Kristofferson) and his buddies, who are hired by his brother (Jan-Michael Vincent) and others in a small California town for protection from rowdy oil-field workers.
- They called it God's country...until all hell broke loose.
- They hired themselves a hero...and bought themselves a world of trouble.
A small California town is overrun with unruly and rowdy behavior from oil-field workers. Aaron Arnold, a Vietnam War veteran, and the brother of one of the locals (Ben Arnold), is hired to assist the police in restoring the peace. Aaron hires mercenaries trained in combat to help. After controlling the oil field workers, the veterans take over the town for their own not-always-legal purposes. Confrontation between the town police and locals and the mercenaries ends in violence.
- Kris Kristofferson - Aaron Arnold
- Jan-Michael Vincent - Ben Arnold
- Victoria Principal - Linda Christopher
- Bernadette Peters - Little Dee
- Brad Dexter - Mayor Bradford
- Judson Pratt - Harry Lee
- David Doyle - Homer Arno
- Antony Carbone - Freddie Howe
- Andrew Stevens - Paul Sinton
Armitage credits the quality of the stunts to Buddy Joe Hooker, stuntman.
That was a 30-day film, but it would be 60 days today because of the stunts and the pyrotechnics. We had Roger George, who was quite a well-known special effects man. It went really well, though we had one little mishap that wasn’t really our fault—in the final shootout we blew up a blue van that was parked over an oil pipeline, so after the initial explosion the oil pipeline caught fire.
Armitage says Jan Michael Vincent's character Ben Arnold was named after Benedict Arnold, Kris Kristofferson's character Aaron was named after Aaron Burr and Judson Prett's Harry Lee was Lighthorse Harry Lee:
The entire movie is full of these very slightly coded reference to the Revolutionary War…[although] What I was really doing there was Vietnam. What would it be like if people took over your town, as we had been doing to the hamlets of Vietnam? What if we brought Vietnam back to America, what would that be like? That’s kind of what we were going after, but since the Bicentennial year was coming on and bringing a lot of revisionist history with it, I thought I’d include a little Revolutionary War in the recipe. I’ve always tried to include something subversive, not hidden from anyone, just for my own interests.
The production designer was Jack Fisk. "We had absolutely no money, no budget, but Jack did extraordinary things—and Sissy Spacek was our assistant art director on that," said Armitage. Armitage says that once Kris Kristofferson agreed to do the film "everybody else followed. Bernadette [Peters] wanted to work with him, Victoria [Principal], and Jan-Michael came over... It was a good shoot, but it was rough. It was 30 days, it was 108 degrees in the Simi Valley, so a lot of it was tough to do. But we worked through it, finished on time and under budget."
The Timeout review noted that the film was an "awkward combination of cheapo war and cowboy comics...", but that "Kristofferson ... shuffles through quite convincingly..." and "...Bernadette Peters plays an ill-treated, down-at-heel, after-hours singer with real style." 
According to Contemporary North American Film Directors, the plot was a not-too-subtle satire on the American way. The studio disliked the film and it was a commercial failure.
- Nick Pinkerton, "Interview with George Armitage", Film Comment 28 April 2015
- timout.com review Archived December 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Contemporary North American Film Directors" (2002), Yoram Allon; Del Cullen; Hannah Patterson, p. 22, Wallflower Press, ISBN 1-903364-52-3