Zachariah (film)

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Directed by George Englund
Produced by George Englund
Lawrence Kubik
Written by Joe Massot
Phil Austin
Peter Bergman
David Ossman
Philip Proctor
Starring John Rubinstein
Pat Quinn
Don Johnson
Dick Van Patten
Music by Jimmie Haskell
Mark Snow (song co-composer, "Grave Digger", as "Martin Fultermann")
Michael Kamen (song co-composer, "Grave Digger")
Kamen & Snow part of the New York Rock and Roll Ensemble
John Rubinstein ("Camino Waltz")
Cinematography Jorge Stahl Jr.
Edited by Gary Griffin
Distributed by Cinerama Releasing Corporation
Release dates
Running time
93 min.
Country  United States
Language English
Budget $1,200,000[1]
Box office $625,000[1]

Zachariah (1971) is a film starring John Rubinstein as Zachariah and Don Johnson as his best friend Matthew.


The film is loosely based on Hermann Hesse's novel Siddhartha,[2] surrealistically adapted as a musical Western by Joe Massot and the members of the Firesign Theatre comedy troupe. The band Country Joe and the Fish perform as an inept gang of robbers (more adept as musicians) called "the Crackers," who are always "looking for people who like to draw." In the same vein, Zachariah boasts: "I can think, I can wait, and I'm fast on the draw." This is a parody of Siddhartha's famous line: "I can think, I can wait, I can fast."

Underneath the gunplay, the jokes, and the music, an important message is delivered: a life of pacifism, quiet contemplation, male bonding and vegetarianism is preferable to a life of violence.

This film is defined as being part of the Acid Western genre. More precisely, in its own publicity releases, it was called, "The first electric western." This was, in no small part, because this film featured several appearances and music supplied by successful rock bands from the era, including the James Gang and Country Joe and the Fish. Fiddler Doug Kershaw has a musical cameo that advances the plot of the film. The movie also features former John Coltrane sideman Elvin Jones as a gunslinging drummer named "Job Cain."

Cream's drummer Ginger Baker and The Band were originally scheduled to be major players in the film. [3]

Don Johnson later said "I was sort of the Govinda character".[4] The Minneapolis group White Lightnin' (an off-shoot of the band The Litter) performs their rock and roll version of the William Tell Overture on the soundtrack. The New York Rock and Roll Ensemble perform Grave Digger on the soundtrack. The soundtrack features songs by the James Gang, Joe Walsh, and Country Joe and the Fish. "Laguna Salada" and "Country Fever", performed in the film by the James Gang, later reappeared as bonus tracks on the 2000 re-release of The James Gang Greatest Hits.[2] The soundtrack for Zachariah has also recently become available.

Film composers Michael Kamen and Mark Snow can be seen half naked singing in a band while film composer/actor John Rubinstein's character makes love to Patricia Quinn (the American actress, who co-starred in Alice's Restaurant) in bed.

The film and its soundtrack received a positive review in the pages of Circus, a rock music magazine. The soundtrack album was released as a vinyl LP by Probe, a subsidiary label owned by ABC.


The film recorded a loss of $1,435,000.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "ABC's 5 Years of Film Production Profits & Losses", Variety, 31 May 1973 p 3
  2. ^ Irv Slifkin (2004). Videohound's Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era. Visible Ink Press. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-57859-155-8. 
  3. ^ Hopkins, Jerry (April 5, 1969). "Baker and Big Pink Sign for Western". Rolling Stone (30). San Francisco: Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. p. 9. 
  4. ^ "Don Johnson on Cold In July, Dennis Hopper, and auditioning for Miami Vice" By Will Harris The AV Club May 30, 2014 accessed 8 June 2014

2. The James Gang Greatest Hits

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