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
Don Johnson
Patt Quinn
Dick Van Patten
Music by Jimmie Haskell
Cinematography Jorge Stahl Jr.
Edited by Gary Griffin
Distributed by Cinerama Releasing Corporation
Release date
Running time
93 min.
Country USA
Language English
Budget $1,200,000[1]
Box office $625,000[1]

Zachariah (1971) is a Western film starring John Rubinstein as Zachariah and Don Johnson as his friend Matthew as two gunfighters journeying through the American West.[2] It was directed by George Englund from a screenplay by Joe Massot.


The film is loosely based on Hermann Hesse's novel Siddhartha,[3] surrealistically adapted as a musical Western by Joe Massot[2] and the members of The Firesign Theatre comedy troupe. Massot said his inspiration came from when he joined the Beatles in India,[4] when they were studying Transcendental Meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in early 1968.[5] Massot said he arrived to find only George Harrison and John Lennon there, after their bandmates had left the course early, and the two Beatles "locked into some sort of meditation duel … to see who was the stronger character".[5]

Massot initially asked Harrison to provide the film's soundtrack, following his work on Wonderwall, which Massot directed.[6] According to Levon Helm of The Band, Harrison discussed making Zachariah as an Apple Films project starring Bob Dylan and The Band, in late 1968.[7] The following April, Rolling Stone announced that Cream's drummer Ginger Baker and The Band were to be major players in the film.[8]

This film was billed as "The first electric Western".[2] It features appearances and music supplied by rock bands from the 1970s, including the James Gang[2] and Country Joe and the Fish as "The Cracker Band".[2] Fiddler Doug Kershaw has a musical cameo[2] as does Elvin Jones as a gunslinging drummer named Job Cain.[2]


The Minneapolis group White Lightnin' performs their rock and roll version of the William Tell Overture[9][10] on the soundtrack and the New York Rock & Roll Ensemble perform Grave Digger.[9][10] The soundtrack features songs by the James Gang, Joe Walsh, and Country Joe and the Fish.[9][10]

The soundtrack album was released as a vinyl LP by Probe Records, a subsidiary label owned by ABC Records.[10]


Don Johnson later said in a 2014 interview with The A.V. Club "I was sort of the Govinda character."[11]

Roger Greenspun of The New York Times wrote in a review of the film "It is, at least in my experience, the first movie to parody the Western with the apparent intention of propagandizing homosexual love. I am aware that male relationships are a stock in trade of most Westerns and that, in Andy Warhol's brilliant "Lonesome Cowboys," there has already been a homosexual parody."[2]

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


Zachariah was released to DVD by MGM Home Video on August 24, 2004 as a Region 1 widescreen DVD.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "ABC's 5 Years of Film Production Profits & Losses", Variety, 31 May 1973 p 3
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Greenspun, Roger (January 25, 1971). "Zachariah (1970) Screen: 'Zachariah,' an Odd Western". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Reid, Graham (February 14, 2011). "JOE MASSOT INTERVIEWED (2001): And after all, you're my wonder wall ...". Elsewhere. Retrieved May 13, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b Massot, Joe (October 1996). "Identity Crisis". Mojo. p. 146. 
  6. ^ Madinger, Chip; Easter, Mark (2000). Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium. Chesterfield, MO: 44.1 Productions. p. 420. ISBN 0-615-11724-4. 
  7. ^ Helm, Levon; with Davis, Stephen (2000). This Wheel's on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of The Band. Chicago, IL: A Cappella Books. p. 178. ISBN 978-1-55652-405-9. 
  8. ^ Hopkins, Jerry (April 5, 1969). "Baker and Big Pink Sign for Western". Rolling Stone. San Francisco, California: Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. p. 9. 
  9. ^ a b c Segal, Dave (September 2, 2011). "Don't Look a Gift Zachariah OST in the Mouth". The Stranger. 
  10. ^ a b c d "Zachariah (Movie Soundtrack)". Discogs. 
  11. ^ Harris, Will (May 30, 2014). "Don Johnson on Cold In July, Dennis Hopper, and auditioning for Miami Vice". The A.V. Club. 

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