As mentioned, it's running now on Turner Classic Movies. As the opening credits came on, I was reminded that it's written by Walter Newman and Frank Pierson.
Why is this noteworthy? Walter Newman, you may recall, is the writer of the aforementioned Harrow Alley, "The Greatest Screenplay Never Made." He received an Oscar nomination for it, as well as for co-writing, Ace in the Hole. Newman also wrote two classics, but took his name off them both -- The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven. (In his interview with William Froug for the book, The Screenwriter Looks at the Screenwriter, Newman relates the story of getting into an argument with John Sturges, director of The Magnificent Seven, ultimately telling him to remove his name. "If that's the way you want it," Sturges said. "You're being a damn fool." Newman replied, "All right. I have a right to be a damn fool.")
Frank Pierson was no slouch in his own right. A former president of the WGA, he also wrote the screenplays for Dog Day Afternoon, Cool Hand Luke and Presumed Innocent. But here's how highly he thought of Cat Ballou. For all his many acclaimed credits, his email address was "Ballou33."
It's also worth noting that Catherine Ballou's father is played by the actor John Marley. If you saw The Godfather, you will definitely remember him. He was the Hollywood movie producer who has a bit of a problem with his horse.
And one of the two rustlers -- the older one, the uncle -- is played by Dwayne Hickman. He came to fame as a young man starring in the title role of the TV series, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. (Years later, after I'd gotten out of graduate school at UCLA, I had a meeting with an executive at CBS Television City, and one of his fellow executives came by to chat -- it was Dwayne Hickman, who by that time had gotten out of acting. However, he jumped back in a few times, notably for two Dobie Gillis reunion movies. He also became a TV director for sitcoms.)
Nat King Cole, one of the balladeers with Stubby Kaye, was actually quite ill during production. It was his last appearance, and he passed away before the film opened.
The movie is based on a novel by Roy Chanslor, whose title is The Ballad of Cat Ballou -- which in turn is the name of the Oscar-nominated song. It's hard not to imagine that the book's title is what gave the filmmakers the idea to use a song and troubadours as narrator throughout the movie.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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