CowboySpirit.TV - The 1965 Cat Ballou is sometimes seen as an adult satire of True Grit, with the grown up Jane Fonda playing a character similar to Mattie Ross and Lee Marvin playing a more well-grounded Rooster Cogburn. The similarities end there though, as Cat Ballou is a comedic western, from beginning to end. Directed by Elliot Silverstein and starring Jane Fonda, Lee Marvin, and Michael Callan, Cat Ballou is one of the best lighthearted western movies remembered by fans of the western genre.
Cat Ballou Little Known Facts
The novel on which Cat Ballou is based is serious; the comedic aspects of the film come courtesy the screenwriters.
It’s rumored that Jane Fonda didn’t understand the movie, but took the role because she was under contract to Columbia Pictures.
The original announcement of the film came in 1956, nearly ten years before its release, and had Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis billed as the brothers that would be played by Lee Marvin in the final version.
Over 11 writers worked on the script, a turnover rate that fortunately did not harm the final version.
Kirk Douglas declined the role of Shaleen after being talked out of it by his agent. He later regretted the decision.
Ann Margaret’s manager declined the role of Cat Ballou on her behalf. She would later decline or lose roles in other classic movies, including Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, and Cabaret.
Cat Ballou Behind the Scenes Trivia
The horse handler hired for the film told Silverstein that it would be impossible to make a horse cross its front legs for the now-memorable scene the director wanted; Silverstein gave the handler an hour, and through generous gifts of sugar cubes, the horse cooperated.
The bars on the jail cell window where Cat Ballou is held periodically appear and disappear between shots.
Much of the filming occurred at Buckskin Joe Frontier Town and Railway in Canon City, Colorado, scene of other classic western movies including True Grit (1969) and The Cowboys (1972).
Lee Marvin won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the film; in his speech, he gave most of the credit to his horse.
Marvin is the only actor to have won a Best Actor Oscar while playing a dual role.
The Farrelly Brothers have said that the Balladeers in their film There’s Something About Mary were inspired by Cat Ballou.
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