Navojoa Trail (1969)

Directed by:
Eusebio Botte

Writing credits:
Eusebio Botte

Genre: Action / Drama / Western (more)

Tagline: A man. A gun. A deadly fortune.

Plot Outline: A Civil War deserter attempts to trek across Mexico with a gigantic bag of gold. (more) (view trailer)

User Comments: Unfortunately, a true auteur effort from Botte... (more)

User Rating: A STAR!? A STAR!? A STAR!? A STAR!? A STAR!? A STAR!? A STAR!!!! A STAR!!!! NO STAR!!!! NO STAR!!!! 3.8 / 10 (2,037 votes)

Credited cast:
Ryan O'Neal....Griffiths
Jason Robards....Hugo De La Noga
Farley Granger....Sheriff Crow
Jack Palance....Mosquito
Miou-Miou....Leonora
Franco Nero....Padre Méndez
Benito Stefanelli....Lamby
(more)

Also Known As: La Traccia di Navojoa (Italy)
Runtime: Italy: 172 min / USA: 168 min
Country: Italy / USA
Language: English / Italian
Color: Color (Colorolla)
Sound Mix: Suono Dell'asino

Goofs:
  • Anachronisms: The stegosaurus was all but extinct in Mexico by the time of the American Civil War; there certainly weren't herds of them. (more)
Memorable Quotes:

De La Noga: We don't see too many white faces in these parts, compadre.
Griffiths: I guess maybe you don't.
De La Noga: Don't see too many giant sacks of gold, either.
Griffiths: Maybe this giant sack of gold is none of your business, "compadre."
De La Noga: We'll see about that, gringo.

(more)

AMDB Trivia:
  • Navojoa Trail was filmed simultaneously in Italian, English, and Cantonese. The Cantonese version was never released, and indeed was never intended for release; Eusebio Botte was merely concerned that his Cantonese was getting rusty.
  • Ryan O'Neal, paralyzed with stage fright in the days before shooting his first starring vehicle, significantly impacted production by handing Eusebio Botte a card that said "I AM A DEAF/MUTE." O'Neal, totally committed to his lie, lip-synced all of his lines.
  • For the English version, Vincent Price was brought in to dub Ryan O'Neal's lines. Price used what he would later describe in interviews as "a girl voice."
  • A dearth of suitable ghost towns in Italy led Eusebio Botte to burn down a shopping mall and film several scenes in the wreckage; a loophole in Italian law made arson legal between 1966 and 1983, resulting in the most lucrative period in the history of Italian cinema.
  • The twelve-minute staring contest between Jason Robards and Ryan O'Neal was filmed in a single continuous shot. It was originally meant to be the film's climactic gun duel, but Eusebio Botte was terrified that any movement or dialogue from his actors would ruin his long take, so he demanded that they remain completely silent and motionless.
  • Ennio Morricone was originally brought on board to compose the film's soundtrack, but Botte rejected the proposed score, and instead acquired the rights to a Chechnyan novelty record of ducks quacking famous folk songs of the Caucuses. Morricone used the rejected score for Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in the West" (1969)
  • Director Trademark: [theme] A giant bag of gold.
  • Jason Robards and Miou-Miou, believing that Ryan O'Neal was deaf, would often loudly jeer and imitate flatulence off-camera while O'Neal was mouthing his lines, following their bawdy outbursts with riotous peals of laughter. The sound was usually rolling at the time, and many of these insults and sound effects can be heard in the final cut of the film, permeating almost every scene in which O'Neal is present.
  • Due to a strike of the Italian horse union, no horses appear in the film. The zebras used in their stead are completely undisguised, due to the prohibitive cost of non-toxic animal dyes.
  • In his 1989 autobiography, "Purity of Reason: My Dream of a White America," Ryan O'Neal remembered Botte fondly as "a Dago, sure, but a great director, a great drinker, and a great guy. Truly a man who transcended his race with brass and gusto."
  • Cameo: Bruce Dern as the gunman who shoots Padre Méndez in the neck. Dern, unaware that he was in a movie, went into hiding for two years following what he believed was the murder of a priest. Only when he and O'Neal worked together in "The Driver" (1978) did O'Neal set the record straight.
  • Jason Robards reportedly strained his voice and monopolized the desert set's only restroom due to his neurotic compulsion to bellow at sinks.
  • Almost a quarter of the film's budget went to securing a gigantic sack of gold. Eusebio Botte insisted that the actors must "feel the weight and value of this thing that they carry."
  • Most of the Mexican characters in the film are dressed in green tuxedos and carrying small dogs; Eusebio Botte, who had never been to Mexico or read anything about it, decided that this would be a simple way to approximate Mexican culture.
  • Farley Granger lost his right arm at the elbow when Ryan O'Neal closed it in the door of the catering van; O'Neal used his deafness as an excuse. Two years later, O'Neal was fined $8,000 by a California court after sneaking into Granger's home and severing his other arm with a large sword. Granger later insisted that he harbored no hard feelings, and even agreed to be godfather to O'Neal's son. Tragically, Granger died in 1998 when O'Neal pushed him under a train.
  • Director trademark: Camera bumps into actor's face.
  • Production was shut down for several days when on-set clerics discovered that Jack Palance was a lich. In order to retain the production's insurance, the clerics had to draw a circle of protection from evil around Palance so he would not endanger the cast and crew.
  • To save money, real bullets were used during most of the gunfight sequences. Principle actors were given bulletproof vests, and extras were advised to cower behind the hardiest facades they could find.
  • Jason Robards cries in every scene in which he appears with Ryan O'Neal. Robards claims that the tears were "ad-libbed," but O'Neal insists that Robards was "a precious little Hollywood nanny-goat-milk-sucking little baby who pined for his mammy's teat and nearly ruined our production with his little silken-clad dandy-boy tantrums, maybe he'd have been better suited to a western about a tiny little baby-man who wears fine pearl earrings and cries whenever anything rougher than linen touches his lily-white butt, or maybe a romance story about a six-foot toddler who falls in love with a fucking bottle of milk and ruins movies with his crying all day and then comes running to his little velvet-swathed Italian director friend who wipes his little angel ass and changes his little angel diaper and tells him everything is going to be just fine."

– Dr. David Thorpe (@Arr)

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