Track of the Cat (1954) - full transcript

A family saga: In a stunning mountain valley ranch setting near Aspen, complex and dangerous family dynamics play out against the backdrop of the first big snowstorm of winter and an enormous panther with seemingly mythical qualities which is killing cattle. An arrogant, pitiless son (Robert Mitchum) and a rigid pharisaic mother side against a moral eldest son and and a defeated alcoholic father while the youngest son tries to lay low, hoping against hope to persuade his family to allow him to marry a girl he has brought to visit. The girl however draws venomous condemnation and the two elder brothers set out in the midst of a violent snowstorm on a dangerous mission to kill the deadly panther.

( Wind howling )

( cattle bellowing )


Listen to wind.

( Cattle bellowing )

( glass clattering )


( Grunting )

Maybe I'm just hearin' things.

Hey, what's going...

( cattle continue bellowing )

Look out you don't get
a fist in the teeth.


( Gasps )


Cattle's bawlin'.
Something's at them.

Is that what you woke me up for?

Wait till the wind changes.

How long has this been goin' on?

Joe Sam just now told me.

Thinks it's the cat, huh?

The black panther
that's big as a horse,

and you can see
right through him.

Shoot at him,
and he keeps on comin'.

So what are you gonna do,
just stand there listenin'?

Thought you'd like to know.

Thinking's about all
you do around here.

Get your clothes on.

He ain't gonna wait for us.

What do you see, Joe Sam?

Curt: you see the black panther?

Look at him seein' it.

Snow come.

Black panther come.

Let him be!

You get him out of here,
or I will!

I'll finish it today.
Go on back to bed.

Joe Sam's personal medicine man.

Well, I've got the proper
medicine for that cat.

A .3030 slug
right between the eyes.

That'll kill him for sure.

Unless he's black.

( Chuckles )

Yeah, unless he's black.

Hey, wake up!

I had a dream I was tryin' to

Cat's out there,
and he had a dream.

Well, they were here
when we came

and there were more deer
than there are now.

So don't kill him, huh?

Just let him kill stock.

The old man and his com stock,
and you and the good old days

and that old Indian
with his cat.

( Clattering )

well, we woke the old lady.

Now there'll be 2 of you.
We'll never get out.

Well, I'm all set.
I'll go.

No, you won't do, kid.

Got to take art
in case the cat's black.

I wouldn't know what to do
if it was black.

You could take Joe Sam.

No, he'd be for the cat.

I don't know
if I'd trust you, either.

Better let me come along Curt.

A million to one it ain't black.

Now, you know
better than that, kid.

You know how Joe Sam
gets with the first snow.

You're the white hope
of the bridges.

You stay right here
and tend to the future.

Don't mess around
cookin' anything, Ma.

Got to get out in a hurry.
Panther's at the stock.

Are you goin' alone?

No, ma'am. I'm taking art.
In case he's black.

He'll be like that all the way.

Aah, you get so
you don't hear him.

Seems to me you could wait
until daybreak.

Won't be many tracks left
in this snow.

That won't stop Curt.
Never has.

( Blowing )

well, I asked for a medicine
man, and what do I get? A monk.

Did you know we had a monk
in the house, ma?

Don't blaspheme.

No need to hurry as I can see.

I'll be a few minutes yet.

Art dreamt it was a panther.

Had a notion it might be black.

I had a dream, and it ain't
left me in no mood for jokes.

The place is just
crawlin' with dreams.

Did you have any, kid?

No, I wouldn't
waste my time dreamin' either,

if I had a girl like Gwen.

Watch your mouth!
Now, what'd I say, ma?

All I said,
with a girl like Gwen,

who'd waste his time dreamin'?

Curt likes a dream
he can lay his hands on.

Curt: yes, sir.

I said, watch your mouth!

Hal ain't like art, ma.

Old art's a monk.

Hal, he's just a kid,
and already he's got...

you hear me, Curtis?

Well, I'm no kid, either.

I'm 37,

art's 43, and the old man's
nobody knows how far past 70.

( Girls laughing )

You go bossin' the bunch of us

like we was kids. Can't even
make a little joke.

The girls is awake in there.

You want Gwen Williams
to hear you?

Now what did I say, ma? Just
tell me one little thing I said.

Wouldn't take any fancy
guessin' to know what you mean.

Well now,
if we're gonna start guessin',

anything I said
about Gwen Williams

is brotherly love
compared to what you...

let it go, Curt.

( Girls laughing )

Just thought maybe
the kid might like to know

what his ma thinks of his girl.

If you're in such an all-fired
hurry to get out after that cat,

you'd better be
gettin' them ponies saddled.

And don't go takin'
holy names in vain

every time you open your mouth.

( Girls continue laughing )

They're likely
to be a long time,

if you was figurin' on waitin'.

Ask her what she thinks
of your girl.

( Girls continue laughing )

They're having
a good time in there.

Yeah. Ain't they, though?

Don't you think it'd be better

if Harold would go
instead of you,

the way Curt's takin' on
this morning?

He can't very well
with Gwen just come.

Her first visit, too.

She's gotta be broke
into the rest of us

kind of gradual,
and he better do it.

Harold, have you thought
any how you're gonna live
when you get married?

Well, it hasn't
gone that far, yet.

Well, it's what you want,
ain't it?

It's for sure what the Williams
think you want

all the time you've been
sittin' in their kitchen.

Well, I...I guess so,
if she does.

You needn't worry
too much about that.

Not with all the money
this ranch could make

and that gopher hole
the Williamses live in.

She's not that kind, ma.

What kind is she?

Have you got a name for her I
haven't got?

Was you expectin' to bring her
in this house to live?

No, I...I don't think so.

Well, then, what was you
figurin' on doin'?

Does it have to be
settled right now, Mother?

Now is just as good a time
as any.

She don't think
she was asked over here

just to keep an old maid
like grace company.

Harold's too young
to get married,

and to an older woman at that.

You talk like she was 50!
She's not 2 years
older than I am!

2 or 20, you're a child
compared to her.

You couldn't even
support a wife,

even if she was proper for
you, which she ain't.

What do you want, mother?

One of these days, the
Bridgeses are gonna die out.

Is that what you want?

Harold's found a girl.

You think you'd be glad, instead
of turning against her.

( Girls laughing )

It's been a long time
since grace laughed like that.

And your pa primpin' himself,
just for her.

They wouldn't have to live here.

We could have an old-fashioned

I thought that was just about
where we was headin'.

Well, why not?
This is a big valley.

It can hold a lot more stock
than we've been running.

We could have one drive,
one roundup, same as ever.

Only let Hal take out his share.

Splittin' things.

Once the splittin' starts,
it never stops.

Dad owes him the start.

It's been a long time since your
pa's had any say about anythin'.

Have you spoken to Curt?

That's where it sticks,
doesn't it?

That's where everything sticks.

Well, one of these days.

One of these days.

That's the Bridges motto
around here.

Harold, why don't you go
with Curt?

If you're waitin' on Arthur,

the only one he really
stands up for around here

is that no-good Indian.

Now's your chance
to stand up for yourself.

Go along with him,
and then you could talk to him

while you're huntin'
the panther.

Well, don't think I won't.

Of course you will.

Then you'll have something to
tell your girl when you get

Come on, ma.
You know what Curt will say.

Besides, he might need me
if the cat's black.

What are you
carvin' that thing for?

I have a mind to throw it
in the stove.

Joe Sam likes a god he can see.

you and
your heathen nonsense,

your godless jokes.

Keep it up,
and you'll be believin' them

the same as that
no-good Indian.

If I had my way,
I'd throw him off the place.

( Neighing )

Come on, here!

What's the matter
with you? Move!

( Neighing )

What's bothering you, Kentuck?

Take her out!

And quit spooking Kentuck!


( Girls laughing )

( whistling )

The girls up yet?

No, not yet,
but any minute now.

Fine, then I can
get my shaving done
before they come out.

( Girls laughing )

( laughing )

( mimicking pa )

Letty, some hot water,
if you please.

( Slurping )

Letty, I asked you!

Just who do we think
we are this morning?

John Mackey seein' Paris, or
Leland Stanford on his private

It must seem evident that
with company in the house

it wouldn't do any harm for one
member of this family to put

here you go, dad.

To put in a decent appearance.
Thank you, son.

It's gratifying for a man to
receive any consideration at

in his own house.

71 this last summer.

You'd think a man that old
wouldn't have enough
head left to turn.

( Girls continue laughing )

Well, shaving, Mr. Bridges?

Shavin' himself raw
just for her.

Those young ladies
are certainly having

the time of their lives
in there, huh?

I told you
not to bother cooking, ma.

Horses are ready, art.
Where are you goin'?

You can't go without
some food in your belly.

Well, the storm's lettin' up.

We got a pretty good chance
of getting him

if we get up there
before daylight.

Get what?
What's he talking about?

What makes you so sure
it's a panther?

What else would make
the cattle bellow
the way they was?

It's a panther all right.

Maybe it's a bear.

The snow could be worryin' them.

No. I know it's a cat.

Probably the same one
that got my dogs last year.

I'm gonna get him this time,

if I have to chase him
clear to Placerville.

Well, I'll tell you one thing.

You ain't gonna nail
the next hide up on the house.

Not even if it's black?

Not if it's red,
white, and blue.

Such a stink every time
the door was open.

( laughs )

Yeah, but a black one, ma.

Might bring some good luck
to the house.

Well, I'll take less luck
if it'll make less stink.

Sit down.
I'll get you some breakfast.

You better take Hal's rifle.

That old sharp's of yours
is about as much use
as throwin' rocks.

No use takin' a gun
if it's Joe Sam's kind of cat.

Better take your snowshoes.

Won't need 'em.

We'll get him up
on the north draw,
if we get him at all.

He'll be in there.

He can't be anyplace but there.

The bellowing
come from the north.

He's got to be in there.

Too bad that ain't finished.

If a bullet don't stop him,
we might need it.


I hope it snows
for a whole week, then.

Good morning, my dear!
Good morning! Come.

Come sit down beside me.
Right here.

Letty will have breakfast for
you in no time at all.

Thank you, Mr. Bridges.

Cup of coffee
for miss Williams, Letty.

And my bottle and the glass
from the cupboard,
if you don't mind.

Nothing like a little cheer
on a cold, cold morning, huh?

Better watch the old goat.
He'll steal your girl.

I must apologize for my sons,
Miss Williams.

If they were gentlemen,
they'd apologize

for waking you
at this unseemly hour.

But gallantry is dead.

Well, I sure hate to break up
this little party

just when it's getting so good

but we got a call to make,
art and me.

Old friend of Joe Sam's.

It's only a foolish joke, Miss
Williams, and a worn-out one at

We're in kind of a hurry,
so Hal will have to
explain it to you

the best he can.

Which is kind of too bad
in a way,

because Arthur's the one
that really knows.

He talks to the thing.

Come on, Curt, let's go.
Joe Sam's freezing out here.

Why are you going?

Well, you don't think I could
handle a black panther
by myself,

do you, Gracie?

An ordinary yellow one, maybe,
but not a black one.

You don't have to go.
If he's so set on going,
let him go alone.

It doesn't take 2
to shoot at a shadow.

Grace, you're gettin' yourself
all worked up.

Why do you do whatever he wants?

You know you do.
You always do!

I'll bring your little arty back
home safe and sound, Gracie.

Now, don't you worry.

If it was just you,
I'd wish it was black.

Yes, I would!

You and your cheap sneer
and your self-importance.

Always judgin' others
by yourself.


He does. He always does!

He's a cheap,
dirty-mouthed bully!

( Grace muttering )

*( playing )*

Well, if there's a cat
out there,
Curt will get him.

He's just about
the best hunter I know.

He has a gift for it.

I remember one year...

I don't guess
Gwendolyn's so crazy

to hear about
Curt's fancy shootin'.

It's getting so
it's impossible to have

a little sociable conversation
around here.

Eat your breakfast,
Miss Williams.

Go ahead and eat.

We've lost even the most

ordinary consideration
in this wilderness.

All sense of the amenities
of civilization.

You have no idea the pleasure it
is to have you under this roof.

It reminds us of ourselves.
A little.

Heaven knows
we need to be reminded.

The true pleasure, of course,
is your presence.

Thank you.

No, thank you.

Come on in, Joe Sam.

Joe Sam, get over by the fire.

Don't mind him, my dear.
He's seeing things.

Always happens
with the first snow.

Drink this coffee.
It'll make you warm.

Not cold.

Him and his black panthers.

Every year we go through
the same nonsense.

He claims it comes
with the first snow.

That's what
the carvings are about.

Medicine, help him fight it off.

Only Arthur missed this year,
with the snow coming early.

That's why he's this way.

"oh, that I were as in
the months of old

"as in the days
when god watched over me

"when his lamp
shined upon my head

and by his light, I walked
through darkness."

You never told me about him.
Well now,

when a young man has to ride
all that way to get
in a little courting,

you'd hardly expect him
to waste any words

talking about the hired help.

Arthur's the only one
he ever talks to.

Pack of lies,
that's what he says.

He was a brave when Fremont
camped at pyramid lake.

He remembers the brass cannon,

the kind of buttons
Fremont wore on his coat,

a lot of other little things
that couldn't be lies.

Things he says would make him
more than 100 years old.

He was a war chief when they had
that fight on the Truckee.

He spoke at the last council
before that fight.

His sons were all killed
in that battle.

That was way over 60 years ago,
so he must be pretty old.

They took an awful licking,
and after that

they scattered
all over the country.

Joe Sam took his family...

well, just his wife
and daughter left by then.

They went up
into the mountains
around Shasta.

That's where the black panther
got started.

They were camped up in the
woods in the high country.

His wife and daughter went down
the creek to get some water.

He heard them screaming.

He got down as fast as he could

and saw the cat going off
through the willows.

It happened
during the first snow.

Arthur thinks that the cat
is Joe Sam's personal spirit.

It stands for the whole business

of being run out by the whites.

( Footsteps pattering )

Sit down, Grace.

Do you want something to eat?

If I could have
a cup of coffee, please.

What is it?

The Indian, he was right there.

( Neighing )



He's been here all right.

His stink is still in the air.

He's a big one.

Maybe not as big as
Joe Sam's cat.

He's big.

Look at that, will you?

Look what he's done.

Trail's still fresh as a daisy.

There's blood on him.
He must've got horned.

He'll be mean.

Yeah. He's been feeding.

He's eating mighty high
for a cat.

( Neighs )

Hold him down, will you?
Keep him quiet!

It's the steer.

Blood's spooking him.

The steer?

What do you mean "the steer"?

You got 3 of 'em.
Count 'em.

2 of my best year-olds
and the cross -

that bull I been plannin' on.

He's finished, too,
by the look of him.

Arthur: Your steer?

You're always
talkin' about this valley
like it was your valley.

The only plans that
mean anything around here
are your plans.

Well, other people
have plans, too.

Not me, but Harold might.

He's thinking
of getting married.

No ordinary cat to break up
a bunch like this.

Must have been
the bull horned him,
by the look of it.

It's gonna be a mean cat.

We've always worked together.

Put everything together
in one pot.

You're the only one
who's ever done any taking.

I imagine Harold
will want to do
some taking for a change.

Yeah, we'll talk about it.

That's what we're doing
right now.

Talking about it.

I'm telling you
how it's gonna be.

How is it gonna be, art?

We're gonna work together,
same as we always have.

Only Hal's
gonna get his share
without asking for it.

Without waiting for you
to hand it out.

If it wasn't for me,
there wouldn't be any valley,

wouldn't be any stock.

The cats would have it all.
The Indians would have it.

You'd have given it
back to 'em a long time ago.

I built this all up.

It's Hal's, too.
He's worked.

Gonna get married, huh?

Gonna get him a wife
and settle down.

Well, she's a nice girl.

She'll make a fine wife,
married to that no-man kid.

Why didn't he come to me,
talk to me himself

instead of gettin' you
to stand up for him?

I stand up for you, too, Curt.

Have you ever thought
how things would be
around here

if you had your way?

No. How would it be, Arty?

Tell me how it would be.

First thing, I'd run
that Indian off the place.

Anybody else that
didn't carry his weight
would clear out, too.

I'd whip this valley into shape.

In no time at all,
you'd have nothin'
left to shoot

nothin' left to fight,
nothin' left to flatten.

You wouldn't have
anybody to yell at.

There wouldn't be
anybody but you.

Then what would you do, Curt?

( laughing )

Well, there's one thing
I'm gonna do,

and I'm gonna do it right now.

There's a cat been killin'
our stock.

I'm gonna walk up there
and take a look

and if I see him,
I'm gonna put a bullet
right between his eyes.

That is, if you don't mind.

He was up there all right,
but he ain't now.

Lit out while you were
shooting off your face.

Cleared the rim rock,
and up the north side.

Ah, he'll be back.

Oh, sure.

It would've been
an easy shot in here, too.

Well, we could take the horses
over on the other side

where he wouldn't
get wind of them
and wait him out.

You could wait
till kingdom come,
couldn't you?

Well, I can't.
I'm gonna track him down.

You can't go a mile
in those boots.

You'll need snowshoes
and some food.

You'd like to go back
to the house, wouldn't you?

So you can tell 'em all
how you told me off,

playin' the lovin' priest.

Thanks. I'll go myself.

Get what I need, and get it now

instead of sometime next week.

Fine. You can forget I said

Talk to Harold yourself.

Here. Careful, it's loaded.

Be sure to snap
the safety off
if you have to use it.

You hold trail till I get back.

Be sure and drag
a deep track in case
it snows and you get lost.

If he's still around,
you'd better see him first.

So don't get to moonin'.


The girl means a lot to Harold.

Don't go cutting him down,
making him look foolish
in her eyes.

( Neighing )

( neighing )

( panther snarls )

( gun clicks )

( screaming )

( panther growling )

Was it a panther?

Big one.

Made tracks the size of a horse.

Are you goin' after him?

Sure gonna try.

Get some grub ready, ma.

Bread and jerky's all I'll need.

( Snorting )

what's she trying to do,
make a pet out of Kentuck?

First thing you know,
she'll have
all the Bridges tamed.

The only one she's interested
in taming is Harold.

Shouldn't have
too much trouble there.

He's got about
as much spirit as a gelding.

What's the matter, Joe Sam?

Where Arthur?

Poor old Art.

Doesn't anybody think
he can take care of himself?

Even got the half-wit worryin'.

Don't you want to ask me
about the cat, Joe Sam?

He killed 4 of my stock.

But he got horned,
and he left tracks,
so he can't be black.

Where is Arthur?
Why didn't he come?

Now, don't worry, sis.

If he's black, he'll be for art.

If he's yellow, I left him my

( Shouts )

get on.

One thing, if he's black,
he's gonna make

a fine blanket for your bed

with a hard winter comin' on
and that bashful kid
for a husband.

Don't mind him, Gwen.

We are gonna have a wedding,
ain't we?

We don't have to listen
to his foul mouth.

Hey. You saddle Kentuck

and see to it that
you don't forget
to soap his hooves.

I hear
you're gonna build your house
right here in the valley.

Did Harold discuss it with you?

No, but Arthur did.

The kid sure got everybody
diggin' for him.

I'm wondering who he got
to pop the question for him.
Uh, Grace maybe?

Don't answer him, Gwen.

Bet he hasn't even
kissed you yet.

Waiting for somebody
to do that for him, too.

Hey, ma?

Hey, ma,
if that panther's black,
I'm gonna skin it

and give it to Gwen
for a wedding present.

She can lay it
right on top of her at night.

Make him stop, mother.
Why don't you make him stop?

He's trying to spoil everything.

The black panther's the cause
of all the trouble
in the world.

He's the evil in everybody.

Joe Sam says so,

Arthur says so,
and grace says so.

Even Hal out there.

I believe he'd say so, too,
if he had half a mind.

It's all right, grace.

Why, sure, it's all right.

Just think how peaceful
you're gonna sleep,

if you ever get around
to sleepin'.

With the end of
all the troubles in the world

right there over you
to prove that
nothing can go wrong.

Here's your grub.

I put in just what you told me.

But I think you ought to
have more.

No, that's plenty, ma.

Why don't you dress
in your own room?

Wouldn't want me
to freeze, would you?

All right, Miss Williams,
you can turn around now.

Of course, if it's just
an ordinary panther,

it wouldn't be big enough
for a blanket.

Might make a costume
out of it, though.

You could give us
a special wedding dance.

I'm not much of a dancer.

Well, I'll show you.

You'd learn in no time.

Harold's here with Kentuck.

Is that so?

The times that kid
picks to be fast.

He may even get around
to telling me his plans
one of these days.

I thought Arthur told you.

What did he say?

Just that
there's gonna be a wedding.

There can't be no wedding
till Harold asks her

and he ain't asked her yet,
that I know of. Has he asked?

No, he's probably
waitin' on that, too.

( Neighing )

HAROLD: whoa. Whoa.

Frisky, ain't he?

Well, what do you say, Joe Sam?

You think
it's the black panther?

Joe Sam!

What say?

That's better.

You speak quick
when you're spoken to.

You think
it's the black panther?

Snow come.

Much snow.

( Chuckling )

Just plain snow
is all he's got on his mind

and here I was hopin'
it was the cat.

don't you play the fool,

If it starts to snow
then you get yourself home
fast as you can.

Well, you wouldn't
want me to come home
without a present

for Gwen's wedding bed,
would you?

I'm gonna shoot him
right in the eye,
so as I won't spoil the pelt.

Now, what's on your mind, kid?

Tell him, Harold.
Don't be afraid. Tell him.

Ain't a thing on his mind.

( Neighs )

the mare must've thrown him.

Must've spooked and threw him.

Come on.

( Birds twittering )

He waited on that rock.

He jumped him from the rock.

( Neighing )

Boo, Kentuck.

Easy, boy.

It's Art, boy.

( Neighing )

Now hold, you hear?

The cat-stink's on him.

Is that it, boy?

Boo, Kentuck.

Boo, boy. Boo, now.

Boo. Boo.

Boo, boy.



Boo, boy.



Boo, boy.

Get on home, now! Get!

I'm gonna get him, Art.

I'm gonna get him.

( Neighing )

( continues neighing )

It's Curt!
It's not Arthur. It's Curt.

Get back to the house.

It's Curt, Mother.
It's Curt.

No, it's Arthur.

( Grace shrieking )

( Grace sobbing )

Mother, get back to the house.


Where's Curt?

Why didn't Curt come?

Take his feet.

put him in the north bedroom.

( Door creaking )

I gotta lay him out proper.

You better let me help, ma.


You go along.

And you better
take the whiskey
out of the cupboard.

Your pa's drunk enough.

Gwen will fix you
some supper, dad.

No hurry.

( Hiccupping )
no hurry at all.

A very attractive,
young woman, Gwen.

You're a lucky boy
to get such a woman.


His neck's broke.

There are claw marks
on his shoulders.

Where's Curt?
It''s dark out there.

He should've come home
with Arthur.

( Wind howling )

you'll have to hole up, too.

I'll get you in the morning.


Come on out and get some supper.

It's so cold in here.

You better put on your shawl.

Fetch me my bible.

He used to talk
such foolishness.

I was always lettin' it
go in one ear
and out the other,

like you got to do
with Curt's swearin',

knowin' it don't mean a thing.

But Arthur did mean somethin',
didn't he?

It was mostly Curt and me.

Just the two of us against him.

The rest of you
was always going along,

lettin' him fight your fights.

Him alone

against us.

He was a strange son
for your Pa and me to have.

Like the Lord
put somethin' in him

that wasn't in either of us.

I been tryin' to pray.

But it don't come right.

How's Grace?

She just sits there.

She was so foolish fond of him.

Curt come home yet?

He wouldn't even try
in this snow.

He probably holed up
somewhere till it's daylight.

He must've got a long way out,

a long way.


Let me alone, please.

This morning, I think I hate
the Bridgeses.

Especially that old man
over there.

The things he said to me.

What did he say?

What did he say?

He's worried about Curt,
that's all.

It doesn't matter what he said.

Yes, it does!
What did he say?

He thinks I'm to blame
for Arthur dying,

for Curt not coming back.

He said none of it
would have happened

if I hadn't made eyes at Curt.


He's so drunk,
he doesn't know
what he's sayin'.

You better go in to your mother.

LETTY: is the snow gonna stop?

It's let up some.

Is there enough boards
for the coffin?

The lumber Curt got
for the tack room.

There's the grave to dig yet.


You young fool,
chasing out after panthers
in a blizzard.

And was it black?

Who is this woman?

What's she doing in my house?

It's Gwen, dad.

Huh? Gwen?

Gwendolyn Williams.

I have no recollection
of a Gwendolyn.

Her name strikes no chord.

Oh, yeah.

Lou Williams' daughter.

She's a charming girl.

I'm surprised at you, Curt,
letting a young
whippersnapper like...

where's Curt?

You know where he is.

Where's my bottle?

Thieving women.

The place is crawling with them.

Curt's out hunting.
That's where he is.

Oh, he's a great shot.

I remember once,
when he was only a youngster,

13, 14, somewhere around there,

down on old Jake Haley's ranch
on the Carson River,

( chuckles )

he won a turkey shoot!

You should have seen
old jake's face.

Always gets
what he's after, that boy.

Never gives up
till he's got it
right there in his hand.

That's a thing for you
to keep in mind,
Miss Williams.

Oh, I beg your pardon,
young woman.

I apologize.

absolutely inexcusable.

It's all right, Mr. Bridges.

( Scoffing )
you hear that, Curt?

It's all right, she says.

You're a lucky boy, Curt.

( Sighing )
you know, I...

I keep forgetting he's not here.

He's out hunting.

A panther killed Arthur.

Only I...I thought it was Curt.

Oh, why did he take
Curt's coat, huh?

You keep things from me,
hold secrets in my own house.

I know.

I saw him on the bed in there.

A black panther.

( Sniffs )

Dad, why don't you go to bed?

Yes, indeed.

And get some sleep.

Only first,
a drop to keep me warm.


Next thing, you'll want
to carry me upstairs.

( Glass shattering )

( wind howling )

( birds chirping )

poor little fellows.

I wanted to go,
and you stopped me,

all by yourself.

Nobody did it for you.

Why don't you do that
in everything?

You'll kiss me
if I make the first move.

You'll be alone with me
if I lead you by the hand.

You keep standing back with me,

with your mother, and with Curt.

Arthur used to speak up
for you,
but Arthur's dead now.

What do you want?

Isn't there anything
you want enough
to ask for it?

Are you afraid to ask Curt
for what's rightfully yours?

There wouldn't be any ranch
if it wasn't for Curt.

Squatters would have
taken it away from us
a long time ago,

but he drove 'em out.

It was all finished
by the time I grew up.

He did it all by himself.

It just doesn't seem fair
for me to get married
and move in on him,

and demand my share.

He's got to offer it to me.



( Door closing )

Joe Sam, take that end.

Joe Sam!

I seen you up there with her.

I couldn't help seein' her
forcin' herself on you,

right there in plain sight.

And your brother
ain't in his grave yet.

Little mucker's brat!

And that ain't the least
of what she is.

I never been one to mince words,

but I wouldn't dirty
my mouth naming her.

You bring her into this house
knowin' what she is.

I'd send her packin'
this minute, bag and baggage,

only I won't...
Take me home!

You'll do no such thing.

You'll finish the coffin.
With Curt gone,
you'll dig the grave, too.

She can make the...

never mind. I'll go,
and I won't need his help.

Mother, you're making
a filthy lie out of nothin'.

What's she done, anyway?

You're always talking
as if you were god
around here.

Don't blaspheme!

Me, blaspheme?

This house is rotten
with the gods you've made.

Yours and Curt's.

With pride and money and greed.

See here, Grace.

You can squint
your eyes at me,
but you can't frighten me.

Think how happy Curt was
when he found Arthur
out there.

He's been robbing him for years,

taking his share,
time after time
with your blessing.

"To improve the ranch," he says.

His ranch.

They've got you
believing in it, too.
You believe them.

Arthur's dead.

You don't seem to know
what that means.

It was Arthur who kept Curt
from selling this place

right out from under us.

Curt was afraid of him,
but now he's dead.

And Curt has everything his way.

And all with the blessings
of mother's wicked,
selfish, ugly gods!

PA: what's going on down there?

What's going on, I say?

All this screaming.

Ask Mother. She's the one.

Your daughter's screaming
blasphemous nonsense.

Holy, holy, holy!

We've listened
to about enough of this.

You get back in that bedroom
and stay there

until you can keep
a decent tongue in your head.

Listen to her,
with her righteousness.

She's sending Gwen home.

Grace, get back in that room,
you hear?

Sending her home?
Yes, yes, yes.

What are you sending her
home for, Letty?

Go on, ask her.
She's the eye of god,
she sees everything.

What did you see, Letty?

Awful things.

Let me go. I want to go.
Please, let me go.

You... you and your Bible.

For all your reading,
it's amazing how little
you understand.

You dirty everything
with your nasty mind.

I seen you.

Ho, ho, the little one.

Curt's intended.

He's out hunting cats,

and he's got one
right here waiting for him.

What did you see?

Tell him, mother.
You're the one who saw them.

What did you see?

They was actin' up in the shed.

Acting? Like what?

She was kissin' him
the way no decent...

kissing him?
She was kissing him!

Hot diggity! I wish I'd seen

Now, you listen to me,
old woman.

Kissing's what we need
around here.

Lots of kissing!

The more kissing, the better.

( Scoffs )

I could use a few myself.

Never had enough,
far back as I remember.

Clear beyond recollection,
that's how long
the need's been.

You with your stingy
little purse of a mouth.

Did you watch 'em? Huh?

Did you learn anything?

( Mimics kissing )

( sighing ) I wish you thieving
would leave my bottle alone.

( Mimics kissing )

clothespin, that's what you are.

Always have been
a clothespin,
always will be a clothespin.

I've got to keep drunk
to forget I'm married
to a clothespin.

Is that all it means to you?

After a lifetime of slavin'

and lookin' after you,
and bearin' young ones?

That's all it means.

You want a woman
like that in your house.

Sure, why not?

You're here, aren't you?

Make her apologize, father.
Oh, shut up.

Clothespins, both of you.

You're not human.

Heh. She's human.

No clothespin at all.

If she is,

she's a mighty pretty

Curt's bride.

( Door closing )

We mustn't let mother
send Gwen away, father.

She has to apologize,
or Gwen will go away.

Of course not. I said so,
didn't I?

Curt's intended.

Harold's, father.

That's right.

Not Curt's, Harold's.

Too much woman for Harold.

I'm going away,
and you can't stop me.

If you don't let me
take a horse, I'll walk.

When your back is turned,
I'll get away.




Is that all you can say?

You're not goin' anyplace,
not even when
my back's turned!

I've had enough trouble
without any more out of you!

You're stayin'
till I dig the grave.

Get over in the bunkhouse
and wait. When I'm finished,
I'll take you home.

( Wind howling )

well, what do you know?

I beat you here, didn't I?

You bet I did.

You're not dealing
with art this time.

He just never could learn
to stop moonin'.

I'm gonna put one
right between your eyes,

and I'm gonna skin you
and I'm gonna lay
your pelt cozy in her lap.

She'll get her blanket,
all right.

And I'm gonna charge her for it.

Don't you think I won't.

My own price, and no tricks.

I got all the time in the world.

I got lots of time.

I got enough grub
to last me for a week...

"when I have fears
that I may cease to be"

I've gotta get home.
I've gotta get home.

Now just take it easy.

You'll get home.

You're all right.

You've got a good fire.

You're not out there
in the cold.

It's bound to let up soon.

You're not lost.

I'm worried about
your father and grace,

and your mother,
alone in that cold room.

They'll be all right.

Somebody has to
take care of them.

Not you.
It'll only cause trouble.

You wait here.
I'll get your things.

We're goin' now.

He's taking Gwen home.

Mother, tell him he can't go.

Have you finished the grave?

Up on the hill.

No, you can't go.
Tell him, mother.

Bring her here.

If that's what you want.

She wants to go home.

Mother, I said a lot
of terrible things.

I'm sorry. I'm very sorry.

Oh, I am.

You'll say that much to Gwen,
won't you?

That you're sorry.

Then Harold won't have to go.

( Door opening )
No, Harold! Please!

I'll go get Gwen.

Mother will tell her
she's sorry.
You will, won't you?

Yes, she will!

You'd leave us with everything
the way it is.

I'm half out of my mind,

thinkin' something's happened
to Curt.

I got the coffin lined

ready for Arthur.

I'll be back tomorrow.

It can't wait.

You can't put it off
until tomorrow.

You've got to do it now.

Joe Sam, Hmm?

Help Harold.

Evening, everybody!

Good evening.
Good evening.

Go to bed.


Oh, this decrepit old body
is already galled with sleep.

What I want is a drink.

Oh, where's my bottle?

Some thieving female's
stolen my bottle.


The one true friend of man.


Warm, too.

Wrap him

in that black-and-white spread.

He was always partial to it
when he was a little feller.

He used to

run his fingers over the trees
and the birds and beasts.

Like he was
drawin' them himself.

I'd like we should
have a preacher.

Not much chance of that.

You should do the talkin'
by rights.

( Wind blowing )

where is Curt?
Where is that boy?

He should be back.

When is he coming back?

Joe Sam.

Joe Sam!

*( playing )

You done real good,
pickin' this spot, Harold.

It's close to home.

I guess you'd better put him in.

Everybody pray
according to your own heart.


Can't preach no proper sermon.

Don't seem much use if I could.

He was a hard one to know.

Even if I could make out clear
every last thing about him,

body and soul

had words to tell,

don't know as it would help.

If the lord won't judge him,

surely ain't my place to judge.

He was a good man,

like he was a good boy.

Not a mean streak in him.

All the things I could say

( quavering )
seems to me I could've
said them when he was alive.

Mother, we're going now.

When will you be back?

I've decided to stay
with Gwen's folks.

They want me to.

Oh, I'm glad! I'm glad!

What will you do in aspen?

Work in the mines, like her pa?

Bury yourself in the ground
before your time?

He's buried here.
We all are.

But you'll be happy,
that's what counts.

You'd better go before
she changes your mind.

Dad, I...

look at me blubbering.


Because Arthur's dead?

If I could shed
this garment flesh
and die, too, I'd rejoice.

Yes, I would.

This body of mine hangs on,


my little congregation.

In the good book,

Psalms, 63rd chapter, 7th verse,

David said:

"Therefore in the shadow
of thy wings will I rejoice."

and Arthur is in the shadow
of his wings.

Curt, too, for all I know.

( Pa chuckling )

You never thought I read the
good book, did you?

Well, I do,

and not with
the tip of my finger, either.

"Make a joyful noise
unto the Lord," David said.

And that's what I'm going
to do, make a joyful noise.

Yea, I will sing!

* Ev'ry time I feel the spirit *

* Moving in my heart, I will
pray *

Hush up!

* Ev'ry time I *



you do.

One son dead,

maybe 2.

The last one abandoning us

and you sing.

What's that you say?

We're bein' abandoned,

that's what we are.

Harold's going to live in Aspen.

Don't listen to her, Harold.

if Curt ain't back
by this afternoon,

somebody's got to build a fire

to guide him home.

Let Joe Sam do it!

Oh, sure.

Joe Sam's so fond of Curt.

Then dad will do it.
It's not up to Harold.

LETTY: of course.

Why didn't I think of that

Dad will do it.

* Ev'ry time I feel the spirit *

* Moving in my heart *
LETTY: Shut up!


You're free to go.

We're no concern of yours


If you don't go now,
you never will.

You know that, don't you?

I could've gone once. I
never did.

Look at me now.

If he had the courage,

he'd tell you he doesn't feel
any different than Joe Sam.

Why don't you tell her
you don't want
to build a fire?

But he will.

Come on, Joe Sam.

Thieving women.

( Sobbing )

( rumbling )

( panting )
Easy, boy.

Nothin' will start a cat
quicker than runnin'.

( Wind blowing )

"When I have fears"

"When I have fears
that I may cease to be"

the only time
any good ever came of
your mooning, boy.

( Gun firing )

( gun firing )

( exclaiming )

( screaming )




GWEN: Do you have to answer?

HAROLD: what do you want?

Go put some more wood
on the fire!

All right!


Some bedspread...

the black-and-white one
we put around Arthur.

Wake up, Harold.

Darling, you were talking
in your sleep.

What did I say?


Your mother wants to see you.

She's worried about Curt.


I dreamed we were up
in the valley,

you and Arthur and me.

It was beautiful.

Curt wasn't with us.

Then he was,

and everything changed.

did you want me, mother?

Sit down.

The fire's gone down.

You let it go down.

It's getting daybreak, ma.

Ah! Getting breakfast
already, young woman?

That's fine!

I can do with a good breakfast.

Where's Harold disappeared to?

Has he gone out
looking for Curt?

I just keep wonderin'.

Seems like I ain't seen
a thing clear
for what it really was.

Your pa didn't want
to come out here,

clear in the middle of no place.

Sometimes I think
it's worse for Grace.

A woman's meant to have
her man and children.

Without she's got 'em,
she ain't able to
come to herself rightly.

Oh, why doesn't he go
if he's going?

His own brother out there,
lost God knows where.

He sleeps all night on the table

like some drunk in a backroom.

Curt's the only man in the lot.

( Quavering )
I've done wrong.

Curt has to come home.

He can't die
with my sin on his soul.

It was my doin'.

Whatever he done,

he done to please me.

Don't worry, ma.

I'll go out.

I'll find him.

"Behold, thou art fair, my love,

"behold, thou art fair,

thou has doves' eyes
within thy locks."

Please, Mr. Bridges,
eat your breakfast
before it gets cold.

( Pa scoffs )

not only can she cook,
she's a comfort
to an aging heart.

She's the rose of Sharon.

It's daybreak.
I'd better get started.

Before it gets too late.

I thought I'd take
a run up creek canyon.

Maybe take a look up top.

You'll get lost
in all that snow.

Take Joe Sam with you.

He can read signs
where nobody else
would see a thing.

Now you take Joe Sam.

I'll rest easier in my soul.

And what do you think
you'll find?

Well he's gonna find Curt
and bring him back.

You want him to find Curt,
don't you, Grace?

It's so peaceful here
without him.

Things will be the same
as always when he gets back.

Yes, I want Harold to find him.

Of course you do.
He's your born brother.

But now, you got to believe.

You got to believe
the same as I believe

that Curt's out there somewhere,

or you won't half look.

You're the same as Dad,

only you use hope
instead of whiskey.

He's been out there 3 days.

I been thinkin'
pretty near all night.

I got a feelin'

he's alive.

He might have gone way back in.

The cat would head
for the high country
with somebody after him.

Well now,
don't you go lookin'
for that panther, Harold.

Don't get led on past sense.

Start back with
enough daylight
to get you home.

If you ain't done
no good by noon,
you head on back.

No good riskin' yourself,
you hear?


Panther not kill Curt.



Curt afraid.

He run.

What was he runnin' from?

In him.

( Panther growling )

you want I go?


( Gun cocks)

( panther snarling )

( gun fires )

( gun fires )

( panther growling )

Curt not kill.

You kill.

Him devil.

The black panther?


Not black,

black panther.

Whole world.

Got good blanket

for bed now.

You get married, huh?

Maybe. That's up to her.

She marry.

No more trouble.

You boss man now.