Biography30 Aug 2010 09:02 am
The American outlaw and bank robber Jesse James (the subject of today’s entry in The Intellectual Devotional, Biographies Edition) has been the subject of dozens of pop culture artifacts: novels and comic books and songs and TV shows. He is also the subject of at least 25 movies. The 1939 “Jesse James” isn’t necessarily the best, it does occupy a spot in movie history, albeit a rather bizarre one.
Toward the end of the film, Jesse (Tyrone Power) and his brother Frank (Henry Fonda) are on the run on a pair of horses. They get to a cliff over a lake, with marshals closing in behind them. Nowhere to go but down into the water, horses and all.
How did director Henry King make it look like he actually threw the horses over the cliff? By actually throwing the horses off the cliff. Were the animals harmed in the making of the picture? Well, one of them died. This wouldn’t do.
The American Humane Association immediately began monitoring the use of animals in film productions, and, since 1980, The Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers have required that every move made by their members get AHA approval. If the AHA is happy with the product, the producers can add the trademarked “No Animals Were Harmed”® slogan to their credit sequence.
To see the first scene that the AHA was NOT happy with, skip to about 2:30 in the clip below. (Fair warning: nothing too gruesome, but those are real horses jumping off the cliff.)
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