Cast & Crew
B. J. Thomas
Widowed lawyer Ethan Walden moves with his fifteen-year-old son Jory to Santa Rosa, California, in search of a home and what Ethan refers to as his "promised land." The small town is not very hospitable, but livery stable and feed store owner Frank Jordan offers Jory a job as a stable boy for room and board, and father and son unpack in their new home. The first night, Ethan schools Jory on the law, then leaves for the saloon, prompting a concerned Jory to follow him. The boy watches through the saloon window as Ethan drunkenly plays the piano in exchange for a drink from coarse Ab Evans and dancing girl Dora. When Dora is too appreciative of Ethan's musical skills, however, the jealous Evans slams the lid on his fingers, and when Ethan protests, Evans pulls out a knife and stabs him to death. Jory runs in and cradles his father's body, sobbing. Walking Jory home, Dora offers to be his friend, but he ignores her and goes to Evans' room, demanding to know why he killed Ethan. When Evans punches Jory, in self-defense the boy strikes him on the head with a rock, killing him. The next morning, Mrs. Jordan puts Jory to work, stating roughly that his father would want him to stay busy. Soon after, a cattle drive led by trail boss Roy arrives in town. In the stable, Jory is impressed by the gun skills of charismatic cowboy Jocko, who admires Dora when she arrives to take Jory to his father's grave. There, Jory plants a cross, then runs off in despair. At lunch at the Jordans', Frank states that Evans has been found dead and that Jory, having brought too much trouble, ought to leave town. Jory asks Roy if he can accompany them on the drive, confessing that he killed Evans. Although Roy, like Frank, considers him trouble, Jocko offers to take care of the boy, so Roy assents. On the trail, Jocko teaches Jory how to handle guns and outfits him with a cowboy hat and holster, despite Roy's insistence that pistols bring nothing but more violence. Jory's enthusiasm and energy soon earn him the affection of the cowboys and the close friendship of Jocko, who claims to be both a great gunman and ladies' man. The drive reaches Hobbs, New Mexico, which Jocko calls the "promised land" because of its opportunities for drinking, carousing and meeting women. He straps on his fancy, expensive guns and enters town with Jory, who has been stripped of his guns by Roy. In the saloon, the hard-drinking men, led by Jack, note Jocko's guns and pick a fight with him. Jocko responds by twirling his guns expertly, but Jack merely laughs and challenges him to a gunfight. When Jocko hesitates to draw, Jack shoots him, and after quietly sobbing, Jory grabs Jocko's guns in a fury and demands that Jack draw. Jack laughs at the boy, but when he finally reaches for his gun, Jory, with shocking natural skill, easily outdraws him and shoots him dead. Back at the camp, Jory tells Roy that Jocko was holding back to protect Jory, but Roy reveals that Jocko had never killed a man and had been kept out of trouble for the past twelve years by Roy's supervision. When Jory wails that all his friends are dead, Roy responds, "Not all," and chastises the boy for running wild. Jory at first remains headstrong and brags about his sharp-shooting, but soon falls into Roy's arms. Later, Roy tells Jory the story of his friend Major Starr, who while fighting in the war became a killer and, having forgotten how to differentiate between enemies and friends, discovered that everywhere he went someone wanted to kill him. Jack's buddies soon arrive at the camp and demand retribution, but Roy beats up their leader and throws them out, impressing Jory with his ability to handle a situation without guns. The drive moves on toward Texas, the home of the cowboys. Roy explains that they love the land so much because it is big and tough and requires big men to work it. Demonstrating how to live off the land by drinking cactus milk, Roy points out that a real man does not need a gun to survive. Soon after, the drive is attacked by men with rifles. When Roy leads his men to fight off the intruders, another group of poachers sneak up from the opposite side, where only Jory remains to protect the cattle. Jory expertly shoots one of the men and hits another, Logan, in the arm, causing them to flee. Roy returns and, after praising Jory's courage, identifies the dead man as an employee of rival rancher Thatcher. They return immediately to their ranch, owned by widower John Barron. As Roy's girl, Carmelita, welcomes him warmly, Roy introduces Jory to Barron, and urges him to hire Jory to protect his teenage daughter Amy against Thatcher's increasing encroachment. That night, at dinner with the Barrons, Amy dresses up to impress Jory. The next day Roy counsels Jory to find a place of his own to love, as Barron has done with his land. Jory rides horses with Amy, and after she stops for a nude swim, he proclaims himself "proud to guard a body" like hers. She invites him to her room that night, and there holds his hand and prompts him to compliment her. The next day, the two ride out to the general store, and when Logan spots them, he abducts them and takes them to Thatcher's ranch. While Roy reassures Barron that Jory can protect Amy and suggests that they wait to attack, Thatcher has the teenagers tied to a tree and awaits Barron's visit. That night, Barron learns that Roy has sneaked out on his own to Thatcher's, and follows him with a herd of horses. Roy soon catches Thatcher unaware and holds him at gunpoint, but Thatcher, who calls Roy "Major Starr," says that he will negotiate only with Barron. They wait until morning, when Roy orders that Thatcher free the children, but when they walk out to the tree, a hidden rifleman shoots Roy. The mortally wounded Roy pretends to be dead in order to lure Thatcher close enough to shoot him. As Roy dies, Barron stampedes his horses into the ranch. A shootout ensues, during which Jory sits grief-stricken as men die all around him. Having bested Thatcher's men, Barron frees Amy and brings the teens home. Days later, Jory reverently places his father's law book into his traveling bag, then decides to leave Jocko's guns behind. He is leaving the ranch when Amy begs him to stay, but he says he must find his own promised land. As she runs to Barron, crying, Jory bids them goodbye and heads out to his future.
B. J. Thomas
Eduardo Lopez Rojas
Ludwig Van Beethoven
Joseph E. Levine
Howard G. Minsky
Howard G. Minsky
Although the onscreen credits include a copyright notice for Avco Embassy Pictures, the film was not registered for copyright. As noted in Publishers Weekly, producer Howard G. Minsky bought the screen rights to the novel on which the film was based, Milton R. Bass's Jory, in June 1969, one month before the book's publication. In August 1969, Hollywood Reporter stated that Minsky had hired Robert and Judith Barrows to write the film's screenplay, but their contribution to the final film, if any, is undetermined. Hollywood Reporter production charts credit Minsky as a co-screenwriter. Although Robby Benson is listed onscreen as "Introducing," he had appeared in a non-speaking role in 1967's Wait Until Dark.
According to a September 1971 Variety news item, Minsky considered releasing Jory through Paramount, the studio that had distributed his 1970 hit Love Story, but according to a June 1972 Daily Variety article, the studio declined to finance Jory fully. The film was produced by Minsky along with Leopoldo Silva of the Mexican production company Cinematografica Marco Polo. Salomon Laiter was originally hired as the director, but quit in early December 1971 over what Daily Variety called "artistic differences."
Jory was shot on location in Durango, Mexico. The picture provided the first feature film roles for many of the actors, including June Lockhart's daughter Anne and Linda Purl. "Jocko" was the only film role for B. J. Thomas, who was better known for singing such songs as "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" and "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song." Thomas injured his leg during filming, as noted in a January 1972 Box Office news item, necessitating that the production schedule be changed in order to film around him. Although Hollywood Reporter production charts add Bela Vega, William Watson, George Luke, Fernando Yapur and Pancho Cordoba to the cast, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
May and June 1972 trade paper articles reported that Avco Embassy's president, Joseph E. Levine, planned to appeal the MPAA's PG rating, stating that the film deserved a G rating because the script had edited out much of the book's emphasis on "Jory's" sexual coming of age. However, the released film was rated PG.
Released in United States 1973
Released in United States 1973