DirectorBurt Lancaster ScreenplayAlfred Bertram Guthrie CountryUnited States
Release dateAugust 1, 1955 Based onThe Gabriel Horn
by Felix Holt WriterA.B. Guthrie Jr. (screenplay), Felix Holt (novel) Music directorBernard Herrmann, Roy Webb CastBurt Lancaster (Elias Wakefield), Dianne Foster (Hannah), Diana Lynn (Susie), John McIntire (Zack Wakefield), Una Merkel (Sophie Wakefield), John Carradine (Fletcher) Similar moviesLone Wolf McQuade, The Sugarland Express, The Wonderful Country, Dead Man's Walk, Bonnie and Clyde, No Country for Old Men
The kentuckian 1955 movie trailer
The Kentuckian is a 1955 Technicolor and CinemaScope adventure film directed by Burt Lancaster, who also starred. This was one of only two films Lancaster directed (the other was The Midnight Man), and the only one for which he has sole credit. It also marked the feature film debut of Walter Matthau. The picture is an adaptation of the novel The Gabriel Horn by Felix Holt. The picture was shot on location in Kentucky in the Cumberland Falls area, the Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park near London, Owensboro and Green River, and at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Village near Rockport, Indiana.
Frontiersman Elias "Big Eli" Wakefield (Burt Lancaster) decides to leave 1820s Kentucky and move to Texas with his son "Little Eli" (Donald MacDonald). Along the way, they run into two women who take a liking to the pair, indentured servant Hannah (Dianne Foster), who wants to go with them, and schoolteacher Susie (Diana Lynn), who would rather have Big Eli marry her and settle down. Big Eli also has to deal with villainous Stan Bodine (Walter Matthau), who cracks a bullwhip.
The movie also features an appearance by the famed sternwheel riverboat Gordon C. Greene, the same steamboat used in Gone with the Wind and Steamboat Round the Bend.
Burt Lancaster as Elias Wakefield
Dianne Foster as Hannah
Diana Lynn as Susie
John McIntire as Zack Wakefield
Una Merkel as Sophie Wakefield
John Carradine as Fletcher
John Litel as Pleasant Tuesday Babson
Rhys Williams as Constable
Edward Norris as Roulette Dealer
Walter Matthau as Stan Bodine
Donald MacDonald as Little Eli Wakefield
Near the end of the film, there is a ferocious fight between Lancaster's character and Matthau's whip-wielding villain. Matthau was doubled by whip expert Whip Wilson, who cut Lancaster across the shoulder after the star asked him to "hit me and make it look real".
As part of the marketing, the studio commissioned Thomas Hart Benton to create the painting The Kentuckian, which depicts a scene from the film. The painting belongs to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art since 1978.