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The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (film)

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Genre  Western
Language  English
6.1/10 IMDb

Director  Richard C. Sarafian
Cinematography  Harry Stradling, Jr.
Country  United States
The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (film) movie poster
Release date  28 June 1973 (USA)
Based on  The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing  by Marilyn Durham
Writer  Marilyn Durham (novel), Eleanor Perry (screenplay)
Music director  John Williams, Michel Legrand
Cast  Burt Reynolds (Jay Grobart), Sarah Miles (Catherine Crocker), Lee J. Cobb (Lapchance), Jack Warden (Dawes), George Hamilton (Crocker), Bo Hopkins (Billy)
Similar movies  Alive or Preferably Dead, The Missouri Breaks, Wyoming Mail, Man of the West, Jackass Mail, Gentle Annie

After serving time for avenging the murder of Cat Dancing, his Native American wife, Jay Grobart (Burt Reynolds), reluctantly takes part in a train robbery in the hopes of using his share of the loot to make a better life for his two children. When his accomplices kidnap society woman Catherine Crocker (Sarah Miles), who is on the run from her violent husband (George Hamilton), Grobarts inner decency protects her from harm as they flee from the bounty hunter (Lee J. Cobb) chasing them.


The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing is a 1973 film directed by Richard C. Sarafian. The screenplay was co-written by Eleanor Perry and William W. Norton, based on the novel of the same name by Marilyn Durham.

Western based on the novel by Marilyn Durham. A defiant wife who leaves her husband to take up riding with outlaws.


Burt Reynolds portrays Jay Grobart, an outlaw married to a Native American woman named Cat Dancing. After Cat is raped and murdered, a distraught Grobart kills the man responsible for the crime. He is sent to prison for killing the man. After his release he soon pulls a train robbery with the help of his friends Dawes (Jack Warden) and Billy (Bo Hopkins), and is now on the run from the law. While on the run, Grobart and his partners in crime come across Catherine (Sarah Miles), a woman escaping her abusive husband Crocker (George Hamilton). Catherine is abducted by Dawes and Billy, but Grobart protects her from them. Meanwhile, Lapchance (Lee J. Cobb), a veteran railroad detective with a posse, is on their trail for the train robbery. Accompanying the posse is Catherines husband, an arrogant millionaire, who is obsessed with retrieving his wife, even though he knows that she does not love him. As Grobart and Catherine get to know each other, they find themselves falling in love, and despite his criminal past, she admires him for avenging the death of the woman he loved. Billy is killed by marauding Indians on the trail. Dawes runs away during the raid. Grobart kills the marauders in an intense battle. He and Catherine continue their journey. Catherine admits her feelings for Grobart and they make love. Dawes attempts to ambush them for the money and is killed by Grobart for attempting to double cross them. Grobart and Catherine travel to the Shoshone village where Grobart lived with Cat Dancing and their children. Grobart and Catherine arrive at the village where his son and daughter have been raised by his late wifes brother. He discovers that his children have bonded with his late wifes tribe and wish to remain there. Grobart leaves Catherine and the railroad money at the village and departs not wanting to place her in further danger. The posse arrives and retrieves the money. Crocker insists on pursuing Grobart in order to kill him. The posse spends the night at the village. That evening Catherine and Grobarts son, Dream Speaker, leave to find Grobart. Dream Speaker guides them to a cave in the hills where Grobart is camped out. Grobart bids his son farewell and reunites with Catherine. The following morning as they prepare to leave Crocker arrives and shoots Grobart from the tree line. Grobart is wounded and Catherine rushes to his aid. Catherine grabs Grobarts pistol from his holster and shoots Crocker dead as he charges them. Lapchance orders his men to put Crockers body on a pack horse and leaves Grobart Crockers horse. Grobart pulls himself to his feet and Catherine and he embrace.


The movie was filmed on location in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah; Gila Bend, Arizona; Kanab, Utah; and Old Tucson, Arizona.

During the shoot, Sarah Miles personal assistant, David A. Whiting, was found dead under mysterious circumstances in his hotel room. His death was ruled suicide; however, there were rumours of foul play. It was later revealed that Miles and Whiting had been having an affair, and this, together with the resulting publicity, contributed to the disintegration of her marriage to Robert Bolt.

Original screenwriter Eleanor Perry later claimed much of her work was rewritten.

Similar Movies

Lee J Cobb appears in The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing and Man of the West. Billy Two Hats (1974). The Law and Jake Wade (1958). 3 Godfathers (1948). Warlock (1959).

Critical reception

Roger Greenspun of The New York Times did not care for the film:

In contrast, Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times liked the movie. In his review for the John Williams Web Page, he noted the complications in making the picture. He concluded his review: "In spite of the difficulties faced by the actors and filmmakers, The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing boasts gorgeous widescreen location photography, an interesting feminist spin on traditional western formulas — with Miles strong-willed Catherine Crocker an engaging screen presence throughout — and strong support from virtually the entire cast; in particular, the film proved once and for all that Burt Reynolds was capable of handling a straight dramatic role as well as a lightweight comic one."


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