‘The Cheyenne Social Club’ is an old western comedy film released on June 10, 1970. Directed by multi-talented filmmaker Gene Kelly, the film falls under the dark comedy genre. The film discusses and sarcastically presents a social issue that is considered taboo even to talk about. With legendary actors as actors, a realistic background and a unique storyline, the film is an old and classic work of art. However, the film did not do well at the box office at the time of its release. Critics gave the film poor reviews, for which the film was declared a flop.
But, decades later, the film has earned the true appreciation it deserves. Even today, “The Cheyenne Social Club” remains on a list of must-see movies. The film lasts about an hour and a half and describes the perverse norms and customs of our society at that time. Few of them are even widespread today. The authoritarian power of the lords over the common people. Poor living conditions for women. And the pseudo-masculinity of man. All this is represented in a single film. Gene Kelly, the director, boldly walked out of the film without fear of societal judgment. Which explains why the film was not well received by audiences and critics.
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Where is “The Cheyenne Social Club” filmed?
“The Cheyenne Social Club” is a retro cowboy style film. People are seen riding around with horses, carrying guns against a backdrop of desert fields, saloons and casinos. So where was ‘The Cheyenne Social Club’ filmed? The classic movie was shot near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Eaves Movie Ranch and Bonanza Creek Ranch were used as the film’s set. Both ranches are specially designed for the filming and production of television series and films. But, these are the places where only the exterior scenes were shot. The interior scenes, however, were shot at a Hollywood studio named Samuel Goldwyn Studios. Mexico is a place of deserts and dunes, which suits the film’s cowboy-style setting.
The film shows the year 1867 with two friends, John O’Hanlan and Harley Sullivan, living in the city of Texas. They appeared like aging cowboys, professionally handling open cattle. One fine day, John receives a letter from his brother DJ Wyoming, John’s brother’s lawyer, informing him of the will that DJ left him. The letter states that John’s brother is handing over the Cheyenne Social Club. As the Club’s new owner, John and his friend Harley arrive in Cheyenne. But it wasn’t until he reached Cheyenne that John discovered a shocking reality.
The club left by his brother was not a social club. It was a brothel with several women living there. The story continues with John trying to turn it into a boarding house to deal with more hardship. John learns that ownership will revert to the railroad located next to the brothel. But that was only possible if the women left the brothel as they pleased. He tries to do so but fails miserably. The women and men who visit them are against John’s decision to close the brothel. After killing a man who assaulted the Club’s Madame Jenny, he passes the property to Jenny. John leaves the town of Cheyenne with his friend Harley.
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Cast and other details
The cast list of the movie ‘The Cheyenne Social Club’ is made up of legendary actors and actresses. James Stewart and Henry Fonda were in lead roles as the characters of John O’Hanlan and Harley Sullivan, respectively. Apart from the films protagonist, we have Sue Ane Langdon as Opal, Ann Elaine Devry as Pauline, Shirley Jones as Jenny, Robert Middleton as Barkeep, Jackie Joseph as Annie Jo, and Dabbs Greer as Jedediah W. Willo. These are just a few names mentioned among the long lists of distros.
The film was produced under the banner of production house Warner Bros. It was written by James Lee Barrett and co-produced by Gene Kelly and James Lee Barrett. Although the film was poorly received by audiences and critics, “The Cheyenne Social Club” was nominated as “Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen” by the Writers Guild of America. The film didn’t win the title, but only the nomination proved its true worth with regard to art.
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