The Dream of Hamish Mose (partially found O. J. Simpson film; 1969)
|Title card taken from the Hard Copy episode.|
The Dream of Hamish Mose is an unreleased 1969 western that was written, directed, and financed by western character actor Cameron Mitchell in what would have been his first directorial role. The cast includes Rockne Tarkington, Henry Darrow, Mitchell's co-star from the western television drama High Chapparal, Mitchell himself as an insane confederate soldier based on General Sherman, and a number of actors from the "Buffalo Soldiers" episode of High Chapparal. The film is also notable for being the feature film debut of a young O.J. Simpson in a small supporting role.
Story and Production
From what has surfaced of the footage, and the information provided by the rights holder, the plot, a parable of the story of Christ from the Bible, consists of a team of Civil War Buffalo Soldiers and their former confederate captain (Mitchell) lost near the Mexican border, locating a comrade named Hamish Mose (Rockne Tarkington) who had been hanged and left for dead, only to be rescued by a Mexican bandit referred to as "Mex" (Darrow). The soldiers and Hamish then ask Mex to lead them back across the Rio Grande. Along the way, they reluctantly bring along into a racist scalp-hunter (Don Melvoin) and a fierce tribe of Apaches. The film also consists of Mitchell narrating the story with mystical non-sequiturs, and surreal shots, such as a close up of a donkey's excrement.
Shooting took place on location in boondocks towns in Texas and New Mexico, and Mitchell had to cut corners to accommodate the low budget, such as reusing actors for additional roles. When the script required a woman to be part of the journey, Mitchell simply had a gay male producer dress in drag and kept him out of focus. Mitchell also didn't hesitate to put his cast and crew in danger. For instance, when he noticed that a wild animal show was holed in the same hotel he and his team were, he featured some of the animals in the film, including a large grizzly bear that charged the cameraman and a leopard that nearly mauled one of the actors.
Cancellation and Current Owner
Mitchell eventually went bankrupt from a divorce and was forced to shelve the project, leaving behind only an unfinished work print. After his death, the footage was sold to actor Philip Pine, who in turn sold it to an unknown party. Aside from a small mention in a July 14, 1969 Sports Illustrated issue announcing Simpson's participation in the project, a few pages in Darrow's autobiography Lightning in the Bottle, a segment on Hard Copy that featured some footage of the film, and a short article in an issue of Shock Cinema Magazine, the film has gone largely unmentioned in the mainstream press.
More recently, the independent distribution company Films Around the World has made it known that they possess most of the film's 35mm reels, and plan to professionally edit and release it once they receive funding from a distributor.