Jeremiah Johnson

1972 film by Sydney Pollack

Jeremiah Johnson is a 1972 film about a war veteran who, weary of society, enters the Rocky Mountains around the middle of the 19th century to become a lone mountain man. Yet civilization catches up with him and he finds himself between all fronts...

Directed by Sydney Pollack. Written by Edward Anhalt and John Milius, based on the books Mountain Man by Vardis Fisher and Crow Killer by Raymond W. Thorp and Robert Bunker.
A man of peace driven wild!taglines

Jeremiah Johnson

  • [Caleb is crying] Stop that, boy!
  • [Jeremiah and Caleb see a bird flying across the sky] Hawk. Goin' for the Musselshell. Take me a week's ridin', and he'll be there in... hell, he's there already.

Del Gue

  • [to Jeremiah at first meeting, when Del was buried up to his neck in sand] No one's passed in front of me, can't say what's happened behind me.
  • There's a fine horse under me.
  • Ain't that Hatchet Jack's rifle?
  • [to Jeremiah after slipping fresh scalps onto his pack horse in face of approaching Indians] I didn't know they was gonna be Flatheads.
  • [to Jeremiah] You turn down this gift, and they'll slit you, me, Caleb and the horses from crotch to eyeball with a dull deer antler!
  • He may be a Christian and speak of the bible, but he still an Indian, and his rules is his rules. If you value your hair, you will get married!
  • [to Jeremiah at his wedding] You can take her to Fort Hauley and sell her, but you best take her my friend. Maybe she ain't near bad.
  • “I ain’t never seen ’em, but my common sense tells me the Andes is foothills and the Alps is for children to climb. Keep good care of your hair. These here is God’s finest sculpturins and there ain’t no laws for the brave ones. And there ain’t no asylums for the crazy ones. And there ain’t no churches excepting for this right here. And there ain’t no priests excepting the birds. By God I are a mountain man and I’ll live until an arrow or a bullet finds me and then I’ll leave my bones right here on this great map of the magnificent…
  • [to Jeremiah amidst his ongoing fight with the Crows] I cannot brag on your choice of campsites.

Hatchet Jack

  • [note on Hatchet Jack] I, Hatchet Jack, being of sound mind and broke legs, do hereby leaveth my bear rifle to whatever finds it, Lord hope it be a white man. It is a good rifle, and killt the bear that killt me. Anyway, I am dead. Yours truly, Hatchet Jack.


  • His name was Jeremiah Johnson, and they say he wanted to be a mountain man. The story goes that he was a man of proper wit and adventurous spirit, suited to the mountains. Nobody knows where abouts he come from and don't seem to matter much. He was a young man and ghosty stories about the tall hills didn't scare him none. He was looking for a Hawken gun, .50 caliber or better. He settled for a .30, but damn, it was a genuine Hawken, and you couldn't go no better. Bought him a good horse, and traps, and other truck that went with being a mountain man, and said good-bye to whatever life was down there below.


Jeremiah Johnson: Where you headed?
Del Gue: Same place you are, Jeremiah: hell, in the end.

[Jeremiah and Bear Claw hunt elk]
Jeremiah Johnson: Wind's right, but he'll just run soon as we step out of these trees.
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Trick to it. Step out on this side of your horse.
Jeremiah Johnson: What if he sees our feet?
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Elk don't know how many feet a horse has! No, you durn fool, slide it up over the saddle.

Jeremiah Johnson: Just where is it I could find bear, beaver, and other critters worth cash money when skinned?
Robidoux: Ride due west till the sun sets. Turn left at the Rocky Mountains.

[Jeremiah and Caleb find Del Gue buried to his neck in sand]
Jeremiah Johnson: Are you all right?
Del Gue: I got a fine horse under me! [sneezes] Got one of them feathers in my nose.
Jeremiah Johnson: Keep sneezing, it'll come out all right. Haven't seen anyone pass by recent, have you?
Del Gue: Nobody's gone in front of me. Can't say what's happened behind me, though.
Jeremiah Johnson: Indians put you here?
Del Gue: T'weren't Mormons! A chief, name of Mad Wolf. Nice fella, don't talk a hell of a lot. Say, you wouldn't have an extra hat on you, would you? Shade's getting' scarce in these parts.
Jeremiah Johnson: What'd you shave your head for?
Del Gue: Mad Wolf figures like every other Indian I know, says this scalp ain't fit for no decent man's lodgepole. Ain't the first time I've protected my head in such a way. Name's Del Gue, with an "e".

[Bear Claw and Jeremiah Johnson meet again after not seeing each other for a long time.]
Bear Claw: What's on the spit?
Jeremiah Johnson: Grown particular?
Bear Claw: Not about feedin' just the company I keep. [Jeremiah tosses him a rabbits leg] Thank you, kindly.
Bear Claw: You've come far, pilgrim.
Jeremiah Johnson: Feels like far.
Bear Claw: Were it worth the trouble?
Jeremiah Johnson: [painfully] Ah, what trouble?
Bear Claw: You cook good rabbit pilgrim. Cold up here.
Jeremiah Johnson: What brings you up so high?
Bear Claw: Grizz!
Jeremiah Johnson: Uh, Grizz.
Bear Claw: Avalanche took the cabin, lost my mule. We swum out of it. No matter, there weren't no Grizz left anyway.
Jeremiah Johnson: You wouldn't happen to know what month of the year it is?
Bear Claw: Why no, I truly wouldn't. I'm sorry, pilgrim. Winter's a long time going?
Jeremiah Johnson: [exhausted] Ah.
Bear Claw: Stays long this high.
Jeremiah Johnson: March. Maybe, April.
Bear Claw: March maybe. I don't believe April. [rising to depart] March is a green muddy month down below, some folks like it, FARMERS mostly. You've done well to keep so much hair when so many's after it. I hope that you fare well.

Jeremiah Johnson: You will do well, Del. You will do well, if you don't get in too much trouble with all that hair.
Del Gue: Ain't this somethin'? I told my pap and mam I was coming to the mountains to trap and be a mountain man. Acted like they was gut-shot. Says, "son, make your life go here. Here's where the peoples is. Them mountains is for animals and savages." I said, "Mother Gue, the Rocky Mountains is the marrow of the world." And by God I was right.

Del Gue: I ain't never seen 'em, but my common sense tells me the Andes is foothills, and the Alps is for children to climb! Keep good care of your hair! These here is God's finest scupturings! And there ain't no laws for the brave ones! And there ain't no asylums for the crazy ones! And there ain't no churches, except for this right here! And there ain't no priests excepting the birds. By God, I are a mountain man, and I'll live 'til an arrow or a bullet finds me. And then I'll leave my bones on this great map of the magnificent . . .

Del Gue: Which way you headed, Jeremiah?
Jeremiah Johnson: Canada, maybe. I hear there is land there a man has never seen.
Del Gue: Well, keep your nose in the wind, and your eyes along the skyline.
Jeremiah Johnson: I will do that, Del Gue.

Jeremiah Johnson: Who are they?
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Probably Crow. If'n they catch us, they'll steal our horses.
Jeremiah Johnson: Why?
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: It's their territory, they figure we're tresspassin'.
[an arrow flies by Bear Claw's head and sticks in a tree]
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Yep, Crow. A fella by the name of Paints-His-Shirt-Red. That's his sign. Just stand still.
[Paints His Shirt Red approaches. Bear Claw pulls arrow from tree and hands it back]

[Jeremiah and Del have killed the Indians that stole Del's horse and gear]
Del Gue: Don't you want any of these?
Jeremiah Johnson: What?
Del Gue: Scalps!
Jeremiah Johnson: [Shaken by the incident] No.
Del Gue: Well, Mother Gue never raised such a foolish child!
[Pulls his knife and begins scalping the Indians]

[Del and Jeremiah have run into a Flathead scouting party]
Del Gue: He wants to know if you are the great warrior who avenges the crazy women that lives in the Wolf Tail Valley. She's big medicine. You are too, if you be that man.
Jeremiah Johnson: [the Indian begins talking in a very loud voice] What's he shoutin' for?
Del Gue: Scared of ya.

[Jeremiah finds Del Gue buried in the sand]
Jeremiah Johnson: Indians put you here?
Del Gue: Tweren't Mormons! Chief name of Mad Wolf; nice enough fellow, don't talk a hell of a lot.
Jeremiah Johnson: Why'd you shave your head?
Del Gue: Mad wolf, like most Indians I know, figures this scalp ain't fit for no descent man's lodge pole; It's not the first time I've saved my head in such a manner. Name's Del Gue. With an E.

Jeremiah Johnson: Y'ever get lonesome?
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Fer what?
Jeremiah Johnson: Woman?
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Full time night woman? I never could find no tracks on a woman's heart. I packed me a squaw for ten year, Pilgrim. Cheyenne, she were, and the meanest bitch that ever balled for beads. I lodge-poled her at Deadwood Creek, and traded her for a Hawken gun. But don't get me wrong; I loves the womens, I surely do. But I swear, a woman's breast is the hardest rock that the Almighty ever made on this earth, and I can find no sign on it. Now these coals will simmer till sunrise. You best go do likewise.
[Hours later, Jeremiah stirred out of the sack almost afire]
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Didn't put enough dirt down. Saw it right off.

Del Gue: Jeremiah, maybe you best go down to a town, get outta these mountains.
Jeremiah Johnson: I've been to a town Del.

Bear Claw Chris Lapp: You've come far pilgrim.
Jeremiah Johnson: Feels like far.
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Were it worth the trouble?
Jeremiah Johnson: What trouble?

Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Can you skin Griz, pilgrim?
Jeremiah Johnson: I can skin most anything.
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: You sure are cocky for a starvin' pilgrim.
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Well there she be. Go inside get yourself warm, get yourself something to eat. I've got a chore to finish. Now boy, are you sure that you can skin Griz?
Jeremiah Johnson: I can skin'em as fast as you can catch'em.
[Bear Claw runs through the cabin with a huge Grizzly Bear close behind and jumps out the back window.]
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Skin that pilgrim, and I'll get you another!

[Jeremiah has just killed a Crow warrior who has been stalking him]
Del Gue: Is it always like this? One at the time?
Jeremiah Johnson: Yep.
Del Gue: Lucky they were Crow. Apache would have sent fifty at once.

[Jeremiah is being forced by the Flathead chief to marry an Indian girl]
Jeremiah Johnson: Del Gue, I don't think this is a good idea.
Del Gue: He may be a Christian and read the bible, but he's still an Indian and his rules is his rules. If you value your hair, you will get married! Now, when this is over you can take her to Fort Hawley and sell her, but you best take her my friend. Besides, maybe she ain't near bad.
[after Jeremiah is introduced to The Swan by Two Tongues Lebeaux] Maybe you need her?
Del Gue: You turn this down, and they'll slit you, me, Caleb and the horses from crotch to eyeball with a dull deer antler.

[Bear Claw is talking to Paints-his-Shirt in Crow]
Jeremiah Johnson: You understand what he's sayin'?
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Paints-His-Shirt speaks English, he just does this to aggravate me.

Jeremiah Johnson: Ain't that hair I see on your head, Del?
Del Gue: I figured that when I depart this life I'd like to leave something behind even if just to be remembered on some man's lodge pole.
Jeremiah Johnson: Sound wisdom.

Del Gue: Ain't that Hatchet Jack's rifle?
Jeremiah Johnson: Yep.
Del Gue: How did you get it?
Jeremiah Johnson: Found him froze to a tree.
Del Gue: Damn! Hatchet Jack was a wild one. He was livin' two years up in in a cave on the Musselshell with a female panther. She never did get used to him.


  • A man of peace driven wild!
  • The man who became a legend. The film destined to be a classic!
  • His Mountain. His Peace. His Great Hunts. His Young Bride. With All That, It Should Have Been Different.
  • Some say he's dead...some say he never will be.


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