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Discovering the Authenticity of the Western Classic Down the Long Hills

Down the Long Hills: A Tale of the Wild West

Are you a fan of western movies? If yes, then Down the Long Hills is a must-watch! This movie, released in 1986, is based on the book of the same name by Louis L’Amour.

The film is set in the late 1800s in the Wild West and revolves around two children who must make their way across the perilous landscape after their parents are murdered.


The story begins with a family traveling to start a new life in Montana. Unfortunately, a group of bandits ambushes them, killing the parents and leaving the children, young Joey (played by Bo Hopkins) and Sissy (played by Heather McAdam) alone in the wilderness.

As the children make their way through the wilderness, they meet a cowboy named Chance (played by Bruce Boxleitner). Chance is a tough and rugged cowboy who agrees to help the children reach their destination.

Together, they brave the many perils of the Wild West, including hostile Native Americans, treacherous terrain, and ruthless bandits.


The characters in Down the Long Hills are well-developed and portrayed brilliantly by the actors. Joey and Sissy are two brave children who must learn to fend for themselves in a harsh world.

Bruce Boxleitner’s portrayal of Chance is spot on, and he brings to life the character’s tough demeanor and heroic nature.


The movie was shot on location in the stunning landscapes of New Mexico and Arizona. The rugged terrain and vast vistas of the West provide the perfect backdrop for the story.

The cinematography is excellent, capturing the grandeur and danger of the Wild West.


The movie touches on themes of resilience, courage, and the importance of family. The children must face incredible challenges in their journey, but they never give up.

Instead, they rely on each other and their newfound friend, Chance, to see them through. The movie also highlights the harsh realities of the Wild West, where life was cheap, and danger lurked around every corner.


Down the Long Hills is a fantastic movie that is sure to please any fans of westerns. With its compelling story, well-crafted characters, and stunning landscapes, it’s an excellent choice for a night in.

The movie has a rating of 6.9 on IMDb and is a must-watch for fans of the genre. In Down the Long Hills, the central plot centres around two children who are left alone after their parents are brutally murdered while attempting to settle in Montana.

The siblings’ lives are now in danger as they try to navigate through the harsh terrain and find a way to safety. With this betrayal of trust by the people they had to learn to rely on, Joey and Sissy are thrust into a new reality.

Living a sheltered life, they have no idea how harsh and unforgiving the world outside their home can be. The character of Chance is introduced as he comes upon the siblings in the wilderness.

He is initially wary of them but slowly comes to understand their predicament. The cowboy is an experienced traveller of the wild terrain and offers his assistance in getting them to safety.

Despite his gruff exterior, Chance has a good heart and becomes quite attached to the children. He becomes a father figure to Joey and Sissy, who have never known such kindness before.

As they begin their journey to Montana, the dangers begin almost immediately. The group must navigate through a harsh and unforgiving landscape that is teeming with threats at every turn.

Among the dangers they face include bite danger from diamondback snakes, Indian attacks, and life-threatening injuries from accidents. However, as they progress on the journey, it becomes evident that they make a great team, relying on each other’s strengths to overcome each obstacle that presents itself.

The movie also speaks to the power of the family unit, something that Joey and Sissy had never fully appreciated. Raised in a family that loved and cherished its members, they are now alone in a cruel world that is hostile to children.

The bond that forms between Chance and the children becomes a new form of family. They find it hard to trust people, but slowly, they come to rely on Chance and what he is teaching them about survival, independence, and looking out for one another.

In Down the Long Hills, the concept of journeying through life becomes a metaphor for the journey the children are taking. Life is not always easy, and it is important to have people in one’s corner, committed to standing by their side, no matter what.

Even if it is someone they have only known for a short time, such as Chance, who taught them valuable life lessons and helped instill a sense of self-confidence. Towards the end of the movie, they finally reach their destination where they can start their new life, but not without experiencing loss along the way.

Chance decides to stay back to help a young girl he had met have a bright future. Joey and Sissy are sad to leave their newfound protector behind but have come so far that they have the confidence and skills to continue their lives independently.

In conclusion, Down the Long Hills is a movie that portrays the harsh realities of the Wild West and underscores the importance of family and the power of the human spirit. The plot is multi-layered, imbued with deep meanings and lessons that are applicable to everyday life.

From learning how to fend for oneself and survive in a harsh world to the unbreakable bonds between people, the movie is a riveting tale that has become classic in the genre of Western movies. The production of Down the Long Hills required a significant amount of planning and execution to bring the story to life on film.

The movie was produced by MGM Television and was directed by veteran television director Burt Kennedy. The production of the movie took place in several locations in Arizona and New Mexico, where the harsh and rugged desert landscapes provided the perfect setting for the Wild West motifs littered throughout the movie.

The location manager had the critical task of scouting the best settings for various scenes in the movie, and their efforts paid off, as the many locations used in the movie brought the script to life on the screen. The movie’s set design was another critical component of its production.

The set designers worked hard to create an authentic Wild West atmosphere, which included building a realistic frontier town complete with saloons, general stores, rugged cabins, and outposts to highlight the daily struggles of the Wild West settlers. The costume department also played an integral role in the production of Down the Long Hills.

The costume designers did an outstanding job of creating period-authentic outfits that helped bring the cast of characters to life, from the protagonist Joey’s cowboy hat to Sissy’s western dress. The attention given to detail in the wardrobe department further lent authenticity to the movie’s production.

The film’s casting was critical in ensuring the authenticity of the characters’ personalities and appearances. The casting directors did a fantastic job of selecting actors who not only looked, but also embodied the classic character tropes found in Wild West adventures.

Bruce Boxleitner’s tough-as-nails depiction of a cowboy, Joey’s vulnerability, and Sissy’s innocence each contributed to making the characters come alive in a remarkable manner. The chemistry between the actors further adds to the quality of the film.

The movie’s musical score was also an integral component of the production. Composer Arthur B.

Rubinstein created an evocative soundtrack that enhanced the action on screen. He utilized a blend of traditional Western and orchestral themes to capture the movie’s essence.

The music helped create a sense of suspense and drama, heightening the emotions of the viewers during the more significant scenes. Finally, the director’s vision contributed significantly to completing the production.

Burt Kennedy’s experience in Western television allowed him to handle all the production aspects and ensure the film was faithful to the evergreen American Western genre. His expertise in shooting on location in tough terrains and the ability to make his actors feel comfortable helped deliver a remarkable cinematic experience.

In conclusion, bringing the novel Down the Long Hills to life on screens required a team effort that saw several production components coordinated to perfection. The planning, execution, and coordination efforts required to produce an authentic Wild West adventure bears testimony to the dedication and vision of the entire production team.

It all aided in creating a remarkable movie that has continued to captivate and inspire audiences decades later. After months of production, Down the Long Hills was finally ready for public viewing in 1986.

The movie was first released in the United States and later in other regions internationally, with the overseas releases taking place in the following years. The release of the movie offered fans of the Western genre the chance to enjoy another tale of courage, adventure, and survival in the Wild West.

To prepare the public for the release of the movie, MGM Television engaged in marketing and promotional campaigns to create buzz around the movie’s trailers. Advertisements in print and digital media were aimed at the target audience, who were fans of the genre.

The production studio relied heavily on Western-themed posters, billboards, and promotional items distributed around strategic locations to create visual reminders of the movie for the audience. The studio also relied on the actors to promote the movie before the release date.

The actors appeared on talk shows and in magazine interviews to discuss their roles in the movie and share their experiences on the set. This generated excitement around the movie and the performances of Bruce Boxleitner, Bo Hopkins, and others.

The release of Down the Long Hills was received positively when it came out. Critically, it was a decent success, with reviewers praising the performances of the actors and the realistic feel of the movie.

The cinematography, sets, clothes, and musical score were generally regarded as excellent. The characters’ development, including various themes and messages that come through the plot were also praised.

Audience reception was also positive, with Westerns fans immediately responding to the movie’s themes, characters, and Wild West atmosphere. The movie was screened in cinemas and available for rent on VHS tapes for home viewing.

In no time, it garnered a following among fans of the genre, and it has remained a cult classic and staple of Western films today. The movie’s success prompted MGM Television to distribute it in other regions internationally to capitalise on the Western genre’s popularity.

Down the Long Hills received recognition from a wider audience when shown in film festivals around the world, pleasing not only the genre fandom but cinephiles who appreciate the rich cinematic experience. In conclusion, Down the Long Hills’ release offered audiences around the world the chance to enjoy a classic Western movie.

The marketing and promotional campaigns aimed at targeting the Western genre fandom worldwide, and the movie’s quality ensured that it was received positively by both critics and the audience. The international success of the movie propelled it into a cult classic and durable crowd favourite, with fans continuing to enjoy it today.

Apart from the captivating script, stunning visuals, and exceptional acting; the soundtrack in Down the Long Hills is a standout feature of the movie. The musical score, created by Arthur B.

Rubinstein, adds to the Western film’s authenticity, and is a tribute to the classic Western films like ‘The Searchers’ and ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’. The composer, Arthur B.

Rubinstein, utilises a wide range of instruments, including the guitar, Western-style flutes, and violins, to create a traditional yet unique Western soundtrack. The score’s blend of strings, brass, and percussion evokes the intensity of the Western landscape and transport audiences back to the Wild West era, which helps them understand the story’s context.

The opening credits of the movie feature the movie’s primary theme, which sets the tone for everything to follow. A haunting melody that begins with a soft whistle, is quickly taken up by what sounds like the howl of the wind blowing through the wilderness.

The central melody played by the strings sets the stage for a tense yet poignant story, evoking the feeling of vast loneliness amid a hostile landscape. With this incredible start, the audience is prepared for a remarkable cinematic adventure.

As the drama unfolds in the plot, a variety of music plays in the background to heighten the drama and evoke emotions. For example, off-screen stringed instruments play dramatic music to create tension during climactic scenes like Indian attacks and confrontations between rival groups.

The music score kicks into high gear to punctuate the suspenseful moments in the story to increase the impact on the audience. Rubinstein also employs the use of traditional songs that were popular in the Western era, with the songs featured during scene transitions and in the saloon scenes, adding to the movie’s feel and injecting a sense of culture.

The use of these traditional Western-oriented songs gives fans of the genre a special treat as it harkens back to the iconic Westerns of the past. The theme song of the movie, “Down the Long Hills,” is a standout feature in the soundtrack.

The tune was composed by Arthur B. Rubinstein with lyrics by Joe Henry, and was sang by Michael Martin Murphey.

The song acts as an outro to the movie, capping off the epic adventure beautifully. In conclusion, the soundtrack for Down the Long Hills is an excellent example of how music can enhance the story, setting, and emotions of a film.

The creative efforts of composer Arthur B. Rubinstein complemented the Western genre perfectly, with the movie’s score and songs taking audiences on a journey through the classic Wild West era.

The soundtrack itself is a standalone tribute to the genre, and the songs add an extra layer of authenticity to the movie, making it an excellent musical experience as well as a fantastic drama. In summary, Down the Long Hills is a classic Western movie that brings the genre to life through its authentic characters, rugged landscapes, and standout soundtrack.

The movie’s production and release showcased the hard work and dedication put in by a talented team to create a remarkable cinematic experience for fans of the genre. Through this article, we came to understand the plot, production, release, and soundtrack of Down the Long Hills, all of which emphasized the movie’s significance in the Western film culture.


1. Who directed Down the Long Hills?

The movie was directed by Burt Kennedy. 2.

Who stars in Down the Long Hills? Bruce Boxleitner, Bo Hopkins and Heather McAdam are among the main cast of the movie.

3. What is the plot of Down the Long Hills?

Down the Long Hills is centered around two siblings, Joey and Sissy who are left alone in the wilderness after the brutal murder of their parents. 4.

When was Down the Long Hills released? The movie was released in 1986 in the United States and later in other regions internationally.

5. Who composed the soundtrack for Down the Long Hills?

The soundtrack was composed by Arthur B. Rubinstein.

6. How was the movie received?

Critically and commercially successful, Down the Long Hills became a cult classic and favourite among Western movie fans. 7.

What themes does the movie highlight?

Themes of resilience, courage, the importance of family, and the harsh realities of the Wild West are all highlighted in the movie.

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