The Tracker (1988 film)

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The Tracker
Screenplay by Kevin Jarre
Directed by John Guillermin
Starring Kris Kristofferson
Scott Wilson
Mark Moses
David Huddleston
Theme music composer Sylvester Levay
Country of originUnited States
United Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
Executive producer Alan Trustman
ProducerLance Hool
Production locationsDurango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Colorado
Bonanza Creek Ranch - 15 Bonanza Creek Lane, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Eaves Movie Ranch - 105 Rancho Alegre Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Galisteo, New Mexico
San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico
CinematographyGeorge Tirl
Running time98 minutes
Production companies HBO Pictures
ITC Entertainment
Distributor HBO
Original networkHBO
Picture formatColor
Audio format Stereo
Original release
  • March 26, 1988 (1988-03-26)

The Tracker, also known as Dead or Alive in some countries, is a 1988 Western television film directed by John Guillermin, written by Kevin Jarre, and starring Kris Kristofferson, Scott Wilson, Mark Moses, David Huddleston, John Quade and Don Swayze. It premiered on HBO on March 26, 1988. [1] [2] [3]


It was the 36th and final film directed by Guillermin, before his death in 2015. [4]


Noble Adams served as a scout in the US Army during the Indian Wars. He resigns and takes his wife and two-year-old son to a farm he has bought. On the way, his wife dies in an accident. His son receives a good education on the east coast and studies law. After his exam Tom returns to his father for a short time. One day Noble is asked by his old friend Marshall Crawford for help in the pursuit of the gang led by John Stillwell, who escaped from the Yuma penitentiary. The bandits murder some people and kidnap two women, a twelve-year-old girl and an Indian. Tom wants to join the persecution. His father is against it, because he is convinced that his son is not up to the strains of the persecution. However, Tom prevails. Noble, his son and the marshal pursue the gang, on which a reward of 500 $ is exposed. They meet a group of bounty hunters who are deserted soldiers. During a sandstorm, the three seek cover behind rocks as best they can. Stillwell and his gang find shelter in a Pueblo (Indian village built into a rock). Because Noble knows that the bandits want to cross the river with the only ferry, they take a tiring shortcut. At the ferry, the bounty hunters get in their way. In the shooting, Stillwell kills the marshal.

Again and again there are conflicts between father and son. The father still lives in an atavistic world, in which life kills by the rule, so that you are not killed dominated. The son has a human behavior shaped by the civilized East Coast. Noble and Tom set another trap for the gang. Noble kills all gang members. Tom has been waiting for Stillwell. He has put his rifle on him and hesitates for a moment. Stillwell takes the girl to his horse. Tom can't shoot anymore. Noble and Tom meet as arranged with Indians, who bring them fresh horses and supplies. The older sister and the father of the girl are also at this meeting point. Noble wants to free the girl alone and follows the trail. Tom suddenly knows where Stillwell will hide. It can only be the Pueblo. He rides straight there. His father frees the girl and captures Stillwell. Stillwell distracts him with a trick and shoots him in the stomach with a hidden Derringer. Stillwell takes the girl on his horse and rides towards Utah. Tom arrives a short time later. His father tells him that he is mortally wounded. Tom promises to free the girl. He poses Stillwell, who surrenders. When Stillwell tries to outsmart him with the same trick, Tom shoots him. When Tom returns to his father, he dies shortly afterwards.

The final picture shows Tom inviting his father's coffin into a train. The two sisters are also on the platform. He promises his older sister, with whom he grew up in his youth, to visit her in a few months.



The film had been in development for five years. The film was shot on location in Colorado and New Mexico in October 1987 under the title Dead or Alive. [5] [6]


The Wall Street Journal called it a " handsome, no-nonsense, no-spaghetti western." [7]

The Chicago Tribune said " it's not bad at all." [8]

The Globe and Mail said "The Kristofferson character is straight out of the Eastwood mold but even dirtier than Harry. But what makes him (and the movie) intriguing is his obvious tenderness for his grown son, wonderfully and endearingly played by Mark Moses. Their relationship gives the otherwise formula oater a much needed extra dimension." [9]

An article on Guillermin's career in Film Comment said the film "marks a surprising return to something resembling form." [10] Another in Filmink called it "a polite late ‘80s western... with some baddies kidnapping women and Kristofferson leading a posse, and his son learning the importance of killing people. The dust feels clean. Look, it’s fine." [11]

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  1. Kristie Hassen. "The Tracker (1988) - John Guillermin | Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related". AllMovie. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  2. Mayer, Geoff (2003). Guide to British Cinema - Geoff Mayer - Google Books. ISBN   9780313303074 . Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  3. "Dead Or Alive (1988) - Overview". Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  4. John Guillermin, 'Towering Inferno' Director, Dies at 89 SLOTNIK, DANIEL E. New York Times (Online), New York: New York Times Company. Oct 1, 2015.
  5. THE MOVIE CHART: [Home Edition] Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]18 Oct 1987: 41.
  6. 'Magic of the Silver Box' for The Tracker Lee, Nora. American Cinematographer; Hollywood Vol. 69, Iss. 3, (Mar 1988): 58-64,66.
  7. TV Preview: Lincoln, Darrow, Dickens, Rumpole By Martha Bayles. Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition; New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]17 Mar 1988: 1.
  8. HONEST, ABE HAS LOOKED BETTER: [SPORTS FINAL, C Edition] Clifford Terry, TV/radio critic. Chicago Tribune 25 Mar 1988: 5.
  9. Schlesinger looks at his homeland Czechoslovakia through native eyes JOHN HASLETT CUFF. The Globe and Mail; Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]20 Aug 1988: C.3.
  10. Savage Spectacles Möller, Olaf. Film Comment; New York Vol. 50, Iss. 1, (Jan/Feb 2014): 20-21.
  11. Vagg, Stephen (November 17, 2020). "John Guillermin: Action Man". Filmink.