racechanging: Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here

Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here

Willie Boy, a young Paiute Indian, returns to his reservation in 1909 to attend his tribe’s annual fiesta and resume his relationship with Lola (Katharine Ross), whose father has stood between them.

When Willie attempts to arrange a midnight date with Lola, her father threatens to shoot him. Willie goes ahead meets Lola in the woods at midnight as planned, but they are interrupted by her father and brothers. Lola's father is killed in the ensuing scuffle, and, according to tribal tradition, Lola becomes Willie’s wife. But the reservation superindent orders the local sheriff to go after the couple.

The manhunt coincides with a Presidential visit and when Willie shoots one of the pursuing posse its sets an hysterical fear of an Indian uprising and assassination attempt against the President.

Lola becomes so exhausted that she becomes a liability to Willie, but she refuses to abandon him; and when the posse finds her dead body the following day, opinion is divided on whether she died by Willie’s hand or by her own. Soon after Willie is shot in a confrontation with the reluctant sheriff.

The movie is based on a true story.  But Carlota (Lola) was found shot in the back and it was unclear whether she had been killed by Willie Boy or shot by a member of the posse; Willie Boy committed suicide. There is a monument with an inscription referring to ‘The West’s Last Famous Manhunt’, alluding to the end of the posse system.

The makeup

Bud Westmore was the makeup artist.