Tom Noonan who appears in this film, had auditioned for the film but wasn't cast. Having moved onto a play and preparing for weeks, he ended up getting a last minute call from his agent to notify him that they did need him for the film. Noonan was hesitant to take the role as he was still committed to the play. However, he was able to do the play and then commit to the film. Upon arriving at the set, Noonan later learned because of the film's notorious production delays, that he'd be waiting significantly until he shot his scenes and spent much of his time in his hotel room. Noonan later went on record at his displeasure working on the film.
The 1870 Harvard Commencement is depicted in the opening scene. This class included Richard Theodore Greener, the first African-American to graduate from Harvard, later Dean of Harvard Law School.
Isabelle Huppert was cast as Ella over the objection of United Artists executives.
This was actually Kris Kristofferson's second western as he had played Billy the Kid in Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973). Despite Heaven's Gate (1980) having been said to have badly affected his career, Kristofferson would later go on to star in such westerns as Stagecoach (1986), Comanche (2000), The Tracker (1988), The Long Kill (1999), Two for Texas (1998) and as Jesse James in The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James (1986).
Though a western, the picture was ironically memorable for two musical sequences, a waltz on the outdoors lawn of Harvard University and a fiddle and band dance number on a roller-skating rink.
One of a number of Hollywood westerns that were a flop at the box-office during the late 1970s / early 1980s. Others included Barbarosa (1982), The Mountain Men (1980), The Villain (1979), Goin' South (1978), Hard Country (1981), The Frisco Kid (1979), Cattle Annie and Little Britches (1981), and The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981). |