Based on actual events of the early twentieth century, the story concerns a grueling 700-mile cross-country horse race in 1906 and the way it affects the lives of its various participants.
The colorful contestants include two former Rough Riders (Hackman and Coburn) who can’t let friendship come between them if they intend to win, a lady of little virtue (Bergen), a punk kid (Vincent), an old cowhand in poor health (Johnson), an English gentleman (Bannen) who’s competing just for the sheer sport of it all, and a Mexican with a toothache (Mario Arteaga) who literally needs to bite the bullet. All must race against a thoroughbred of championship pedigree owned by a wealthy man (Coleman) who has no intention of seeing his entry lose.
The film touches on the themes of sportsmanship, animal cruelty, the yellow press, racism, the end of the Old West and the bonds of marriage and friendship. As the race progresses, the conditions test not only the endurance of horses and riders but also their philosophies of life and the meaning of victory and defeat.
Bite the Bullet is a 1975 American Western film written and directed by Richard Brooks and starring Gene Hackman, James Coburn, Candice Bergen, Ben Johnson, Ian Bannen, Jan-Michael Vincent and Dabney Coleman.
Bite the Bullet (1975)
Directed by: Richard Brooks
Starring: Gene Hackman, Candice Bergen, James Coburn, Ben Johnson, Ian Bannen, Jan-Michael Vincent, Robert Donner, Jean Willes
Screenplay by: Richard Brooks
Cinematography by: Harry Stradling Jr.
Film Editing by: George Grenville
Set Decoration by: Bob Signorelli
Art Direction by: Robert F. Boyle
Music by: Alex North
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: May 6, 1975