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I Will Fight No More Forever (1975)

September 27th, 2011 by Anne Richardson · 4 Comments · 1970's, Oregon actor, Oregon film, Oregon film new definition, Oregonians as inspiration

What are the odds? The only movie in which Portlander Charles Erskine Scott Wood appears as a character is one in which he is played by Sam Elliott, also a Portlander.

Sam Elliott plays Captain Wood,  serving under James Whitmore’s redoubtable one armed General Howard, in a television movie I have never seen,  I Will Fight No More Forever.

In real life, Wood was a lieutenant, and a very close friend of Howard, almost a member of his family. They were both West Point trained bookworms, and aspiring authors. After the Nez Perce War (which they both wrote about) Wood accompanied the Howards to New York, and studied law at Columbia while Howard ran West Point. After getting  his degree, he resigned from the army and returned to Portland to begin a lucrative law practice. Among his many, many contributions to Portland’s cultural life, he acted as mentor and inspiration to a young John Reed.

Lots of ways to learn more about C. E. S. Wood. Probably several more movies in him, especially for the person who wants to tell the story of a real life Batman, who led a double life of corporate lawyer by day and social justice crusader by night. One difference: with Wood there was no Bat  Cave. Everything was in the open. He had a luxurious home, wife, and five kids on one hand, and mistresses, political activism and poems published in The Masses on the other.

George Venn examines the circumstances behind the legendary surrender speech made by Chief Joseph which ends with the words “I will fight no more forever”, and concludes that the person who recorded the speech for posterity, young Lt. C. E. S. Wood, may have composed more of it than he let on.

Strange but true fact: Nan Wood Honeyman, C. E. S. Wood’s daughter, became Oregon’s first congresswoman in Washington.

Strange but true fact: I know an awful lot about General O. O.  Howard.

Strange but true fact: Electronic composer Heather Perkins, the founder of ElectroGals, is from one of several branches of General Howard’s Portland family tree.

I generally avoid writing about television films, but want to include a post about this one because Oregon Movies, A to Z receives visits from so many Sam Elliott fans.

I hereby claim I Will Fight No More Forever as an Oregon film, on the basis of the contribution made by Sam Elliott, and the inspiration provided by historic events which transpired in part in Oregon.

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Benjamin Curry // Sep 28, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Just a quick correction, Anne. “I will fight no more forever” is from the end of Joseph’s surrender speech, not the beginning as you state here.
    I’m glad you inluded this film. I watched it as a teenager because it was about Chief Joseph’s story. If you remember, I grew up near the breaks of Joseph Creek where Old Joseph wintered. Not a great movie, but the power of the story itself still comes through. This remains the central origin story of the Wallowa Country and still ripples today here.

  • 2 Anne Richardson // Sep 28, 2011 at 9:36 am

    I agree. The great Nez Perce War film has yet to be made. Thanks for the correction!

  • 3 dennis nyback // Sep 28, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Strange but true fact: My great grandma Ethel Foster was active in Portland during the same time Wood was roaring, although I am reasonably sure she was not one of his mistresses. When I was riding freight trains around the country in 1976 I saw a movie in Libertyville, Illinois, “Lifeguard,” which brought Sam Elliott to a lot of people’s attention.

  • 4 Katherine Wilson // Sep 28, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Thank you, Anne, for including this amazing piece in Oregon Films. General O.O. Howard’s great-grandson Paul had a ceremonial knife made as a gift to the Nez Perce @ Tamkaliks. Then he presented his neck as an offering of asking forgiveness, and then asked them to cut off his hair as a sign of his solidarity with them in the grief from what had happened. A few years later, Paul and Chief Soy Redthunder, (Chief Joseph’s direct descendant) attended my Film Party in Pendleton. They both remembered their fore-fathers saying that it would take 7 generations to heal. They are the 7th generation, and left as friends.

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