Damon Runyon’s Pueblo





    Damon Runyon’s Pueblo (40 min.) Director, Cinematographer and Co-editor. National Endowment for the Humanities, through the Colorado Humanties Program. Starring Andrew Meagher as young Runyon and Eric Austin as Damon Runyon. Distribution: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Chicago. Winner: CINE Golden Eagle Award (for films chosen to represent the United States in overseas film competitions) Washington, D.C.. Shown on Rocky Mountain PBS.


    My first professional documentary, and distributed worldwide in 33 languages by Encyclopaedia Britannica and shown on the Colorado PBS stations. Probably the film of mine with the most “soul”, I and my crew of pros and film students poured our heart into this one. Over 200 actors appear on screen, more than 100 organizations and individuals helped ensure the film’s authenticity. Contributions ranged for single guns, to the city repeatedly covering paved streets with dirt, to a descendant of one of Colorado’s Spanish American War troop loaning the production actual uniforms from the period for a sequence which is presented as if it took place in the Philippines.


    Made in 1979 on a small five figure budget funded by The Colorado Humanities Project with an equal amount of matching funds from local sources. Damon Runyon’s Pueblo is set in 1879-1913 and was shot on locations known to and frequented by the famous writer Damon Runyon. Written by friend and grant writer Joel Scherzer, co-edited with layman film historian Jackson Cravens, and with great composition/fiddle performance by Dan Treanor who later went on to do the violin for Dances with Wolves. Also notable for her contribution was Katherine Keating Capt. USN (Ret.) who provided numerous buggies, wagons, sleighs, a hearse and many horses for this film and the Zebulon Pike film which followed.


    The basis for the grant from The National Endowment for the Humanities was that characters later made famous in Runyon’s New York writings were  based on people Runyon knew when he was growing up in Pueblo. Damon Runyon’s Pueblo is a period semi-documentary film about the famed author’s formative years in the turn-of-the-century West. In Colorado, Runyon developed the writing skills that eventually made him the highest-paid short story writer of his time.


    The tales Runyon wrote in New York provided the basis for such highly successful movies and stage productions as Guys and Dolls, Pocketful of Miracles and Little Miss Marker. Yet many characters and incidents Runyon depicted were suggested by his Pueblo experiences. The Pueblo adventures of Bat Masterson for example, were echoed in the fictional Guys and Dolls exploits of Sky Masterson who is described as “a pistol packing gunfighter from a Southern Colorado town”. Damon Runyon knew Bat Masterson in Pueblo when he was involved in the notorious Colorado Railroad War between the Santa Fe and the Denver & Rio Grande railroads.




    Here are some graphics files which you can download. Note: these are large files so please be patient.



    To download a pdf file of original Runyon brochure (which was long single sheet, printed on both sides and folded 5 times like an accordion), click here.


    To download a pdf file of my American Cinematographer magazine article on the making of the Damon Runyon’s Pueblo, click here.


    To download a pdf file of Encyclopaedia Britannica’s original sales mailer, click here.


    To return to main Films page, click here.


All rights reserved. © John H. Johnson 2017