At a Mexican ranch, fugitive O'Malley and pursuing Sheriff Stribling agree to help rancher Breckenridge drive his herd into Texas where Stribling could legally arrest O'Malley, but Breckenridge's wife complicates things.
In the mid nineteenth century, Senator William J. Tadlock leads a group of settlers overland in a quest to start a new settlement in the Western U.S. Tadlock is a highly principled and demanding taskmaster who is as hard on himself as he is on those who have joined his wagon train. He clashes with one of the new settlers, Lije Evans, who doesn't quite appreciate Tadlock's ways. Along the way, the families must face death and heartbreak and a sampling of frontier justice when one of them accidentally kills a young Indian boy.Written by
Wagon train western you can practically follow with a check-list...
In 1843 Missouri, hot-headed senator Kirk Douglas leads a large group of chosen people across rugged terrain to start "a new Jerusalem" in Oregon; he picks a half-blind pioneer scout (mourning the death of his Indian wife!) to help lead them, but immediately clashes with a family man over incidental matters; meanwhile, a sex-starved teenage girl has a fling with a married man, resulting in personal tragedy and an Indian attack (don't ask). A small pox outbreak is falsely reported, there's a wedding, a frigid woman goes insane, and the trail comes to an end at the Grand Canyon. A.B. Guthrie, Jr.'s book becomes somewhat besotted western epic with star-names, mixing vulgar jokes and inanities with ripe old clichés. A voice-over narration and a patriotic song come clean out of nowhere, while snarling Douglas blames himself for a death and asks a servant to whip him. It's cheap and low-brow all the way, but most viewers in the mood for a picture such as this probably won't be disappointed. There are some solid elements worth mentioning: William H. Clothier's outdoor cinematography is fine in the old-fashioned sense; and, although Bronislau Kaper whips up a dusty frenzy with his ridiculous score, the pacing is jaunty throughout and the wagons roll along at a fast clip. Douglas and Richard Widmark manage to retain their movie star allure, though Robert Mitchum was looking haggard by this time (and his performance is intentionally forgettable--he cancels out all his interest in the proceedings with one heavy sigh). Sally Field makes an inauspicious movie debut which I'm fairly certain she'd rather forget, but Lola Albright has a pleasing smile and Michael Witney does well as the handsome married man who can't get his wife to submit...but why does he shoot blindly into a rustling bush at night when it could have been his wife spying on him? Perhaps he was hoping it was! **1/2 from ****
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