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J. Farrell MacDonald
The trio of Belmet, Burch, and O'Meary are leading a wagon train west and Murdock is out to stop them. The settlers fight off his initial Indian attack and reach the mountains. With the wagon train vulnerable as it crosses a river, Murdock has the Indians make a final attack. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <email@example.com>
A simple straight-forward old western starring Randolph Scott.
The print for this old western is only fair and unfortunately it does not have any sort of captioning---either closed captioning or DVD captions.
I chose to watch this film because it starred Randolph Scott--and I never turn down a chance to see another one of his westerns. Compared to the average film in the genre, Scott's always seem a bit better--much of it due to Scott's seemingly effortless acting. Even here, early in his career, his gentle yet rugged persona is intact--and quite enjoyable in this rather short B-movie. Another reason, it turned out, to see it was young Billy Lee--one of the cutest child actors I can recall--and not in a cloying and saccharine manner.
Not surprisingly considering the title, "Wagon Wheels" is about a wagon train that is heading to Oregon but must deal with the elements as well as American-Indians that are being stirred up by a jerky half-Indian (Murdock). Scott and his two very scruffy looking friends are in charge of getting these settlers to their destination.
As for the story, it's very straight-forward---without a lot of the sentiment and clichés you'd normally find in a 30s B-movie. As a result, the film does seem a tad rushed but is otherwise pretty watchable.
By the way, for historical purists out there, while the story is supposed to be set around 1850, the guns are clearly newer--with the settlers using what appear to be cartridges--which were not readily available at that time in history. Also, while popular in films, American-Indians did NOT make a habit of attacking wagon trains--in fact, it was a very, very rare occurrence.
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