Being unable to grow crops and pay their land owner Stull due to the drought, Wild Bill gets a group of Kansas farmers to form a wagon train and head to Colorado. Stull is afraid they will ... See full summary »
Being unable to grow crops and pay their land owner Stull due to the drought, Wild Bill gets a group of Kansas farmers to form a wagon train and head to Colorado. Stull is afraid they will ruin his fur business in Colorado and sets out to stop them. He gets there first and giving guns to the Indians, gets them to attack the train. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <email@example.com>
[Dude shoots at the feet of Skinny, who is unarmed]
Wild Bill Hickok:
Rusty, you can finish shoeing my horse.
What's the matter? Tired?
Wild Bill Hickok:
No, but if you can't take care of Dude, you can shoe my horse while I look after him.
[Bill walks towards the sound of gunfire]
Bill, you forgot your guns!
Wild Bill Hickok:
I won't need 'em, Rusty. I'm a peaceable man.
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Two years after 1938's "The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok" Gordon Elliott reprises his Hickok role in "Prairie Schooners". By this time Elliott had adopted the "Wild Bill" nickname and would go on the play Hickok many times as well as Red Ryder and Davy Crockett. The movie also features Jim Thorpe in a speaking role (if you can call it that) and Sammy Stein (as Dude Geeter) who was another former professional football player and a pro wrestler. Thorpe's portrayal of Chief Sanche has to be seen to be believed-it is unimaginably bad.
Elliott's Columbia stuff was generally much worse than his later bigger budget Republic films and "Prairie Schooners" is no exception. It is arguably the worst western ever, much worse from a production values perspective than even television westerns of the 1950's like "The Lone Ranger" and "Roy Rogers". Largely this was due to Columbia's desire to stage a big production without sufficient resources (i.e. money).
This meant that they had to fake the action scenes with stock footage of Indian attacks and wagon trains, editing studio close-ups of the stars into the stock footage wide shots. Although the editing was done competently, the film grain of the stock footage does not match the studio stuff. There is a further disconnect because some of the stock footage is Utah desert and some is California Central Valley, and they cut back and forth between the two. Like Thorpe's Indian chief, the hokey climatic Indian attack provides another must be seen to be believed moment.
It is unclear what this movie is about because most of the stuff worth seeing takes place off camera and the logic of the story is hard to grasp. But here are some of the elements of the movie: 1. A guy with bad credit is whipped by Wild Bill. 2. Wild Bill has a girlfriend who drives her own wagon and hides in the sagebrush. 3. There's an Indian boy who hates bears. 4. The bad guys are holding up the wagon train by holding Wild Bill's girlfriend hostage. 5. The bad guys are fur trappers who dress like dude gamblers and look like Sheriff Roy Coffee from "Bonanza". 6. During the big chase scene, the Indians and the wagon train keep getting teleported back and forth between Utah and California. 7. Everything gets sorted out in the end but I just watched the whole thing and I can't tell you how.
Normally in an Elliott Western his sidekick Cannonball Taylor (played by Dub Taylor) can be counted on for some comic relief. There is little of that in "Prairie Schooners", perhaps they foresaw the comic potential of Thorpe and decided that Taylor's usual stuff was unnecessary.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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