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In the 1830's beaver trapper Flint Mitchell and other white men hunt and trap in the then unnamed territories of Montana and Idaho. Flint marries a Blackfoot woman as a way to gain entrance into her people's rich lands, but finds she means more to him than a ticket to good beaver habitat. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When one watches western films of the latter half of the 19th century, the settlement of the west was on a course that was nothing but bad for the American Indian. As good as some westerns are, always lingering in the back of any viewer's mind is the thought that no matter what the predicament of a given hero/heroine in any film is the fact that the might and power of the United States Cavalry will ultimately tip the balance towards the white man.
But the fur trappers of the early half of that century faced a far different situation. They were few and the Indians at that point outnumbered them. These people as typified by Clark Gable and the rest of the cast in Across the Wide Missouri were the really brave ones in our history. They wanted to trap their beaver and sell their pelts and the last thing they wanted was wholesale immigration of settlers. It took a lot of nerve to live in that lonely existence, days and weeks at a time where you couldn't count on a troop of soldiers to bail you out of trouble.
I'm a big old sucker for films about the earlier west and two good ones came out at this time, this one and the following year from RKO, The Big Sky. I give the nod to this one thought because it was done in color and on location.
Gable gets one of his best post World War II parts as the sturdy Flint Mitchell, mountain man who falls big time for Indian princess Maris Elena Marques. While grandfather Jack Holt approves of a white husband for his granddaughter, the match don't sit well at all with Ricardo Montalban his successor. The climatic duel between Gable and Montalban is staged very well indeed and quite thrilling.
Playing various fur trapper roles are Alan Napier, James Whitmore, John Hodiak and most of all Adolphe Menjou. Though one normally expects the debonair Mr. Menjou in tuxedo, he's really quite good as the French Canadian trapper and sidekick to Gable.
Maria Elena Marquess got her first of two chances in Hollywood and did well as the Indian princess. She was already a name in Mexican cinema and became an even bigger star down there due to this film with Clark Gable.
This film marked the farewell performance of Jack Holt who died soon after it was completed. His career spanned all the way back to the earliest years of Hollywood. He makes a very impressive chief of the Blackfeet.
Gable was a rugged outdoors-man in real life, he liked to fish and hunt and brought his fourth wife, Lady Sylvia Ashley on location. Unfortunately Lady Sylvia was not a big fan of the great outdoors and her experiences roughing it contributed to the Gables getting unhitched.
Director William Wellman kept things going at a good clip and though Across the Wide Missouri is slightly over 75 minutes for an A film, it's still a great item and rates being an A film for its cast and its production values.
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