In a time when "The West" pretty much ends in Texas and only California is slowly being populated by the white men, there's a severe lack of women among the workers on Roy Whitman's farm in the California Valley. So he goes back east to Chicago to recruit 150 women willing to become wives for his employees. From the candidates he selects 138 who seem able to survive a months long journey across "The Great American Desert" and the Rocky Mountains. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
This is a William Wellmann's tour de force!In spite of the conventional macho Taylor,everything rings true ,this film has a smell of authenticity¨.Performances are so good (all the actors and mainly actresses) and nobody overacts .Sometimes it looks like a Russian movie,where the masses are the main hero.The fact that outside of English,THREE other languages are used (Italian,French and Japanese) shows Wellmann's respect for his audience.It's something to hear Denise Darcel sing "auprès de ma blonde " -a song from the seventeenth century- in the middle of the desert !
Some sequences are absolutely admirable ,I will mention three of them:
-the "recruitment" , the two women who hit the bull's-eyes (here a sheriff's eyes on a poster),the Italian family who registers without knowing what terrible fate lies in store for them (if they made a remake,I wonder what the politically correct world of 2004 would make of the little boy)
-After the attack,the women ,like in an army tell all the names of the dead.An echo adds to the poignancy of the situation.
-And last but not least,the survivors,who are still women,show their coquetterie and demand new clothes to meet their men.
Actually,it's the whole film which is in turn tragic,funny ,poetic,and wonderful.The gauche attitude of the men when they meet their future wives is a delight.
SPOILER:The key to the film is the birth of a child ,under the blistering sun of the desert;after the awful death of the little Italian boy,it gives hope back to the women and (to the audience).It' s the promise for them all that new children will soon be born and carry on their mammoth task.
A Russian western describes this remarkable work.
NB:Although French,Denise Darcel never made a movie in her native country.
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