A western based on the story "Gunsight Whitman" by Silvia Richards. Vern Haskell, a nice rancher, seeks out to avenge his fiancé's death when she is killed during a robbery. His revenge ... See full summary »
Set in the early 1880s, this is the story of one of the last buffalo hunts in the Northwest. Sandy McKinzie is tired of hunting buffalo, and tired of killing-Charley on the other hand ... See full summary »
Jim Deakins is a frontiersman and Indian trader who is making a perilous journey with a group of other men up the Missouri River to get a large haul of furs from friendly Blackfoot Indians. The problem is that they have to get through hostile Indian territory first and they find that they have seriously underestimated the difficulties they will undergo. The large body of men who started the journey are gradually whittled down until only a hardy few, like Deakins, are left. Written by
While shooting Red River (1948), there was a scene that director Howard Hawks unsuccessfully urged John Wayne to do. It involved his getting a finger mangled between a saddle horn and a rope, resulting in Walter Brennan's amputating it. Hawks reportedly told Wayne, "If you're not good enough, we won't do it", but Wayne wouldn't do it. According to Hawks biographer Todd McCarthy, Hawks did get Kirk Douglas to do that scene in this film, and it came off so funny that Wayne later declared to Hawks, "If you tell me a funeral is funny, I'll do a funeral." See more »
Deakins' amputated finger is whole again when he hides out in the cave with Teal Eye and the others, and in every scene after that. See more »
The early history of America is a tale of great first times. There were men who were the first to cross new prairies and new mountains, the first to find gold, silver and copper; to plow new wheat fields and build new settlements.
This is the story of another of the great American firsts-- the tale of the first men who took a keelboat up the wild and unexplored Missouri River--who poled, pulled and rowed their way from St. Louis through 2000 miles of hostile Indian country to the hills of Montana and opened a new land for the future - - The Great Northwest. See more »
Very Authentic Fur Trader Adventure; Not Fast-Paced But Engrossing
This feature is an exercise in pure filmic story-telling for Howard Hawks; and the talented veteran director appears to enjoys this unusual freedom from having to worry about indoor sets, intricate lighting setups and costume designs (although Dorthy Jeakins' costumes are wonderful). Here he gets to realize the best elements of A.B. Guthrie's tough novel of the early West, "The Big Sky". Bringing to life the major characters of this exciting adventure are Kirk Douglas as happy-go-lucky Jim Deakins, Dewey Martin, adequate as Boone Caudill, Arthur Hunnicut in award-winning form as Uncle Zeb, Jim Davis as Streak, Steven Geray lovable as Frenchie, owner of the riverboat, the Mandan, Hank Worden as Poor Devil, and Elizabeth Threatt as Teal Eye, the Amerind girl Geray is returning so they can open fur trade with the proud and wary Blackfleet chiefs. The film tends to be a bit leisurely in its development, but the action sequences are unusually exciting, and the characters are very believable at every moment. The cinematography by Russell Harlan and the music by Dimitri Tiomkin are very fine indeed. What propels the first portion of the film narrated Hunnicutt, is developing friendship between Jim Deakins and enigmatic runaway youth Boone; then they find Uncle Zeb in a St. Louis jail and are freed to join a dangerous very-early voyage up the Missouri River. The battle between their group and deadly agents of "The Company", led by Davis, are the major elements in the remainder of this often-rough, humorous and very moving story. It would be hard to credit Hawks enough for all the good things that happen in this film; he even finds a way to enliven the story by playing up the differences between Martin and Threatt one of h signature male-female disagreements. Douglas and the other two form an interesting love triangle; and the climax that requires Martin to decide whether he is going to turn down what Douglas would give anything he has to obtain is very satisfying to my way of thinking. This a film that is atmospheric, always interesting, and a first-rate look at the old West as it was before it was changed forever. The characters' comments on the ant-hill aspects of overcrowded St. Louis, the jumping-off-place to the west, population 12,000, tell us that we are in a different, simpler and cleaner era of civilization. This is one of the best films about the era of the fur trappers and their ways and trade ever produced in every way.
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