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United States has just acquired Louisiana from France. An expedition led by Lewis and Clark is sent to survey the territory and go where no white man has gone before. Are they able to overcome the dangers with the help of Sacajawea? Written by
Timo Lamminjoki <email@example.com>
Touissant Charbonneau and Sacagawea had a child while at Fort Mandan. Born 11 February 1805, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau continued the family business as a guide for a battalion of the Army of the West during the Mexican War of 1846-7. See more »
The romance between Clark and Sacajawea, and the Indian warrior's jealousy of Clark are fiction. Sacajawea was married to a French-Canadian fur trapper when she met Clark, and there no historical basis to suggest that her and Clark's relationship was anything other than professional. Needless to say, she did not accompany Clark back to Washington, as shown in the film. See more »
A crucial event in American history is rendered dull and unexciting by Hollywood convention; the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition which in the early 1800s conquered unclaimed territory for the ever-growing United States. Production values are glossy and there are a few action highlights, but the handling is uninspired and the slowly-paced film emerges an undistinguished effort overall.
Casting is variable: Fred MacMurray makes for a staid Lewis but Charlton Heston's Clark is, as ever, at home in such larger-than-life surroundings; Donna Reed (as an Indian squaw!) and Barbara Hale provide the none-too-convincing romantic interest - which actually takes up a good deal of the running-time (before the expedition, both men love Hale but she prefers Heston; when the latter meets up with Reed, they fall for each other - but complications of the boring variety arise when it's revealed that she's been promised by the tribe which has abducted her to a villainous French trapper/guide and, even when she finally escapes and goes back to her people, she's spoken for by a rash young Indian brave!). This allows Heston to engage in fisticuffs and he even falls out with MacMurray, but the audience's interest is never more than dimly aroused; however, veteran William Demarest is on hand as a level-headed sergeant who actually keeps the company together during such trying times.
Anyway, the film is watchable enough in itself - though it's better approached, perhaps, as a Western rather than a widescreen spectacular (with which Heston would soon come to be identified)...and, in any case, it's miles behind such celebrated 'epics' of American colonialism as John Ford's DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK (1939) and King Vidor's NORTHWEST PASSAGE (1940).
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