In 1869, Justin Eagle lives on his ranch called "The Eagle's Nest" near the town of Button Willow, California. In addition to being a rancher, Juston is a trouble-shooter for the U. S. Government which calls for him to act as an undercover operative and thwart the forces of evil in the rapidly-growing West. He is sent to San Franciso to find missing U. S. Senaator Freeman, who has disappeared while fighting the efforts of Montgomery Blaine, a villain who has been, with the aid of his henchman, "The Whip," forcing settlers to sell their land to him, not knowing that the land is in the path of a proposed railroad, from Utah, that will link the western United States to the East. Senator Freeman is the leader of an effort to veer the railroad southward to bypass Blaine's land and, for his efforts, is kidnapped by Bliane's henchmen and shanghaied from the San Francisco waterfront. Justin Eagle's job is to find and return him safely. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Balto," "Sarah," this - what is it about animated movies with live-action openings that dooms them to failure ("The Phantom Tollbooth" and "The Pagemaster" notwithstanding)? Dale Robertson, voice of "The Man From Button Willow" ("presented" by the man, who also shares credit for songs) introduces the movie with an explanation of what it's about: with the railroads expanding west, some unscrupulous types tried to take advantage of the situation by buying up the necessary land and selling it back at a profit. The Government sent Senate investigators to put a stop to this, and government agents like the title Button Willow man to put a stop to any subterfuge.
All of which could have made for a decent movie, had it not been for writer-director David Detiege shooting himself in both feet and chopping them off for good measure by devoting far, far too much time (about two-thirds of the movie) to our hero's home life... he lives on a ranch with his sidekick Sorry and adoptive Japanese daughter Stormy. And lots of animals. And we even get a song or two. This sub-Disney drivel is not the kind of thing the audience wants, especially as it has nothing to do with the main story; it makes the movie look padded out from a half-hour TV show (not impossible, given the OK but far from A-grade animation).
When the movie does get down to business it improves, but not enough to keep this from being a waste of time - nice Howard Keel song though. (And note: the end credits for the print I saw have been changed a bit to reflect a 1975 re-release.) When this ended, I caught part of "The Wild Thornberrys" - now that's decent cartooning.
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