In the mid-19th century, Senator William J. Tadlock leads a group of settlers overland in a quest to start a new settlement in the Western US. Tadlock is a highly principled and demanding taskmaster who is as hard on himself as he is on those who have joined his wagon train. He clashes with one of the new settlers, Lije Evans, who doesn't quite appreciate Tadlock's ways. Along the way, the families must face death and heartbreak and a sampling of frontier justice when one of them accidentally kills a young Indian boy. Written by
Lola Albright nearly drowned during the river crossing scene. The wagon she was in tipped over and she was trapped underwater when the contents of the wagon fell on her and pinned her down. When they finally got her out she was semi-conscious and spent the night in hospital. A day later she returned to the set, but they used a stunt woman to re-film the river scene. In interviews she has said she was deeply traumatized by this near-death experience. See more »
When Mercy jumps off a moving wagon train and rolls down a hill, pioneers are headed in one direction. By the time she starts climbing back up the hill to rejoin them, they are suddenly heading in opposite direction. See more »
[Mercy flirts silently with Brownie]
Best not be lookin', Brownie.
I ain't lookin'... as hard as I can.
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An attempt at an epic old-style Western from a journeyman director - he made a better stab at it later with Chisum. Perhaps its the lack of John Wayne and the rest of the John Ford rep but this is a film of striking set-pieces separated by far too much time! Douglas and Widmark both do some stirring scenery-chewing but this is a melodrama so that is allowed. Mitchum is laid-back and laconic as only Mitchum could be - and looks wonderful as ever. Not sure why others were surprised to see him in a Western - Mitchum made his share and some very good ones too (El Dorado, Five Card Stud and Bandido are all favourites of mine). The Fort Hall sequence is fun - just as a reminder that the Sioux and the French weren't the only folks that got there before the Americans! ;-)
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