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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 »
Lola Albright is wearing a heavy pink lip gloss in some early scenes. 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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Epic western spoilt by trying to cram too much into its running time
The Way West is an epic western, but unlike another epic western How the West Was Won, it isn't a very good film. The main problem here is that the script writers and the director have got carried away, and have tried to cram far too many events and subplots into the two hour running time.
The main plot thread follows an ambitious and cruel visionary named William Tadlock (Kirk Douglas), who dreams of taking hundreds of people into the vast, unexplored wilderness of the Wild West and starting up a new town. His ambition is an obsession. It drives him and dictates his every move. Even his own family come second in his list of priorities. During the journey, his behaviour towards the other pioneers becomes increasingly irrational and unsympathetic, and in the end he loses the respect of his fellow travellers.
There are some good moments in the film. The climax is really surprising, with a twist that few viewers will predict. Sally Field has some interesting scenes as a young girl who undergoes a sexual awakening during the trip. There's also a well done scene in which a man who has killed an Indian child by accident is hanged. However, the abundance of plot threads, characters and subplots is a big drawback. The makers should have concentrated on a few elements and done them really thoroughly, instead of cramming in so much and only dealing with the themes in a shallow and all-too-brief fashion. This is not bad, I suppose, but it could have been oh so much better.
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