"Wagon Train" The Greenhorn Story (TV Episode 1959) Poster

(TV Series)


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Basic Training
bkoganbing23 November 2008
When you see the settlers on Wagon Train taking their families west, did it occur to you that they had to learn about driving a team, circling the wagons, how much and what provisions to take, etc? The Greenhorn Story which stars Mickey Rooney tells of Ward Bond and the rest of the Wagon Train crew had to go through in training the greenhorns with Rooney as the archetype.

The accent is on comedy in this episode as Rooney traveling west with his aunt Ellen Corby tries the patience of Ward Bond, Robert Horton, Terry Wilson, and Frank McGrath. Rooney among other things is bringing a printing press west because it's his intention to settle somewhere they need a newspaper. He's also got romance on his mind with Daria Massey, daughter of fellow greenhorn Byron Foulger. You've got to see how they manage to screw up circling the wagons during a practice drill.

Of course it all does work, it has to or the whole history of the country would have been different if clueless pilgrims didn't learn where to find the clues. But here it makes for one of the best of the Wagon Train episodes.
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An unusually informative episode of Wagon Train.
calvinnme17 April 2017
Mickey Rooney as Sam Evans popped up unexpectedly as one of the said "greenhorns", originally from Philadelphia. He plans to start a weekly paper in Sacramento. He is accompanied by his Aunt Em (Ellen Corby). Byron Foulger plays Humphrey Pumphret, fellow greenhorn, who is accompanied by his young son and grown daughter, Melanie.

This episode works on two interesting levels. On one level it talks about many things - almost like a documentary - that the members of the wagon train must do and learn in preparation for their journey across the continent. Too many supplies and they must scatter extra food and maybe even precious belongings as their horses will not pull that much weight. Not enough supplies and they could starve to death. They have to learn how to handle their horses and their wagons as an individual and as a member of the train. They also need to familiarize themselves with the different parts of the wagon and wagon repair.

On the second level, it is the story of one particular greenhorn, the previously mentioned Sam. There are humorous moments - Sam buying a western outfit that is so gaudy he looks like he belongs in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. There are serious moments - as a 30-something bachelor he has a conversation with himself as to whether or not he loves a young woman he met on the wagon train and what does he exactly intend to do about that, and then he learns he could lose her to cholera before he has had a chance to speak up. Mickey Rooney handles the job like the pro he always was.

I'm giving this a perfect score as I do not know how it could have been any better. Interesting factoid - Even though Ellen Corby plays Mickey Rooney's aunt and they appear to be a generation apart, in fact Ellen Corby was only nine years older than Mickey Rooney.
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