Robert Duvall starts off this half hour behind-the-scenes documentary of the wonderful made-for-cable TV western, "Broken Trail," by saying this was the last in his "trilogy" of western movies, the first two being "Lonesome Dove" and "Open Range." (On a personal note, I find it hard to beat those three for outstanding westerns. They are three fabulous films.)
Co-star Thomas Haden Church comments, "this film looks at the western from a slightly different perspective." "Slightly" is an understatement! Actress Greta Scacchi agrees and adds, "in what is typically a very male ambiance - the western, with the usual tough, hard men - we get to see (female) tenderness (with her character and the four young Chinese ladies) evolve."
One of the Asian-American actresses (they don't say who) explains how thrilled she was to see a western revolve around these young Chinese women. After watching the film and hearing these women speak nothing but Chinese, it was a shock to hear her speak perfect English, describing her thoughts on this movie! Later, the rest of the young women give their thoughts and they all speak perfect English. (There is a reason for it; see below)
"It's a unique story," says Duvall, " and very, very well-cast." Director Walter Hill, on that subject, adds, "I remember Sam Peckinpaugh telling me that 70 percent of directing was casting. I didn't understand that then since I wasn't a director at that time, but I do now."
I enjoyed listening to Hill, Church and the women all talk about how great it was working with Duvall. Few people in the acting profession have more respect than Duvall and several people here tell why the man is "an American institution."
More of the interesting "inside" information included how the professional cowboys got all the horses to do what they wanted; how much of this story was based on real history (i.e. it's true young Chinese women were sold into prostitution here in the U.S. at the time by impoverished Chinese families); the importance of the right wardrobe; the great camera-work; the detail in the production design of the town of Cariboo and the fact that the Asian female actors had to learn to speak Mandarin, since they were Americans!
This is a very good bonus feature on the "Broken Trail" DVD. Don't pass it up.
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