During the Rif War in Morocco, the French Foreign Legion's outpost of Tarfa is threatened by Khalif Hussein's tribes but Sergeant Mike Kincaid devises a plan of survival until the arrival of French reinforcements.
A wagon train heads for Denver with a cargo of whisky for the miners. Chaos ensues as the Temperance League, the US cavalry, the miners and the local Indians all try to take control of the valuable cargo.Written by
Steve Crook <firstname.lastname@example.org>
During location shooting in New Mexico the crew was confronted with the heaviest rainfalls in that region in 50 years. It washed away the tents as well as the set and props. See more »
Col Gearhart threatens to send the army band to Alaska, but Alaska was only purchased from Russia in March of the year the film is set (1867). It is unlikely that Alaska would have been an option for a posting quite so quickly. See more »
Sprightly, Funny, a Bit Too Long, Definitely Un-PC Western
DISCLOSURE: Lee Remick was one of handful of beautiful and talented actresses I was - safely and at a distance - in love with decades ago. Her early death from cancer was a tragedy-she was a wonderful actress.
Director John Sturges isn't too well known today although many of his action movies are readily available on VHS and DVD and often screen on TV. A retrospective of his films ought to be a priority for every film society.
"The Hallelujah Trail" is a tongue-in-cheek cinemascope comedy about a threatened mega-disaster in the fall of 1867 in Colorado. A mining town is almost out of liquor and beer and approaching winter threatens to leave the thirsty community high and definitely dry. Fortunately entrepreneur Frank Wallingham (Brian Keith) is willing to risk life and limb to bring forty wagons of hooch through Indian country to succor the miners.
Meanwhile, back at your local, friendly cavalry garrison, Cora Templeton Massingale (Lee Remick), twice widowed from husbands whose livers gave out along with, presumably, their libido is holding a rousing temperance rally with the permission of CPT Paul Slater, a young officer besotted with the C.O.'s daughter, Louise (Pamela Tiffin). The commanding officer rides into this fire-and-brimstone event and turns it off. That's COL Thaddeus Gearhart (Burt Lancaster), nineteen years serving the colors and now faced with a sweet but rebellious daughter allied with a sweet but crafty and dedicated temperance campaigner, Colorado's version of Carrie Nation (and far more likable than that harridan).
What follows is the cavalry riding to escort the wagons with the booze, Indians of a decidedly non-homicidal nature attempting to get their share of firewater (all of it, actually), miners formed into a militia to insure the safe delivery of the spirits and - last but not least - a stereotypical Irish teamster arguing for the rights of labor. Collision and clash follow and - for once - nobody, absolutely nobody, dies. Bummer.
With Martin Landau as Chief Walks-Stooped-Over you can't expect any realistic depiction of Native Americans, can you? And you don't get it. What is on the screen is magnificent scenery and a fine score by Elmer Bernstein with the title tune guaranteed to bury itself in your brain for frequent and uncalled for replays.
Burt Lancaster is very funny as a colonel trying to deal with his command, whose enlisted personnel seem to be temperance-prone (talk about distortion of the reality of frontier Army service!), his daughter, Indians, miners and the alluring, funny Lee Remick.
About 15-20 minutes could have been shaved from the movie but, overall, it's a politically very incorrect funny story about a West that never existed.
The DVD transfer is excellent but the magnificent scenery reflects how great it would be to see "The Hallelujah Trail" again on a big, big screen.
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