Thursday, March 19, 2009

Westward Ho

When I began my historical family saga, Journey to Tracer’s Point, I had this vision of how romantic traveling by covered wagon out west would be. I’ve watched enough John Wayne movies and many others to know the pioneers worked hard getting to their destinations, but still there was always that aura of adventure.

There was only one movie that left me knowing the trip west was not fun and could be life-threatening. The movie Westward the Women (1951) (play clip by clicking on title)with Robert Taylor and Denise Darcel embodied the journey by covered wagon in black and white, giving realistic hardships that challenged those hardy pioneers who searched for a better life.

A quote from IMDb The Internet Movie Database:

“The remarkable thing about this little-known film is that it shows, in eye-opening detail, what hardships pioneers endured crossing the plains to California. And the reason it is so honest is that hardships of the trail are the whole point: Robert Taylor is hired to drive a wagon train of potential brides to a newly formed community of farmers. At first he refuses, claiming women cannot withstand the demands of the thousands of miles of trail with only a few male escorts. And therefore the film presents those hardships. At no point does the movie become predictable. Any of them could perish; many do. There's a rape scene, a murder, a flash flood, a runaway wagon, etc. You begin to hope for each woman's survival. Especially moving are the immigrant Italian woman and her young son, the unwed pregnant girl, the big-mama type, and Taylor's Chinese sidekick (their drunken scene is a treat). But the movie holds interest throughout. It misses being a truly great Western only becomes of its neatly wrapped up Hollywood ending. But this is a movie that will change your view of westbound pioneers forever, especially of pioneer women.”

If you ever get a chance to see this movie, it’s worthwhile. Since its release, Hollywood has now colorized it. I prefer the original version, but I’m sure it’s enjoyable either way.

If you found this article informative, please leave a comment.


Velda Brotherton said...

Gwyn, I remember that movie. When I was a kid Robert Taylor was my favorite. I thought he was so handsome. I think those old western movies caused me to fall in love with the west, though I lived in the west it wasn't like in the movies. I've since watched the movie again on TMC and enjoyed it. Your post brought back those memories. Thank you.

Morgan Mandel said...

Well, does it count that I used to watch Wagon Train on TV?

Morgan Mandel

Helen Ginger said...

I think I've seen that movie. It sounds so familiar. I think back then, all the movies had a Hollywood ending.

Alice Trego said...

Hi, Gwyn!

This was one of my favorite movies! I've lost count as to how many times I've watched it, but the women in this movie were my idols. They were stalwart and endured so much on their trip west. I was glad to see that by the end, each of the women was able to begin their new lives in a new place -- the West!

Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane.


Eunice Boeve said...

Westward the Women! I loved that movie! Also nearly every other western movie.
I thought Robert Taylor was sooooooooo handsome. I think I half fell in love with all the movie heros of the old west. Anyway, thanks for the memory. You do have a neat website. Great job!