Wednesday, 15 May 2013

No.191 : Wagons West

Wagons West at the IMDd

Isn’t it strange how many western films have names that starts with a ‘W’? It may be down to our only watching films on the 24 hour western movie channel but that can’t be the whole story, can it? Maybe some great marketing guru foresaw this blog and the chance to have his film promoted to our whole readership of seven.

‘Wagons West’ is about as standard a western as you can imagine - wagons, cowboys, Indians, people eating beans - it’s got the lot. Except a plot, decent characters, acting worth a mention…

The film opens with a lonesome, aging cowboy enjoying beans by the river. A young lad approaches him with his dog - and that’s all that happened your honour! The boy has run away from home and although he acts tough with his Pop’s gun we can see he’s scared. So can our hero cow poke who humours the boy into accepting his beans and possibly some other stuff - it is rather dark. The boy is upset that he’s leaving on a wagon train and fate would have it that our man is the wagon master - a sort of old west tour guide, the virtues of whom were extolled in a scrolling paragraph at the start.

We cut to a saloon where some people are bitching about the wagon master and how he’s probably off drunk and chasing women - red faces all round when he shows up with the boy! The wagon master, Jeff, soon exerts his authority with a handbags at dawn style fist fight with Clay, a bastard with a black neckerchief - he’ll be trouble!

The wagon train soon begins its trip west but only after taking on another wagon that may have a desperate criminal on board and certainly a pregnant woman - it’s almost as if they’re trying to create situations here! The wagons barely get five minutes out of town when they get some injun trouble. Jeff knows the local braves can be bought off with some fish hooks but rather than patronise these noble people Clay shoots one in the back causing a shit storm to rain down on the wagons. Actually the Indians shrug it off but only because Clay and his bad family plan on selling guns to the natives. Further complications ensue when Jeff gets all kissy face with Clay’s pretend fiancée - this pair aren’t fooling anyone!

Soon we have the big finale when the circled wagons are attacked by a bunch of Indians, who look suspiciously like stock footage in the group shots. The bad family are given guns but can they be trusted to use them to fight the Indians? Will the baby appear on cue and can Jeff persuade the girl to be his beard?

Hailing from 1952 you have to forgive this film for its thin plot and broadly drawn characters. Every cliché in the book is wrung for all it was worth and no surprises were to be had. Rod Cameron in the lead was dreadful - an arrogant bully devoid of any charm whatsoever. His nemesis Clay was no better with his expressions straight out of a silent movie as he overacted every time his feeble plans were foiled. The ladies showed not an inch of flesh below the neck and the romance subplot was as convincing as the ‘frontier’ sets.

The plot, as it was, offered nothing in the way of commentary or excitement and it was basically ‘wagons ho!’, ‘look some Indians’, ‘let’s get on our way’ - it beggared belief that the strung that out for 70 minutes!

As a throwback and an oddity this was decent stuff but as a historical document intended to teach us about the past whilst entertaining us it was about as much use as General Custer’s pension plan.

Best Bit : Ooh shiny fish hooks - Bang!   ‘W’ Score 10/23

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