EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|WAGON WHEELS (aka: FIGHTING CARAVANS) (director: Charles Barton; screenwriters: based on a Zane Grey story/Jack Cunningham/Charles Logan; cinematographer: William Mellor; editor: Carl A.Buss; music: John Leipold; cast: Randolph Scott (Clint Belmet), Gail Patrick (Nancy Wellington), Billie Lee (Sonny Wellington), Raymond Hatton (Jim Burch), Olin Howland (Bill O'Leary), Jan Duggan (Abby Masters), Leila Bennett (Hetty Masters),Monte Blue (Kenneth Murdock); Runtime: 56; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harold Hurley; Lions Gate Home Entertainment; 1934)|
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
In the 1840s, a wagon train leaves
from Independence, Missouri, for Powder
River, Oregon, with the lure that the hearty settlers are granted free
land by the government. The wagon train is led by the no-nonsense chief
Belmet (Randolph Scott) and the old
geezer scouts Bill O'Meary (Olin
Howland) and Jim Burch (Raymond
Hatton), who reared him. Joining them are
the beautiful widow Nancy
Wellington (Gail Patrick) and her outgoing 4-year-old son Sonny (Billie
Lee), whom Nancy snatched from her
wealthy in-laws after they took custody of Sonny when his father died.
Nancy goes despite Clint being opposed (but fear not, by the end of the
ride they're planning on getting hitched!). The other central figures
who join the wagon train are the sister spinsters just off their dad's
farm in Indiana--the bookish Abby and the hard-working Hettie Masters (Jan Duggan & Leila Bennett)--and the film's heavy Murdock (Monte Blue).
He's an evil fur trader who is a half-breed who hates whitey and
doesn't want the Oregon Territory settled, which he believes will ruin
his profitable fur trading enterprise. Murdock is willing to do
anything to prevent the settlers from reaching Oregon, and arranges for
the Indians to attack the caravan on the plains. But when that's
stymied, after several settlers lose their lives before Murdock can get
the scared settlers to turn back, the treacherous fur trader arranges
for an ambush by Indians as the caravan crosses the river into Oregon
after spending some time ducking the rain at the Beaver Parks Trading Post. The drunken
settlers quickly get sobered up by Clint and fight for their lives to
stave off the attack.
There are several lively "campfire" songs, including Duggan performing "Snowy Daisies" and the title track "Wagon Wheels" sung in a group singalong.
REVIEWED ON 3/2/2010 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ