Friday, October 31, 2008

Cinema Friday - Westward The Women (1951)


The Stingbat


Robert Taylor &
Denise Darcel: Bullwhip Scene

The Speech To The Selected Women About Hazards Of Prairie

Westward The Women Trailer

Sites Of Interest:
Internet Movie Database (IMDB)
Turner Classic Movies


In a time when "The West" pretty much ends in Texas and only California is slowly being populated by the white men, there's a severe lack of women among the workers on Roy Whitman's (John McIntire) farm in the California Valley. So he goes back east to Chicago to recruit 150 women willing to become wives for his employees. From the candidates he selects 138 who seem able to survive a month’s long journey across "The Great American Desert" and the Rocky Mountains.

This stark, no-nonsense outdoor drama stars Robert Taylor (Robert Taylor) as a trail guide named Buck, who in 1851 is hired by California settler Roy Whitman to head a wagon train full of mail-order brides from Chicago to the West Coast. Some of the brides are played by: (Denise Darcel), (Hope Emerson), (Julie Bishop), (Lenore Lonergan), (Marilyn Erskine), (Marilyn Erskine), (Beverly Dennis) and (Renata Vanni).

Though Buck spares the brides nothing in describing the hardships they're about to face, most of the ladies agree to undertake the journey. Starting out with 104 women, Buck leads the expedition through some of the most treacherous territory in the West. Several of the women die en route, killed off by the elements, Indian attacks, and sundry unexpected mishaps. Most of the male travelers likewise fall victim to disaster, save for Buck and his courageous Japanese cook Ito (Henry Nakamura ). Even when the wagon train reaches its destination, the story is far, far from over.


Clips From The Movie

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There are a number of goofs in this movie:

  • Continuity: At the end of the film when all the women are dressed up after making clothes out of tablecloths, you can see the Spanish woman riding in the front of the wagon. The scene changes and she's riding on the side looking at all the men and smiling. The scene changes again and she's back to the front.

  • Revealing Mistakes: A couple of the dead women are still seen breathing heavily after the second Indian attack.

  • MGM Lion: The MGM lion, instead of roaring, is frozen in place.

  • Revealing Mistakes: Laurie is seen grabbing a couple of the women's arms after they remove her dead body out of the wagon during the thunderstorm.

  • Anachronisms: In the movie, which was supposed to be set in 1851, Buck is using, what appears to be, a Colt 45 Peacemaker. Only problem is, this type of revolver was not invented until the 1870's.

  • Anachronisms: All the rifles used in the film are single shot, M1867 Remington Rolling Blocks. As the model number suggests, they hadn't been invented until 16 years after the year (1851) the film portrays. All Pistols used are the Colt SAA 1873 (Single Action Army) in various barrel lengths (4.5" - 6.5"). The only pistols available at that time were single shot percussion (cap & ball) and Colt percussion revolvers such as the Colt 1851 Navy.

Frank Capra wrote the original story treatment for MGM's Westward the Women. The film was filmed in Surprise Valley, Paria Canyon and Johnson Creek, Utah, by William A. Wellman. This western is gritty and realistic, and does not spare the audience from the grim facts of an overland trek from St. Louis to California with a wagon train of women. It is perhaps the most realistic movie made about a wagon train trek across the United States. You have everything in it that happened on a real wagon train in the south western US: Indians, who weren't stereotypes , the real power that a trail boss had over the pioneers, death, many languages being spoken (Italian, French and Japanese), a rape scene, a murder, a flash flood and finally a runaway wagon

The females fight, get frustrated, cry, rally, every emotion that is known to man but they also have a dream of a husband and family in a new land. The women go through hardships such as childbirth, Indian attacks, bad weather, washed out gullies, places where it is almost impossible to get a wagon down, some of them die, but they continue on.

Denise Darcel's French-language dialog includes a few words which prove that no one in the 1950's version of the Hays Office understood French. Some of the terms she used while angry at "Buck Wyatt" would never have gotten past the censors in English.

Available in a colorized version on home video Turner/MGM Home Video. This colorized version was NOT authorized nor approved by anyone who worked on the film. Probably the best part of Westward The Women is that it was filmed in black and white. Although color was the preferred mode to film movies in 1951. I would advise you to watch it in the black and white version, much better.

The only thing that I find wrong with this movie is that it stars Robert Taylor. The reason I don't like him as an actor is because during the Joseph McCarthy Communist/HUAC witch hunts of the 1950's, he talked and turned in every one he could. Ruining many a good actor/actresses carrier. Whether they had anything to do with communism or not. Link About His Testimony.

As far as I can tell it isn't known by any other names except Westward The Women. I may be translatted into other languages, but I can't find any evidence of that.

My Scenario:

This scenario isn't one that the producers of the movie made up. It was something that would actually happen out on the prairie, as covered wagons would start out across the United States.

A number of women are eyeing the stingbat, it's in a box. Their making one hell of a noise. One of the womens goes up to Patience
Hawley. "Hey Patience did you see the stingbat."

Patience sauters up to the women. "What's a stingbat."

The woman points to the other women. "It's an animal they caught. Go take a look at it."

Patience bends over to have a look at the stingbat. The woman who enticed her to look, positions herself to Patience left. She's holding a butter paddle. She positions it in front of Patrience backside and Crack. I*t hits Patience one mighty blow on her outstretched bottom.

Patience stands erect and without saying a thing rubbs her backside.
Walking away from eyeing the stingbat, she grabs the butter paddle from the woman who had shown her the sting that the wild animal has. "Now my dear it's your turn."

The woman eyes Patience. "What do you mean, my turn. I've already reen the stingbat."

Patience grabs her. "Not by me you haven't"

She grabs the woman and drags her over to a two foot high barrela nd puts her leg up on it. Pulling the woman over her knee, Patience grips her around the waist. "Patience, no wait. I've alread seen the stingbat. No wait."

She looks at the other women. "This is all your fault, stop her."

The women laugh at what's about to happen.

Patience then paddles the back of her victims backside."

Crack. "Yeeeeeeowch." Crack. "Yeeeeeeowch. Oh my Patience, no" Crack. "Yeeeeeeowch. It was just in fun. Everyone went through it." Crack. "Yeeeeeeowch." Crack. "Yeeeeeeowch."

Patience doesn't listen to her. Thge screams go out into the wilderness. No one trying to stop it.

Crack. "Yeeeeeeowch." Crack. "Yeeeeeeowch." Crack. "Yeeeeeeowch."

Patience stops paddling her and lets her go. She jusmps around for a couple of minutes, rubbing her sore backside. Patience hands the paddle to another woman. The women are laughing their heads off at what happened when Patience paddled the poor unfortunate woman.

They then go back to their supposed stingbat. Another woman calls someone over to see the stingbat and life on a wagon train goes on.

Robert Taylor & Denise Darcel: Bullwhip Images

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