The Way West (film)

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The Way West
The Way West cinema poster.jpg
Original 1967 cinema poster
Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
Produced by Harold Hecht
Screenplay by Ben Maddow
Mitch Lindemann
Based on The Way West 
by A.B. Guthrie Jr.
Starring Kirk Douglas
Robert Mitchum
Richard Widmark
Lola Albright
Jack Elam
Sally Field
Stubby Kaye
Eve McVeagh
Music by Bronislau Kaper
Cinematography William H. Clothier
Editing by Otho Lovering
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • May 24, 1967 (1967-05-24) (US)
Running time 122 min.
Country United States
Language English

The Way West is a 1967 American epic western film based on the novel by A. B. Guthrie, Jr.. The film stars Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum, and Richard Widmark, and features Sally Field in her first major film role. The film was directed by veteran television director Andrew V. McLaglen and featured on-location cinematography by William H. Clothier. Though reviews were mixed, critics such as Roger Ebert praised the film for its realistic portrayal of settlers and their motivations.[1]

Plot[edit]

U.S. Senator William Tadlock (Kirk Douglas) is leaving his home in Missouri in 1843, heading west on the Oregon Trail by wagon train. His son and slave come along, with Dick Summers (Robert Mitchum) as a hired guide.

Joining them on the expedition are farmer Lije Evans (Richard Widmark), his wife Rebecca (Lola Albright), and 16-year-old son Brownie (Michael McGreevey). Among others there are also the newlyweds Johnnie (Michael Witney) and Amanda Mack (Katherine Justice), plus the Fairman and McBee families.

Shy young wife Amanda isn't satisfying his needs, so Johnnie gets drunk and strays with young Mercy McBee (Sally Field). He also shoots at what he drunkenly thinks is a wolf and ends up killing a Sioux chief's son.

Tadlock knows that no other form of justice will do for the Indians if the wagon train is to be permitted to go on its way, so he hangs young Johnnie.

On the trail, it turns out Mercy is now pregnant as well. Brownie proposes marriage to her. Tadlock's son is killed in a stampede, causing the senator to be so distraught, he asks his slave to take a whip to his back.

Lije Evans has seen enough. The last straw comes when Tadlock fakes a smallpox scare to keep soldiers away from the wagons. Tadlock is attacked by Evans, who takes charge of the trek.

Nearly to the end, Rebecca Evans shows the others Tadlock's grand plan, just beyond a steep ravine. They treacherously lower possessions, animals and each other down the steep grade to reach their destination. Amanda Mack, however, emotionally destroyed by the loss of Johnnie, cuts a rope and causes Tadlock to plunge to his death.

Production[edit]

The film is notable for being the first big-budget western since 1930's widescreen John Wayne spectacle The Big Trail to show pioneers lowering a wagon train over a cliff with ropes.

This was the first time Mitchum and Douglas played major roles in the same film since Out of the Past exactly two decades before, in which Douglas had played a supporting role as a villain.

Douglas had previously filmed another A.B. Guthrie novel, The Big Sky.

Cast[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Way West :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2012-08-21. 

External links[edit]