Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Peter Markle|
|Produced by||Gary M. Goodman
Robert F. Newmyer
|Written by||Matthew Carlson|
John C. McGinley
Rodney A. Grant
|Music by||Michael Small|
|Editing by||Scott Conrad|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Release dates||August 26, 1994|
|Running time||107 minutes|
Wagons East! (stylised onscreen as Wagons East) is a 1994 western comedy film directed by Peter Markle and starring John Candy and Richard Lewis. This was the last film Candy was shooting at the time of his death and a stand-in and special effects were used to complete the film. This was not the last film he appeared in to be released: His last film, Canadian Bacon (filmed in 1993), was released in 1995.
In the 1860s Wild West, a group of misfit settlers including ex-doctor Phil Taylor (Lewis), prostitute Belle (Ellen Greene), and homosexual bookseller Julian (John C. McGinley) decide they cannot live in their current situation in the west, so they hire a grizzled alcoholic wagon master by the name of James Harlow (Candy) to take them on a journey back to their hometowns in the East. This leads to comedic exploits when the drunken wagon master leads them into Sioux territory and they are pursued by the cavalry. They also have to contend with hired gunslingers who have been sent by railroad magnates to stop the journey in fear of bad publicity of the west, and their discovery that Harlow had been part of the infamous Donner Party.
This was the last film from Carolco Pictures to be distributed by TriStar Pictures. Carolco would switch their primary US distribution base to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (now owned by a partnership led by TriStar parent Sony), which would distribute three of Carolco's last four films. Additionally, this is one of the only Carolco films whose ancillary rights are not held by successor company StudioCanal. These rights are owned by Lions Gate Entertainment (successor to Artisan Entertainment, formerly Live Entertainment), the US video distributor for most Carolco films.
The film was released five months after Candy's death, and despite being Candy's posthumous release, it was a box office disaster and reviews were universally negative, criticizing the acting, story and comedic material.
The film holds a 0% "Rotten" rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 28 critics' reviews, with the consensus "Wagons East! is a witless, toothless satire of Westerns that falls far below the standard set by Blazing Saddles, and is notable only for being John Candy's final screen performance." Film critic Roger Ebert called the film "a sad way to end John Candy's career," but stated that his legacy was already permanent, and would survive this film.
- Holden, Stephen (August 26, 1994). "Wagons East (1994) FILM REVIEW; Starring John Candy and Various Crude Jokes". New York Times.
- Willman, Chris (1994-08-26). "MOVIE REVIEW: 'Wagons East!'-Candy's Final Film-Just Pokes Along - Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times.
- Bates, James (2008-09-22). "COMPANY TOWN : SEC Filings Show Carolco Has Little to Sing About : Movies: The company expects to lose money this year and next, despite a major financial reorganization negotiated last year.". Los Angeles Times.
- "Wagons East! (1994)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 17 2013.
- Ebert, Roger (August 26, 1994). "Wagons East!". RogerEbert.com.