Review: ‘The Way West’

A.B. Guthrie Jr wrote the Pulitzer Prize novel on which Ben Maddow and Mitch Lindemann have based a rambling screenplay. Story takes a group of Missouri farmers, under martinet Kirk Douglas, to the promised land of Oregon. Robert Mitchum is the trail scout who leads them despite fading eyesight, and Richard Widmark an irascible member of the party.

A.B. Guthrie Jr wrote the Pulitzer Prize novel on which Ben Maddow and Mitch Lindemann have based a rambling screenplay. Story takes a group of Missouri farmers, under martinet Kirk Douglas, to the promised land of Oregon. Robert Mitchum is the trail scout who leads them despite fading eyesight, and Richard Widmark an irascible member of the party.

Project probably looked good on paper, but washed out in scripting, direction and pacing. Incidents do not build to any climax; excepting the first and last reels, any others could be shown out of order with no apparent discontinuity.

The three male stars all could have phoned in their acting. Douglas, the stern disciplinarian, at one point orders Negro slave Roy Glenn to whip him; this incident, as written, is crude, and instead of indicating a Spartan attempt at selfcontrol, it comes across as unmotivated masochism.

The Way West

Production

United Artists. Director Andrew V. McLaglen; Producer Harold Hecht; Screenplay Ben Maddow, Mitch Lindemann; Camera William H. Clothier; Editor Otho Lovering; Music Bronislau Kaper; Art Director Ted Haworth

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1967. Running time: 122 MIN.

With

Kirk Douglas Robert Mitchum Richard Widmark Lola Albright Jack Elam Sally Field
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