A multigenerational epic about the American Frontier, Hollywood style.
I have gone back and forth with Mr. Otter about this movie for years.
I’d bring it home from the library. Oh, god, he’d say, that’s the most awful movie, don’t watch it.
But it’s a big ol’ western epic, I say, how bad can it be?
No! he says, I saw it once, I won’t watch it again (runs out of room with hands over eyes.)
This is not much of an exaggeration. We danced this dance two or three times over maybe ten years.
Then I was in my library and needed something to watch at the Red Cross, which takes 2 1/2 hours or so. I saw this. Perfect! I said, and grabbed it.
Neener neener neener, I said to Mr. Otter, I’m going to watch it WITHOUT YOU and you won’t be able to say anything.
And he didn’t.
And I did.
And you know, it wasn’t bad.
It’s one of those 1960s things where they have every single star they can possibly get their hands on come in for a cameo in one movie, just so they can attract as many people as possible who wouldn’t otherwise see it…just one of those things they did back then.
But the story isn’t bad- it’s a family story, starting with a group that travel on the Erie Canal; there is a Civil War story, a Gold Rush story, and a western story. The main characters are all the same family, and it’s fun seeing some of them get really old.
Of course, because it’s the sixties, the native americans are basically treated as an impediment to expansion, and that’s it; Spencer Tracy’s narration pretty much says as much…shows you how much things have changed in the fifty years since this was made.
Not a great movie, not great moviemaking, but fun, and certainly not as bad as Mr. Otter said.
Penalty for inappropriate titles: in the credits, referring to the first section of the film, they misspelled the Erie Canal. Yup, it says Eerie. That made me laugh.