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Films of Sergio Leone => Other Films => Topic started by: cigar joe on November 23, 2007, 11:00:26 PM

Title: Westward The Women (1951)
Post by: cigar joe on November 23, 2007, 11:00:26 PM
Director William Wellman with

Robert Taylor ...  Buck Wyatt
Denise Darcel ...  Fifi Danon
Hope Emerson ...  Patience Hawley
John McIntire ...  Roy E. Whitman
Julie Bishop ...  Laurie Smith
Lenore Lonergan ...  Maggie O'Malley
Henry Nakamura ...  Ito
Marilyn Erskine ...  Jean Johnson
Beverly Dennis ...  Rose Meyers
Renata Vanni ...  Mrs. Maroni

This film was actually way better than I though it would be, I was expecting your typical 50's Western that had glamour puss actresses in anachronistic hairdo's and dress,  the women ended up being just as grubby and dirty as the men and  I was actually surprised that Robert Taylor was also grubby & unshaven in the best of the Spaghetti Western style and though it was a bit melodramatic in parts it actually was very entertaining showing the hardships of crossing the country on a wagon train circa 1851. It had a love story with Taylor & Darcel that wasn't intrusive on the overall film.

Taylor played a Wagon Train Guide, McIntier a California Cattleman who decides to bring 100 women from Chicago to be brides to the men living in his valley, Darcel & Bishop play soiled doves who disguise themselves in order to get a "change of scenery", Hope Emerson plays a stout & dour , New England seamans widow complete with a vocabulary of nautical terms and a ships bell that she has attached to the canvas hoop on her wagon. Renata Vanni plays an Italian widow with her son. There is even a Japanese cook Ito played by Henry Nakamura.

The films biggest fault was the fact that it was 1851 and everyone had Peacemakers & Winchesters.

It will remind SW fans of a serious "Blindman".
Title: Re: Westward The Women (1951)
Post by: cigar joe on November 24, 2007, 08:09:32 AM
On a side note William Wellman also directed "Yellow Sky" another 50's Western that wasn't afraid to show dust & dirt, that has a thread on this board, in "Yellow Sky" a gang is escaping across Death Valley it contains the line from GBU  "the nearest town is 70 miles"
Title: Re: Westward The Women (1951)
Post by: moviesceleton on May 01, 2009, 06:42:46 AM
I was pleasantly surprised. Like CJ, I was expecting a light drama with blond babes with perfect clothes and makeup. Instead I got a gritty, exciting and honestly touching walk through the wild. Not a single back projection shot or matte painting here and thus there are some amazing scenes and shots, including a scene where the women slide a wagon down a hill. There are many deaths along the way but, unlike in most films, none of them leave you cold. Well written, well directed and well acted. Even the romance is interesting and not the unavoidable evil it seems to be in so many AWs.

Something of a forgotten classic. Not a masterpiece but great anyway - 9/10   
Title: Re: Westward The Women (1951)
Post by: titoli on November 15, 2009, 12:55:44 PM
I think this movie is a bit too long and the italian distributor was right when he cut some scenes. I find expecially untolerable the italian woman character (maybe because I can understand her lines). In the trailer there is a shot of an Indian attack which is absent from the movie.  But apart from that this is very good. Robert (not Rod, CJ: such a mistake should earn you a 3 day suspension from the board >:D) is at his best: maybe his best performance ever. McIntyre is good but I prefer him playing the villain. I also have the impression that the night scenes were shot in the studio. Particularly impressive is the cold blooded killing by Taylkor of a rapist. Really, I could have done gladly without some fordism in the finale and without the b&w. 7\10.
Title: Re: Westward The Women (1951)
Post by: stanton on November 16, 2009, 01:40:57 AM
What's the problem with b/w?

I think up to the late 50s b/w films were generally much more atmospheric than color films. Of course the fading colors of these old films don't make it easy to judge them.
Title: Re: Westward The Women (1951)
Post by: cigar joe on November 16, 2009, 04:09:42 AM
Robert (not Rod, CJ: such a mistake should earn you a 3 day suspension from the board Evil)

Fixed it.
Title: Re: Westward The Women (1951)
Post by: T.H. on September 17, 2010, 04:36:48 PM
I agree with CJ, good movie. It somehow doesn't drag at 120 mins.

wellman, as usual, provides powerful imagery.

The more I see of Taylor, the more I like him.

while I'm not the biggest advocate of realism, it fits this movie well.

it somehow manages to avoid that annoying 'series of disasters' feel.

the love interest scenes are some of the best of the movie, which is rare.
Title: Re: Westward The Women (1951)
Post by: Groggy on January 14, 2012, 12:05:15 PM
Caught this off of TCM. I'll second you guys' comments, a very underrated Western. O0

Westward the Women (1951) is an overlooked gem. William Wellman applies the same unsentimental grittiness to the Old West as he did to war films like Battleground, resulting in a stark, memorably unique oater.

Roy Whitman (John McIntire) runs a small, thriving boom town in California, but it's missing something: women. Whitman travels east, commissioning hard-bitten trail boss Buck Wyatt (Robert Taylor) to help him gather single females and transport them West. Plenty of women volunteer for the journey, but it proves extremely arduous. The cowhands can't keep their hands off the girls, the elements are harsh and hostile Indians are waiting around the bend. When Wyatt's men abandon the team, Wyatt, Whitman, Japanese sidekick Ito (Henry Nakamura) are forced to rely on their charges to complete the trip.

Westward the Women is a harsh film. The film seems almost a subversion of John Ford's classics Stagecoach and Wagon Master, where Western settlement is a glorious, redemptive adventure. Buck bluntly lays things on the line: at least a third of the women coming along will perish. It's a brutal attritional struggle, the women forced to survive accidents, stampedes, Indian attacks, rattlesnakes and inter-party strife. It's such a brutal experience that the few bits of sentimentality (the Italian family and their dog) don't really register.

Females fare poorly in the Western genre, usually relegated to token love interests, whores or weirdos with Freudian baggage (The Furies anyone?). Westward the Women's protagonists are refreshingly down-to-earth, lacking Hollywood glamor or twisted psychology. A few attachments form but Wyatt sternly forbids romance, realizing it will derail the train's chances. The women adapt readily to trail life, learning to ride, shoot and corral animals, though their eagerness doesn't always match their skill. This portrait of tough, self-sufficient frontierswomen is Westward's most interesting feature.

Wellman's previous looks at the Old West were similarly bleak: The Ox-Bow Incident, Yellow Sky. There isn't a dull moment here, each incident the building an atmosphere of dispair and tension. William C. Mellor's stark Utah photography manages to be beautiful and forbidding. The big selling point is the wonderfully gritty look and feel: the protagonists are pioneers, not movie-stars playing dress-up. Wellman's understatement continues even through the very Fordian finale, which plays as anti-climax rather than glorious celebration.

Robert Taylor (Devil's Doorway) is an unremitting hardass who thinks nothing of summarily executing a rapacious cowhand, and refuses to soften even after falling for one of his charges. John McIntire (The Far Country) is good playing an usually sympathetic character. Henry Nakamura's Japanese (!) cowboy hedges around stereotype: largely used for comic relief, he later proves himself as Buck's dependable right-hand man.

The female ensemble cast, however, steals the show. Denise Darcel's (Vera Cruz) fallen woman goes through a lot, including an attempted rape, but remains enderaing and tough to the end. Julie Bishop (Sands of Iwo Jima) and Lenore Lonergan also make impressions, though Renata Vanni's Italian widow is a bit irritating. The most interesting character, though, is Hope Emerson's Patience, a salty matron with a nautical vocabulary.

Westward the Women is an underrated Western. It's hard film to find, but definitely worth seeking out. 8/10 (
Title: Re: Westward The Women (1951)
Post by: stanton on January 15, 2012, 02:40:12 AM
Indeed a remarkable western. 8/10

Wellman is somehow underrated as director of westerns.
Across the Wide Missouri (shot completely on location) is another remarkable one, even if it was cut by the studio to pieces and down to a 71 min runtime.

I love Yellow Sky and never enjoyed The Ox-Bow Incident as much as a few weeks ago with the new Koch DVD.

Buffalo Bill (1944) was a more conventional movie, but with a stunning battle scene. Only the overly talky and overly "psychological" post western Track of the Cat is a pretentious turkey, but at least an unusual film for the 50s.

anyone here who has seen robin Hood of El Doradob (1936) ?
Title: Re: Westward The Women (1951)
Post by: Groggy on January 15, 2012, 11:31:29 AM
Interesting that you mention Buffalo Bill - I TiVo'd that off of TCM awhile buck and still haven't seen it. I remember not being crazy about Ox-Bow Incident but I'm willing to give it another look.
Title: Re: Westward The Women (1951)
Post by: Groggy on April 20, 2012, 06:33:57 PM
DVD Savant's take: (
Title: Re: Westward The Women (1951)
Post by: dave jenkins on April 22, 2012, 09:10:21 PM
Thanks, Grogs, Erickson's outdone himself. I found these observations particularly interesting:
I've always wondered if that grave marker for "Hackenbush" that Buck is looking for, was the inspiration for the mystery grave in Sergio Leone's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Three years later Denise Darcel would play Robert Aldrich's French femme fatale in his radical western adventure Vera Cruz.

This is also good news:
The Warner Archive Collection DVD-R of Westward the Women looks great in a spotless B&W transfer that shows off the clean lines of William Wellman's compositions and the no-fuss lighting of William Mellor. Despite having only one big star, the show wasn't cheap. Locations ranged from California's Mojave Desert, to Kanab & Paria in Utah, to Tucson, Arizona.

The disc may have been prepared for normal DVD release, for it contains desirable extras in addition to an original trailer. A featurette about the filming (Challenge the Wilderness) is actually quite good. It was directed by Jack Atlas, a pioneer trailer maker who rented out the building to the last trailer boutique I worked for, twenty years ago. A full commentary by Scott Eyman is packed with information about Dore Schary, but doesn't tell us much more about the likeable faces of the unfamiliar female supporting players.

As industry shills go, Savant is the best. He's just made another sale.
Title: Re: Westward The Women (1951)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on June 07, 2013, 11:48:37 AM
just saw this on TCM 7/10

A women drive Western!  Red River with chicks instead of cows.