Across the Wide Missouri (1951) C
Clark Gable plays an uncharacteristically non-heroic role in William Wellman’s sprawling western, “Across the Wide Missouri.”
A cunning trapper from Kentucky, who lives by his wits, Flint Michael assembles an expedition for a trip into virgin beaver territory guarded by a militant Blackfoot tribe. He avoids being scalped by the Blackfoot Indians by marrying the Indian maid
Kamiah (Maria Elena Marques), who’s the chief’s daughter.
Michael hopes she can assist in appeasing the tribe, which is presided over by her aged grandfather, Bear Ghost (Jack Holt). This marriage of convenience also allows him to trap to his heart’s content in Blackfoot territory.
After bearing a child, Kamiah is killed by a warring tribe. At first, Michael considers abandoning the child, but, predictably, in the end, he changes his mind.
Adolphe Menjou is cast as an French trapper, while Ricardo Montalban and J. Carroll Naish portray Native Americans.
Unfortunately, the whole movie unfolds as an episode, a single chapter from a book, with both past and future left untold.
When “Across the Wide Missouri” tested poorly in previews, it was butchered by the producers, and the final release version was onlyf 78 minutes. A narration by Howard Keel (who is not in the film) was added for clarity and continuity purposes.
Maria Elena Marques
J. Carrol Naish
Produced by Robert Sisk.
Directed by William Wellman.
Screenplay by Talbot Jennings, based on a story by Talbot Jennings and Frank Cavett.
Camera: William Mellor.
Art Directors: Cedric Gibbons and James Basevi.
Music by David Raksin.
Editor: John Dunn.
Release date: October 1, 1951.
Running time: 78 minutes.
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