Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Broken Trail


Made for TV in 2006 - Starring Robert Duvall, Thomas Haden Church and Greta Scacchi.
Written by Alan Geoffrion
Directed by Walter Hill
The film is set in 1898 and combines two facts of the American West. While the British were buying American horses in Wyoming, so Chinese girls were being brought in from the West Coast to serve as prostitutes.
The film opens with 'Print' Ritter (Duvall) looking up his estranged nephew Tom Harte (Church) with the news that Harte's mother had died and left him nothing. However, Ritter does have an offer for his nephew to help drive 500 horses along the Oregon trail to Wyoming - horses that are needed by the British Army in their war against the Boers in South Africa.
It is a chance for Harte to make something of his aimless life and make some money for himself.
As they journey along they pick up an aimless drifter 'Heck' Gilpin (Scott Cooper), a 50 cent prostitute down on her luck called Nora Johns (Scacchi) and a wagon load of Chinese girls destined for a whorehouse with whom communication is difficult until the timely arrival of a Chinese cook.
The various storylines weave together very well and when the 'bad guys' turn up they do so in a natural way. The leader's job is to get the Chinese girls back - for which he will be paid - and get his girl, Nora, back at the same time. It is only when he realises that there are the horses for the taking in the process that his character becomes darker.
This is a film in the vein of 'Open Range' and 'Lonesome Dove' with stunning photography and scenery - and the sight of those horses on the move are, probably, some of the best.
Although Robert Duvall takes top billing it is Tom Harte's character that takes centre stage in what has to be one of the best made for TV movies.

5 comments:

Chap O'Keefe said...

Very enjoyable movie, Ray. As I've said earlier, the horse part of the plot would be very acceptable everywhere, but I'm sure some resistance to the "unpleasantness" of the Chinese girls' plight would be encountered in certain places!

Interestingly, the Stephen Foster song Beautiful Dreamer is sung. It also features in the first and last chapters of Blast to Oblivion, written a while before I saw the film. Must have been top of the pops in the 1880s!

Leon Basin said...

Looks good! I will check it out.

David Cranmer said...

Great, great movie. I've seen it twice and next time I will buy it.

ARCHAVIST said...

I saw this on DVD awhile back - agree it is a very good movie.

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