“Day after day, week after week of grinding toil to cover twelve pitiful miles a day.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
While the remainder of the movie focuses exclusively on the travails of the White settlers:
we can’t help feeling gratitude to Cruze (and screenwriter Jack Cunningham) for bothering to show the Indians’ perspective on events as well. Meanwhile, several powerful scenes — most notably a lengthy depiction of wagon trains crossing a river — are simply astonishing in their level of realism; we feel we’re actually watching a documentary portrayal of this pivotal period in American history. (Interestingly, the dramatic buffalo hunt scene was, given the scarcity of herds, only partially “real”, with extensive use of small lead castings — but you’d never know.)
The romantic storyline itself leaves much to be desired, and is best simply ignored.
Note: An interesting bit of trivia is that Dorothy Arzner appears to have edited this film.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: