Cinema: Landlocked Ship of Fools

The Way West is a standard horse epic in which the Oregon trail is a metaphor for life and the people in the wagon train are symbolic of mankind. Adapted from a novel by A. B. Guthrie Jr., the film has somehow lost the earthy realism of the book, and has become merely a landlocked ship of fools. Among the passengers are a flint-eyed scout (Robert Mitchum), a pioneering couple (Richard Widmark and Lola Albright), a frightened newlywed who alternately freezes and teases her husband, a Negro slave—not to mention a crowd of teenagers,...

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