I continue to study the Western genre. I have now launched a podcast about the making of Western films. Listen here
This obscure Western in the “Mountain Man” subgenre is worth watching for a few reasons. The location photography is terrific and stuns even in the ancient transfer available online. The scenes with animals are also quite impressive, especially when animal trainers wrestle with mountain lions. What would now be a terrible CGI effect is played for real with every animal from the small variety to a Grizzly bear.
The film is clearly a self-generated vehicle for actor Keith Larsen. He acts, directs, produces, and wrote this film which attempts to establish him as a man’s man performer who can carry a survival picture emotionally and physically. The problem is that he doesn’t perform a good deal of challenging scenes. Now, I don’t expect a Hollywood actor to fight hand-to-hand combat with a cougar but when Larsen is shown in close-up rowing his canoe for what it is clearly a cheated angle on dry land, the movie defeats its purpose. It needed to establish the actor in a bit of controlled danger to really sell the concept. Instead, the stunt men and animal trainers are the stars and Larsen comes off as a tad phony.
On top of that, the film is covered with music from end to end. There’s barely a moment of silence and natural sound in the whole piece, a decision that also removes the grit right out of the film. The narration is often unnecessary as well and the first section feels like a nature documentary. However, I will admit that the middle chase with the Native tribe (regardless of the terribly cheated shots) is another impressive sequence and reminded me of my own dream project, a similar survival story about the Coureurs des Bois.
Watched on rarefilmm.com