Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of finishing post and releasing my 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.


Week 101: The Hallelujah Trail

I’ve heard about this movie for years, avoiding it because of a cheesy title and pure instinct. What finally convinced me to watch it the other night was John Sturges and that I’m currently focused on cavalry pictures.

Reading online that it was compared to a Western version of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, I also looked forward to a zany comedy but that this is not. The film begins with some quirky promise but soon becomes tedious and dull. Far too long for it’s own good, the film is edited at entirely the wrong pace to serve its humorous intentions. Could the film be re-cut to work better? That question has been turning in my mind the last 24 hours.

It’s sad to say but even Burt and Brian Keith can’t save this film. The best part, and the only zany thing that works in the whole thing, is Donald Pleasance. He feels plucked from a different film altogether.

Ultimately, I think the biggest problem is that Sturges, though a good director of Westerns, did not have the right touch for comedy. It is the other Sturges, Preston, who should have helmed this picture.

Seen on Amazon Prime.