Friday, April 22nd, 2011

We just got back from watching The Last Frontier, probably the goofiest western I’ve ever seen, almost on a par with the television series F Troop. Oddly, I don’t think director Anthony Mann was shooting for goofball, but that’s what he got.

Robert Preston, who will forever be The Music Man in my memory, shows up here as the army colonel forever haunted by his past, “the Butcher of Shiloh.” Naturally, he wants to make up for it by marching every last one of his men into glorious battle, the sooner the better. Luckily for him there’s a huge number of Indians gathering nearby who want to slaughter every last army soldier they can get their hands on, almost as if it was scripted for him. Oh, wait, it was.

Victor Mature plays a trapper with a bizarre kind of innocence that leads him to think it would be a good idea to scoop up Robert Preston’s wife as if he were a cave man, drag her off behind a log cabin and start mashing his lips against hers as a way of saying “hi.” When it becomes clear to him that everyone on the army post thinks Preston is deranged and ought to be locked up, he figures it would be a good idea to kill the commander, and leads him into a bear trap with a jolly smile on his face. He’s still smiling when he returns to the post to tell everyone. Nobody else smiles back. This confuses him, but he goes back to rescue the commander from the bear trap anyway.

When Preston finally gets killed after leading the cavalry troop into an Indian ambush, everybody’s happy again and Mature goes back to Missus Music Man’s arms, presumably to mash on her lips some more.

They just don’t make movies like that any more, do they?

The Last Frontier | 10:50 pm CST
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