Westward the Women (1952)

116 or 118 mins | Western | 11 January 1952

Director:

William A. Wellman

Producer:

Dore Schary

Cinematographer:

William C. Mellor

Editor:

James E. Newcom

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Daniel B. Cathcart

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The film's pre-release title was Pioneer Women . The opening credits list Robert Taylor and Denise Darcel first, with several other cast members listed after them. The end credits show various members of the cast, with their character names, and end with Robert Taylor, followed by the words "and the women." According to IP , the film was shot on location in Suprise Valley, Paria Canyon and Johnson Creek, UT, with the location camp in Kanab, UT. HR news items noted that additional location shooting took place in Mojave and Death Valley, CA. Time noted that M-G-M made a short about the production's location shoot.
       IP also noted that actor Henry Nakamura's role was written especially for him after director William Wellman and producer Dore Schary were impressed by his performance as the lovable "Tommy" character in the 1951 M-G-M film Go for Broke! . According to various HR news items, Sid Melton was cast, but he was not in the released film and John Lupton was on location with the production when he was called back to report to the army. It is unclear whether Lupton had filmed any scenes prior to leaving the production, but he is not in the released film. Another HR news item included Lloyd Hanlon in the cast, but his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Westward the Women marked the motion picture debut of Broadway actress Marilyn Erskine. M-G-M News noted that Wellman cast Navajos, Utes and Piutes as Indians in the film. ... More Less

The film's pre-release title was Pioneer Women . The opening credits list Robert Taylor and Denise Darcel first, with several other cast members listed after them. The end credits show various members of the cast, with their character names, and end with Robert Taylor, followed by the words "and the women." According to IP , the film was shot on location in Suprise Valley, Paria Canyon and Johnson Creek, UT, with the location camp in Kanab, UT. HR news items noted that additional location shooting took place in Mojave and Death Valley, CA. Time noted that M-G-M made a short about the production's location shoot.
       IP also noted that actor Henry Nakamura's role was written especially for him after director William Wellman and producer Dore Schary were impressed by his performance as the lovable "Tommy" character in the 1951 M-G-M film Go for Broke! . According to various HR news items, Sid Melton was cast, but he was not in the released film and John Lupton was on location with the production when he was called back to report to the army. It is unclear whether Lupton had filmed any scenes prior to leaving the production, but he is not in the released film. Another HR news item included Lloyd Hanlon in the cast, but his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Westward the Women marked the motion picture debut of Broadway actress Marilyn Erskine. M-G-M News noted that Wellman cast Navajos, Utes and Piutes as Indians in the film. Contemporary reviews and news items variously stated that 100, 140, 200 and 400 women took part in the film, although the film itself refers to 140 women. According to his autobiography, Frank Capra had planned to direct the film himself and cast Gary Cooper in the lead, but later sold his story to his neighbor, Wellman. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Jan 52
pp. 14-15, 42-43, 45.
Box Office
24 Nov 1951.
---
Daily Variety
15 Nov 51
p. 3.
Film Daily
20 Nov 51
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 1951
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1951
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Mar 1951
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Mar 1951
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 51
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Apr 51
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 1951
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
9 May 1951
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 1951
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 51
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Nov 1951.
---
International Photographer
1 Nov 51
pp. 8-9.
LAT Magazine
8 Jul 1951.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Nov 51
p. 1118.
New York Times
31 Dec 51
p. 9.
New York Times
1 Jan 52
p. 21.
Time
14 Jan 51
p. 82.
Variety
21 Nov 51
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Earl Hodgins
Stanford Jolley
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Addl arr
SOUND
Rec supv
Sd eng
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Unit mgr
Animal trainer
SOURCES
MUSIC
"To the West! To the West! by Henry Russell.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Pioneer Women
Release Date:
11 January 1952
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 31 December 1951
Production Date:
mid April--late June 1951
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 November 1951
Copyright Number:
LP1346
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
116 or 118
Length(in feet):
10,460
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15358
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

By 1851, Roy E. Whitman has established a growing ranching community in his California valley. The one thing missing is women for the men to marry, which would enable them to set down roots in the valley. Whitman hires scout Buck Wyatt to travel with him to Chicago, where he hopes to recruit enough women to provide wives for one hundred men. Buck thoroughly disapproves of the idea, believing that the journey across the country is too hard for women, but when Whitman offers him double his usual salary, he reluctantly agrees. The 140 women whom Whitman recruits are a varied group, including Patience Hawley, the aging widow of a New England sea captain; farm girl Maggie O'Malley, an expert with a gun; Rose Meyers, who is pregnant with an illegitimate child; Mrs. Maroni, an Italian widow traveling with her nine-year-old son Tony; and French-born Fifi Danon and Laurie Smith, two former prostitutes looking for a new life. Buck also hires fifteen men to help him get the women to California, warning both the men and the women against fraternization. After a quick lesson in mule driving, the journey begins. Buck immediately has to send one of the men away when he behaves familiarly with one of the women, and promises that he will kill the next man he catches breaking the rules. The journey is every bit as difficult as Buck had predicted. Indians circle the wagon train and, although they do not attack, they announce their intention to return later. When Laurie is raped by a man who believes that her former profession allows him to treat her any ... +


By 1851, Roy E. Whitman has established a growing ranching community in his California valley. The one thing missing is women for the men to marry, which would enable them to set down roots in the valley. Whitman hires scout Buck Wyatt to travel with him to Chicago, where he hopes to recruit enough women to provide wives for one hundred men. Buck thoroughly disapproves of the idea, believing that the journey across the country is too hard for women, but when Whitman offers him double his usual salary, he reluctantly agrees. The 140 women whom Whitman recruits are a varied group, including Patience Hawley, the aging widow of a New England sea captain; farm girl Maggie O'Malley, an expert with a gun; Rose Meyers, who is pregnant with an illegitimate child; Mrs. Maroni, an Italian widow traveling with her nine-year-old son Tony; and French-born Fifi Danon and Laurie Smith, two former prostitutes looking for a new life. Buck also hires fifteen men to help him get the women to California, warning both the men and the women against fraternization. After a quick lesson in mule driving, the journey begins. Buck immediately has to send one of the men away when he behaves familiarly with one of the women, and promises that he will kill the next man he catches breaking the rules. The journey is every bit as difficult as Buck had predicted. Indians circle the wagon train and, although they do not attack, they announce their intention to return later. When Laurie is raped by a man who believes that her former profession allows him to treat her any way he wants, Buck carries through with his promise and kills the man. That night, many of the men leave, taking some of the women with them. Jim Stacey, who has fallen in love with Rose, asks her to leave with him, but when she refuses to abandon the train, he stays with her. The next morning, Buck discovers the defections, but rather than turn back, he announces that he will make the women into men. The first step is to teach them how to use a gun. During the practice Tony is accidentally shot and killed. Mrs. Moroni becomes temporarily insane, and Buck must drag her off her son's grave and put her in Patience's care. The women negotiate a difficult pass, clearing the rocks and trees before lowering the wagons with ropes, and one woman is killed in the process. Later, the mules stampede when Danon fires a gun at a rabbit. In reaction to Buck's anger at her, Danon rides away from the train, and he chases after her. After an argument, they admit they love each other. When they return to the train, they find it under attack from Indians. After the attack, a roll call of the casualties reveals the deaths of Whitman, Jim and several of the women. Buck and Ito, the Japanese cook, are the only men left. Later, Laurie is killed when her wagon is washed away during a thunderstorm. The last big obstacle facing the women is the desert. Rose goes into labor during the crossing, and when a wheel falls off the wagon in which Patience is caring for her, the women hold it up until after the birth of her baby boy. Finally, the train reaches its destination, but the women refuse to meet their future husbands until they have had time to clean up. When they are ready they drive into town to meet the waiting men. Buck is now the admiring champion of these plucky women and warns the men to be good to them. As the women choose their husbands, Danon stops Buck before he can leave, and they join the line of couples waiting to be married. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.