Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Oregon Trail|
Actors: Johnny Mack Brown, Louise Stanley, Fuzzy Knight, Bill Cody Jr., Edward LeSaint
Directors: Ford Beebe, Saul A. Goodkind
Genres: Action & Adventure, Westerns
The Oregon Trail was the last of four serials that Johnny Mack Brown made for Universal in the 30's before making the switch exclusively to features. Jeff Scott (Johnny Mack Brown), a famous frontier scout, is hired by ... more »
Old-fashioned western serial is worthy of a look...or fiftee
John Hartzell | Oak Park, IL | 04/17/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Johnny Mack Brown plays an unusually dapper fur trapper hired to investigate a series of attacks preventing wagon trains from reaching the Oregon territories. He joins up with the most beleaguered wagon train in history, which spends several sequential episodes trying to get out of the same dusty town. Whenever the train starts moving, it falls under attack by Indians or stampeding cattle or some other stock footage, which digital technology makes even easier to spot.
Don't try to watch more than one or two chapters at a time, because this serial bears the marks of the form. Serials were a unique format completely beholden to the circumstances under which they were viewed. There was no guarantee that viewers attended the theater the previous week, so every installment contains a certain amount of redundant footage. Each chapter has opening credits, scrolling text describing the story thus far and usually about a minute of footage from the previous chapter, including the cliffhanger. There are no obvious cheats, though there is often an added shot or two (such as Johnny jumping clear of a crashing wagon) that shows how the cliffhanger was resolved. I have to knock off one star because of the disappointing ending and the fact that 15 chapters is simply to much for the story.
Johnny Mack Brown has a very physical method of fisticuffs that is a nice contrast to his easy-going acting style. He's not the most charismatic cinema cowboy, but he's charming enough to anchor the creaky cast. The strongest supporting character is Fuzzy Knight, who made dozens of films and serials with Brown. His performance, while amusing, never degenerates to the point of simple comic relief. You'll probably get a laugh out of how coyly the romantic elements are handled, chaste even by 1939 standards. This serial is very similar to Flaming Frontiers, which is also available on DVD and is just as much fun.