Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail
1959 | Color | 1 Hr 26 Min | Action | PG | API

Gene Fowler Jr.

Louis Vittes (story)
Louis Vittes

Fred MacMurray
William Bishop
Nina Shipman

In 1846, a newspaperman joins an Oregon Trail wagon train to verify rumors about the U.S. government sending troops disguised as settlers there in order to claim Oregon.

When Phyllis Loves Classic Movies announced a Fred Mac Murray blogathon I was intrigued. I grew up on My Three Son's as well as those wonderful Disney movie's. To me, MacMurray was the coolest dad outside of Mike Brady and his body of work dazzled us for many years. Another small fact about Fred he was born in Kankakee, Il about an hours jaunt to the west from my small town. He truly was an underrated actor of his generation. Sadly tho after all that love I just gave him we need to talk about The Oregon Trail.

Director Gene Fowler Jr. was a better film editor then he was behind the camera. Although he did give us a classic B flick I Was A Teenage Werewolf. Just like the Michael Landon classic the pace of Oregon Trail is about as slow as the five-month trek across America. And MacMurray did not help with his stale deadpan delivery. MacMurray plays a Dandified New York reporter looking to get the scoop on American soldiers traveling within the group preparing for a dispute over the Oregon Territory. 

Overall the low budget western looks very cartoony at times and it was quite obvious the outdoor's where filmed on a soundstage. With a solid budget of $300,000, it must have gone to the actors with a smaller portion going to the end of the movie. One of the coolest observances for me was during the title sequence the lens used to film Oregan Trail was Bausch & Lomb Lenses long before they shifted to contact lenses. In fact, in 1888 Bausch & Lomb produced the lenses for the legendary roll film camera Kodak No. 1 of George Eastman and Frank A. Brownell. Ok, enough about the movie lets talk about its star, shall we?

 Not sure if it was my childhood memories that would not let me see "Steven Douglas" play a cowboy. The man is a way to kind and gentle for me to believe he is going fisticuffs with bad guys and Indians as they struggle with food and water. We did get a few nice sense's peppered in where MacMurry found his softer side. I just was not feeling the cowboy vibe at all and this was not his first western. Through the struggle, I did enjoy his dapperness with the ladies giving him some kind of suave on the screen allowing the ladies to swoon all over him. 

In the end, this rough and tumble cowboy movie falls flat. The climactic Indian attack scene is worth the wait and along with a strong storyline, Oregon Trail was just not enough to hold together the mixed potpourri of talent that try's really hard to make this journey work. Oregon Trail staggers to it's on timely death from Typhoid Fever!

Sorry Professor Ned Brainard but Oregan Trail only gets...

2 out of 5 Stars


  1. I find that most westerns don't stand up to modern scrutiny on many, many levels.

  2. I didn't realize Fred MacMurray was in a Western. I plan to see this, only because he's in it, but I won't have big expectations. Thanks for the heads up on this film.


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