The Review/Short Read/

One To Watch: Westward The Women

An unconventional western classic

by
Jun 23, 2016

Alexander Payne, the Academy Award–winning writer and director of Election, Sideways, The Descendants and Nebraska will be presenting this special screening of William Wellman's unconventional western classic.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: There are so many reasons to love Westward the Women. It’s a Western that defies the genre with tragic grit (you can almost hear the gasps of 1950s audiences when violence erupts onscreen). The humour is timeless and the interactions between the women score an A on the Bechdel test.

Plus, the plot is so absurdly impossible it’s almost endearing. A rugged frontiersman called Buck (played by master-of-rocking-the-loose-pant Robert Taylor) leads 138 women from Chicago to California across the American wilderness to a farm of men in need of wives. Seriously. Along the way, they have to face the grueling hardships of the desert and its unforgiving wildlife. By the end of the 2,000-mile trek, many of them lose friends, family and a little bit of their sanity.

MOST MEMORABLE SCENE: After an attack on the camp, Buck asks the group of women how many casualties there were in total. The women, one by one, stand up and shout the names of the deceased. Their voices echo against the canyons that cradle them. It’s a mournful display, yet no one weeps.

MOST CONFUSING SCENE: After Fifi gets slapped in the face by Buck (twice!) to the point that he draws blood from her mouth, she confesses her love for him and they kiss passionately, busted lip and all. That’s just so '50s.