by Jack Nilan            EMail :

The Mountain Men (1980)

Jack   C-

IMDB    6.1

Tribe(s) : Crow, Blackfeet

Language : English / Crow / Blackfeet



Henry Frapp: I thought you got lost again. Nathan Wyeth: Haven't you ever been lost? Henry Frapp: Hmmm... been fearsome confused for a month or two, but I ain't never been lost!

Bill Tyler: I heard you got in on the money end of this miserable business. Henry Frapp: Yep. Packed in supplies, watered down the whiskey, jacked up the prices... and went to tradin' for beaver.
Bill Tyler: How'd ya do?
Henry Frapp: I lost my ass!

   The movie got terrible reviews when it came out, and it probably deserved them. Charlton Heston and Brian Keith, star as beaver trappers who fight Indians, steal back their horses and go to the mountain rendezvous. The beaver prices are declining, and the beavers are getting harder to find.

   The story probably takes place during 1838, although it's never stated in the film, based on the fact that the beaver market was declining and the rendezvous was held on the Popoagie River. The "Era of the Mountain Man" ended two years later.

   The Indians look and talk like the Indians from the TV show "F troop". The music is light and goofy, and doesn't go with the action taking place. The trappers are attacked by both the Crow and the Blackfeet, who are also fighting each other. Bill Tyler (Heston) knocks out a Blackfoot woman, Running Moon, in a battle and then takes her with him. She soon becomes his companion, but her husband Heavy Eagle wants her back. Once he gets her, it's Bill's turn to go after her.

   In the movie Bill hides under a beaver den, a trader gets his head chopped off, Running Moon tries to kill Bill and two hours later is sleeping with him, Heavy Eagle cuts his chest with a bird claw, Crows chasing Blackfeet, Blackfeet chasing Crows, Indians mooning other Indians, multople kicks to the groin, Henry gets scalped and survives ... lots of crazy things going on.

   The movie is actually much better if you watch it with the sound off. The movie has beautiful scenery and was filmed in Wyoming at Bridger-Teton National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Shoshone National Park and Yellowstone National Park.

   The actors and the Indians in particular, are given some really awful dialogue to say, but since Charlton Heston's son wrote the script, the actors at least give it their best efforts. As a matter of fact, I think critics may just have missed the boat on this picture. I think (hope) it was written as a comedy, and if it was then I think it was pretty decent.

   But the bottom line is the movie really makes Indians look bad. The men are crazy and the women throw themselves at the trappers. If you watch it as a comedy, it's OK, but if you watch it as an action/adventure movie, it is really pretty bad. I think the movie wanted to be like Jeremiah Johnson, but it's not even close.