The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West

The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West

Comedy, Western | 86 mins | Released: 1976
Director: Jack Arnold
Starring: Bob Denver, Forrest Tucker, Ivor Francis, Jeannine Riley, Lori Saunders, Lynn Wood, William Cort
Our Rating: 4

This comical western chronicles the silly adventures of a bumbling wagonmaster and his clutzy assistant as they attempt to take seven passengers across the prairie. Among the passengers are two wealthy Bostonians, an aspiring showgirl, a teacher, and bachelor.

A stagecoach and covered wagon heading west across the plains become separated from their wagon train thanks to Dusty (Denver), a bumbling assistant to Wagonmaster Callahan (Forrest Tucker). Lost in the wilderness, seven hapless souls must now make their way to California on their own using what brains they have or haven’t got.

First, the characters meet “Injuns” who are not unlike the Hekawis in F Troop. Then there is a “necktie party” looking to hang Dusty as a horse thief. Third, a couple of cattle rustlers want to “get friendly” with some willing females. And finally, a “shootout” takes place, with Dusty dressed up as Bat Masterson in a ghost town setting.

See Forrest Tucker on MovieZoot in “Rage at Dawn” here
or in “A Real American Hero” on MovieZoot here

Movie Notes:

The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West is a 1976 American Western comedy film directed by Jack Arnold. The film stars Bob Denver as Dusty, the bumbling assistant to Wagonmaster Callahan featured in the syndicated series Dusty’s Trail.

The film itself consists of four episodes of Dusty’s Trail edited together.

The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West was released on VHS by Jtc, Inc., Front Row Video, Inc. and Direct Source Special. The film has also been released on Region 1 DVD by numerous companies including Tango Entertainment, Digiview and St. Clair Vision.

Notable Quotes:

Dusty: “Gee, that was a bright idea. Wonder why I didn’t think of it!”
Wagonmaster Callahan: “Because it was a bright idea.”

Side-effects may include dry-mouth, abdominal pain and dizziness, September 19, 2006
a revew by Andrew McCaffrey (Satellite of Love, Maryland)
The movie called THE WACKIEST WAGON TRAIN IN THE WEST is actually a clumsily edited together collection of four episodes of Bob Denver’s 1970s TV show, “Dusty’s Trail”. The creators of this DVD were obviously trying to cash in on the popularity of Gilligan’s Island. The back cover mentions the word “Gilligan” no less than five times. This is not a surprise, given that “Dusty’s Trail” itself simply took the premise and characters of “Gilligan’s Island” and transplanted them into the Old West.

Instead of seven modern castaways, we have seven Nineteenth Century prospectors taking a less-than-direct route from St. Louis to California. The characters themselves have a precise isomorphic relationship to their “Gilligan’s Island” counterparts. Bob Denver plays Dusty, who’s clumsy, fumbling, and always managing to get everyone into trouble. Forrest Tucker (“F-Troop”) is the replacement Skipper, called the Wagonmaster, who’s in charge of the party. There’s a smart guy, a rich guy (and his wife) and a simple small-town girl. The replacement Ginger is either a saloon girl or a prostitute, depending on how charitable you’re feeling.

If that’s not enough for you, the Skipper keeps referring to Gilligan… Sorry, I mean the Wagonmaster keeps referring to Dusty as his “little pal” instead of his “little buddy”.

Growing up, I watched as much Nick At Nite as the next fellow. But until I bought this DVD, I’d never even heard of “Dusty’s Trail” before.

Odd – I thought – since Bob Denver and Forrest Tucker are well-known classic TV stars.

Then, later, not odd at all – I thought – because the episodes on this DVD are absolutely terrible.

The comparisons made to “Gilligan’s Island” by the DVD company and by commentators on the Internet are all perfectly valid. But they may leave a false impression on the reader. You see, “Gilligan’s Island” was funny. It was silly. It was stupid. It was corny. It was predictable. But at least it made you laugh, even if you were laughing at the banality of the material. But WACKIEST WAGONTRAIN has none of this going for it.

Now let’s move on the the film itself. When producers edit together episodes of a TV show into a feature-length production, it’s interesting to note what will be used as a central theme to pull these disparate stories together. When the Ben Murphy classic RIDING WITH DEATH was edited together from two episodes of the short-lived “Gemini Man”, the producers based the movie around two guest-starring appearances by Jim Stafford as Buffalo Bill. Sure it was goofy. Sure it required an awkwardly dubbed voice over to explain why a character’s facial hair suddenly changes halfway through the movie. But at least it was somewhat coherent.

The four episodes of “Dusty’s Trail” here have absolutely nothing to do with one another, which makes one wonder why they bothered removing the opening and closing credits from in between them.

I don’t think it’s possible to describe how unbelievably tedious this movie is. I attempted to watch this movie a second time to help writing this review, but I just couldn’t get through without liberal use of the fast-forward button. I now know why this Bob Denver vehicle rarely sees the light of day. And, now, I’m just a little bit deader inside.

See Bob Denver on MovieZoot in “Rescue From Gilligan’s Island” here