Mountain Men (1980)




Director:  Richard Lang.

Starring:  Charlton Heston (Bill Tyler), Brian Keith (Henry Frapp), Victoria Racimo (Running Moon), Stephen Macht (Heavy Eagle), Seymour Cassel (La Bont), David Ackroyd (Medicine Wolf), Cal Bellini (Cross Otter), John Glover (Nathan Wyeth), William Lucking (Jim Walter), Ken Ruta (Fontenelle), Victor Jory (Iron Belly).

 story of mountain men who led many of the settlers into the West


The movie is o.k. Two middle-aged mountain men, Bill Tyler and his friend Frap, meet in the Rocky Mountains. Bill has been trapping in Absaroka, Yellowstone country, while Frap has just returned from a visit to St. Louis. They trade information and compare notes. They know that Indians are in the neighborhood, but they canít agree if they are Crow or Blackfoot.

Nat Wyeth rides up. He is going to join a wagon train heading to Oregon, but the two mountain men try to dissuade him, saying that you canít get wagons over the Rocky Mountains. They refer to Nat with the derogatory term "flatlander."

They decide to have some fun and so they head out to rendezvous at Popo Agie. (Rendezvous was a gathering of mountain men, Indians and traders where men could sell or trade their goods such as beaver pelts; share stories and information; buy supplies; drink whiskey and get drunk; and have a great time dancing and cutting up.)

On the way to rendezvous, the Crow Indian Cross Otter steals their horses. Bill get the horses back, but Cross Otter returns to demand the horses from the three white men. Just as things are about to get ugly, the Blackfoot Indians, under Heavy Eagle, attack and the Crow and whites have to join forces to fend them off.

The Blackfoot are repulsed and the Crows and whites counterattack. The enter a Blackfoot village and in the struggle there, Bill knocks a Blackfoot warrior unconscious with his rifle butt. The unconscious warrior actually turns out to be a Blackfoot woman by the name of Running Moon. As a youngster, she had been sold to Heavy Eagle for a gun and a horse. She became the wife of Heavy Eagle, who would beat her. In order to escape, Running Moon jumps at the opportunity to go with Bill even though the mountain man does not want to take her.

Bill and company take off during the night leaving Running Moon behind. They head for the rendezvous, but Running Moon just shows up there. Having no choice, Bill resigns himself to taking the persistent Running Moon with him when he and Frap head out to go beaver trapping up in the Wind River Valley area.

Heavy Eagle is determined to get Running Moon back. To that end they attack Bill and Frap several times. In one of the attacks Heavy Eagle scalps Frap, while Bill and Running Moon get away. Not long afterwards, Heavy Eagle captures Bill and Running Moon.

The Blackfoot Indians play a game with Bill. They give him a short head start and then start to pursue him with the end goal of killing him when they catch him.

Bill has just about reached the bottom of his series of misadventures. How is he going to stay alive with the all the warriors of an entire Indian village are chasing him? And if he does get away, can he save Running Moon from Heavy Eagle and then get away from the Indians?

Charleton Heston is always good in these western movies. The movie has a nice love story between his character and Running Moon, who, when she is cleaned up, looks more like an Hispanic model than a "squaw."

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 





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