Saturday, October 20, 2012

Gilligan's Bile: "The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West" (1976)

To grasp the full awfulness of this supposed western comedy, you could watch the "film," or hunker down with any four episodes of "Gilligan's Island." Either way, zero laughs.

"The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West" is nothing more than four episodes of the mercifully short lived series "Dusty's Trail" edited together. What was "Dusty's Trail?" Think of it as "Gilligan's Island" out west. Dusty (Bob Denver) is Gilligan, Wagonmaster Callahan (Forrest Tucker) is the Skipper, dance hall girl Lulu (Jeannine Riley, who keeps attempting a Mae West impression and failing miserably) is Ginger, schoolmarm Betsy (Lori Saunders) is Mary Ann, the rich Brookhavens (Ivor Francis and Lynn Wood) are the Howells, and the bland Andy (William Cort) is the Professor. You have probably read this exact same conclusion in other reviews, but I thought I was being brilliant when I figured it out. I now realize my kindergarten aged son could have come to the same conclusion while taking a nap.

The four episodes have little in common, let alone enough to string together into a "movie." The wagon train is captured by Indians after they save the chief's son; Dusty is brought up on horse theft charges after he finds an Appaloosa; Dusty and Callahan dress like women (ewww) to fool some lonely criminals; and three outlaws take over a town where the wagon train has stopped.

The running joke is that the wagon train consists of one stagecoach and one wagon, and they are hopelessly lost. The middle two episodes rely very heavily on unconvincing indoor sets that look suspiciously like a certain tropical island set. Callahan calls the terminal screw-up Dusty "lil' pal" instead of "little buddy."

The "film" credits four directors, five writers, and less laughs than a Holocaust film festival. The DVD is in public domain, easily attainable in the dollar section of your supermarket, right next to the breakfast pastries imported from Mexico. Try and fight the urge, and avoid "The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West." (*) out of five stars.