Indeed, that is the one area where the film suffers. Had it been longer, there would be more time for character develpment. Heston (Bill Tyler) turns in an excellent performance, but he is almost upstaged by Keith (Henry Prapp.) At the moment, the name of the actor who gives a very fine portrayal of Heavy Eagle escapes me. Considering the limited time avaliable to him, his development of the character is remarkable. One of the great things about the film is that even the villain (Heavy Eagle) comes across as very human. He arouses both revulsion and compassion. One understands him, and, by understanding, is compelled to respect.
Another thing I liked was the protrayal of the aboriginal people: there is no "noble savage" or "bloodthirsty redskin" here. These are people, no more and no less, of a different (and to European eyes, alien) culture. They have human frailties, human strengths, and human dignity. (When they lack dignity, anybody would lack dignity.)
Yes, the film is a little raw-boned, but so were the times and the lives of the people in them. This really shines!
But enough about last night's party.
Director Richard Lang's THE MOUNTAIN MEN is a rough-and-tumble yarn depicting the fur trapping industry's final days in the pristine splendor of the northern Rockies. Even in such a remote region, the demand back East for top hats made of beaver skin resulted in the virtual extinction of the buck-toothed rodents in their mountain habitats; on top of that, silk hats were rapidly becoming the fashion craze, creating even more of a hardship on the gritty mountain men who trapped along countless streams and rivers, searching for what remained of the elusive beaver population.
It was a hard life, predicated on an individual's ability to survive in a harsh environment based on his wits and his bare hands. Interaction with other people was rare--the need to get along with neighboring Indian tribes a must. And infrequently, perhaps once every two or three years, the trappers would unite at a "rendezvous" to trade their pelts for cash and let off a little steam. To say that such a gathering was rowdy and violent is kind of like saying turtles have shells.
Charlton Heston "shines" (a little mountain man lingo, there) as fur trapper Bill Tyler, a quiet man who only wishes to be left alone so he can find that last valley just teeming with beaver. But there's a problem: while fighting off a band of Blackfoot bent on stealing his horses and supplies he attracts the company of a young squaw (Victoria Racimo) who happens to be married to a chief with a very serious attitude (Stephen Macht). Thus Tyler and his new companion are forced to run, and run, and run some more to escape the warrior's wrath.Read more ›