Set in 1898, Print Ritter and his estranged nephew Tom Harte become the reluctant guardians of five abused and abandoned Chinese girls. Ritter and Harte’s attempts to care for the girls are complicated by their responsibility to deliver a herd of horses while avoiding a group of bitter rivals intent on kidnapping the girls for their own purposes.
A delicious surprise
A good Western is a treat, like comfort food for the soul. Robert Duvall is a favorite of mine, and he is wonderful in this movie, as always, but the surprise factor here is Thomas Haden Church, who I remember as a Mechanic in the sitcom, Wings. Watching him playing a 19th century cowboy in this project, well,- he seems made for the part: serious, soft-spoken, and a little too lean from trying to eke out a living in tough times. Wonderful! I hope to see more of him in the future.
The scenery is as beautiful as I expected, and I don’t care that it was shot in Canada instead of the U.S. I do wish there had been a little more emphasis on the horses, though. The promos advertised the movie as being about a horse drive, but that was only a premise for the other story lines. They were supposed to be herding 300 to 500 horses, but it sure didn’t look like that many to me. But, I guess I’m getting pretty picky there. It was satisfying to watch, regardless of whether there were hundreds of horses, or only about 75, as it looked like to me.
There is one scene in the movie that is almost a reverse “Man from Snowy River”-type scene, where they herd their horses UP a steep hill, and that was interesting. I’m not actually comparing the riding in this movie to the incomparable Charlie Lovick’s downhill riding in the most famous scene from Snowy River, but it did bring that movie to mind.
If you like western movies, you’ll like this mini series, and it might spark an interest in a part of our American history that is not particularly well known,- the Chinese immigration during the gold rush of the 1800s.