The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West
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 Wackiest Wagon Train in the West|
|Directed by||Jack Arnold|
|Produced by||Elroy Schwartz|
|Written by||Ron Friedman|
|Edited by||Jack Woelz|
|Distributed by||Danton Films|
|August 1, 1976|
The film itself consists of four episodes of Dusty's Trail edited together: "Tomahawk Territory", "Horse of Another Color", "There Is Nothing Like a Dame", and "The Not So Magnificent Seven".
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 Indians. 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.
Each of the six main characters are derivative of those of Gilligan's Island, a previous series that had been created by Sherwood Schwartz, who had been trying unsuccessfully to sell a Gilligan's Island revival for several years (and eventually succeeded, in animated form, with The New Adventures of Gilligan in 1974).
- Dusty was based on Bob Denver's Gilligan's Island character, Gilligan.
- Tucker's role as the wagonmaster was based on The Skipper, originally played by Alan Hale, Jr.
- The millionaire Brookhavens (Ivor Francis and Lynn Wood) were essentially the same characters as the Howells (Jim Backus and Natalie Schafer) from Gilligan's Island.
- Music hall singer Lulu (Jeannine Riley) was an adaptation of Ginger Grant, the movie star played by Tina Louise
- Girl-next-door Betsy (Lori Saunders) replaced farm-girl Mary Ann Summers (Dawn Wells)
- Andy (William Cort) filled the role of the savant Professor (Russell Johnson)
Other elements of the series are reproduced/recycled:
- the Gilligan's Island shipwreck, following what was meant to be a "three hour tour," is now replaced with a wagon being lost in the wilderness after getting separated from a wagon train.
- Head Hunters are now replaced by American Indians, who bear resemblance to the Hekawi, a fictional tribe from Forrest Tucker's previous series, F Troop.
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. These releases by numerous budget labels were due to the fact that the copyrights on most episodes of Dusty's Trail were never properly claimed, making the series one of the last television series to enter the public domain before the Copyright Act of 1976 (and its much longer copyright terms) took effect. As the film was sourced from this series, the film itself is also in the public domain.