Speaking of lighter fare, tonight we watched the second made-for-TV Western on the Ion network’s new Saturday Night Western Showcase, or whatever they call it. (Ion’s new motto: “Keeping America’s fake beard manufacturers in business!”) PRAIRIE FEVER stars Kevin Sorbo and Dominique Swain, and while the production values aren’t just top-notch, it’s not a bad little film, with a more interesting script than I expected.
Sorbo plays an ex-lawman who gave up the badge and became a drunk after a tragedy during a shootout with a bank robber. Needing money, he agrees to take three former mail-order brides to the railroad so they can go back east. It seems that all three women have come down with “prairie fever” – or gone plumb loco, as characters in my books tend to say. One of the women constantly quotes scripture, another is mortally terrified of the sun, and the third plays a piano that isn’t there, when she’s not trying to strangle every man who comes within reach, that is.
Naturally the journey by covered wagon doesn’t go well. Things are complicated by outlaws with a grudge against Sorbo’s character, the husband of one of the crazy mail-order brides, a beautiful but somewhat crooked female gambler, and her murderous husband, played by Lance Henrikson, who gets stuck with one of the goofiest-looking hats in the history of Western movies. Various shootouts ensue along the way, as the characters all struggle with their own inner demons and try to achieve some sort of redemption.
Unlike the previous entry in this series of movies, ACES ‘N’ EIGHTS, which didn’t have anything original in its screenplay, PRAIRIE FEVER has lots of oddball touches, right down to its offbeat ending. The acting is okay at best and the whole thing looks cheaply made, but the storyline is intriguing enough to make it worth watching. As before, you can rent the DVD (the unrated version) at Blockbuster next week, or you can wait for the inevitable and probably multiple repeats of the TV version.
TARZAN THE FEARLESS Posters (1933)
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