Westward the Women
A rancher arranges for a wagon train with women to come to California to be wives for his men, and they face many challenges along the way.
In 1851 Roy Whitman (John McIntire) hires Buck (Robert Taylor) to guide women across the country. Roy promises the men on his ranch good women as wives.
In Chicago three months later Buck watches Roy sign up older but strong Patience (Hope Emerson), Rose (Beverly Dennis), Mrs. Maroni (Renata Vanni), French Danon (Denise Darcel), and Laurie (Julie Bishop). Buck tells the 140 women about the journey and to stay away from his fifteen men.
Buck orders his men to stay away from the women, and he makes short Ito (Henry Nakamura) the cook. Women learn to drive mules. When a man harasses a woman, Buck shoots him and makes him go back. Patience learns that Rose is pregnant. Buck sees Indians and has the wagons circle. The Indians go away, and Buck declares a holiday. Buck tells Danon that the rule applies to him too. Buck kills a man for having attacked a woman. Another pulls a gun, and Maggie (Lenore Lonergan) kills him. Sid asks Rose to go back with him.
Roy tells Buck that all the men except Sid and Ito left with eight women. Roy wants to go back, but Buck says they are going on. Women learn how to shoot rifles. Mrs. Maroni’s son is killed. She refuses to leave his grave, but Buck knocks her out and puts her in a wagon. Patience keeps her in the wagon.
On a steep grade a wagon goes out of control, and the driver is killed. Patience goes next and makes it. Danon shoots at a rabbit, and mules run wild. Roy is injured, and Buck reprimands Danon with a whip. Danon rides off, and Buck goes after her. He slaps her and then kisses her. She rides back with him and says she loves him. Indians attacked and burned some wagons. Roy says they can make it and dies. Buck announces they are going back, but the women refuse. Several were killed.
A wagon pulls off, and two women fight. Mrs. Maroni sobs, and they stop fighting. Ito finds a grave for Buck, and in the rain they dig up rum. In a wagon they get drunk. Rain causes a flood, and Laurie drowns.
At the desert they unload extra items. They walk on the sand, and Rose collapses. Patience puts her in a wagon. A wheel comes off, and Rose’s baby is born. The wagon train reaches water. Buck says that Roy’s valley is near. Danon says they need better clothes. Buck rides to town and tells the excited men. Buck returns with cloth. Women arrive in wagons and face the men. Women have pictures of the men they chose and identify them. They dance and line up to be wed. Danon goes to Buck, who has shaved, and they get in line.
This realistic western depicts the hardships of a wagon train going from Missouri to California. In this harsh situation the wagon master uses violent punishments to instill discipline, and his Japanese friend tells him when he is wrong.