Paint Your Wagon (1969)

Film details


Musical set in a gold-rush town in the forested mountains of California, in the mid-1800s. Grizzled prospector Ben Rumson finds a farmer barely alive after a hillside fall which has killed the farmer's brother. In digging a grave for the brother, Rumson reveals gold in the local earth, and a gold rush follows in the settlement known as No Name City. Rumson looks after the surviving farmer and insists they be partners, sharing everything. Rumson calls him Pardner (never knowing his real name till they finally part). When a Mormon with two wives visits No Name City, he agrees to auction off the wife he finds troublesome, Elizabeth (who has recently lost a baby, while the other wife's baby survives). Elizabeth is sold to Rumson for $800. She insists she will be a good wife if he respects her and builds her a proper cabin, which he does (most people there live in tents). Soon, Pardner and Elizabeth fall in love, and Elizabeth says that she loves both men. With none of the three wanting anyone to leave, they agree to form a three-way 'marriage' and live together like that. This works for a while, but eventually Elizabeth grows tired of being vague when newcomers ask about her situation, and Pardner finds he no longer wants to share Elizabeth. Rumson and Pardner have been involved in a plan to steal gold dust that has fallen through the saloon's floorboards, by tunnelling under the town. Soon there is a whole network of tunnels and at last the ground gives way, with the town collapsing into the holes. Rumson foresees the town being rebuilt as a respectable place with schools and houses, and so he leaves for somewhere less civilized, with the now domesticated Pardner and Elizabeth remaining in the cabin.

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