After scoring a moderate success with The Adventures of the Wilderness Family (1975), a handsomely photographed Disney-style saga about a contemporary clan roughing it in the Rockies, producer Arthur R. Dubs and leading man Robert Logan reteamed for Across the Great Divide, a family-friendly survival story set in the Old West era. Logan plays Zachariah Coop, a dishonest gambler who flees into the wilderness with a posse in pursuit. While making his escape, he stumbles across teenager Holly Smith (Heather Rattray) and her little brother Jason (Mark Edward Hall), orphans trying to make their way toward relatives in Oregon. Coop steals a horse from the kids, but the resourceful Holly gets it back; later, Coop earns the kids’ trust by saving them from Indians and by rescuing Jason from white-water rapids. Faster than you can say “plot contrivance,” the characters join forces during run-ins with bears, snowstorms, wolves, and the like. Although the animal footage and outdoor photography in Across the Great Divide are strong, writer-director Stewart Raffill can’t muster a single original idea. The plot is a string of clichés, the characterizations are vapid, and the dialogue is absurd. At one point, Holly berates Coop thusly: “I’d sooner face 1,000 heathen Blackfeet than deal another second with you, you verminous creature, you thievin’ trickster!” Even if Rattray could act, which she can’t, this stuff would be deadly. Whereas producer Dubs more or less simulated the vibe of a generic Disney movie with the first Wilderness Family outing (its sequels, not so much), he descends into generic mediocrity with Across the Great Divide. On a technical level, the picture is highly competent, but on every other level, it’s utterly negligible, albeit harmless.
Across the Great Divide: FUNKY