Clark Gable is the largely nonheroic hero of the sprawling western Across the Wide Missouri. A cunning trapper who lives purely by his wits, Gable avoids being scalped by the Blackfoot Indians by marrying Maria Elena Marques, the chief's daughter. This marriage of convenience also allows Gable to trap to his heart's content in Blackfoot territory. After bearing a child, Marques is killed by a warring tribe; the opportunistic Gable at first considers abandoning the child, but at long last does right by the boy. Adolphe Menjou steals the show as an eternally inebriated French trapper, while Ricardo Montalban and J. CARROLL NAISH are convincing (and noncondescending) in their Native American characterizations. Evidently, Across the Wide Missouri tested poorly when it was first previewed: the final release version runs a surprisingly brief 78 minutes, with narrator Howard Keel (who otherwise does not appear) filling in the continuity gaps.
by Hal Erickson synopsis