The Oregon Trail (1959), a color and CinemaScope picture made by Lippert/Regal for 20th Century Fox, was announced as part of the Fox Cinema Archives collection — with a release date of September 11 (this coming Tuesday). However, there was a bit of controversy with the first batch of FCA releases — mainly aspect ratio issues — and news has been a bit sketchy since. So who knows. Fred MacMurray’s late-50s Westerns have been a hot topic around here lately, so this would be a welcome addition.
Maury Dexter was part of the Lippert team cranking out Regalscope pictures for Fox. He mentioned The Oregon Trail in his memoirs, Highway To Hollywood, which are available here.
Maury Dexter: “We shot a film entitled The Oregon Trail starring Fred MacMurray and directed by Gene Fowler, Jr… Lou Vittes wrote the screenplay (with Fowler). Anyway, we had a last-minute script meeting on a Saturday afternoon, just prior to principal photography. The following Monday morning, several of the scenes that were altered or completely rewritten were scenes that had been scheduled to shoot on the first day. MacMurray was heavily involved with some of these scenes, so late Saturday, the mimeo company picked up the revised scenes and promised to have them printed by early Sunday morning. I was concerned about MacMurray getting late changes, so I instructed the mimeo company to hand deliver the new scenes to Fred’s home on Sunday morning. I personally called Fred and apologized for the late changes and told him that he would receive them on Sunday, in time to study them for the following day. He was very nice and said the following: ‘Don’t worry about it. For the amount of money you people are paying me… I’d ride a bicycle down Hollywood Boulevard in the nude!’ My kind of guy… nothing pretentious about him.”
If I find out anything further about the DVD release, or lack thereof, I’ll update this post accordingly. And if you come across anything, please let us know.