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Broken Trail is a 2006 revisionist Western miniseries that originally aired on American Movie Classics as their first original movie. It stars Robert Duvall and Thomas Haden Church, and was directed by Walter Hill.

The screenplay for Broken Trail was written by Alan Geoffrion, who also wrote the novel of the same name. Novelist and screenwriter Alan Geoffrion weaves together two facts — British were buying horses in the American West in the late 1800s and Chinese women were being transported from the West Coast to the interior to serve as prostitutes — along with a series of Western vignettes.

Plot summary

Set in 1898, the film concerns Prentice "Print" Ritter (Robert Duvall), an aging cowboy who wants to buy a ranch of his own. To accomplish this, he agrees to transport 500 mustangs from Oregonmarker to Wyomingmarker, where he will sell them to the British Army. He recruits his estranged nephew, Tom Harte (Thomas Haden Church), to join him, hoping to reconnect with him on the ride.

What starts out as a simple horse drive is complicated when Print and Tom encounter a particularly vile slaver who is transporting five Chinese girls to a lawless mining town, where they will face a life of prostitution and indentured servitude. Compelled to do the right thing, Print and Tom rescue the women and take them in, but as they continue their perilous trek across the frontier, they are tailed by a vicious gang of outlaws sent by the whorehouse madam who originally paid for the girls.



The miniseries received generally favorable reviews from critics. As of August 7, 2007, the film had a score of 78 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 15 reviews. Charlie McCollum of the San Jose Mercury News called it "the finest purely American TV film to come along in some time." Allison Benedikt of the Chicago Tribune said it was "a gorgeous piece of cinema." Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times said it was "not as well written or compelling as Lonesome Dove, but Mr. Duvall brings an earthy believability to even the most plodding lines." The miniseries received 16 nominations at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards, having the second most overall nominations. It received one less nomination than another film set in America in the late nineteenth century, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.


Primetime Emmy Awards
  • Outstanding Miniseries
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie: Robert Duvall
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries: Thomas Haden Church
  • Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or Special


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