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  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Trail to Hope Rose is the kind of old-fashioned film that used to be standard fare for the Saturday matinée crowd. That this kind of film is now relegated to made-for-TV status does not speak well of Hollywood.

    It's nice to see Lou Diamond Phillips play an upright character. He's an actor capable of great subtlety and has played some very nasty villains well, but I like seeing him as Keenan Deerfield. Keenan is a half Indian ex-convict, recently released from prison who takes a mining job in a company town run by the Driggers family. Patriarch of the clan and the town is Warren Stevens who came out of retirement for this part.

    Being half Indian isn't going to help him get along at the job, but Lou's helped by a sympathetic town marshal played by Lee Majors and a small rancher played by Ernest Borgnine.

    And in the tradition of Saturday matinée fare, the bad guys are routed, the miners come out of virtual slavery and Lou winds up with a wife, daughter and a ranch at the end. Watch for the It's A Wonderful Life ending and I'll say no more.

    For the life of me I can't see why the Hallmark channel gave a warning at the beginning of the film that some of the scenes might be too violent for children. Kids today probably see more violence every day on their play station videos. This is definitely one to take the kiddies to.

    Good job by Lou and the rest of the cast.
  • Lou Diamond Phillips and marina Black star together with Lee majors and Ernest Borgnine in an entertaining western drama. Lou plays an ex convict who tries to make a living as a mine worker, closely watched by Marshal Luther Toll. The convict knows he is just one step away from going back to prison if he gets out of line - but when he stops a neighbor from severely beating his wife and teams up with an old rancher who stands alone against the mine owner's interests things get complicated for our hero. The movie is not as tough as some of the recent western productions but it is atmospheric, entertaining, full of emotions and some nice action scenes. The actors do a great job and seem to enjoy themselves. For the missing shootout scenes and a rather tame showdown, I'll give it 8 out of 10 points, but I still enjoyed it and can recommend it. Jasper P. Morgan
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Lou Diamond Phillips does a fine job portraying a half breed ex-convict recently released from a territorial prison in this Hallmark Entertainment film from 2004. He's got a couple of guardian angels in the form of Marshal Luther Toll (Lee Majors) and old timer Eugene Lawson (Ernest Borgnine). Borgnine in particular seems to be having a heck of a time in his role, alternately challenging town boss Samuel Drigger (Warren Stevens) and confiding in a determined Keenan Deerfield (Phillips) trying to stay out of trouble.

    Trouble finds Deerfield though, and most of it revolves around his relationship with Christine Beckford (Marina Black), who at the beginning of the story tries to make the best of her almost daily beatings at the hands of Drigger henchman Gerald (Richard Tyson). The film's flash point occurs when Gerald is killed, but it's not Deerfield who's riled to action; Christine's trigger finger finds it's mark during an alcohol induced attack. Because Deerfield's been framed for a payroll robbery, he's got problems of his own to attend to, but it doesn't take long to sort through the villainy and arrive at a happy ending.

    If the period details are accurate, Deerfield wouldn't have been able to hire an accountant to manage his ten dollars a month pay at Drigger's, all neatly calculated to wind up back in the mining boss's hands via rent and equipment to work in his mines. It kind of makes you realize that maybe the good old days weren't.

    Try as I might, I couldn't establish the actor under the whiskers and black hat of Marshal Toll as Lee Majors, to me he was unrecognizable. His relationship to Deerfield could have used more development as far as back story goes, but he was there when it counted to make the save in the showdown finale, and without even firing his gun.

    Credit the film makers with tying it all together at the end to make sense of the title. Christine's daughter is named Hope Rose in deference to old timer Lawson's deceased wife Rosie who he often talks to during the story, combined with a hope for the future. It's classic Hallmark and for this Western, it works.