Transcribed in 1935 and aired in 1938,
Frontier Fighters had a more daunting task than those faced by real pioneers--
it had to tell the stories of each explorer within fifteen minutes.
It too faced adversities and starvation—the brave-in-the-face-of-any-hardship theme
played for an almost interminable time at the beginning and the end,
dramatizing the wait for a syndication spot or sponsor.
As with the plight of many pioneers who anticipated rescue,
the patrons never came, or came too late.
ROBERT DE LA SALLE
This bio of Robert de La Salle has him declaiming:
"I will plant the golden lilies of France!"
Indeed, after exploring the Mississippi country,
La Salle does plant the fleur-de-lis flag of France,
and calls the valley Louisiana.
Speaking of Louis, one of La Salle's sponsors tell him:
"You won't get a thin louie from me!"
Being a deadbeat debtor did not stop La Salle from exploring,
and propelled by Lone Ranger music,
his mouth motors on as he searches for the Mississippi's:
"The savages are greatly impressed by a serene countenance."
"The chief approaches. Let us extend our right hands, palm outward."
The narrator (who pronounces 'canoe' as 'canew')
has a choice line too:
'In less than an hour, the explorers had constructed another log fort.'
LEWIS & CLARK
As anybody who reads the journals of Lewis and Clark knows,
the whole affair should be known as The Sacagawea and Lewis and Clark Expedition,
or simply The Sacagawea Expedition.
For the sake of dramatization,
Sacagawea actually looms large in this episode.
There is a scene of Lewis and Clark rescuing her
from a beating by her husband (here called LeBlanc, not Charbonneau).
In a line more inadvertently telling of the 1930s than the 1800s,
they promptly tell him:
"Our expedition don't welcome white men who beat women,
not even Indian women."
The white man prevails in the end—instead of her
rescuing essential materials from an overturned boat,
they have Lewis rescuing her from drowning,
with her addressing him as "Master Lewis"
and saying "Sacagawea obey!"
An account of Pike exploring the Southwest,
this episode within fifteen meager minutes
manages to portray Pike as a rather obnoxious
(what we call 'driven' when writing patriotic history) ass,
and the actor seemed naturally adept at playing such a man.
The writer, in cataloguing Pike's command,
describes it as having '16 privates' and a Dr. Johnson.
However, in describing Pike's tiring traipse,
he does come up with a wonderful phrase:
"Low in spirits but high in resolve."
This mini-bio of John Frémont reminds us
that on what should have been a weight-conscious journey,
he packed a 12-pounder brass cannon, and powder and shot,
to discharge 'against the red savages if they molest us.'
Absent any molestation, his men made sure to fire it off
at every opportunity that would ensure their safety,
such as a parting salute to the Missouree settlements,
and again a salute to Kit Carson when he arrived at their camp.
Other meaningful details in this episode include
the fact that Proust accompanied them on their travels,
that Frémont espoused a senator's daughter,
and that his favorite dog was killed for food.
Now that the first four episodes have been pioneered,
you are free to explore the rest of the West!
There are 35 more episodes of... Frontier Fighters!
5 Kit Carson
6 Jedediah Smith
7 Marcus Whitman
8 John McLoughlin
9 The Donner Party
10 The Alamo
11 Stephen Kearny
12 Brigham Young
13 Joseph Meek
14 George Pickett
15 John Sutter & James W. Marshall
16 Buffalo Bill
17 Pike's Peak Rush
18 The Santa Fe Trail
19 Wild Bill Hickok
20 Thomas Starr King
21 Cochise & Captain Tom Jeffords
22 Grenville Dodge & Leland Stanford
23 Massacre at Taos
24 Custer's Last Stand
25 Stephen Austin
27 The Comstock Lode
28 John Phillips
29 The Oklahoma Land Rush
30 Oregon and the Pacific Republic
31 Annie D. Tallent
32 Ira Burton Perrine
33 Wells Fargo
34 Anson P.K. Safford
35 Arthur A. Denny
36 Yellowstone Park
37 Eliza Ann Brooks
38 General N. A. Miles