This was a satire on a serious wagons west silent movie. Two coveted wagons go west. One goes north, but the action stays with the one that goes south to California. Will Rogers was allowed free reign to showcase his humor.


, (uncredited)




Cast overview:
Bill Bunian / Joe Jackson
Marie Mosquini ...
Molly Wingate
Earl Mohan ...
Charles Lloyd ...
Jesse Wingate


This was a satire on a serious wagons west silent movie. Two coveted wagons go west. One goes north, but the action stays with the one that goes south to California. Will Rogers was allowed free reign to showcase his humor.

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Short | Comedy





Release Date:

6 January 1924 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

A Cure for Pioneeritis
28 July 2016 | by (France) – See all my reviews

Good parodies tend to fall into one of two categories - they can be a kind of homage to the original (when the original deserves it) or they can be an effective demolition job that reveals the original for what it is. A good example of the first kind from the period is Max Linder's splendid 1922 The Three-Must-Get-There's (better in its French title - L'Étroit Mousquetaire), an excellent parody of the Dougie Fairbanks' film-version of The Three Musketeers (1921. Keaton's parody of the films of William S. Hart, The Frozen North, was intended to hurt and did. It followed a very insensitive contribution by Hart to the persecution of Fatty Arbuckle and may even have been suggested by Arbuckle himself. Now, Hart, despite his chosen genre, is a notable actor and director and the parody did him no great harm but it remains difficult to see Hart (and his hat) in quite the same way ever again after having watched the Keaton film.

Cruze's The Covered Wagon (1923), the film parodied here has some reasonable claim to fame. It was a hugely popular film and deserved the title, far more than Griffith's divisive Birth of a Nation, of the US' first important "national" epic. There are some good things about it; Karl Brown's filming of the river-crossing is superb. But, as regards its script, it is simply a succession of ridiculous clichés and richly deserves the mauling it receives here from Wagner and Rogers.

"Pioneeritis" is not politically innocent and it was precisely at this time that it was establishing itself in schools throughout the US as the basis for US national ideology and for the whole grotesque myth that goes to make up "The American Dream". It is, that is to say, a fundamental pillar of what a Marxist would describe as "false consciousness", a systematic ideological device intended to induce people to give their support to a political system against their own interests. Rob Wagner was one of the most aware and active socialist writers in Hollywood at the time and must have welcomed the opportunity the film provided to mock this particular cultural virus.

It is necessary to watch the original film to appreciate what a good job Wagner and Rogers do but, after watching this film, it is quite impossible to watch Cruze's epic ever again with a straight face. Anyone watching this first will, I think, be rather surprised by how close it is to the original. The scene for instance where a buffalo-skull is discovered, bearing a message from the Mormon leader Brigham Young really doe appear (almost identically) in the original film, making the point that The Covered Wagon frequently comes close to being a parody of itself. The absurdity of the portrayal of the two principals in the original film is picked up on beautifully in the parody. They really are, unlike all other members of the cast, pastily made up in the original, with carefully plucked eyebrows, while Kerrigan sports a bizarre tight-fitting costume more absurd than anything the character wears in the parody. Rogers' take-off of Kerrigan is a shade cruel but I do not think that the actor's homosexuality is the target; he is portrayed here as a dandy and a tosser rather than as a pansy.

One does not necessarily laugh too much when one watches the parody but try watching or re-watching the original afterwards. One then laughs a good deal, remembering the parody version. And that says something for the effectiveness of the parody.

The extensive use of intertitles is itself part of the parody and again catches very well the silliness of the original script.

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