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Wagon Master (1950)

Approved  |   |  Western  |  19 April 1950 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 2,720 users  
Reviews: 43 user | 23 critic

Two young drifters guide a Mormon wagon train to the San Juan Valley and encounter cutthroats, Indians, geography, and moral challenges on the journey.

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Writers:

(as Frank Nugent) , , 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Travis Blue
...
Denver
...
Sandy
...
Elder Wiggs
Charles Kemper ...
Uncle Shiloh Clegg
...
Dr. A. Locksley Hall
...
Sister Ledyard
...
Fleuretty Phyffe
Russell Simpson ...
Adam Perkins
Kathleen O'Malley ...
Prudence Perkins
...
Floyd Clegg
Francis Ford ...
Mr. Peachtree
Fred Libby ...
Reese Clegg
Jim Thorpe ...
Navajo Indian
Mickey Simpson ...
Jesse Clegg
Edit

Storyline

As Mormon settlers head to the promised land at the San Juan river in Utah, they hire horse traders Travis Blue and Sandy as wagon masters. They have to forge a trail across unknown territory and face many hardships along the way. They quickly come across some stranded travelers, a medicine show run by Dr. A. Locksley Hall which includes the attractive Denver. Along the way however, they are also joined by Shiloh Clegg and his murderous clan of robbers and thieves. An encounter with the Navajo leads to an invitation to their camp but after one of the Clegg boys gets a whipping for attacking one of the Navajo women, Uncle Shiloh plans his revenge. It's left to Sandy and Travis to protect the travelers and get them to their destination. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

John Ford's lusty successor to "Fort Apache" and "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon"

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

19 April 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Wagonmaster  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the scene where Travis gets bucked off his horse after Denver throws water on it, Ben Johnson did his own stunts. They used a genuine rodeo bucking horse and John Ford promised Johnson if he rode the horse he would not have to do any dialogue for the day, which apparently pleased Johnson. He lasted four bucks and came off so hard he was almost knocked out. Unfortunately, the shot was ruined by one of the wranglers running out to him and asking if he was all right as he lay on the ground. Johnson had to get up and ride the horse again. This time he lasted ten bucks before he bailed off and Ford got his shot. See more »

Goofs

In the beginning of the film, when Travis on the horse talks to the marshal, he folds his right leg leaning it on the saddle horn. In the next shot he is with his right leg hanging unfolded. See more »

Quotes

Elder Wiggs: [to Sandy] Keep you shirton, son. Your face looks honest to me even if it is homely.
See more »


Soundtracks

SHADOWS IN THE DUST
Words and Music by Stan Jones
Recorded by Sons of the Pioneers (as The Sons of the Pioneers)
Sung by the Sons of the Pioneers (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
`Rollin' Shadows in the Dust'
15 May 2003 | by See all my reviews

Wagon Master is a very unique film amongst John Ford's work. Mainly because it's the only one that is based on a story written by John Ford himself, the story that was elaborated by Frank Nugent and director's son – Patrick Ford and turned into a screenplay, and because of director's personal opinion regarding it, Wagon Master is the film John Ford called the one which `came closest to being what I had wanted to achieve', to say so is not to say a little, but as Ford confessed once to Lindsay Anderson, his favourite was nonetheless My Darling Clementine and not any other.

Wagon Master has all ingredients one might expect to find in a John Ford's film. Wonderful cast delivering his best, thou not featuring any major stars, except the most `fordian' of all actors – Ben Johnson. Very peculiar small characters, who provide an obligatory comic relief, and Wagon Master has quite a few of them such as horn blowing Sister Ledyard (Jane Darwell) in her shot but very inspired gigs. And last but not least legendary Monument Valley with John Ford's fifth passage through it after Stagecoach, My Darling Clementine, Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.

The film starts with two friends cowboys Travis Blue (Ben Johnson) and Sandy Owens (Harry Carey Jr) being hired to be Wagon Masters or guides for a caravan of Mormon settlers who are headed to Silver Valley, a place that's for them like a promised land. On their way they are joined by a very peculiar Dr. Locksley Hall (Alan Mowbray) with two beautiful women, who are supposedly his wife and daughter and who call themselves actors. They are headed in the same direction simply because they were recently driven out of the nearest town and have no other place to go. Nothing particularly unpleasant happens till they bump into Cleggs, a dangerous family gang consisting of father and his three sons who are on the run from the Marshal of the town where they recently committed murder and bank robbery.

Overall Wagon Master is no more nor less than one more precious pearl in a necklace of John Ford's wonderful Westerns. A must see. 9/10


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