John Ford weaves three "Judge Priest" stories together to form a good- natured exploration of honour and small-town politics in the South around the turn of the century. Judge William ... See full summary »
The US Army is under pressure from the desperate relatives of white prisoners of the Comanches to secure their rescue. A cynical and corrupt marshal, Guthrie McCabe, is persuaded by an army... See full summary »
Rio Grande takes place after the Civil War when the Union turned their attention towards the Apaches. Union officer Kirby Yorke is in charge of an outpost on the Rio Grande in which he is ... See full summary »
When the government agency fails to deliver even the meager supplies due by treaty to the proud Cheyenne tribe in their barren desert reserve, the starving Indians have taken more abuse ... See full summary »
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
Harry Carey Jr. rode his own horse called "Mormon" and Ben Johnson rode a famous movie horse called "Steel" that was owned by his father-in-law "Fat" Jones, who ran the most well known horse renting stable in Hollywood. In the galloping scenes Johnson rode Steel's stunt double Bingo and was quoted as saying he was just a passenger as "Bingo" thundered down the hills. According to Carey, Steel and Mormon became very attached and ruined quite a number of scenes by calling out to each other. See more »
During the dance, when done going around in a circle, Travis has his hand on Denver's waist, in the next shot it is on her shoulder. See more »
[Sandy fills a bucket of water from the river, and takes it to Prudence]
I brought you some water, ma'am
[Prudence gratefully takes it]
Thank you. Won't you stop and have a bit of breakfast with us?
[Sandy instantly leaps from his horse]
[Travis comes riding up]
Sandy, lets go!
[Sandy regretfully gets back on his horse, and bows repeatily to Prudence before riding away]
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One of the most poetic narrative films ever made, WAGONMASTER is nonetheless a difficult film to immediately like. I love this movie, but I recommend seeing some of John Ford's other westerns before taking a look at this one. The first time I saw it I was 18 years old and I hadn't seen too many other westerns, and I hated it. I thought it was incredibly boring. I kept waiting for something to happen. It took several years for me to love this picture. First, I fell in love with westerns in general -- the traditions, characters, landscapes, ways of talking, etc -- and that made me realize when I saw WAGONMASTER again that a lot is happening in it after all.
I also was simply a more experienced moviegoer at that point and had learned to appreciate visual storytelling, and to listen to what each image was telling me. WAGONMASTER is a very visual movie by one of the most visual of directors working near the peak of his career.
The movie is a celebration of a way of life, and its subject matter is more emotional and interior than other Ford westerns. Actually, that's not really as accurate as saying that, rather, it has a lot less exterior action than the other westerns. (The other westerns have exterior action AND interior emotion.) It quite beautifully places its Mormon pioneers in the context of nature. There are many shots of animals and children -- not for any surface, narrative purpose, but for illustrating this idea. That is why the movie can be called a poem. It isn't about the surface story (which barely exists) nearly as much as it is about an emotional idea, and it gets this idea across through composition, editing, sound and music. In fact, one could argue that this is a purer form of filmmaking because the images directly express the emotional idea of the film, rather than having to first service a "story."
Give this movie a chance, and allow it to exist on its own terms, not the terms of other westerns or other movies.
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