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Legendary director John Ford's final film involving seven dedicated missionary women in China circa 1935 trying to protect themselves from the advances of a Mongolian barbaric warlord and his cut-throat gang of warriors.
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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
As the camera pans along the wagon train moving through Moab, Utah, it passes by a boulder, on which you see the shadows of the camera crew and director John Ford. See more »
Travis Blue, Sandy:
[singing, towards the end of the movie]
Oh the white tops are a rollin' rollin', and the big wheels keep on turnin', there's a good little gal in that promise land already I'm a yearnin!
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Other reviewers have described Wagonmaster splendidly.But I would like to look at it's main lead, Ben Johnson.
I was 10 when Wagonmaster came out, and by then Johnson had become a hero to us boys in St.Ives,Cornwall.Johnson had worked his way up to the Travis Blue role the hard way; from being a rodeo man to John Waynes sidekick.We were fascinated by his horsemanship in his early roles, and were completely sold by his neat act of jumping off a horse whilst it was still moving.Very soon, every lad at school was Ben Johnson, as we charged around on pretend horses. His appeal was in his drawl, the measured, laconic delivery he had. His approach was the easy, deliberate action of a cowboy who was completely honest, trustworthy and dependable. In Wagonmaster he got his break, and with Harry Carey Jnr., formed a memorable parnership. Careys' exuberance somehow balances Johnsons nonchalant style, and they epitomize the young West, it'sdangers, hopes and sorrows.You just know, that as long as they are around, everything is gonna be OK.
For me Ben Johnson is as much a part of the screen West as any of the Western stars, like John Wayne and Gary Cooper. There was no one quite like him, and his roles, small or big, linger in the mind.
The elegiac Wagonmaster is his legacy to Western genre
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