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Wagon Master (1950)

Approved  |   |  Western  |  19 April 1950 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 2,703 users  
Reviews: 43 user | 21 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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(as Frank Nugent) , , 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Travis / Travis Blue
...
Denver
...
Sandy
...
Wiggs / 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
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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

The shootout near the river was filmed at Hittle Bottom, UT, close to Moab, UT. There is mention of "a 1950's western," with the fight scene near a picnic table at the Hittle Bottom Campground at an information installation. The campground is close to Fisher Towers, another Moab area filming location for movies and commercials. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[Sandy fills a bucket of water from the river, and takes it to Prudence]
Sandy: I brought you some water, ma'am
[Prudence gratefully takes it]
Prudence Perkins: Thank you. Won't you stop and have a bit of breakfast with us?
Sandy: [Happily] Yes, ma'am.
[Sandy instantly leaps from his horse]
Travis Blue: [Travis comes riding up] Sandy, lets go!
[Sandy regretfully gets back on his horse, and bows repeatily to Prudence before riding away]
See more »

Connections

Featured in Directed by John Ford (1971) 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

Marvellous Western
31 May 2002 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

"One hundred years have come and gone since 1849"intone the Sons of the Pioneers over the titles of the movie ,thus establishing what we are about to see is a reminiscence of the days when the West was opened up.The movie is ballad heavy indeed,and could be seen as the movie that most precisely mirrors Ford's love of music,which is shown as a unifying force bringing communities together .Ford was to claim it was his favourite movie-one which,together with "The Fugitive"and "The Sun Shines Bright"saw him most accurately achieve what he set out to do It is an intimate epic whose episodic narrative focuses on the exploits of a Mormon wagon train leaving the inhospitable climes of the city to seek out the "promised land"near the San Juan River.They are guided by two horse traders,played by those dependable Ford repertory company members Ben Johnson and Harry Carry Jnr .Indians are encountered but ,uniquely for a wagon train movie they are friendly and there is no grand scale Indian attack.Instead the chief menace comes from an outlaw gang headed by the truly evil Uncle Silas(a mesmerising performance by Charles Kempson)and featuring rare unsympathetic roles from James Arness and Hank Worden.It is they who bring trouble on the train and menace its inhabitants.

The casting is perfect.Ford normally relied on iconographic peformers like Wayne ,Fonda or Stewart but by casting Johnson and Carry he chose the "right size"actors 'ones who are more able to suggest the decent ordinary men who will lay it on the line for the right cause and can persuade an audience they just might lose Good to see Alan Mowbray as an itinerant showman reprising the type of role he played so memorably in My Darling Clementine and Ward Bond as the worldly Mormon leader is fine.Only two problems for me with the movie-love interest in the form of Joanna Dru did not convince and I could not believe Mormons were as liberal as depicted here.Minor quibbles apart it is a beautiful movie with atmospheric monochrome photography and a love for the material and the era it celebrates shining through.Elsewhere on this site-its Message boards to be exact-Ford detractors have started their pettifogging sniping.I would like to think this movie would silence their iconoclastic jejeune ravings but probably not. Enjoy and wallow in its visual and emotional beauty


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