7.2/10
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Wagon Master (1950)

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

Director:

John Ford

Writers:

Frank S. Nugent (as Frank Nugent), Patrick Ford
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben Johnson ... Travis Blue
Joanne Dru ... Denver
Harry Carey Jr. ... Sandy
Ward Bond ... Elder Wiggs
Charles Kemper ... Uncle Shiloh Clegg
Alan Mowbray ... Dr. A. Locksley Hall
Jane Darwell ... Sister Ledyard
Ruth Clifford ... Fleuretty Phyffe
Russell Simpson ... Adam Perkins
Kathleen O'Malley ... Prudence Perkins
James Arness ... Floyd Clegg
Francis Ford ... Mr. Peachtree
Fred Libby Fred Libby ... Reese Clegg
Jim Thorpe ... Navajo Indian
Mickey Simpson 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:

Adventure | Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Navajo | Spanish

Release Date:

22 April 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Wagonmaster See more »

Filming Locations:

Monument Valley, Arizona, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$999,370 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Argosy Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the scene where Travis (Ben Johnson) gets bucked off his horse after Denver (Joanne Dru) 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

While the peaceful Mormon homesteaders may not have been carrying sidearms, that they would also not have rifles and shotguns (for hunting and protection from animals) seems unlikely. Certainly 19th century Mormons didn't have an aversion to firearms - one of the greatest gun designers in history, John M. Browning, was a practicing Mormon. 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 John Ford (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

CHUCKAWALLA SWING
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)
Called by Russell Simpson
Danced by cast
See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of Ford's two favorite films.
4 May 1999 | by coop-16See all my reviews

Together with the even more underrated , The Sun Shines Bright, Wagon Master was one of Ford's favorite films. It is a western of exceptional beauty and narrative purity, well acted by members of Ford's 'stock company', including Jane Darwell, Alan Mowbray, Ward Bond,and Harry Carey, Jr.Like almost all of Ford's films,it is a meditation on freedom and community. It is also noteworthy for a much more positive portrayal of Indians than in most of Ford's movies. Ford, for all his faults, remains the supreme poet of American Democracy.


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