7.1/10
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56 user 43 critic

Wagon Master (1950)

Approved | | Adventure, Western | 22 April 1950 (USA)
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 ... 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Harry Carey, Jr., Joanne Dru's husband, John Ireland, stayed in town during the shooting, and avoided the set, but did organize the company into a performance of "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" in the evening. 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 Travis] Hey, you wouldn't, uh, happen to know that San Juan River country, would you?
Sandy: Yeah, we know it. What about it, Grandpa?
Elder Wiggs: [Taking offense] Now look here, don't you be grandpa-ing me, you young whippersnapper! I'll bull you off that fence and fan your britches for you! Goddarn...
See more »

Connections

Featured in Directed by John Ford (1971) See more »

Soundtracks

Come, Come, ye Saints
(uncredited)
Words by William Clayton, 1846
Music by Jesse White, 1844
See more »

User Reviews

Marvellous Western
31 May 2002 | by lorenellroySee 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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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)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Argosy Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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