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 »
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
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 »
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 »
[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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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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