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
The shoot-out near the river was filmed at Hittle Bottom, Utah, close to Moab, Utah.. 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 »
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 »
[after Sandy pushes a gun down the back of his pants]
Be careful or you'll blow yer brains out.
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"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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