Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wagon Master(1950)

Wagon Master(1950). Director: John Ford. Cast: Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr., Joanne Dru, and Ward Bond.

Learning of their ability as experienced horsemen, Elder Wiggs, hires Travis Blue and Sandy Owens to guide a small group of Mormons across the West to the San Juan River country in southeastern Utah Territory.

Ford came up with the idea for the story, and Patrick Ford (John Ford's son) and Frank S. Nugent wrote the script. Ford and Merian C. Cooper, were co-executive producers, with Lowell J. Farrell as associate producer. Music was done by Richard Hageman.

Ford had been shooting the film She Wore a Yellow Ribbon the year before (1948) in Monument Valley, near the town of Mexican Hat, Utah, close to the locations where he had also filmed Stagecoach (1939), My Darling Clementine (1946), and Fort Apache (1948). He wanted a different look for his next film and drove to Moab. Wagon Master was shot in less than a month, in 1949, for less than a million dollars. Filmed in black and white, on location, mainly northeast of the town of Moab, Utah in Professor Valley (with additional shotting at Spanish Valley southwest of Moab, and a few stage shots were done at Monument Valley).

The television series Wagon Train (1957-1965), starring first Ward Bond and then John McIntire, was inspired by the film. (Ford directed one episode.)

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