3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
One of the great Westerns of the 50s,
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This review is from: Wagonmaster [DVD] (DVD)
Wagon Master is one of John Ford's lesser known westerns - but reputed to be among his most satisfying pieces of work - one in which he felt he had captured the very essence of the genre.
The film is actually a simple story, straightforward and formulaic. A wagon train of Mormons led by (Ward Bond) are heading off to a new life and persuade a couple of cowhands (Ben Johnson and Harry Carey jr) to assist by leading the way and taking charge of the wagon train. On the way they encounter a travelling medicine show and also attract a bunch of villains who are being sought by a posse following a shooting. A troop of Navaho Indians put in a token appearance also. You will have seen it all before, but what makes the movie standout is the brilliant atmospheric photography and the horses, dust of the trail and the rolling, jolting wagons, all superbly captured on film. There is not a lot of violence and what there is not especially graphic. It was probably a Saturday afternoon `U' on release.
The film has no major star, only actors that usually appeared in the also rans lists. A very youthful James Arness, who was some years later to play the lead in the TV series `Gunsmoke' appears in the
gang of crooks. The horsemanship of Johnson and Carey is splendid - Johnson especially, as would be expected from a horseman who was a rodeo star before he even began appearing in films. Ward Bond of course appeared in many a western, both in cinema and TV series. If you like 50s westerns and especially the work of John Ford, you will have nothing but pleasure by catching up on this one!