Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Wagon Master

Wagonmaster - aavikon sankari / Wagonmaster - öknens hjälte. US © 1950 Argosy Pictures Corp. Presented by John Ford, Merian C. Cooper. Assoc. P: Lowell Farrell. D: John Ford. Assist. D: Wingate Smith. SC: Frank Nugent, Patrick Ford. DP: Bert Glennon. 2d unit Photography: Archie Stout. AD: James Basevi. ED: Jack Murray; Set Dec: Joe Kish. Properties: Jack Golconda. Men's Wardrobe: Wes Jeffries. Women's Wardrobe: Adele Parmenter. M: Richard Hageman. Songs: "Shadows in the Dust," "Song of the Wagon Master," "Wagons West" and "Chuckawalla Swing," words and music by Stan Jones. S: Frank Webster, Clem Portman. FX: Jack Caffee. Makeup: Don Cash. Hair: Anna Malin. LOC: Monument Valley. Cast: Ben Johnson (Travis Blue), Joanne Dru (Denver), Harry Carey Jr. (Sandy Owens), Ward Bond (Jonathan Wiggs), Charles Kemper (Uncle Shiloh Clegg), Alan Mowbray (Dr. A. Locksley Hall), Jane Darwell (Sister Ledyard), Ruth Clifford (Floretty "Florey" Phyffe), Russell Simpson (Adam Perkins), Kathleen O'Malley (Prudence Perkins), James Arness (Floyd Clegg), Fred Libby (Reese Clegg), Mickey Simpson (Jesse Clegg), Hank Worden (Luke Clegg), Francis Ford (Mr. Peachtree), Jim Thorpe (Indian chief), Cliff Lyons (Marshal). 86 min. A print of the 1964 Aito Mäkinen re-release with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Aito Mäkinen / Jerker A. Eriksson edited by Pentti Pajukallio. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 7 Dec 2010.

Revisited John Ford's epic poem, a film that may seem at first sight a routine number. But the more one sees it the better it gets. The film was a favourite of John Ford, himself, and it keeps growing in esteem among John Ford aficionados. Wagon Master is a relaxed film without pretension. The only monumentalism is the location, Monument Valley. The Mormons (their leader played by Ward Bond) are chased out of town. They start their journey through the desert, the rivers, and over the mountains to the promised land. They get horse traders (Ben Johnson, Harry Carey, Jr.) as their wagon masters. They meet a medicine show wagon. A family of outlaws, the Cleggs, hijacks the wagon train to hide in the wagons from the sheriff's posse. The wagon train also meets a peaceful Navajo tribe. - Joseph McBride remarks on the topical relevance of the film's stance against prejudice, bigotry, racism, and intolerance. - The cinematography by Bert Glennon is magnificent, and the visual quality of the print is fine.

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