Wagon Master

Screening on Film
Recently Restored
Directed by John Ford.
With Ben Johnson, Harry Carey, Jr., Joanne Dru.
US, 1950, 35mm, black & white, 86 min.
Print source: Library of Congress

One of Ford’s unsung masterpieces, Wagon Master at first seems a variation of Stagecoach, with another motley assortment of character types embarking on a perilous journey through the Wild West. Wagon Master takes on a Fellinian picaresque quality in the almost musical combination, separation and recombination of the various groups formed when two young cowboys cross paths with a Mormon wagon train, a traveling theater troupe and a gang of outlaws. Wagon Master exhibits that lyrical sense of the everyday so often encountered in postwar filmmaking and usually labeled “neorealist” not only in its episodic narrative but also in the relaxed framing of its images. One of Ford’s favorites, Wagon Master can be seen as the beginnings of the revisionist Western in its espousal of the idea that the West was always multicultural and a haven for outcasts, individualists and the oppressed.

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Classic Ford.
A John Ford Retrospective, Part I

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John Ford:
A Major Retrospective

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