Wagon Master (1950)

Wagon Master (1950)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Wagon Master Photos

Movie Info

Wagon Master, splendidly directed by John Ford, is a superlative western. The film is the outwardly simple tale of a Mormon wagon train headed for Utah. Along the way, the group, led by Elder Wiggs (Ward Bond) hook up with two horse traders Travis Blue (Ben Johnson) and Sandy Owens (Harry Carey Jr), the members of a traveling medicine show and a tribe of Navajo Indians. The group is threatened by a gang, known as the Clegg family, who have robbed an express office and murdered the clerk. This wonderful film emphasizes the virtues of solidarity, sacrifice and tolerance, and shows John Ford at his most masterful, in total control of the production from the casting to the bit players to the grandeur and scope of the visual compositions. The film, with its breathtaking scenery, brilliant performances by a cast of character actors, and an engaging sense of humor, is a superlative example of the American western. Wagonmaster inspired the television series Wagon Train and was also shown in a computer-colorized version ~ Linda Rasmussen, Rovi
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Republic Pictures

Watch it now


Ben Johnson
as Travis Blue
Ward Bond
as Elder Wiggs
Joanne Dru
as Denver
Charles Kemper
as Uncle Shiloh Clegg
Jane Darwell
as Sister Ledeyard
Alan Mowbray
as Dr. A. Locksley Hall
Ruth Clifford
as Fleuretty Phyffe
Russell Simpson
as Adam Perkins
Kathleen O'Malley
as Prudence Perkins
James Arness
as Floyd Clegg
Fred Libby
as Reese Clegg
Hank Worden
as Luke Clegg
Mickey Simpson
as Jesse Clegg
Francis Ford
as Mr. Peachtree
Cliff Lyons
as Sheriff of Crystal City
Don Summers
as Sam Jenkins
as Navajo Woman
Maria [Movita] Castaneda
as Young Navajo Girl
Jim Thorpe
as Navajo
Chuck Hayward
as Jackson
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Wagon Master

Critic Reviews for Wagon Master

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (1)

Wagon Master is a good outdoor action film, done in the best John Ford manner. That means careful character development and movement, spiced with high spots of action, good drama and leavening comedy moments

Full Review… | February 22, 2012
Top Critic

This may be the closest Ford ever got to making a musical.

Full Review… | April 3, 2012

Ford considered it among his personal favorites, and a handful of Ford's biggest admirers consider it a neglected masterpiece. (I do too.)

Full Review… | April 3, 2012
Combustible Celluloid

It's as gentle and warm a film as [John Ford] ever made and it follows a classic Ford theme: the creation of a community in the west...

Full Review… | September 21, 2009

...a simple, straightforward film telling a simple, straightforward story, artistic in its design and execution and poetic in its telling.

Full Review… | September 20, 2009
Movie Metropolis

one of Ford's masterworks, a sublime, crisp, unpretentious western that doesn't wear its mythos on its sleeve

Full Review… | July 13, 2009

Audience Reviews for Wagon Master


"Wagon Master" is one of the warmest, most charming films John Ford ever made, and it's certainly among the best westerns ever made by anyone. The introduction of the villainous Clegg family (and, by extension, a clearer, more dangerous sense of conflict) to the Mormon wagon train in the film's second half feels a bit perfunctory, but it works, sometimes very much so, even if the Cleggs do always feel a bit like a second-rate version of the Clanton family from Ford's own "My Darling Celementine" from four years earlier. Charles Kemp does his best Quiet Menacing, but he's no Walter Brennan. But the film's real strength--and what seems to command Ford's interest--the isn't the action, but rather the gradual accumulation of quiet incident, not the conflict, but the film's gentle, even comic approach to character and community, all rendered joyously through some tremendous casting, music, and Ford's own, perfect, almost dancelike sense of easy, loping mis-en-scene. A beautiful film.

Davey Morrison Dillard
Davey Morrison Dillard

Sometimes you just need a Western - imagining yourself being Ben Johnson for a couple hours. Simple and good.

Bob Stinson
Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer

130420: Old school but entertaining in its simplicity. Unlike many more modern films, I don't regret having watched it.

John Redshaw
John Redshaw

Wagon Master Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Wagon Master on our Movie forum!

News & Features