Wagon Master - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Wagon Master Reviews

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November 19, 2016
161119: Those Cleggs are some bad dudes, surprisingly made up of a couple not so bad dudes. What are James Arness (Floyd Clegg), aka Marshal Matt Dillon, and Hank Worden (Luke Clegg) doing as bad guys? Not the roles I know them for but they sure do a good job here. Never noticed how Lurch-like, large, Arness was. Man, he's scary and when he scoops up Denver (Joanne Dru), you fear for her welfare. Led by the ever-nasty Uncle Shiloh (Charles Kemper), the Cleggs are the overarching black cloud following this optimistic Mormon wagon train. Ben Johnson's history brought me back to this film and I'm glad it did. Thanks True West magazine. I had underrated it upon first viewing and, if anything, this film is near four stars. What a wonderful way to end a day pursued by the black dog. Coincidently, this old oater and another, fall in-between viewings of the Lethal Weapon series. Well, I know which ones are classics, which ones will remain classics and which ones will not. Enjoy.
May 1, 2016
Mormons heading west run into criminals and a group selling horses. The stuffiness of the Mormons was funny and they always blew a ridiculous sounding horn.
½ March 30, 2016
Probably the most casual and compact John Ford western I've seen so far.
December 16, 2013
another winning western from the master of the genre, john ford.
½ July 24, 2013
"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.
Super Reviewer
April 21, 2013
Sometimes you just need a Western - imagining yourself being Ben Johnson for a couple hours. Simple and good.
½ October 3, 2012
Western folklore--Mormon Trek!!
January 18, 2012
One of Ford's most underrated and under-seen films. A masterpiece.
January 6, 2012
Thoroughly enjoyable Western where two horse traders join up with a band of Mormons and end up with more than they bargained for. Lots of interesting character development here for a pretty big cast.
October 23, 2011
John Ford uses some of his well trusted sidecast but here it's not paying off. Production is a bit clumsy when the overall balance is off - why should I care for particularly these characters remains uncertain. There are musical numbers but their meaning remains unclear. Some entertaining factors.
½ September 23, 2011
Wagon Master is a unique film. It is about two drifters who guide a Mormon wagon train. Ben Johnson and Joanne Dru give excellent performances. The script is well written. John Ford did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed this motion picture because of the adventure. wagon Master is a must see.
½ August 8, 2011
John Ford's personal favorite, a small film done with a small cast and crew, and surprisingly without John Wayne. But even so, Harry Carey Jr and Ben Johnson as 2 cowboys helping a group of Mormons cross into Utah, still do extremely well in their parts, with fun and with grace. It doesn't have huge epic chases and battles like Fort Apache or Stagecoach, but it's definitely worth it for Ford fans.
June 19, 2011
Masterful and underrated film from John Ford. It's not that well known but it's as brilliant as his best work. The sympathetic portrait of Mormons headed West is intriguing.
½ April 6, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011

(1950) Wagon Master
WESTERN

Actors Ben Johnson and Harey Carey JR star as horse traders agreeing for a precise sum of money to escort a group of mormons out of a town to settle to San Juan! Along the ride, they of course come across a narcisstic man and his 4- 5 sons whose just robbed a bank that occured at the beginning as well as a fake medicine man and his lady cohorts! A much younger Miriam Hopkins has a small role as one of the mormon wives!

Directed by known Western film maker, John Ford may have too much old Western singing than I am able handle, but although this one does have a happy ending, what stands out are the picturesque desert landscapes and the realistic times actual travellers used to do while travelling along the desert, such as preserving water or 'not' to travel to the quickest root 'but' to the nearest creek or river where water is present or what to do when confronting Navajo Indians (using actual language)! All of these things can contribute this film to a sense of realism upon watching it!

3 out of 4
½ March 30, 2011
A minor Ford classic with many Ford regulars getting beefier roles without the Duke or Henry Fonda leading the charge. Ben Johnson and Harry Carey Jr. play Travis and Sandy, two drifters helping out a group of Mormons to settle out in Utah in the fertile (?!) San Juan River area. Ward Bond is also along for the ride. Along the way, the group meet up with some lady folk and our young men may take a fancy to them. But also a gang of outlaws are out on the lam and join up with the group. Then there is always the "Indians" to worry about! Wagon Master is far more subtle than most Ford Westerns and paints a much more realistic portrait of the old West. The natives are not the savages so often portrayed at the time, but rather much more understanding and intelligent people. It is the interplay of the white people that cause any anger. Wagon Master is beautifully photographed and has been said to be one of Ford's favorite Westerns.
March 11, 2011
interesting western since its about pioneer women not ur usual western
½ December 21, 2010
Glorious in its simplicity; John Ford delivers this mediocre material to its fullest potential.
December 10, 2010
One of the biggest disapointments ever. Now I know why it stayed out of print so long. The only part of a star I gave it was in honor to the incredible roster of talent so horribly wasted here.
I have enjoyed most of the mains in other westerns, as well as the director.
This movie seemed to have no pacing, did not know what it wanted to do.
Gag OVER used lady with her horn. I began hoping someone would shoot her, as it became annoying, and not funny fast.
Watched it once.. sold it, would never watch it again. Barely was able to sit through to the end.
½ October 25, 2010
Very nicely shot, primarily on location somewhere in the southwest. It probably deserves to be more well-known. I recommend it to people looking for good Ford movies or good Classical Hollywood westerns.
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