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Wagon Master

Wagon Master(1950)

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Many sources list this film's title as Wagonmaster, although it appears as two words in the onscreen credits. Many sources list the song "Shadows in the Dust" as either "Rollin' in the Dust" or "Rollin' Shadows in the Dust." In addition to the above listed songs, excerpts from the hymn "Come, Come All Ye Saints" are heard in the film. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, most of the picture was shot in eastern Utah. Early location shooting was done in Monument Valley, thirty-two miles northeast of Moab, UT, where the Wagon Master company was based. Other exteriors were filmed at the headwaters of the Colorado River. (Modern sources list Fisher Canyon, north of Professor Valley, and Spanish Valley as additional, specific location sites.) Hollywood Reporter notes that seventy-five "locals" acted as extras. Although Hollywood Reporter reported in late December 1949 that Argosy and RKO were negotiating a new "multiple picture distribution deal," Wagon Master was the last Argosy production to be released by RKO.
       According to modern sources, director John Ford wrote the original story for the picture. In a modern interview, Ford said of the film: "Wagon Master came closest to what I had hoped to achieve." Despite Ford's enthusiasm, the picture received mixed reactions from the critics and was not as successful as his "cavalry trilogy," which was released around the same time ( for Fort Apache). According to modern sources, the film lost $65,000 at the box office. Modern sources credit Ford's daughter, Barbara Ford, as assistant editor and Cliff Lyons, who appears in the film as the marshal, as second unit director. In addition, modern sources add Chuck Hayward to the cast. The television series Wagon Train, which aired from 1957 to 1965 on the ABC network and featured Ward Bond as a wagon master, was very loosely based on Wagon Master. After Bond died in 1961, John McIntire took over his role. Ford directed one episode of the popular series entitled "The Colter Craven Story."