Westward Ho the Wagons!


1h 30m 1956

Film Details

Also Known As
Children of the Covered Wagon
Release Date
Dec 25, 1956
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Walt Disney Productions
Distribution Company
Buena Vista Film Distribution Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Thousand Oaks--Conejo Ranch, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Children of the Covered Wagon by Mary Jane Carr (New York, 1934).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
7,753ft (9 reels)

Synopsis

In 1844, a wagon train heading for Oregon stops for the day before leaving Pawnee territory and entering the lands of the friendly Sioux. During the break, Hank Breckenridge, the wagon's gruff scout, complains about the restrictions of majority rule to his friend, John "Doc" Grayson. That night, the wagon train's children listen intently as Doc sings about a trapper whose courage and speed enabled him to race away from marauding Blackfeet Indians. The next day, the children are playing on a ridge when four Pawnee war party scouts spot the eldest, Dan Thompson. In order to protect the others, Dan gives himself up, and after the warriors take him away, the children remain in hiding until dark in case there are more Pawnees in the area. At the Pawnee camp, Dan is able to escape while the Indians dance, but in order to outrun his last pursuer, Dan must shove some large rocks down a hillside to crush him. When Dan reaches the wagon train, he tells them that hundreds of Pawnees were at the camp, and Hank realizes that it must be a war party, which will attack the wagons at daybreak. Doc and Hank give orders to the group to unload all but bare necessities, so that they can reach Sioux territory before dawn. The Indians attack at daybreak, although a rear guard repels the first wave and gives the wagons time to take cover in the hills. After a few more attacks, however, Hank realizes that the major thrust is about to come and that the Indians will prevail. Doc then asks farmer "Obie" Foster and speculator Spencer Armitage to release their extra horses because the Pawnees are more interested in the animals than in collecting scalps. Armitage balks, as he hopes to make a profit from the horses, but Foster releases them and the Indians retreat after rounding them up. The wagons move on and soon reach Fort Laramie in Sioux territory, where Hank learns from Bissonette, the French fort boss, that the Sioux may no longer be friendly because the last wagon train killed two braves from the tribe of Chief Wolf's Brother. As the travelers set up camp, Doc sends Armitage and some of the children to the fort to trade for buffalo robes. At the fort, medicine man Many Stars is captivated by the blonde hair of Dan's little sister Myra and tells Wolf's Brother that the child is good luck. Armitage pushes the chief away when he touches Myra, and although Bissonette calms the angry chief, he refuses to let his son Little Thunder roughhouse with Dan. Upon hearing of the children's interactions with the Indians, Doc, Hank and wagonmaster James Stephen decide to leave in the morning. That night, however, Wolf's Brother arrives at the camp and offers to trade valuable ponies, a sacred white buffalo robe and a ceremonial whistle for Myra, who, along with Dan and their older sister Laura, is fatherless. Wolf's Brother assures them that he will rear the girl as a princess, but Stephen and Laura angrily reject his offer. The next day, Doc confers again with the dissatisfied Indians, then decides that it would be safer to stay close to the fort rather than leave. As the Indians are departing, Little Thunder falls from his horse and is seriously injured. The Indians refuse Doc's offer to help, and soon Little Thunder is near death. Doc and Laura go to the Indian encampment, where Little Thunder's mother begs her husband to accept the white man's help. Doc diagnoses a bone splinter that has punctured a vein in the boy's neck, and despite Wolf's Brother's antagonism, Doc is able to operate and relieve the pressure. Soon after, Little Thunder recovers and the Indians bring gifts to the whites. Wolf's Brother tells Doc that he is their friend and that his tribe will escort them on their journey, after which Dan rides with Little Thunder and Doc joins Laura on her wagon.

Crew

Bill Anderson

Production Manager

William Beaudine Jr.

Assistant Director

Tom Blackburn

Screenwriter

Tom Blackburn

Composer

Charles P. Boyle

Photography

Jerry Brown

Stunts

George Bruns

Music

George Bruns

Composer

Forrest Burns

Stunts

Edward "tap" Canutt

Stunts

Joe Canutt

Stunts

Yakima Canutt

2nd Unit Director

Gertrude Casey

Costumes

Ben Chapman

Unit Manager

Iron Eyes Cody

Technical Advisor

Robert O. Cook

Sound Supervisor

Chuck Courtney

Stunts

Marvin Aubrey Davis

Art Director

Walt Disney

Presented By

Peter Ellenshaw

Matte artist

John Eppers

Stunts

Bob Folkerson

Stunts

Gil George

Composer

Jack Golconda

Props

Bertram Granger

Set Decoration

Don Happy

Stunts

Rolly Harper

Caterer

Fred Hartsook

Screenplay clerk

Ben Hendricks

Sound Editing

Robert "buzzy" Henry

Stunts

Ace Clyde Hudkins

Stunts

John J. Hudkins

Stunts

Robert Whitey Hughes

Stunts

Ub Iwerks

Special process

L. Johnson

Stunts

Stan Jones

Composer

Edward Juaregi

Stunts

Chuck Keehne

Costumes

Al Kennedy

Sound Editing

Emile Kuri

Set Decoration

Garrett Lambrecht

1st grip

Cliff Lyons

Stunts

Ralph Maxheimer

Dance Director

Ralph Maxheimer

Dialogue Director

Vincent Mceveety

2d Assistant Director

Red Morgan

Stunts

Lois Murray

Hairstylist

David Newell

Makeup

Fess Parker

Composer

Edward Plumb

Orchestration

Malcolm Rennings

Cable man

Rocky Shahan

Stunts

Leonard Shannon

Pub

Lou Skelton

Recording

Paul Smith

Composer

George Steele

Stunts

Boyd Stockman

Stunts

Dean Thomas

Sound Recording

Bill Walsh

Producer

Cotton Warburton

Editing

Gene White

Stunts

Albert Whitlock

Assistant Director

Jack Whitman

Camera Operator

Bob Woodward

Stunts

Al Wyatt

Stunts

Joe Yrigoyen

Stunts

Film Details

Also Known As
Children of the Covered Wagon
Release Date
Dec 25, 1956
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Walt Disney Productions
Distribution Company
Buena Vista Film Distribution Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Thousand Oaks--Conejo Ranch, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Children of the Covered Wagon by Mary Jane Carr (New York, 1934).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
7,753ft (9 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film, which was Walt Disney's first Western feature, was Children of the Covered Wagon. According to a story in the Oswego Review, Disney bought the rights to the novel in 1949 on the suggestion of Hollywood columnist Jimmy Fiddler. Author Mary Jane Carr found "considerable change" in the film, but was "well satisfied" with it, according to the news story. Several contemporary newspaper stories pointed out that historical accuracy was important to Disney and the actors. Disney borrowed 2d unit director Yakima Canutt from M-G-M. The film featured four "Mouseketeers" from the Mickey Mouse Club television series: Tommy Cole, Doreen Tracey, Cubby O'Brien and Karen Pendleton. Although a February 2, 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Mouseketeer Darlene Gillespie would also be cast, her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
       Expecting a large number of children to see the film, Disney, in a Denver Post article, stated, "We're not going to have a lot of loving and smooching. There's too much of that in pictures. Kids resent it." According to publicity for the film, the outdoor scenes were shot at Conejo Ranch near Thousand Oaks, CA. Although three western states were scouted for locations, the heavy Disney production schedule resulted in the mid-winter start date, so the Thousand Oaks location was used. Lodge-pine poles for the tepees built for the sets were bought from the Blackfoot reservation in Montana and painted with Sioux tribal designs, according to publicity.
       A one-hour Disneyland telecast on November 14, 1956, entitled "Along the Oregon Trail," included a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of Westward Ho the Wagons!. On the day of the film's opening, the first segment of a four-part series about Indians, entitled "The First Americans" began on the Disneyland series. The film was shown in two parts on the Disneyland television program on 19 February and February 26, 1961.