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Wagon Master (RKO 1950, Ben Johnson, Ward Bond)



Fine John Ford Western about two rugged cowhands (Ford stalwarts Ben Johnson and Ward Bond) who join a wagon train of faithful, hardy Mormons heading for Utah. One of Ford’s exemplary tales of human survival that contrast ideals (the expression of the Mormons’ beliefs in their quest for the ‘promised land’) with reality (the harsh Western terrain, the threat of Indian attack and outlaws). The inspiration for the television show Wagon Train (which also starred Bond).

Though Ben Johnson was a star by the time he made Wagon Master, director John Ford didn’t treat him that way. In fact, Ford made Johnson do his own stunts in a scene where he has to break a horse.

production details
USA / RKO / 86 minutes / 1950

Director: John Ford
Producers: Merian C. Cooper, John Ford
Director of Photography: Bert Glennon
Editing: Jack Murray
Music:Richard Hageman
Script: Patrick Ford, Frank S. Nugent

Ben Johnson as Travis Blue
Alan Mowbray as Dr. A. Locksley Hall
Charles Kemper as Uncle Shiloh Clegg
Jane Darwell as Sister Ledyard
Movita as Young Navajo Indian
Joanne Dru as Denver
Francis Ford as Mr. Peachtree
Harry Carey, Jr. as Sandy
Ward Bond as Elder Wiggs
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
Jim Thorpe as Navajo Indian
Mickey Simpson as Jesse Clegg
Cliff Lyons as Marshal of Crystal City
Don Summers as Sam Jenkins