What Is a Western? Film Series: Wagon Master (1950)

Bringing together three movies that rely on the land as an integral character in the story, the April-June block of films is guest curated by James D’Arc, curator at BYU Motion Picture Archive and author of When Hollywood Came to Town: The History of Movie-Making in Utah. These films demonstrate why the varied landscapes of Utah became popular as filming locations within the Western genre. Many accounts cite this as Ford’s favorite film. Outcast Mormons (under Ward Bond’s leadership) and “horse traders” (Ben Johnson and Harry Carey, Jr.) are in search of refuge when they meet up with a traveling drama troupe. The first motion picture filmed in the Moab, Utah area, the film’s focus on people versus the land brings to the fore both the flinty nature of the people and the slickrock landscape. Directed by John Ford | Starring: Ben Johnson, Joanne Dru, Harry Carey, Jr., and Ward Bond
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