Wagon Master

Synopsis: As Mormon settlers head to the promised land at the San Juan river in Utah, they hire horse traders Travis Blue and Sandy as wagon masters. They have to forge a trail across unknown territory and face many hardships along the way. They quickly come across some stranded travelers, a medicine show run by Dr. A. Locksley Hall which includes the attractive Denver. Along the way however, they are also joined by Shiloh Clegg and his murderous clan of robbers and thieves. An encounter with the Navajo leads to an invitation to their camp but after one of the Clegg boys gets a whipping for attacking one of the Navajo women, Uncle Shiloh plans his revenge. It's left to Sandy and Travis to protect the travelers and get them to their destination.
Director(s): John Ford
Production: Republic Pictures
Rotten Tomatoes:
86 min

I wish you hadn't have done that, son.

Please. Please, don't shoot.

The way I figure, Travis,

these ponies ought to bring us $30 a head.

And 12 head at $30 comes to, uh...

...uh, 320.


-It does? WeII, that's better yet.

Divide it by two,

weII, that makes it, uh, uh....

Quite a tidy sum.

Yeah. Subtract that 20 bucks you owe me,

from the tidy sum...

...and you'II have 160 left.

I will? Say, that's not bad

for four months' work.

Not bad at all.

-Look anything like them?


Howdy, marshal.


Good horse. Mighty gentle.


Yep, that's my business.

You fellas looking for a horse-trade?

If you are, I'll trade you

this little sorrel horse here pretty cheap.

He's sound, straight eye, wind and limb.

Whoa, Bridesmaid. Be gentle now.

Eight, nine and ten.

Thank you, marshal.

Got yourself a good horse for $10.

Of course,

he's got his own little peculiarities.

You might say, his own little failings.

Aah! You gotta help me!

Hang on, marshal!

We gotta help the marshal!

Howdy, elder.

-Howdy, son.

Howdy, ma'am.

These here are your horses?

Yeah, they belong to me and Sandy here.

Whoa, be gentle.

Easy now.

They gentle, hmm?

Gentle? Ha. Ask the marshal.

He can tell you.

What are you figuring on asking for them?


-Fifty dollars a head.

-Fifty dollars a head?

-Well, I'll be dad-blasted!

-Elder-- Elder Wiggs.

Bear's paws, Adam! Fifty dollars a head!

That's enough to make the Lord himself--


All right, all right,

I repent my words of wrath.

But I'll be goldanged

if I'm gonna pay any $50 a--

Whoa, Buttercup. Whoa.

Be gentle.

Where'd you boys, uh,

get these here gentle horses?

Meaning exactly what?

Just keep your shirt on, son.

Your face looks honest to me

even if it is homely.

Navajo country mostly.

Southwest of here.

-Navajo, huh?



You wouldn't, uh, happen to know

that San Juan River country, would you?

Yeah, we know it.

What about it, Grandpa?

Now, look here,

don't you be grandpa-ing me...

...you young whippersnapper.

I'll bull you off of that fence

and fan your britches for you, goldarn--

Now, elder.

You know, folks around here...

...tell me that there ain't no through trail

to the San Juan.

-Folks is right.

-But we've been there.

Yeah, that little oId buckboard's part burro.

Just goes anywhere.


You boys mind telling me

if you're drinking men?


-Got a brother's a drunkard, though.

-You ever chaw?

-Tried it once.

Use the words of wrath?

Only tolerable well.

Are you family men?

No, sir.


Well, how'd you boys like to sell us

aII these here gentle horses of yours...

...at $50 a head...

...and maybe pick yourselves up

an extra hundred or so on the side?

Doing what?

Wagon master, that's what.

Leading our wagons to the San Juan.

To a valley...

...that's been reserved for us by the Lord.

Been reserved for his people.

So we can plow it...

...and seed it

and make it fruitful in his eyes.


-Are you people Mormons?

That's right, son.

That's why I keep my hat on all the time.

So my horns won't show.

Why, I got more wives

than Solomon himself.

At least,

that's what folks around here say.

And if they don't say it, they, heh--

They think it.

But we're not a big party, son.

We're just a handful of people

sent out to mark the traiI...

...and prepare the ground

for those that are gonna come after us.

Why, next summer,

there'll be a hundred families on the move.

And they're counting on us

to have a crop ready for them.

And if we don't, they'll starve, sure as--


That's why we gotta reach that valley

before the winter rains come.

We've been praying

that we'd be showed the way.

It might just be that you boys

are the answer to our prayer.

Makes you feel kind of noble

being an answer to a prayer, Travis.

Yeah, it does.

The elder has offered us a fair price

for our horses.

A fair price?!

Why, for that old crow bait there?

I never saw such a goldang--


Big strip of country between here

and the San Juan, eIder.

My guess is

that you can't make it in wagons.

Nope. Better count us out.

Besides, me and my partner,

we was kind of figuring on settIing...

...and playing a little high-low

Jick, Jack, Ginny and the Bean Gun.

-Hold low or claim it?

-Claim it.

Gambling, huh?

Gambling with cards.

And a hundred peopIe

gambling their lives on us.

Come on, Adam.

They've been wasting our time.

High, low, Jick, Jack, Ginny,

and the bean gun.

Thank you, gentlemen.

-What are you claiming for low?

-Had the trey.

I didn't see it.

Well, the Mormons got the fire stirring.

They're getting ready to pull out.

Well, as long as they're out of town

by 7:
30. That's their deadline.

Mormons, Cleggses, show folks,


I'm in.

Well, folks...

...we're gonna have to Ieave

this hospitable community at exactly 7:30.

Seven o'clock. You better get a-moving.

-Looks like we've got a trial ahead of us.


But it's not the first time.

We've had to go it alone before

and we'll have to go it alone again.

We're tough. We've had to be tough.

Ever since Brother Brigham led our peopIe

across the plains.

-WeII, they survived, and dang it, we'll--


Well, we'll survive too.

Now, put out your fires

and get to your wagons.

Elder, we'll get there, mm,

with the Lord's help.

That's right, Sister Ledeyard.

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Frank S. Nugent

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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