Kehr Capsule of the Week: Wagon Master (1950)

The film that John Ford most often cited as his personal favorite among his westernsWagon Master (1950) stars Ben Johnson and Harry Carey Jr. as two drifters assigned to lead a Mormon train to the Utah frontier. Ford treats one of his central themes—the birth of a community—through a sweeping visual metaphor of movement. Seldom has the western landscape seemed such a tangible emblem of hope and freedom. A masterpiece beyond question—but a masterpiece that never degenerates into pomposity or self-consciousness. It’s American filmmaking at its finest and most eloquent. 86 min.

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