Tuesday 20 August 2019

On Blu-ray - David Hare extols "John Ford's greatest film" WAGON MASTER (USA, 1950)

Two of my favorite things from Ford's greatest film Wagon Master.
Ben Johnson (above, click on any image for a slideshow) and his magnificent savour faire, with those superb thighs sprawled over his horse, as he stares down the local con artists. 
And the wagon train dog (below) captured here in the credits, who, noticing Bert Glennon's camera comes right up to it before sniffing and barking at us, while the credits roll on implacably. 
From the gorgeous new Warner Archive Blu Ray, in all likelihood sourced from the superb 35mm interpos they used for the now five plus year old DVD.
If you don't love this film you may as well give up on life.
The first apparition of Joanne Dru
Wagon Master's trajectory is a majestically directed and "handled" picture that plays like it is literally improvising itself as it runs for its 86 minutes. Even though every single characterization begins as one of Ford's trademark vignettes which present each character in turn. 

Like Stagecoach which ends the 30s, Wagon Master begins the 50s with a journey, not to Lordsville (or the City of God) this time, but to an incredible final shot by Bert Glennon of the landscape of Paradise, which becomes steadily illuminated by blinding light to the final credit. 

I am only sorry Tag Gallagher didn't get a chance to do a vid for Warners on this occasion.

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