Two wagon caravans converge at what is now Kansas City, and combine for the westward push to Oregon. On their quest the pilgrims will experience desert heat, mountain snow, hunger, and ...
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Angela comes to Hollywood with only two things: Her dream to become a movie star, and Grandpa. She leaves an Aunt, a brother, Grandma, and her longtime boyfriend back in Centerville. ... See full summary »
George K. Arthur
Two wagon caravans converge at what is now Kansas City, and combine for the westward push to Oregon. On their quest the pilgrims will experience desert heat, mountain snow, hunger, and indian attack. To complicate matters further, a love triangle develops, as pretty Molly must chose between Sam, a brute, and Will, the dashing captain of the other caravan. Can Will overcome the skeleton in his closet and win Molly's heart?Written by
Thomas McWilliams <email@example.com>
Although there are scenes that show huge buffalo herds with what looks like thousands of animals, large buffalo herds didn't exist at the time this film was made (1923). The buffalo had been hunted almost to extinction during the late 19th century, with millions of them being slaughtered, and its numbers hadn't yet increased enough to comprise large herds. Cameraman Karl Brown used small lead castings of various sizes of buffalo, placed the larger ones toward the camera and used diminishing sizes in the background for depth. All the castings were mounted on a series of moving chains, those in the rear moving very slowly while the rows of chains moved increasingly faster as they neared the foreground. The castings were hinged so that they moved with an undulating motion, which made them appear to be actual buffalo running. The chains were placed out of view and the mechanical buffalo were placed in front of a painted background containing distant buffalo. The result was a scene of "thousands" of buffalo, when in reality most of them were basically statues. See more »
Jim Bridger is presented in this film as being a bigamist with two Indian wives. Bridger actually married three times, all to Indian women, but the first died before he married the second and the second died before he married the third. See more »
Unfortunately time has not been particularly kind to this slow moving curiosity piece about a wagon train of pioneers headed to Oregon. The story is ordinary, the characters, not surprisingly, strictly archetypes, from the noble but modest hero (the incredibly dull J. Warren Kerrigan), to the wide eyed heroine (pretty but bland Lois Wilson), who never can seem to make up her mind who she prefers, Noble Hero (who has a rumored tarnished past) or conniving bad guy fiancée (Alan Hale, yes, I said Alan Hale, without a sign of a smile on his face). The audience is way ahead of the double minded lady as to whom she will finally choose.
James Cruze directed the production and failed to enliven or distinguish any of the much needed action sequences, whether it be a big scene, an Indian attack on the wagon train, or a smaller one (a fist fight between Kerrigan and Hale).
The film is noteworthy, however, for its photography, and in showing the far flung vistas on the horizon, does convey a sense of bigness. Also enlivening the film to a degree are the performances of Tully Marshall as a fur trapper and, in particular, Ernest Torrence as a grizzled wagon scout, stereotypes as they may be. Torrence and Marshall are entertaining enough that eight years later they would be reunited for essentially the same roles in a 1931 wagon train tale of negligible entertainment value, Fighting Caravans.
The Covered Wagon might have been considered to be a big deal for the film world in 1923 but today this trip put west is, I'm sorry to say, is just not a standout. Maybe I just expected more because Paramount silent are so hard to find and, many times, they really are standouts.
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