THE COVERED WAGON
DIRECTED BY JAMES CRUZE
INFORMATION FROM IMDb
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
J. Warren Kerrigan ... Will Banion
Lois Wilson ... Molly Wingate
Alan Hale ... Sam Woodhull
Ernest Torrence ... William Jackson
Tully Marshall ... Jim Bridger
Ethel Wales ... Mrs. Wingate
Charles Ogle ... Jesse Wingate
Guy Oliver ... Kit Carson
Johnny Fox ... Jed Wingate
and many more...
Emerson Hough ... (novel)
Jack Cunningham ... (adaptation)
Jesse L. Lasky ... producer
Manny Baer ... (uncredited)
Hugo Riesenfeld ... (uncredited)
J.S. Zamecnik ... (uncredited)
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.
In an early cut of this film prior to its release, director James Cruze appeared in a brief cameo heavily disguised as an Indian. Screenwriter Jack Cunningham wrote him a memo saying that, even if viewers didn't recognize him from his days as an actor, he looked too "white" alongside the genuine Indians who appeared in the film. Cunningham prevailed, and the scene was deleted.
J. Warren Kerrigan had fallen out of favor with the industry by the time he was cast in this film. James Cruze, with who he had a long friendship and professional relationship, cast him more or less as a favor.
To get enough covered wagons for the film, a call went out in California to families that still had their ancestors' covered wagon which had brought them out west - these were gathered so wagons used were authentic - perhaps repaired a bit.
It has been claimed, particularly by South Africans, that there are too many similarities between this and De Voortrekkers (1916) to be coincidental.
Lois Wilson was extremely impressed by the Native Americans who were hired as extras. "You never had to re-take an Indian shot" she said of how authentic they were.
A recording of the music for this film was made using the DeForest Phonofilm sound-on-film process. Some sources say the entire film was scored and recorded in this process, but other sources say only a couple of reels were recorded as an experiment. See also Bella Donna (1923).
An attempt to maneuver the covered wagons across a river for one scene resulted in two horses drowning. Lois Wilson said that this incident so upset her that she went back to her tent and couldn't work for the rest of the day.
For the film's opening weeks in London, a group of real Red Indians was sent over to perform a tableau on the stage at the end of each screening.
Great Basin National Park, Nevada, USA
Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake, Utah, USA
Garrison Reservoir, Garrison, Utah, USA (River Crossing Scene)
Garrison, Utah, USA (Fort Bridger Scene)
Garrison, Utah, USA (Indian Attack on Wagon Train Scene)
Garrison, Utah, USA (River Crossing Scene)
Iverson Ranch - 1 Iverson Lane, Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California, USA
Skull Valley, Nevada, USA
Snake Valley, Nevada, USA
Sonora, California, USA
Watch Some Scenes
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