Westward Ho the Wagons! (1956)

86 mins | Western | 25 December 1956

Director:

William Beaudine

Producer:

Bill Walsh

Cinematographer:

Charles P. Boyle

Production Designer:

Marvin Aubrey Davis

Production Company:

Walt Disney Productions
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HISTORY

The working title of this film, which was Walt Disney's first Western feature, was Children of the Covered Wagon . According to a story in the Oswego Review , Disney bought the rights to the novel in 1949 on the suggestion of Hollywood columnist Jimmy Fiddler. Author Mary Jane Carr found "considerable change" in the film, but was "well satisfied" with it, according to the news story. Several contemporary newspaper stories pointed out that historical accuracy was important to Disney and the actors. Disney borrowed 2d unit director Yakima Canutt from M-G-M. The film featured four "Mouseketeers" from the Mickey Mouse Club television series: Tommy Cole, Doreen Tracey, Cubby O'Brien and Karen Pendleton. Although a 2 Feb 1956 HR news item stated that Mouseketeer Darlene Gillespie would also be cast, her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
       Expecting a large number of children to see the film, Disney, in a Denver Post article, stated, "We're not going to have a lot of loving and smooching. There's too much of that in pictures. Kids resent it." According to publicity for the film, the outdoor scenes were shot at Conejo Ranch near Thousand Oaks, CA. Although three western states were scouted for locations, the heavy Disney production schedule resulted in the mid-winter start date, so the Thousand Oaks location was used. Lodge-pine poles for the tepees built for the sets were bought from the Blackfoot reservation in Montana and painted with Sioux tribal designs, according to publicity.
       A one-hour Disneyland telecast on 14 Nov 1956, entitled "Along the Oregon Trail," included a behind-the-scenes look at ... More Less

The working title of this film, which was Walt Disney's first Western feature, was Children of the Covered Wagon . According to a story in the Oswego Review , Disney bought the rights to the novel in 1949 on the suggestion of Hollywood columnist Jimmy Fiddler. Author Mary Jane Carr found "considerable change" in the film, but was "well satisfied" with it, according to the news story. Several contemporary newspaper stories pointed out that historical accuracy was important to Disney and the actors. Disney borrowed 2d unit director Yakima Canutt from M-G-M. The film featured four "Mouseketeers" from the Mickey Mouse Club television series: Tommy Cole, Doreen Tracey, Cubby O'Brien and Karen Pendleton. Although a 2 Feb 1956 HR news item stated that Mouseketeer Darlene Gillespie would also be cast, her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
       Expecting a large number of children to see the film, Disney, in a Denver Post article, stated, "We're not going to have a lot of loving and smooching. There's too much of that in pictures. Kids resent it." According to publicity for the film, the outdoor scenes were shot at Conejo Ranch near Thousand Oaks, CA. Although three western states were scouted for locations, the heavy Disney production schedule resulted in the mid-winter start date, so the Thousand Oaks location was used. Lodge-pine poles for the tepees built for the sets were bought from the Blackfoot reservation in Montana and painted with Sioux tribal designs, according to publicity.
       A one-hour Disneyland telecast on 14 Nov 1956, entitled "Along the Oregon Trail," included a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of Westward Ho the Wagons! . On the day of the film's opening, the first segment of a four-part series about Indians, entitled "The First Americans" began on the Disneyland series. The film was shown in two parts on the Disneyland television program on 19 Feb and 26 Feb 1961. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
22 Dec 1956.
---
Christian Science Monitor
6 Mar 1956.
---
Daily Variety
18 Dec 56
p. 3.
Denver Post
6 Jan 1957.
---
Detroit Times
18 Jan 1957.
---
Film Daily
20 Dec 56
p. 12
Glendale News Press
24 Mar 1956.
---
Harrison's Reports
29 Dec 56
p. 207.
Hollywood Citizen-News
17 Dec 1956.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jan 1956
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jan 1956
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 1956
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Feb 1956
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Feb 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Apr 1956
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 1956
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Dec 56
p. 3.
LAMirror-News
27 Dec 1956.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
1 Apr 56
p. 8, 11.
Los Angeles Examiner
26 Dec 1956.
---
Los Angeles Times
31 Oct 1955.
---
Los Angeles Times
19 Apr 1956.
---
Los Angeles Times
27 Sep 1956.
---
Los Angeles Times
26 Dec 56
p. 8.
McKeesport News
14 Jan 1957.
---
Menasha Twin City News Record
3 Jan 1957.
---
Motion Picture Daily
27 Dec 56
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
22 Dec 56
p. 195.
Oswego Review
28 Feb 1957.
---
Post-Advocate
25 Jan 1956.
---
The Exhibitor
26 Dec 56
p. 4265.
Time
4 Feb 1957.
---
Variety
19 Dec 56
p. 7.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Walt Disney Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Asst dir
2d asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Cam op
1st grip
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec process
Matte artist
DANCE
Dance dir
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Tech adv
Prod mgr
Scr clerk
Caterer
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Children of the Covered Wagon by Mary Jane Carr (New York, 1934).
SONGS
"Westward Ho the Wagons!" and "The Ballad of John Colter," music by George Bruns, lyrics by Tom Blackburn
"Wringle Wrangle," music and lyrics by Stan Jones
"I'm Lonely My Darlin'," new arrangement of "Green Grow the Lilacs," music and lyrics by George Bruns and Fess Parker
+
SONGS
"Westward Ho the Wagons!" and "The Ballad of John Colter," music by George Bruns, lyrics by Tom Blackburn
"Wringle Wrangle," music and lyrics by Stan Jones
"I'm Lonely My Darlin'," new arrangement of "Green Grow the Lilacs," music and lyrics by George Bruns and Fess Parker
"Pioneer's Prayer," music by Paul Smith, lyrics by Gil George
traditional Indian songs, including a Sioux medicine chant.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Children of the Covered Wagon
Release Date:
25 December 1956
Production Date:
16 January--23 March 1956
retakes on 26 May 1956
Copyright Claimant:
Walt Disney Productions
Copyright Date:
20 September 1956
Copyright Number:
LP8882
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
86
Length(in feet):
7,753
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18089
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1844, a wagon train heading for Oregon stops for the day before leaving Pawnee territory and entering the lands of the friendly Sioux. During the break, Hank Breckenridge, the wagon's gruff scout, complains about the restrictions of majority rule to his friend, John "Doc" Grayson. That night, the wagon train's children listen intently as Doc sings about a trapper whose courage and speed enabled him to race away from marauding Blackfeet Indians. The next day, the children are playing on a ridge when four Pawnee war party scouts spot the eldest, Dan Thompson. In order to protect the others, Dan gives himself up, and after the warriors take him away, the children remain in hiding until dark in case there are more Pawnees in the area. At the Pawnee camp, Dan is able to escape while the Indians dance, but in order to outrun his last pursuer, Dan must shove some large rocks down a hillside to crush him. When Dan reaches the wagon train, he tells them that hundreds of Pawnees were at the camp, and Hank realizes that it must be a war party, which will attack the wagons at daybreak. Doc and Hank give orders to the group to unload all but bare necessities, so that they can reach Sioux territory before dawn. The Indians attack at daybreak, although a rear guard repels the first wave and gives the wagons time to take cover in the hills. After a few more attacks, however, Hank realizes that the major thrust is about to come and that the Indians will prevail. Doc then asks farmer "Obie" Foster and speculator Spencer ... +


In 1844, a wagon train heading for Oregon stops for the day before leaving Pawnee territory and entering the lands of the friendly Sioux. During the break, Hank Breckenridge, the wagon's gruff scout, complains about the restrictions of majority rule to his friend, John "Doc" Grayson. That night, the wagon train's children listen intently as Doc sings about a trapper whose courage and speed enabled him to race away from marauding Blackfeet Indians. The next day, the children are playing on a ridge when four Pawnee war party scouts spot the eldest, Dan Thompson. In order to protect the others, Dan gives himself up, and after the warriors take him away, the children remain in hiding until dark in case there are more Pawnees in the area. At the Pawnee camp, Dan is able to escape while the Indians dance, but in order to outrun his last pursuer, Dan must shove some large rocks down a hillside to crush him. When Dan reaches the wagon train, he tells them that hundreds of Pawnees were at the camp, and Hank realizes that it must be a war party, which will attack the wagons at daybreak. Doc and Hank give orders to the group to unload all but bare necessities, so that they can reach Sioux territory before dawn. The Indians attack at daybreak, although a rear guard repels the first wave and gives the wagons time to take cover in the hills. After a few more attacks, however, Hank realizes that the major thrust is about to come and that the Indians will prevail. Doc then asks farmer "Obie" Foster and speculator Spencer Armitage to release their extra horses because the Pawnees are more interested in the animals than in collecting scalps. Armitage balks, as he hopes to make a profit from the horses, but Foster releases them and the Indians retreat after rounding them up. The wagons move on and soon reach Fort Laramie in Sioux territory, where Hank learns from Bissonette, the French fort boss, that the Sioux may no longer be friendly because the last wagon train killed two braves from the tribe of Chief Wolf's Brother. As the travelers set up camp, Doc sends Armitage and some of the children to the fort to trade for buffalo robes. At the fort, medicine man Many Stars is captivated by the blonde hair of Dan's little sister Myra and tells Wolf's Brother that the child is good luck. Armitage pushes the chief away when he touches Myra, and although Bissonette calms the angry chief, he refuses to let his son Little Thunder roughhouse with Dan. Upon hearing of the children’s interactions with the Indians, Doc, Hank and wagonmaster James Stephen decide to leave in the morning. That night, however, Wolf's Brother arrives at the camp and offers to trade valuable ponies, a sacred white buffalo robe and a ceremonial whistle for Myra, who, along with Dan and their older sister Laura, is fatherless. Wolf's Brother assures them that he will rear the girl as a princess, but Stephen and Laura angrily reject his offer. The next day, Doc confers again with the dissatisfied Indians, then decides that it would be safer to stay close to the fort rather than leave. As the Indians are departing, Little Thunder falls from his horse and is seriously injured. The Indians refuse Doc's offer to help, and soon Little Thunder is near death. Doc and Laura go to the Indian encampment, where Little Thunder's mother begs her husband to accept the white man's help. Doc diagnoses a bone splinter that has punctured a vein in the boy's neck, and despite Wolf's Brother's antagonism, Doc is able to operate and relieve the pressure. Soon after, Little Thunder recovers and the Indians bring gifts to the whites. Wolf's Brother tells Doc that he is their friend and that his tribe will escort them on their journey, after which Dan rides with Little Thunder and Doc joins Laura on her wagon. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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