Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Wagons and Masters

I just saw Wagon Master for the first time, and now I'm watching it again with the Peter Bogdanovich/Harry Carey Jr. commentary track. Too excited to say much about it right now accept that after just one viewing I'm pretty sure it's ascended the ranks to the top three of my personal John Ford favorites. One thing I would like to mention though just for fun is that there's a scene in which the wagons have to ascend a steep, rocky incline. Ford uses two establishing shots from the side and from the back to give us a good view of the daunting journey of the wagon, and then he cuts to what may be the best shot of the film (though to pick one would almost be an insult to a movie chock full of masterpiece compositions), an extreme close-up of the wheel, with the camera facing upward and catching the glimmering sunlight. The whole sequence actually reminded me a little bit of the opening scene that Tarantino wrote for the initial Hateful Eight script. If he does end up rewriting the movie and holds onto that scene, it wouldn't be a bad idea to look at what Ford does in Wagon Master for a bit of inspiration. 

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