Review: ‘The Covered Wagon’

'The Covered Wagon' was months in the making, the biggest thing since 'The Birth of a Nation.'

“The Covered Wagon” was months in the making with its cost said to have been in the neighborhood of $800,000. It is the biggest thing since Griffith made “The Birth of a Nation.”

Like “Birth” it is based on historic fact. Emerson Hough, who wrote “The Covered Wagon” for the Saturday Evening Post, chose for his subject those pioneers who left their farms and safe-guarded homes in the territory east of the Ohio and started in prairie schooners for the Pacific Coast in 1847, before the discovery that the California hills contained the glittering metal that was to be a tremendous lure in 1849.

This particular wagon train, which has some 300 vehicles, starts for Oregon. Through it all a very pretty and simple love tale runs, as well as an element of intrigue, which together with the thrills that have been devised makes this production a real picture of pictures.

The big thrills are three. First and foremost is the fording of the Platte by the wagons of the train. Then there is the Indian attack with a corking battle staged and finally a prairie fire.

The Covered Wagon


Paramount. Director James Cruze; Screenplay Jack Cunningham; Camera Karl Brown; Editor Dorothy Arzner; Music Hugo Riesenfeld


Silent. (B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1923. Running time: 119 MIN.


J. Warren Kerrigan Lois Wilson Ernest Torrence Charles Ogle Alan Hale Ethel Wales
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