|Westward Ho the Wagons!|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||William Beaudine|
|Produced by||Bill Walsh|
|Screenplay by||Tom Blackburn|
|Based on||a novel by Mary Jane Carr|
|Music by||George Bruns|
|Cinematography||Charles P. Boyle, A.S.C.|
|Edited by||Cotton Warburton, A.C.E.|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Productions|
|Box office||$2.75 million (US)|
Westward Ho the Wagons! is a 1956 American live-action Disney western film, aimed at family audiences. Based on Mary Jane Carr's novel Children of the Covered Wagon, the film was produced by Bill Walsh, directed by William Beaudine, and released to theatres on December 20, 1956 by Buena Vista Distribution Company.
Fess Parker stars in the film, which also features the final big-screen appearance of George Reeves. It was released on videotape in 1986 then March 18, 1997. The film was shot in Janss Conejo Ranch, now known as Wildwood Regional Park in Thousand Oaks, California.
Four Mousketeers, from the "Mickey Mouse Club" were in the film: Tommy Cole, Doreen Tracey, Cubby O'Brian, and Karen Pendleton.
The film was only a moderate success, and received mixed reviews.
Fess Parker's version of the song "Wringle Wrangle" was released as a single.
A small group of families join together to travel to Oregon in 1846. Their leader is ostensibly James Stephen (George Reeves, TV's Superman), who has made the trip before, and is now bringing his family along. John Grayson (Fess Parker, TV's Daniel Boone), known as Doc for his ambition to study medicine, however, proves to be the real leader of the wagon train.
The pioneers deal with the elements and occasional raids, but after hostile Pawnees drive off their spare horses, they realize they may not make it to the Oregon Territory. While stopping at Fort Laramie, the pioneer children make friends with Sioux children. After the Sioux chief's son is injured in an accident, Doc Grayson helps heal him, earning the trust of the Sioux. As the story ends, the Sioux warriors escort the wagon train safely through Pawnee territory.
- Westward Ho the Wagons! - lyrics by Tom Blackburn and music by George Bruns
- The Ballad of John Colter - lyrics by Tom Blackburn and music by George Bruns
- Wringle Wrangle - written by Stan Jones
- "I'm Lonely, My Darlin'" (based on Green Grow the Lilacs, Traditional) - lyrics by Fess Parker and music arrangement by George Bruns
- Pioneer's Prayer (from The Vanishing Prairie) - lyrics by Hazel "Gil" George and music by Paul Smith
Variety noted, Cinemascope treatment allows a vast panorama against which to limn the simple, yet stirring, narrative, and there's the marquee lure of Fess Parker for the younger trade particularly." Harrison's Reports wrote, "Set against highly impressive outdoor backgrounds and beautifully photographed in CinemaScope and Technicolor, this Walt Disney live-action western should go over well with the family trade, particularly the youngsters, for children play an important part in the proceedings." The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote, "Walt Disney's latest western adventure contains neither the excitement, the good humour nor the high spirits of his Davy Crockett films. There is a sense of strain; the humour hangs heavy; the action and its outcome is always predictable. The undaunted Fess Parker, however, remains as resolute as ever, and sings with the same charm and style."
- "Top Grosses of 1957", Variety, 8 January 1958: 30
- Schneider, Jerry L. (2015). Western Filming Locations Book 1. CP Entertainment Books. Page 116. ISBN 9780692561348.
- Fleming, E.J. (2010). The Movieland Directory: Nearly 30,000 Addresses of Celebrity Homes, Film Locations and Historical Sites in the Los Angeles Area, 1900–Present. McFarland. Page 48. ISBN 9781476604329.
- "Film Reviews: Westward Ho the Wagons". Variety. December 19, 1956. 7.
- "'Westward Ho the Wagons' with Fess Parker and Kathleen Crowley". Harrison's Reports. December 29, 1956. 207.
- "Westward Ho the Wagons". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 24 (282): 92. July 1957.