Covered Wagon, The

(Cruz, 1923) Music composed and compiled by Hugo Riesenfeld
Overture by Mortimer Wilson

Adapted by Jack Cunningham from a novel by Emerson Hough, The Covered Wagon helps us to understand the threat that the plow posed to the Indians' way of life. When an Indian warrior says the paleface "must be slain -- or the Red Man perishes," the movie establishes empathy for the Indians. Unfortunately, the movie soon drops this angle almost entirely. When the Indians do indeed attack, the camera places its sympathies completely with the settlers. But every time we subsequently see a plow, it carries a double meaning: it represents civilization, and it represents death. Interspersed with the epic scenes are conventional romantic scenes: Sam Woodhull (Alan Hale) intends to marry Molly Wingate (Lois Wilson), but after Will Banion's wagons from Liberty, Missouri arrive and join the expedition, Molly soon begins to prefer Banion (J. Warren Kerrigan). The two men struggle for control of the wagon train. Banion typically lets Woodhull have his way. He sees himself as an outsider, for he was charged with stealing horses and kicked out of the army. Not until the true story is revealed and he is exonerated can he take his place within civilization. The overture won a prize for Mortimer Wilson.


Performing forces
11 players (2 violins, cello, bass, flute/piccolo, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, piano, percussion/tympani, synthesizer). 2 singers (ST) optional.
Performing forces
50 players (strings 7,7,5,5,3; flute, flute/piccolo, 2 clarinets, oboe, oboe/Eng. horn, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tympani, percussion, harp, piano), 4 singers (SATB).
Rehearsals Two 2 ½ hour rehearsals
One 3 hour 10 minute tech rehearsal
One 3 hour 10 minute dress rehearsal
Performance time 2 hours 5 minutes plus 15 minute intermission
Film speed 20 frames per second
Film source Paramount Studios
Rights Paramount Studios
artwork:Lidia Bagnoli