The Covered Wagon is a 1923 American silent Western film released by Paramount Pictures. The film was directed by James Cruze based on a novel by Emerson Hough about a group of pioneers traveling through the old West from Kansas to Oregon. J. Warren Kerrigan starred as Will Banion and Lois Wilson as Molly Wingate. On their quest they experience desert heat, mountain snow, hunger, and Indian attack.
- J. Warren Kerrigan as Will Banion (hero)
- Lois Wilson as Molly Wingate (heroine)
- Alan Hale as Sam Woodhull (villain)
- Ernest Torrence as William Jackson
- Tully Marshall as Jim Bridger
- Ethel Wales as Mrs. Wingate
- Charles Ogle as Jesse Wingate
- Guy Oliver as Kit Carson
- Johnny Fox as Jed Wingate
- Cast notes
Tim McCoy, as Technical Advisor, recruited the Indians who appeared in this movie.
The film was a major production for its time, with an estimate budget of $782,000.
In his 1983 book Classics of the Silent Cinema, radio and TV host Joe Franklin claimed this film was "the first American epic not directed by Griffith".
In the 1980 documentary Hollywood: A Celebration of American Silent Cinema, Jesse L. Laskey Jr. maintained that the goal of director James Cruze was " ... to elevate the Western, which had always been sort of a potboiler kind of film, to the status of an epic."
The film required a large cast and film crew and many extras, and was filmed in various locations, including Palm Springs, California and several places in Nevada and Utah. The dramatic buffalo hunt and buffalo stampede scenes were filmed on Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake, Utah. During filming for the movie, seven bison from the Antelope Island Bison Herd were shot and killed.
The film premiered in New York City on 16 March 1923 and ran 98 minutes. All or about two reels of this film had a music track recorded in the short-lived DeForest Phonofilm sound-on-film process, but was only shown this way at the premiere at the Rivoli Theater in New York City. Paramount reportly also released Bella Donna on 1 April 1923 with a Phonofilm soundtrack, also only at the premiere at the Rivoli.
The film was the most popular movie of 1923 in the US and Canada.
- The House That Shadows Built (1931) promotional film released by Paramount with excerpt of The Covered Wagon
- The Covered Wagon at the American Film Institute Catalog
- The Covered Wagon at the Internet Movie Database
- Image of DeForest Phonofilm Corporation stock certificate and section of film from The Covered Wagon showing soundtrack
- The Covered Wagon at Virtual History
- image of The Covered Wagon at imp awards
- alternative poster