In at least a tie, if not number one on the list of the top ten silent films connected to Nevada is “The Covered Wagon.” It was filmed in 1923 and released in 1924.
This is an epic film. A true EPIC film! Nevada filming locations in 1923 include Baker, Nevada, parts of what is now the Great Basin National Park, and with Skull and Snake Valleys.
Today’s news, the fact “The Covered Wagon” will be coming out in three weeks, on a special edition, Blu-ray with added attractions,, tops our movie news this week.
The Fox film, (Before it became 20th Century Fox) was Jesse Lasky, who approved a $500,000 budget. Big bucks in 1923. By the time all the production costs were added up, it was a $750,000 movie. The director, James Cruze, was raised by his Mormon parents in Ogden, Utah.
The star is Alan Hale. No, not Gilligan’s Island Alan Hale. This was his dad. The female star was Lois Wilson. A long career, more than 150 films including the silent film version of the Great Gatsby.
Paramount Studios, “3,000 actors spent three months” in the Utah and Nevada deserts.” Again from the studio’s “Facts about The Covered Wagon,” “One-tenth of all the blanket Indians in the United State appear.” They are Arapahoes, Bannocks, Shoshones, and Crows.”
“Nine square miles of waste prairie were burned. The scenes in which the 500 wagons ford the mile-wide rushing torrent were made at great risk.” (A hell of a lot more wagon’s then Ward Bond ever had.)
Promotional Post card issued by Paramount Studios. (CH collection)
That is studio publicity at work. But, having viewed the VHS copy. There are thousands of people and hundreds of wagon. As far as buffaloes the studio said they had 500 in the film. Remember, this was 1923, no “Iron Man” parts one or two digital affects. But seems to be a few of those buffaloes, well check it out for yourself.
This is a classic film, shot in Nevada and Utah. It is an epic film, a box office hit, and led to other epic silent films in the 1920’s before “Iron Horse,” and “Ben-Hur.”
The disc will go on sale on February 20, and the news release from Kino Lorber said the special edition release will also contain,
- -Audio commentary by Film Historian Toby Roan
- -Booklet essay by film scholar Matt Hauske
- -The Pie-Covered Wagon: a 1932 one-reel spoof starring Shirley Temple
- -Wurlitzer organ score by Gaylord Carter
- -Reversible Blu-ray Art
When the movie was released in the United States and England, theatre goers were asked to fill out post cards and send them to friends.
Coming up in February a top ten list of Nevada related silent movies. With 1924 “The Covered Wagon” and John Fords, 1925 “Iron Horse” competing for the top honors. The recently uncovered southern Nevada production of a Laurel and Hardy film, yes, Laurel and Hardy may also vie for a top spot. Semi spoiler alert L and H are the stars of this film, but before the there was a Laurel and Hardy handshake to become a team. Filmed near Moapa. Surprised me too.