Wagon Master

Wagon Master ★★★★★

The rare and distinct pleasure of discovering a new instant favorite; about as good as cinema gets. Film snobs love to throw around the phrase "tone poem" for a bunch of faux-profound, inaccessible modern junk, but in the case of John Ford's Wagon Master the phrase not only applies perfectly, but also holds significant value. This is 86 minutes of visual poetry (with song and dance as the connective tissue), an ode to the unconquerable spirit of the frontier and the men and women who braved it and established a nation. Even the romance between Ben Johnson and Joanne Dru (one of the most beautiful women to have ever graced the silver screen) comes and goes in distinct stanzas until the final resolution of their flirtation. Admittedly, it was a pain in the ass trying to track this rather underseen movie down, but the reward was invaluable: a sublime, perfect celluloid diamond.