The Colter Craven Story
Written by Tony Paulson
Directed by John Ford
Produced by Howard Christie
Carleton Young as Colter Craven
Anna Lee as Mrs. Craven
Paul Birch as Sam Grant
Annelle Hayes as Mrs. Grant
Willis Bouchey as Jesse
Mae Marsh as Mrs. Jesse Grant
Ken Curtis as Kyle
Cliff Lyons as Creel
Jack Pennick as Drill Sgt.
John Carradine as Park Cleatus
Charles Seel as Mort
Hank Worden as Shelley
Chuck Robertson as Junior
Richard Cutting as Col. Lollier
Dennis Rush as Jamie
John Wayne as Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman
( credit as Michael Morris)
About This Episode
The Colter Craven Story is unique. Most obviously because it was directed by legendary John Ford as a testament to his friendship with Ward Bond and John Wayne, who promoted the idea. The three had known each other since 1928. Only his second TV project (the first was a failed Screen Directors Playhouse in 1955) Ford expressed pleasure with the outcome. And he claimed Wayne’s appearance on the set to play General Sherman was a surprise to him.
Known for his prodigous but speedy output, Ford delivered 72 minutes of film in six days, one extra shooting day than normally allowed. It was so good that there was talk of spending a little more time and money and turning it into a two-parter. According to Bond, at the last minute 15 minutes was cut instead.
Major Adams finds Dr. Colter Craven and his wife by their broken down wagon and invites them to join the train. Although he aids an injured boy, when it becomes necessary to perform a Caesarian section, he refuses to pick up a surgical scalpel. Distraught after what he has seen in the Civil War, he prefers to drown his sorrrows in a bottle.
This prompts Major Adams to recount the story of his old friend Sam, who overcame a drinking problem to become President Ulysses S. Grant. (Historical note – Ulysses S. Grant did move to Galena, Illinois in 1860 to clerk in his father’s store.)
And the Major is giving it right back.
Dr. Craven treats a boy on the train.
Paul Birch as Ulysses S. “Sam” Grant
A happily recovered Colter Craven.
John Ford’s vision of the Wagon Train as filmed expensively for this episode.