Concession Stand Bites: “The War Wagon” (1967)

thewarwagon“The War Wagon” (1967)
Starring John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Howard Keel, Robert Walker Jr. Bruce Cabot, Keenan Wynn. Written by Clair Huffaker, based on his novel. Directed by Burt Kennedy. Standard serio-comic western which places Wayne in the rare role of the pseudo-bad guy, or is he?. In this film he’s Taw Jackson, an ex-con who’s out to rob the even badder guys who stole his ranch and then set him up to serve a stretch in prison. So technically there is no break in the Wayne persona, which veered explosively in John Ford’s “The Searchers” and then returned to the relative comfort zone. The supporting characters are a grab bag of western “types” usually played for background color, but in this case brought to the forefront to give the illusion of a density of incident that just isn’t there: they include a jealous, compulsive thief (Wynn), a drunken explosives expert with an inconveniently loose tongue (Walker Jr.), an Indian who can’t stay out of trouble (Keel) and Taw’s eventual partner Lomax, (Douglas) a gunslinger who is contracted to kill him and was also instrumental in helping frame him in the first place. If it all sounds rather forced and gimmicky, it is that, but Wayne and Douglas make an amusing duo helped by some brisk witty dialogue that often doesn’t know when to quit and gets too cute for it’s own good; as if the two are accompanied across the landscape by a team of overworked comedy writers.

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About chandlerswainreviews

I've been a puppet, a pirate, a pauper, a poet, a pawn and a king, not necessarily in that order. My first major movie memory was being at the drive-in at about 1 1/2 yrs. old seeing "Sayonara" so I suppose an interest in film was inevitable. (For those scoring at home- good for you- I wasn't driving that evening, so no need to alert authorities.)Writer, critic and confessed spoiler of women, as I have a tendency to forget to put them back in the refrigerator. My apologies.
This entry was posted in John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Movies, Reviews, westerns, writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Concession Stand Bites: “The War Wagon” (1967)

  1. beetleypete says:

    Sorry to say that Western didn’t work for me. But for some reason, it is on TV here at least once a week. 🙂 Best wishes, Pete.

    • This seems to be symptomatic of broadcast channels insisting on featuring films of lesser distinction. Which is why I avoid paying for premium channels, as how many times might I want to watch Adam Sandler in “The Longest Yard”?

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