Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The War Wagon (1967)

Director: Burt Kennedy

Writer: Clair Huffaker

Composer: Dimitri Tiomkin

Starring: John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Howard Keel, Robert Walker Jr., Keenan Wynn, Bruce Cabot, Joanna Barnes, Valora Noland, Bruce Dern, Gene Evans, Terry Wilson, Don Collier, Sheb Wooley, Ann McCrea, Emilio Fernandez, Frank McGrath, Chuck Roberson, Boyd 'Red' Morgan, Hal Needham, Marco Antonio, Perla Walter

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The War Wagon Rolls And The Screen Explodes!

Plot: Taw Jackson returns from prison having survived being shot, to the ranch and gold that Frank Pierce stole from him. Jackson makes a deal with Lomax, the man who shot him 5 years ago to join forces against Pierce and steal a large gold shipment. The shipments are transported in the War Wagon, an armored stage coach that is heavily guarded. The two of them become the key players in the caper to separate Pierce from Jackson's gold.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

Wayne and Douglas have a nice chemistry and the both do a fine job in this fun Western.  It's part buddy picture and part heist and there's plenty of action a little comedy thrown into the mix.  What you get is a film that's paced well and delivers a lot of fun.  There are some holes but it's easy to overlook them when you've got Wayne and Douglas going back and forth.  Douglas (in his 50s at this point) was dressed for sexcess!

You can't tell by this picture but Wayne was 7 inches taller than Douglas in real life. The scene where he flirts with the Mexican girl only to find out at the end of the scene he was pouring on the charm primarily to get information Wayne was unable to.  That was cute and fun.  Oh, the opening song (sung by Ed Ames) is cheesy as hell.  You can thank composer Dimitri Tiomkin (also the composer of this song and score) for that.  Once he wrote the song and score for HIGH NOON (1952) theme songs in Westerns were all over the place, whether they fit or not.  His score for WAGON is surprisingly less Tiomkin-esque which is nice and mature.  The big heist at the end is fun and there's a nice little twist.  It's a good one, though, and for a second there I thought about getting the Blu-ray (for ten bucks) to replace the non-anamorphic DVD I've got.  The DVD only has a trailer for an extra.  I don't count production notes or cast bios as extras since they provide little info and it's a lazy afterthought on behalf of the DVD producers. 

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