HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Dreams on Fire
Sing as We Go!
Burnt Orange Heresy, The
Craft Legacy, The
Eye of the Storm
Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands
Where No Vultures Fly
Come True
Kagemusha
Justine
Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché
Madchen in Uniform
Fire Will Come
Suspect
Jailbreak Pact
News of the World
Dementer
Beyond Clueless
Stylist, The
Sky is On Fire, The
Wrong Turn
In a Year with 13 Moons
Blush
Strange Affair of Uncle Harry, The
Sinners, The
Tammy and the T-Rex
Archenemy
Zappa
Mindwarp
State Secret
Mogul Mowgli
Owners, The
Twentieth Century, The
Story of Gilbert and Sullivan, The
What Lies Below
Greenland
Broil
Dead Pigs
Willy's Wonderland
It's in the Air
   
 
Newest Articles
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
   
 
  War Wagon, The Still rolling along
Year: 1967
Director: Burt Kennedy
Stars: 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 Mcrea, Hal Needham, Perla Walters, Marco Antonio
Genre: WesternBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Taw Jackson (John Wayne) returns from prison, having survived being shot and lost his ranch to corrupt congressman Frank Pierce (Bruce Cabot). He now knows there was gold on his land and that Pierce had him framed so he could get his hands on it. Jackson hatches a plan to steal the gold from Pierce’s seemingly unstoppable armoured wagon but needs help from an expert safecracker. That person happens to be the same man who shot him, a gunman-for-hire named Lomax (Kirk Douglas). Jackson and Lomax strike up an uneasy alliance in return for a share of the gold as they assemble a team for their audacious raid.

Whilst hawking Django Unchained (2012) around the press circuit Quentin Tarantino would often sound off about the supposed decline of the American western during the late Sixties, citing Burt Kennedy and Andrew V. McLaglen as the chief offenders. As was often the case with Q.T. his undoubted passion led him towards somewhat sweeping statements. For although McLaglen was undeniably hit-and-miss he still had Shenandoah (1965) on his resume while Kennedy’s westerns were actually quite consistent on both a thematic level and as rollicking entertainment, the anomaly of Hannie Caulder (1971) notwithstanding. Western author and screenwriter Clair Huffaker, who penned the likes of Flaming Star (1960) and Rio Conchos (1964) along with several vehicles for John Wayne, adapted his own novel for Kennedy’s first film with Wayne which ranks among the few times where the Duke played someone on the wrong side of the law, albeit a hero nonetheless.

The War Wagon also marked Wayne’s third pairing opposite Kirk Douglas following Otto Preminger’s overblown war drama In Harm’s Way (1965) and a cameo in Cast a Giant Shadow (1966). The two stars are well matched and serve up contrasting studies in masculinity. While Wayne is stoic yet exudes a wry, self-deprecating humour, Douglas plays it cocky and flamboyant, dressed like a dandy in a leather shirt and yellow cravat and rocking the one glove look two decades before Michael Jackson. Their banter and constant games of one-upmanship are a continuous delight, nowhere better illustrated than in the classic exchange after they plug a couple of bad guys. Douglas remarks his villain hit the ground first, to which Wayne replies with a twinkle in his eye: “Mine was taller.” Keep a look out for a young Bruce Dern as one of the unfortunate gunmen. He would tangle with Wayne once again in The Cowboys (1972). Future Smokey and the Bandit (1977) director Hal Needham also plays a small role here.

Like a lot of Kennedy’s work this has strong elements of the caper movie as Johnson and Lomax unite a disparate group with specialised skills to pull off an impossible heist. So we have Keenan Wynn as a crotchety old duffer overly possessive of his teenage bride (Valora Noland) and an alcoholic explosives expert played by Robert Walker Jr. who re-teamed with Kennedy to play the title role in Young Billy Young (1969). Most notably we also have musical star Howard Keel somewhat ludicrously cast as a Native American. More surprising is that Keel actually makes a pretty good fist of it without slipping into caricature. It is his character who utters the key line (“Grab all you can, anytime you can”) that crystalises the film’s faintly cynical theme. Whereas Howard Hawks commonly had a group of misfits band together for the greater good, here the alliance is riven with mistrust. Johnson and Lomax circle each other warily, if amiably but the rest of the group fall apart quite rapidly. In Kennedy’s westerns even heroes hide ulterior motives, a double-cross lurks around every corner and people are out for themselves. However, the finale is benign and more in line with the sense of poetic justice established in previous John Wayne films. Masterfully photographed by William H. Clothier, the Panavision frame is crucial to appreciating Kennedy’s deft handling of suspense and spectacle when Kirk and the Duke finally raid that fortress on wheels. It never stood a chance. Music by Dimitri Tiomkin including a very catchy theme song.

Click here for the trailer

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3257 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (1)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
   

 

Last Updated: