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Chisum (1970)

Cattle baron John Chisum joins forces with Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett to fight the Lincoln County land war.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry Tunstall
Jess Evans
Sue McSween (as Lynda Day)
Geoffrey Deuel ...
Sallie Chisum
Amos Patton
Lloyd Battista ...
Bradley Morton


As one of the founders of the town of Lincoln, John Chisum is increasingly worried as Lawrence Murphy moves in on the local stores, bank and land by questionable means. Chisum and fellow honest ranch owner Henry Tunstall try and use the law, but Murphy owns that too. Confrontation threatens and Tunstall's man Billy Bonney is not slow to get involved. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


THE LEGEND - John Wayne is "Chisum" See more »


Biography | Western


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

29 July 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Chisum and the Lincoln County Cattle War  »

Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)


$6,000,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Although clearly labeled as the older man, at 58 Patric Knowles was actually four years younger than John Wayne. Wayne's character, John Chisum, died five or six years after the events portrayed in this movie, at age 60. In real life cattle baron John Tunstall was 24 when he was murdered; he was played by the 58-year-old Knowles. The real John Chisum was 54 at the time the events in this film occurred, but he was played by the 62-year-old Wayne. See more »


Men wore hats outside in Old West nearly 100% of the time. It was so rare that a man would remove his hat outside for more than brief periods that it would be the subject of discussion when or if it occurred.Multiple scenes in the film show men outside , hatless , and this is ignored or treated as "normal." See more »


Lawrence Murphy: Sheriff Brady, Jess Evans, this is Alex McSween. Uh, he's part of the family.
Jess Evans: Howdy.
Sheriff Brady: What does he do?
Lawrence Murphy: Well, he used to be a storekeeper and now he's my lawyer.
Jess Evans: I prefer storekeepers!
Alex McSween: Then don't ever get arrested.
Jess Evans: I don't intend to.
See more »


Featured in John Wayne and Chisum (1970) See more »


Turn Me Around
Sung by Merle Haggard
Lyrics by Norman Gimbel
Music by Dominic Frontiere
See more »

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User Reviews

Splendid John Wayne as a tough cattle baron fighting along with Billy the Kid in the Lincoln County war
8 October 2007 | by (Santander Spain) – See all my reviews

This excellent film concerns about the real-life land baron living in New Mexico and dealing with the Lincoln County Wars of 1878 . Wayne as the cattle baron Chisum is magnificent . It's one of very few John Wayne Westerns based on historic deeds . The movie is plenty of action , shootouts , adventures and being pretty entertaining . Casting is frankly awesome with usual Andrew McLagen , John Ford's actors (Wayne , Ben Johnson , John Agar and Hank Worden) . Furthermore , habitual Ford cameraman William H. Clothier (Cheyenne Autumm , Man who shot Liberty Balance , Horse soldiers) giving a colorful cinematography as well as evocative musical score by Dominic Frontiere . The motion picture was well directed by Andrew W. McLagen , Ford's known disciple , and he called the film one of his favorites .

The real events are the followings : This powerful cattle king of New Mexico , John Simpson Chisum (1824-84) living in New Mexico governed by governor Lew Wallace (Ben Hur's author) , he started with a few head of stray longhorns and became one of the biggest individual cattle owners in North America, with between 60.000 and 100.000 head . In 1854 he entered the cattle business , selling beef to Indian reservations, making friendship with Chief White Buffalo (Abraham Sofaer's last film) . In 1867 he moved to New Mexico and established a large spread at South Spring in Old Lincoln County where he prospered greatly . He became involved in the Lincoln County war of 1878-79 in which he opposed the Murphy (Forrest Tucker)-Dolan (Edward Faulkner) faction and backed cattleman Tunstall (Patrick Knowles) , whose gunfighters-cowboys included the handsome Billy the Kid (Geoffrey Deuel's film debut). It is said that Chisum was instrumental in making Billy the Kid an outlaw killer , he used his considerable influence in getting Pat Garret (Glenn Corbett) elected Sheriff of Lincoln County in 1880 and it was Garrett who hunted down and killed the young outlaw . Chisum's cattle brand was the Long Rail , a long , straight mark extending from shoulder to flank . Chisum , who never married, died at Eureka Springs , Arkansas , leaving an state of some 500.000 dollars .

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