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The War Wagon (1967)

Unrated | | Western | 27 May 1967 (USA)
The story of a man who was shot, robbed and imprisoned who returns to steal a large gold shipment from the man who wronged him. The gold is transported in an armored stage coach, the War Wagon.

Director:

Burt Kennedy

Writers:

Clair Huffaker (screenplay), Clair Huffaker (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Wayne ... Taw Jackson
Kirk Douglas ... Lomax
Howard Keel ... Levi Walking Bear
Robert Walker Jr. ... Billy Hyatt (as Robert Walker)
Keenan Wynn ... Wes Fletcher
Bruce Cabot ... Pierce
Joanna Barnes ... Lola
Valora Noland ... Kate
Bruce Dern ... Hammond
Gene Evans ... Deputy Hoag
Terry Wilson ... Sheriff Strike
Don Collier ... Shack
Sheb Wooley ... Snyder
Ann McCrea Ann McCrea ... Felicia
Emilio Fernández ... Calita (as Emilio Fernandez)
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Storyline

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. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

When These Two Men Ride - The Legend of the West Was Born! See more »

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

27 May 1967 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The War Wagon See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$6,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Filmed in three weeks in September 1966. See more »

Goofs

Pierce's men carry Henry rifles, but their bandoleers hold .30-40 Krag ammunition. Henry rifle ammunition was short and blunt, not long and tapered. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Hoag: Sheriff! Taw Jackson's back in town!
Sheriff Strike: You sure?
Hoag: Well, he's ridin' down the street right now, big as life.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Blazing Saddles (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

Ballad Of The War Wagon
Sung by Ed Ames
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Lyric by Ned Washington
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Subtle (but Fun) Parody of Traditional Western Movie Conventions
19 October 2006 | by aimless-46See all my reviews

I didn't like the "War Wagon" when it was first released, I found it rather silly and vaguely offensive. The problem was me, I was not ready to recognize, let alone relate to, a subtle parody of the western genre. I should have been more receptive because in the mid-60s a huge amount of genre parody began to appear on television ("Batman", 'Wild Wild West", "F- Troop", "Get Smart"), which could be traced back to gently tongue-in-cheek series like "Maverick" and "Zorro".

"Cat Ballou" (1965) was the first feature length parody of Western genre clichés. But its parody elements were obvious, even if you were not that familiar with the conventions of the Western genre you could recognize exaggerations and revisions. In addition, up to this point John Wayne films had given the Western genre only very traditional treatments.

But "The War Wagon" was only the first example of director Burt Kennedy's tweaking of the genre. He would follow it up with "Support Your Local Sheriff" (1969), "Hannie Caulder" (1971), and "Support Your Local Gunfighter" (1971). Wayne would toy with parodic elements two years later with "True Grit", and would stay much less traditional with the remainder of his westerns.

"The War Wagon" is also a genre hybrid as western is mixed with buddy picture and big heist movie. Taw (John Wayne) recruits an old enemy Lomax (Kirk Douglas) as he seeks revenge on a ruthless mine owner (Bruce Cabot) who not only framed and sent to him prison, but appropriated his ranch and personal possessions after a huge gold strike was discovered on ranch property (here we go with the exaggeration-the only things missing are stealing Taw's wife, adopting his children, and leaving his toilet seat up). Cabot transports his gold in a "Wild Wild West" inspired armored wagon.

The interplay between Wayne and Douglas (who always seems right on the verge of accepting Cabot's standing offer of $12,000 to kill Wayne) is clever and sarcastic, working with the many exaggerated elements to provide the film's considerable humor.

"The War Wagon" finds Wayne on the wrong side of established authority, for at least the third time as his Ethan Edwards character in "The Searchers" also operated well outside the law and Quirt Evans in "Angel and the Badman" had to be bad enough that he could be reformed by Gail Russell.

Howard Keel plays the civilized Indian sidekick mostly for comic relief and the characters actually demonstrate an awareness of the movie context when they self-reflexively (deliberately drawing attention to their playing characters in a movie) refer to a tactic as an old Indian trick. Ultimately the joke (and the irony) is on Wayne and Douglas, as their seemingly one-sided deal with the Indians (a few blankets in exchange for their participation) causes the Indians to end up with most the rewards.

"The War Wagon's" understated parody style would inspire John Huston ("The Life & Times Of Judge Roy Bean") and George Roy Hill ("The Sting"); and of course many others.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.


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