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The War Wagon (1967) Poster

(1967)

Trivia

John Wayne, who had lost his entire left lung and several ribs in major surgery for cancer in 1964, had great difficulty breathing on an airplane while flying to the location for the start of filming and had to use an oxygen mask throughout the journey. Kirk Douglas recalled that he hadn't realized just how fragile Wayne was until this moment.
During the production, Kirk Douglas was late to the set because he was shooting a commercial endorsement for the Democratic Governor of California, Edmund G. Brown. John Wayne was furious, and was late to work the next day because he was shooting a commercial for the Republican candidate Ronald Reagan.
Although Keenan Wynn played the crazy old man, he was in fact nine years younger than John Wayne.
In the initial release cut of the film, when bare-chested Kirk Douglas walks away after John Wayne leaves his room, Douglas was nude. In other versions, the scene is cut just before Douglas' buttocks are revealed.
Burt Lancaster turned down the role of Lomax because he did not want to work with John Wayne.
The 49-year-old Kirk Douglas performed most of his own stunts.
The War Wagon itself was built mostly of plywood and other lightweight materials, and painted to look like iron; appropriate "metallic" sound effects - such as when the "heavy" iron doors are opened and closed, etc. - were added to complete the illusion. For many years, at least through the 1980s, the deteriorating remains of the War Wagon were displayed in "The Boneyard" (a collection of old outdoor movie props) as part of the Universal Studios Backlot Tour in California.
Filmed in three weeks in September 1966.
John Wayne had just returned from visiting U.S. forces in Vietnam when he made this film. He was already preparing to make The Green Berets (1968).
According to the production notes on the 2003 DVD release, Keenan Wynn's battered hat that he wears in the picture was Leslie Howard's Confederate cavalry hat from Gone with the Wind (1939) which Wynn purloined from MGM. Wynn first wore the hat in a 1942 MGM screen test and "wore it in every picture he made".
Kirk Douglas was one of the few people in Hollywood who did not refer to John Wayne as "Duke", citing his dislike of nicknames. Curiously, Yakima Canutt, an expert stuntman and second unit director and one of Wayne's oldest friends in the business, also called him "John" in most print interviews.
John Wayne was not very fond of the finished film, although he said he felt that Kirk Douglas was very funny as Lomax.
Howard Keel threatened to punch John Wayne if the older actor seized hold of him again. Keel later turned down a role in The Green Berets (1968).
According to John Wayne, the fight in the saloon was his 500th on-screen fight.
According to director Burt Kennedy, he gave up half his salary so that he could afford to hire Kirk Douglas (quoted in the Production Notes on the Universal Western Collection DVD).
Kirk Douglas wore huge lifts for the scene when he first appears, so he would look in line with John Wayne.
The wagon itself, made mostly of gray painted plywood to resemble steel, with carriage bolts to look like rivet heads, was on display at Universal Studio in Orlando, Florida, during the 1990s. Interestingly, one hub on the wagon was originally on a piece of John Deere farm equipment, as evidenced by the John Deere name cast in the hub.
Kirk Douglas and John Wayne had previously starred together in In Harm's Way (1965) and Cast a Giant Shadow (1966). This film was their third and final teaming.
Howard Keel took the part of Levi Walking Bear because he needed the money. He was primarily known as a musical star and no one had made any musicals for several years.
Rod Taylor was intended for the role of Lomax until Kirk Douglas expressed interest.
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Kirk Douglas was paid 300,000 dollars, plus ten percent of the gross.
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As Lomax is riding into Chabisco, the music coming from the saloon is an instrumental version of "The Ballad of the War Wagon."
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Length of the War Wagon: 47.5 feet, from lead horse to the back end of the wagon.
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The message Lomax sends with his gun reads: "KEY NOT WORKING RIGHT THIS END - BREAKING CONNECTION. EL Paso"
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The casting of Howard Keel as an Indian was widely criticized.
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This movie was filmed in Durango, Mexico. The big rocks that you see is an area called "Los Organos" which translates The Organs, since they resemble organs. This area is vast and open to turists now. John Wayne filmed several movies here and also in a near town called "El Ojo de Agua" also in Durango know for its beautiful cascades.
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Average Shot Length and Median Shot Length = ~5.8 seconds.
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