4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
An Action Filled Fun Fest.,
This review is from: War Wagon (John Wayne) [DVD] (DVD)
As a piece of pure entertainment "The War Wagon" works perfectly. It is very much a feel good movie. We see the bad guys get a deserved whupping. People get shot, but there is not much blood. The Duke dominates the screen once more without really trying, and is aided an abetted by Kirk Douglas in another of his likeable rogue roles. The film is directed by Burt Kennedy, who always shows a sure hand where comedy is concerned, and it abounds with good light hearted humour. The screenplay was by that stalwart writer of westerns Clair Huffaker, and everyone in the cast seems to be having a good time, and earning money doing it! The fun is infectious, and it is a film that is hard to dislike.
The story concerns John Wayne as Taw Jackson, a man who has been cheated out of his ranch and land by a double dealing villain played by Bruce Cabot. Jackson has spent three years in jail while Cabot has been mining gold from his land and making a fortune. His gold shipments are made in an armour plated stagecoach, complete with gatling gun, known as "The War Wagon" funnily enough! Jackson enlists the help of a motley assortment of characters to try the impossible, and rob the the wagon of its largest shipment. There is action aplenty, and not all our characters survive to the final scene. There is double dealing and a surprise ending.
Okay so the film is not a classic in the vein of more thought provoking films like "The Searchers", "Shane" and "The Wild Bunch". But it is great to sit down and watch with a few munchies, as what can best be described as A1 no brainer entertainment. I mean we have two great stars sharing some funny banter together. When Wayne and Douglas shoot two heavies simultaneously, Douglas declares "mine hit the ground first", and Wayne retorts "but mine was taller". Worth noting was the fact that one of the heavies is that fine actor Bruce Dern, in an all too short early appearance. He was to appear a few years later with the Duke in a larger role in the fine Mark Rydell film "The Cowboys". In addition to these two mega stars, we also unusually have Howard Keel appearing. Unusual in that he is in a straight acting role with no singing, and for the fact he plays an indian. Keenan Wynn also appears to good effect as a crooked accomplice.
If you are after a more thought provoking film with a message, then this is not he film for you. But if you want to just sit back and enjoy the fun and action, then it is good value! That gifted composer Dimitri Tiomkin also provides a rousing score which complements the film perfectly. The transfer is sharp and clear but there are no extras. It may be better value to buy as part of a collection that also includes "Rooster Cogburn" and "Tall in the Saddle". Perhaps a rather generous four stars but I couldn't help liking it! Recommended.