One of Duke's lesser late films, but still entertaining if you are into westerns...,
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This review is from: Train Robbers [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
To say things straight, this film is not a full success - but I do not regret that I bought and watched it. Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS.
Some twenty years after the War Between The States, a certain Ms. Lowe (gorgeous Ann-Margret), a young and very attractive widow, contacts Lane (John Wayne), an aging former Union cavalry officer, to help her with an unusual endeavour. Ms. Lowe reveals that her late husband was, sadly, a bandit and he once attacked a government train and stole half a million USD in gold coins! It seems that this loot was essentialy not spend but hidden, in a particularly remote and unfriendly location in northern Mexico - and Ms. Lowe knows precisely where! She wants to get this gold and return it - and she is ready to share with Lane and his men the finder fee (10%) offered by the US government. But she warns Lane, that she is not the only one to be after the gold - former associates of her husband are relentlessly following her and if finding this gold offers no difficulties, surviving to claim the reward can be a different matter altogether...
What follows is an easy, mostly relaxing, rather pleasant to watch western, not very good but not very bad either, with a big voyage, lots of camping, black coffee and beef jerky with beans meals, occasional gun fights, some campfires stories and a John Wayne who willingly concedes that both his character and himself are getting old and romancing beautiful young widows is a little behind both of them ("I have a saddle older than you Ms. Lowe"). This moment carries even more weight once we remember that exactly 20 years earlier, in another western (it was "Hondo") John Wayne's character met another young beautiful widow named Ms. Lowe - but in those times she soon ended in his bed...
Once we arrive to the northern Mexico desert, some pretty original and quite nice elements borrowed from both "new wave" and "spaghetti" westerns show that this film was clearly made in 1973, a time very different from the one in which John Wayne was the greatest star in Hollywood. As most of Lane's men are his old comrades in arms from times of Civil War, this film is also quite nostalgic... Also, dialogs are honest, with an occasional good one-liner.
Amongst the weak elements in this film are the "bad guys" - sorry for the SPOILER here, but you should not expect much from them - there is nothing interesting about them and they are really perfectly expendable pathetic gun fodder...
As it was already stated, this is a relaxing and not very original watch - but things change radically in the last 5 minutes... I will certainly not reveal anything about those last 5 minutes, but believe me, even if by moments you can think that this film is too slow and sometimes disappointing, it is still worth to wait until the end, because there you may have both a big surprise (I did not see it coming at all) and a HUGE laugh...)))
Bottom line, this is a kind of 3,5 stars film, recommended mostly for the most devoted Duke's fans or western maniacs (I plead guilty on both counts), who are ready to go to great lengths just to hear John Wayne say "If anyone tries to cross that river before we're out of sight - baptize'em!". Other viewers may be somehow disappointed.