The film outlines true facts regarding the violent conflict between cattlemen John Chisum and L.G. Murphy known as the Lincoln County Wars. By 1878, Lincoln County and The Pecos is a fairly well-settled, well-claimed part of the New Mexico Territory; the daily stagecoach arrives with affluent Easterners (including lovely ladies in their finest) most every afternoon, looking to stake some claim on their future.
Blackhatter Murphy (Forest Tucker) holds a monopoly in banking and dry goods - and sells cattle to the government that he rustles from others. Plus Murphy's got the sheriff and The Governor in his back pocket. And by expanding his control over the water supply, Murphy's planning to get even richer off the increasing population.
Local cattleman John Chisum (Wayne, of course) is going to fight to change all that. With some help from Pat Garrett (Corbett), and despite some two-timing by Billy the Kid (pretty-boy Deuel), that is.
The film's clearly influenced by the success of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" just the year prior; breezier subplots/scenes are injected and Glen Campbell's gentle voice provides some of the score.
Another artifact from the time: introductory voiceover by William Conrad, the portly star of the "Cannon" gumshoe TV series.
RECOMMENDATION: Despite the shortcomings, Wayne ridin' for righteousness - plus the true telling of one of the Old West's most legendary conflicts - equals worthy one-spin viewing.
Film is based some historical figures, like Chisum the rich rancher who had almost everyone in the town respecting him, lives with a niece and some faithful - Billy the Kid who wanders into the town hoping to start a new life - and there is this Pat Garrett a bounty-hunter-turned-Sheriff of the town upon the request of new cunning businessman hated by Chisum.
It is believed though the film is historically inaccurate but I reckon the movies needed to give out entertainment citing the inspiration from particular figures from heap of the history. John Wayne though not in major aggressive role as usually he would take on - and yet there are some likeable scenes when he punches some fellas direct in the face - some sweet characters around Chisum, whom you just wish not to go against their role anytime in the film far they standout so modestly.
Excellent, picturesque locations; ever cooling vast open rancher mid the mountain valley gives the film a boost to be doing sincerity with the genre of western.
While not the most memorable of films, the editing got a little rough at times for me. Wayne is the MAN, a wealthy cattle rancher and that's about most of the film. Forrest Tucker is the problem for Wayne in this one as they fight, literally one on one as Tucker buys up the town.
A good trip down 60-70's western nostalgia filming technique, it was no Stagecoach or rival to great cinema.
Maybe it wasn't trying to be. Michael A. Wayne, executive producer felt the story summed up his father's political views. The sizeable cast has familiar faces from earlier John Wayne films, as well as friends such as Forrest Tucker.
* Two sons of Robert Mitchum are in the cast.
** In 1986, Chisum's composer Frontiere was in jail for nine months in a federal penitentiary for scalping tickets to the 1980 Super Bowl, which he obtained through his then-wife, Los Angeles Rams owner Georgia Frontiere. They divorced after his release from prison.
*** Chisum's cinematographer Clothier was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Cinematography for The Alamo (1960) and Cheyenne Autumn (1964).
**** John Wayne was making Chisum when he heard of his nomination for an Academy Award in 1970 for True Grit.
Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen (veteran TV, movie and frequent Wayne favorite as a director)
Produced by Andrew J. Fenady
Written by Andrew J. Fenady
Narrated by William Conrad (1971-6 star in tv's "Cannon")
John Wayne - John Chisum ***
Forrest Tucker - Lawrence Murphy
Ben Johnson - James Pepper, Chisum's sidekick
Patric Knowles - Henry Tunstall (based on John Tunstall)
Geoffrey Deuel - Billy The Kid
Pamela McMyler - Sallie Chisum
Glenn Corbett - Pat Garrett
Andrew Prine - Alexander McSween
Christopher George - Dan Nodeen
Bruce Cabot - Sheriff Brady
Richard Jaeckel - Jess Evans, Murphy's lead henchman
Lynda Day - Sue McSween
Robert Donner - Morton (deputy sheriff)
John Mitchum - Baker (deputy sheriff) *
John Agar - Amos Patton, a shopkeeper ousted by Murphy
Gregg Palmer - Karl Riker
John M. Pickard - Sergeant Braddock
Christopher Mitchum - Tom O'Folliard *
Music by Dominic Frontiere **
Cinematography William H. Clothier ***
Editing by Robert L. Simpson
Studio Batjac Productions (Wayne started this company)
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) June 24, 1970
Running time 111 min.
John Wayne acting usually as himeslf again coinciding with Billy The Kid and Pat Garret as well as many others! With the existing problem with this film is the total predictability of knowing when the audience know when some undeserving good guy was going to get killed because of corruption amongst the sheriffs etc.. I ended up fast- forwarding most of the third and fourth acts than I did on the first 40 minutes while watching this film! Predictability at it's worst!
2 out of 4