The War Wagon (1967) - Rotten Tomatoes

The War Wagon (1967)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

John Wayne and Kirk Douglas spend half of The War Wagon trying to knock one another off and the other half working shoulder to shoulder. Settling an old score with avaricious mine owner Bruce Cabot, Wayne plans to steal a $500,000 gold shipment from his enemy. Douglas, at first hired by Cabot to kill Wayne, goes along with the robbery scheme. Also in on the plan is Howard Keel, superbly cast as a world-weary, wisecracking Native American (it's the sort of part that nowadays would go to Graham Greene). The titular war wagon is the armor-plated, Gatling-gun fortified stagecoach wherein Cabot's gold is transported. Thus the stage is set for a slam-bang finale, and director Burt Kennedy isn't about to disappoint the viewers. Best bit: after Kirk and The Duke gun down Cabot's henchmen Bruce Dern and Chuck Roberson, Douglas quips "Mine hit the ground first"--whereupon Wayne replies "Mine was taller." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Cast

John Wayne
as Taw Jackson
Howard Keel
as Levi Walking Bear
Robert Walker Jr.
as Billy Hyatt
Keenan Wynn
as Wes Catlin
Bruce Cabot
as Frank Pierce
Valora Noland
as Kate Catlin
Bruce Dern
as Hammond
Terry Wilson
as Sheriff Strike
Sheb Wooley
as Dan Snyder
Ann McCrea
as Felicia
Frank McGrath
as Bartender
Marco Antonio
as Wild Horse
Jose Trinidad Villa
as Townsman at Bar
Miko Mayama
as Asian girl
Margarito Luna
as Asian Girl
Midori
as Asian girl
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Critic Reviews for The War Wagon

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (1)

Handled with care, allowing plenty of room to explore western traditions and allow the leading men an opportunity to trade barbs and suspicions as they attempt to out barrel-chest each other (spoiler: Douglas wins).

Full Review… | April 20, 2014
Blu-ray.com

John Wayne (in his 162nd film) joins forces with Kirk Douglas in this revenge Western that propagates rather dangerously vigilante justice, a theme Clint Eastwood will carry to an extreme in the Dirty Harry pictures.

Full Review… | June 13, 2007
EmanuelLevy.Com

Lame, late-in-the-day Wayne actioner.

January 21, 2004
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Audience Reviews for The War Wagon

I just really love this movie, two of my favorite actors sharing the screen together in a buddy western. John Wayne and Kirk Douglas are so great together and really make things so much fun, every joke and banter lands perfectly. The plot is really cool, a heist on a battle wagon, it doesn't get much better than that. It's an easy flowing movie that is lovable down to the core.

Conner Rainwater
Conner Rainwater

Super Reviewer

It might not be great cinema but it's great fun!

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

This is a "caper" film, about what would be a heist in other circumstances. Since the ethics of the perpetrators are those which should have made the authorities make the robbery unnecessary, their act is justified in this situation. This noir western is a bit slick-appearing at some times; but it is physically attractive, has a good cast portraying colorful and somewhat desperate characters, and a strong theme song. Dimitri Tiomkin supplied the very capable score; and Burt Kennedy did a solid job of directing throughout. The very appealing storyline concerns Taw Jackson, played ably by John Wayne, who returns from prison to get back what he can from Bruce Cabot, who stole his ranch and framed him. All he can do is to recruit a group of "mission fighters", beginning with the man who had shot him 5 years earlier, Lomax, played by dynamic Kirk Douglas-and raid the "war wagon"--his enemy's vehicle for transporting gold, a Gatling-Gun-equipped armored stagecoach. Taw's team includes a drunken young dynamite expert he met in prison Robert Walker Jr., Keenan Wynn who is insanely jealous of his young wife, Valora Noland as the wife, Levi Walking Bear in the charismatic person of Howard Keel, his liaison to needed Indian allies, and more. Gene Evans, Joanna Barnes, Ann McRea, Terry Wilson and Frank Mcgrath are among those also doing good professional work in this interesting narrative. Only Noland is a bit weak in this cast. There are some humorous lines and interesting character moments as Wayne assembles his group and plots an attack worthy of "The Dirty Dozen" or "Where Eagles Dare", involving trees that fall at the right moment, Indians faking an attack as a diversion, dynamite used to block off access to a bridge, and a log that swings down and opens the rolling piggy bank violently. What happens after this successful robbery leads to a compromised denouement and ending; but the film is vividly put together, professionally mounted and decently scripted by Clair Huffaker from his own novel. The film stands as a reminder of what any well-made film about an ethical central character can provide relative to any un-ethical and not-fictional man's story competing for a cinema viewer's attention. Moments such as Wayne's visit to his ranch and his talk with the man who stole it, the recruiting of Lomax, the relations of the group, and the raid itself are all memorable. Underrated and always visually interesting.

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

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