Wednesday, September 29, 2010

1967 - THE WAR WAGON, John Wayne, Kirk Douglas


Here's an oddball John Wayne film.  The War Wagon is one of those big caper films where a team is assembled and a big heist is planned and executed to a carefully constructed plan.  This film is unusual in that it's set in the west and has John Wayne and Kirk Douglas as it's stars.


Clair Huffaker who had been responsible for writing one of Wayne's worst films, Hellfighters wrote the screenplay but it was director Burt Kennedy's uncredited rewrite that saved the film.  Kennedy apparently added the humor to the film which really upped the entertainment value of The War Wagon. 



As with Robert Mitchum in El Dorado, John Wayne works very well with a strong actor like Kirk Douglas.  Wayne couldn't push a personality like Douglas around unlike a lot of actors who he easily dominated.  Douglas is as good at hogging a scene as John Wayne is. At this stage in his career John Wayne would no longer play love scenes with leading ladies because he felt he was age inappropriate.  However he and Kirk Douglas definitely have a love hate romance going on throughout the film which is highly entertaining. 


Although there was an attempt to try something new plot wise in a Wayne western, it's still a Wayne western.  The audience gets a saloon fight, gunfights, and Indian fights although none of it is taken very seriously. 

This film is probably how audiences liked John Wayne best, in undemanding entertainments, which is what The War Wagon is, nothing wrong with that.

96 minutes.

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