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The War Wagon

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Two cinematic legends, John Wayne and Kirk Douglas, team up to seize a small fortune in gold in this action-packed western classic. Wayne plays Taw Jackson, a range-hardened rancher who's hell-bent on capturing the infamous War Wagon, an ironclad stagecoach protected by a small army of men and owned by a thieving cattle baron who robbed Taw of his gold and good name years before. To get even, Jackson recruits Lomax (Douglas), a brash gunslinger, and a raucous crew of misfits and readies them to pull off one of the most impossible heists of all time.

Amazon.com

John Wayne and Kirk Douglas make a delightful duo in this comedic Western in which Wayne seeks revenge on a ruthless mine owner (Bruce Cabot) who had him framed and sent to prison. Upon his release, Wayne recruits Douglas in a scheme to raid and rob one of Cabot's gold-laden wagons, despite the fact that Douglas had been offered good money to kill Wayne. He joins Wayne instead (the potential profits being much greater), and they set out to ambush the War Wagon, so named because it's heavily armored, mounted with a Gatling gun, and guarded by a dozen gunmen on horses. Costarring Keenan Wynn and Howard Keel as a wise-cracking Indian, The War Wagon was a Western precursor to the action buddy films of the 1980s and '90s, serving up plenty of exciting action and constant comic relief. The interplay between Wayne and Douglas is sharp and sarcastic, and their motley crew of accomplices provides yet another source of character-driven humor. Not one of the greatest Westerns ever made, but certainly one of the most lightly entertaining. --Jeff Shannon


Special Features

  • Production Notes
  • Cast and Filmmakers
  • Theatrical Trailer

  • Product Details

    • Actors: John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Howard Keel, Keenan Wynn, Bruce Dern
    • Directors: Burt Kennedy
    • Writers: Clair Huffaker
    • Producers: Marvin Schwartz
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Letterboxed, NTSC, Widescreen
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
    • Subtitles: Spanish
    • Dubbed: French
    • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
    • Studio: Universal Studios
    • DVD Release Date: August 18, 1998
    • Run Time: 101 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: 0783228031
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,225 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "The War Wagon" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Robert S. Clay Jr. on October 3, 2002
    Format: VHS Tape
    Gunfighter Taw Jackson (John Wayne) recruits a motley crew of sidekicks to rob ruthless mine owner, Frank Pierce (Bruce Cabot). Pierce routinely transports a fortune in gold dust in an armored stagecoach called "The War Wagon." Complete with a small army of guards and a Gatling gun, The War Wagon is formidable. Taw figures to settle old scores by devising a complex plan to steal the gold. John Wayne was good at big budget B pictures. This flick is very different from a John Ford masterpiece, but so what? This movie is a typical Batjac action-adventure flick with comic overtones. Wayne trades verbal barbs with Lomax (Kirk Douglas), a too-cool hired gun. Howard Keel is Levi Walking Bear, a comic and politically incorrect Indian. Robert Walker is a drunken explosives expert. Keenan Wynn is a sadistic teamster. They each play a role in the carefully timed execution of the robbery. Unaware of their thieving alliance, Pierce hires Lomax to kill Taw, setting up several tense situations. The supporting cast includes members of Wayne's Batjac production company family. Look for Bruce Dern, Gene Evans, and Sheb Wooley in small roles. Throw in colorful outdoor locations, a saloon brawl, lots of hard-riding action, and it's great fun for Western movie fans. It's well worth the price. ;-)
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    38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Robert E. Rodden II on March 12, 2006
    Format: DVD
    Update to previous review: Universal released a collection of John Wayne westerns, which includes an anamorphic widescreen release of The War Wagon. John Wayne: Screen Legend Collection (Reap the Wild Wind / Rooster Cogburn / The Hellfighters / The War Wagon / The Spoilers)The Screen Legend Collection of John Wayne. Very satisfying to at last have this film in anamorphic widescreen.

    Well, if you're into double-dipping for DVDs, this RE-PACKAGED/RE-RELEASED downer dvd is for you. Universal did the big SIN all right, they took their original dvd release of The War Wagon, and gave us the same non-animorphic release as they did the first time, only with a different packaging so us suckers hoping for a better, cleaner, or at least animorphic widescreen version, would be duped into buying the same thing twice.

    If you've come here, then like myself you love this entertaining pairing of two of Hollywoods greatest leading men, John Wayne and Kirk Douglas. Their on-screen chemistry is perfect in this not-so-buddy Western, where Taw Jackson (Wayne) gets out of prison after serving only 3 years for a crime he was framed for, and gets together a misfit group of men to rob the man that robbed him of half-a-million in gold. If they can stop The War Wagon.

    If you already have the original white and red colored widescreen release, don't spend your money again on this newly package "Universal Western Collection" release (brown in color). It is EXACTLY the same print, with the same poor extras as that first release. Some scant production notes, cast and filmakers (again scant) film highlights, theatrical trailor. Exactly the same.
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    16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Only-A-Child VINE VOICE on October 19, 2006
    Format: DVD
    I didn't like the "War Wagon" when it was first released, I found it rather silly and vaguely offensive. The problem was me, I was not ready to recognize, let alone relate to, a subtle parody of the western genre. I should have been more receptive because in the mid-60s a huge amount of genre parody began to appear on television ("Batman", 'Wild Wild West", "F-Troop", "Get Smart"), which could be traced back to gently tongue-in-cheek series like "Maverick" and "Zorro".

    "Cat Ballou" (1965) was the first feature length parody of Western generic clichés. But its parody elements were obvious, even if you were not that familiar with the conventions of the Western genre you could recognize exaggerations and revisions. In addition, up to this point John Wayne films had given the Western genre only very traditional treatments.

    But "The War Wagon" was only the first example of director Burt Kennedy's tweaking of the genre. He would follow it up with "Support Your Local Sheriff" (1969), "Hannie Caulder" (1971), and "Support Your Local Gunfighter" (1971). Wayne would toy with parodic elements two years later with "True Grit", and would stay much less traditional with the remainder of his westerns.

    "The War Wagon" is also a genre hybrid as western is mixed with buddy picture and big heist movie. Taw (John Wayne) recruits an old enemy Lomax (Kirk Douglas) as he seeks revenge on a ruthless mine owner (Bruce Cabot) who not only framed and sent to him prison, but appropriated his ranch and personal possessions after a huge gold strike was discovered on ranch property (here we go with the exaggeration-the only things missing are stealing Taw's wife, adopting his children, and leaving his toilet seat up).
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    10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Connie G on August 26, 2013
    Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
    The Blu-Ray version of this movie is like watching it for the first time. The picture is so clear, you notice details you never saw before. I love John Wayne movies, and this one is a must have in Blu-Ray.
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    14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By bixodoido on July 10, 2003
    Format: DVD
    This is a movie about revenge. It's about the quest of one man, Taw Jackson (Wayne), to get even with the man who set him up and stole his ranch. To get his vengeance, Taw puts together a small group of men, including a gunfighter who's been hired to kill him (Douglas), to help him rob the "War Wagon," so named because it is an iron stagecoach complete with a gattling gun and a large complement of mounted guards. The five men scheme, plan, and concoct a plan to steal the wagon, and Taw and Lomax (Douglas) try to refrain from killing each other in the process.
    This is not meant to be a completely serious Western, and in fact it is quite lighthearted. It is also funny, with just enough comic relief to keep things lively. Douglas and Wayne are absolutely fabulous together, and the rest of the cast works well too. This is a great all-around Western.
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