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4.6 out of 5 stars
War Wagon (Import) [Blu-ray]
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
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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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
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. I'll give the extra copy I now own to a friend of mine who also loves John Wayne. And someday, maybe a good studio will give The War Wagon the dvd release it deserves-we don't need 5.1 surround(this was originally a mono-stereo release); just animorphic widescreen with a restored print which does not show the speckles of age.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 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). Cabot transports his gold in a "Wild Wild West" inspired armored wagon.

The interplay between Wayne and Douglas (who always seems right on the verge of accepting Cabot's standing offer of $12,000 to kill Wayne) is clever and sarcastic, working with the many exaggerated elements to provide the film's considerable humor.

"The War Wagon" finds Wayne on the wrong side of established authority, for at least the third time as his Ethan Edwards character in "The Searchers" also operated well outside the law and Quirt Evans in "Angel and the Badman" had to be bad enough that he could be reformed by Gail Russell.

Howard Keel plays the civilized Indian sidekick mostly for comic relief and the characters actually demonstrate an awareness of the movie context when they self-reflexively (deliberately drawing attention to their playing characters in a movie) refer to a tactic as an old Indian trick. Ultimately the joke (and the irony) is on Wayne and Douglas, as their seemingly one-sided deal with the Indians (a few blankets in exchange for their participation) causes the Indians to end up with most the rewards.

"The War Wagon's" understated parody style would inspire John Huston ("The Life & Times Of Judge Roy Bean") and George Roy Hill ("The Sting"); and of course many others.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2013
Format: Blu-rayVerified 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
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2003
Format: DVD
The War Wagon is a good comedy western starring John Wayne and Kirk Douglass as two men attempting to steal a shipment of gold. Wayne stars as Taw Jackson, a man recently released from prison after being framed, who wants to get revenge on the man who put him in jail(Bruce Cabot). Kirk Douglass is Lomax, Wayne's greedy, cocky partner. These two are perfect together as they try and figure out how to rob the "war wagon." Their dialogue is sharp and cutting with insults being handed back and forth.
The movie is very entertaining to watch. Excellent cast backing up Wayne and Douglass including Howard Keel as Levi Walking Bear. There is enough action and humor for everybody in this western. DVD presentation is good in widescreen with a trailer included even though it is a little pricey. Well worth it for Duke fans!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2005
Format: DVD
Solid straightforward shoot `em up western starring John Wayne as a man who just got out of prison after being framed and having his ranch stolen by a crooked gold merchant. Determined to get his ranch back Wayne enlists the help of quick drawin' Kirk Douglas and a few others to rob The War Wagon, a steel plated wagon that's owned by the bad guy, armed with a gatlin gun and protected by a flock of seagulls, I mean, 32 mounted gunmen.

Douglas is a good pairing with Wayne and even steals a few scenes. I especially enjoyed watching him jump into the saddle. My only complaint about the film, besides that fact that John Ford or Howard Hawks did not direct it, is the poor usage of the gatlin gun. You have this build up for most of the film then it's only used for a few short bursts. Wayne used a gatlin gun more in ROOSTER COGBURN.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2000
Format: DVD
One of the Duke's better vehicles of the 60's. An extremely entertaining western. It wasn't meant to win an Oscar; it was made to be fun to watch and it most certainly is that. The interplay between Douglas and Wayne is especially funny.
On a side note that sarcasm and veiled hostility between the Duke's and Douglas' characters was not too far removed from their real life relationship. John Wayne was Hollywood's leading conservative. Kirk Douglas is one of Hollywood's most outspoken liberals. Friction was a certainty. Also their Oscar hunting pet project films- Wayne's "The Alamo" and Douglas' "Spartacus"- went head-to-head with each other for 1960's Best Picture. During Oscar ballotting time, Duke's publicity people raised hackles by impyling that a vote for "Spartacus" was un-American because it was penned by formerly blacklisted screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo. In any event neither film won; but the competition was not helpful for a working relationship between the two stars.
Yet they made three films together and always made a great on-screen team. I guess they recognized each as professional actors who could work well together and it certainly shows on screen.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2000
Format: DVD
Taw Jackson, played by John Wayne, is out on parole and building a team to heist a shipment of Gold dust. The problem is, the town where he's planning his heist is filled with his worst enemies. Kirk Douglas as Lomax, is one of Taw's partners. Together they study to work out every detail to commit their crime. All they got to do now is do the deed. Will they make it? Lots of fancy gun slinging, fighting, and a really neat Saloon fight add to the flavor of this movie. Oh, and you gotta see the way Kirk Douglas mounts his horse, it's Peachy! One of the most suspenseful scenes is where Taw and another of his cohort's line a bridge they plan to blow up with nitroglycerin. Also, look for a very short role by Bruce Dern . He, as he has in most films, plays a bad guy, and when he's confronted by Taw Jackson he quickly learns what "BAD" really is.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2006
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I already had this on tape but wanted to replace it with

a DVD. I think this is one of John Wayne's better films,

but then I am a John Wayne fan and I enjoy "old movies".

I enjoy watching John Wayne and Kirk Douglas together,

they make a good team.
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