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The War Wagon is a 1967 Western film starring John Wayne and Kirk Douglas, released by Universal Pictures, directed by Burt Kennedy, produced by Marvin Schwartz, and adapted by Clair Huffaker from his own novel. The supporting cast includes Howard Keel, Robert Walker Jr., Keenan Wynn, Joanna Barnes and Bruce Dern. The picture received generally positive reviews.

The War Wagon
War Wagon film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Burt Kennedy
Produced by Marvin Schwartz
Written by Clair Huffaker (novel and screenplay)
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Cinematography William H. Clothier
Edited by
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • May 27, 1967 (1967-05-27)
Running time
101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $9,528,000[1]

Filming took place in Sierra de Órganos National Park in the town of Sombrerete, Mexico [2]

Wayne and Douglas had earlier made In Harm's Way (1965) and Cast a Giant Shadow (1966) together within the previous rwo years.



Rancher Taw Jackson (John Wayne) returns to his hometown to settle a score; he was released early for good behavior. Three years earlier, he was framed by corrupt businessman Frank Pierce (Bruce Cabot) and wrongfully imprisoned; Pierce then appropriated Jackson's land, where he discovered gold.

Jackson has returned to steal a shipment of gold from Pierce. He hires Lomax (Kirk Douglas) to assist him, even though Lomax had worked as a hired gun for Pierce and was instrumental in sending Jackson to prison. Jackson needs Lomax not only because of his marksmanship, but also because he is a safecracker. The gold shipment is being transported in a "war wagon", a heavily armored stagecoach armed with a deadly Gatling gun in a top-mounted steerable turret. Jackson and Lomax assemble a gang and plan to rob the war wagon at the weakest point in the route it travels.

Things do not quite work out as planned. Pierce dies in a shootout with one of his own men trying to escape from the war wagon. The wagon crashes into a ravine, Lomax opens the safe, and the men move the gold into a separate wagon. However, before they can haul it away, a group of Kiowas try to take it from them. During the ensuing gunfight, the horses are spooked and run away with the wagon, and most of the gold is lost as a result. Nevertheless, Taw manages to recover a portion of it, and they agree to meet in six months to divide it, since "it wouldn't be very smart to flash gold around after a robbery".


Comic book adaptationEdit

  • Dell Movie Classic: The War Wagon (September 1967)


Box officeEdit

Movie poster by Howard Terpning

The film opened at number one at the domestic box office in 1967. It grossed $9,563,000 in total, making it a success.

Critical responseEdit

The War Wagon was met with generally positive reviews from critics. Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars, who called it "that comparative rarity, a Western filmed with quiet good humor. It is also a point of departure for John Wayne, who plays a bad guy for just about the first time in his career."[3]

The movie holds an 83% "Fresh" score on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 6 reviews.[4][5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1967", Variety, 3 January 1968 p 25. Please note these figures refer to rentals accruing to the distributors.
  2. ^,%20Sombrerete,%20Zacatecas,%20Mexico
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger (1 June 1967). "The War Wagon". Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  4. ^ Dell Movie Classic: The War Wagon at the Grand Comics Database
  5. ^ Dell Movie Classic: The War Wagon at the Comic Book DB

External linksEdit