The War Wagon (1967)

101 mins | Western | 24 May 1967

Director:

Burt Kennedy

Writer:

Clair Huffaker

Producer:

Marvin Schwartz

Cinematographer:

William H. Clothier

Editor:

Harry Gerstad

Production Designer:

Alfred Sweeney

Production Company:

Batjac Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

A first attempt was made to adapt Clair Huffaker’s 1957 novel, Badman, in the early 1960s, when an 8 Aug 1962 Var article announced that Fred Jordan planned to launch a production branch at the Producers Studio rental lot. Huffaker was set to write the screenplay and also produce through his company, Lucifer Productions. The arrangement did not move ahead, as Huffaker became involved in numerous other projects around this time.
       Nearly four years later, the 13 May 1966 DV announced that the property, now known as The War Wagon, had been picked up as the next starring-producing vehicle for John Wayne’s Batjac Productions in association with Marvin Schwartz. While Lee Marvin was reportedly the first actor considered for the co-starring role, items in the 5 Jul 1966 and 6 Jul 1966 DV indicated that offers were also made to Rod Taylor and Steve McQueen before the casting of Kirk Douglas. Wayne and Douglas previously appeared in In Harm’s Way (1965, see entry) for Paramount Pictures. According to the 10 Nov 1966 LAT, Joanna Moore was originally cast as “Lola,” but was released from her contract after receiving a starring role in Countdown (1968, see entry), and was subsequently replaced by Joanna Barnes.
       Principal photography began 19 Sep 1966, as stated in a Var item published 21 Sep 1966. That same day, DV reported the recent death of Lawrence Butterworth, Wayne’s longtime makeup artist, who succumbed to heart disease while stopping in Austin, TX, en route to the location in Durango, Mexico. According to the 23 Nov 1966 ... More Less

A first attempt was made to adapt Clair Huffaker’s 1957 novel, Badman, in the early 1960s, when an 8 Aug 1962 Var article announced that Fred Jordan planned to launch a production branch at the Producers Studio rental lot. Huffaker was set to write the screenplay and also produce through his company, Lucifer Productions. The arrangement did not move ahead, as Huffaker became involved in numerous other projects around this time.
       Nearly four years later, the 13 May 1966 DV announced that the property, now known as The War Wagon, had been picked up as the next starring-producing vehicle for John Wayne’s Batjac Productions in association with Marvin Schwartz. While Lee Marvin was reportedly the first actor considered for the co-starring role, items in the 5 Jul 1966 and 6 Jul 1966 DV indicated that offers were also made to Rod Taylor and Steve McQueen before the casting of Kirk Douglas. Wayne and Douglas previously appeared in In Harm’s Way (1965, see entry) for Paramount Pictures. According to the 10 Nov 1966 LAT, Joanna Moore was originally cast as “Lola,” but was released from her contract after receiving a starring role in Countdown (1968, see entry), and was subsequently replaced by Joanna Barnes.
       Principal photography began 19 Sep 1966, as stated in a Var item published 21 Sep 1966. That same day, DV reported the recent death of Lawrence Butterworth, Wayne’s longtime makeup artist, who succumbed to heart disease while stopping in Austin, TX, en route to the location in Durango, Mexico. According to the 23 Nov 1966 Var, location filming took place around the state of Durango before the unit relocated to the Estudios Churubusco in Mexico City for interiors. A 9 Oct 1966 LAT article described the six-week construction of a twenty-building “western town” in Durango that was used for a majority of the shoot. The following day, DV revealed that the $100,000 set would be preserved as a movie museum designed to attract tourists and other American and Mexican movie companies.
       A 17 Aug 1966 DV brief claimed that Pedro Armendariz, Jr. auditioned for a role in the film. Additional LAT DV casting announcements included the following actors among the cast whose participation could not be confirmed: Ruben Padilla, Margarito Luna, Boyd Morgan , Ed Juaregui, Jack Williams, Jerry Gatlin, Ralph Volkie, and Miko Mayama. José Trinidad Villa, son of Mexican Revolutionary Pancho Villa, reportedly appeared onscreen and also served as a stand-in for Wayne.
       The War Wagon was considered for entry in the 1967 Cannes Film Festival, but the 5 Apr 1967 Var claimed the print would not be ready in time for submission.
       On 31 May 1967, Var stated that the picture had performed well durings its initial week in Chicago, IL, and Denver, CO—additional sources referred to an opening date of 24 May 1967. The 10 May 1967 Var article stated that Wayne, who had not participated in a promotional tour since The Alamo (see entry) in 1960, would attend dual premiere events at the Majestic Theatre in Dallas, TX, and the Worth Theatre in Fort Worth, TX, on 27 May 1967.
       Another Var box-office report published 7 Jun 1967 indicated regional openings in Minneapolis, MN, and St. Louis, MO, even though widespread release throughout the rest of the country was not scheduled until 2 Aug 1967. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
13 May 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
5 Jul 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
6 Jul 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
12 Jul 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
17 Aug 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
19 Sep 1966
p. 15.
Daily Variety
20 Sep 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
22 Sep 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
28 Sep 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
10 Oct 1966
p. 6.
Daily Variety
10 Nov 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
18 May 1967
p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
5 Oct 1966
Section D, p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
9 Oct 1966
Section B, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
10 Nov 1966
Section D, p. 22.
Los Angeles Times
28 Jul 1967
Section D, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
2 Aug 1967
Section D, p. 7.
New York Times
3 Aug 1967
p. 26.
Variety
8 Aug 1962
p. 3.
Variety
29 Jun 1966
p. 13.
Variety
21 Sep 1966
p. 17.
Variety
23 Nov 1966
p. 15.
Variety
5 Apr 1967
p. 23.
Variety
10 May 1967
p. 5.
Variety
31 May 1967
p. 7.
Variety
7 Jun 1967
p. 5.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Marvin Schwartz Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2nd unit dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Scr supv
Titles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Badman by Clair Huffaker (New York, 1957).
SONGS
"Ballad of the War Wagon," words and music by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Badman
Release Date:
24 May 1967
Premiere Information:
Chicago opening: 24 May 1967
Dallas and Fort Worth premieres: 27 May 1967
Los Angeles and New York openings: 2 August 1967
Production Date:
began 19 September 1966
Copyright Claimant:
Batjac Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
17 June 1967
Copyright Number:
LP35388
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
101
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the 1870's Taw Jackson is paroled from prison after being framed and cheated out of his gold-rich land by Frank Pierce, the ruthless owner of a mining company. Determined to have his revenge, Taw devises an elaborate plan to hijack Pierce's huge, armor-plated war wagon when it is carrying a half million dollars in gold dust. He enlists the aid of Lomax, a flamboyant gunman previously in the employ of Pierce; Wes Catlin, a supply wagon driver; alcoholic Billy Hyatt, a young demolitions expert who soon becomes attracted to Catlin's young wife, Kate; and Levi Walking Bear, a renegade Indian. Although Pierce tries to lure Lomax back into his employ by offering him $12,000 to kill Taw, the gunman sees a chance for greater profit in the heist. Assisted by Kiowa Indians, Taw puts his plan into motion. A road is blocked, nitroglycerin charges are set off, and the war wagon is blown into a steep ravine. Pierce is shot through the head by Lomax, and the sacks of gold dust are loaded into barrels of flour in Catlin's wagon; but the Kiowas suddenly turn on their companions, shoot Catlin, and attempt to steal the gold. A charge of exploding nitroglycerin kills the Indians and sends Catlin's wagon hurtling over a ledge, whereupon hordes of starving Indians gather up the gold dust, believing it to be flour, and make off with it. Enraged at losing his share of the bounty, Lomax takes Taw's horse as partial payment and rides off. Taw, unbeknownst to Lomax, has prevented the loss of some gold Lomax had hidden from the others. He gives Billy and Kate enough to live on temporarily and ... +


In the 1870's Taw Jackson is paroled from prison after being framed and cheated out of his gold-rich land by Frank Pierce, the ruthless owner of a mining company. Determined to have his revenge, Taw devises an elaborate plan to hijack Pierce's huge, armor-plated war wagon when it is carrying a half million dollars in gold dust. He enlists the aid of Lomax, a flamboyant gunman previously in the employ of Pierce; Wes Catlin, a supply wagon driver; alcoholic Billy Hyatt, a young demolitions expert who soon becomes attracted to Catlin's young wife, Kate; and Levi Walking Bear, a renegade Indian. Although Pierce tries to lure Lomax back into his employ by offering him $12,000 to kill Taw, the gunman sees a chance for greater profit in the heist. Assisted by Kiowa Indians, Taw puts his plan into motion. A road is blocked, nitroglycerin charges are set off, and the war wagon is blown into a steep ravine. Pierce is shot through the head by Lomax, and the sacks of gold dust are loaded into barrels of flour in Catlin's wagon; but the Kiowas suddenly turn on their companions, shoot Catlin, and attempt to steal the gold. A charge of exploding nitroglycerin kills the Indians and sends Catlin's wagon hurtling over a ledge, whereupon hordes of starving Indians gather up the gold dust, believing it to be flour, and make off with it. Enraged at losing his share of the bounty, Lomax takes Taw's horse as partial payment and rides off. Taw, unbeknownst to Lomax, has prevented the loss of some gold Lomax had hidden from the others. He gives Billy and Kate enough to live on temporarily and sends word to Lomax that he may claim his share of the recovered gold. Soon Lomax appears and angrily demands his share, but Taw insists that the gold remain in his own secret hiding place for a waiting period of 6 months. Until that time Lomax will have to guard Taw's life 24 hours a day. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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