Cahill: United States Marshal (1973)

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    Photo with the courtesy of lasbugas


    Plot Summary
    J.D. Cahill is the toughest U.S. Marshal they've got,
    just the sound of his name makes bad guys stop in their tracks,
    so when his two young boy's want to get his attention they decide to rob a bank.
    They end up getting more than they bargained for.

    Full Cast
    John Wayne .... U.S. Marshal J.D. Cahill
    George Kennedy .... Abe Fraser
    Gary Grimes .... Danny Cahill
    Neville Brand .... Lightfoot, Half-breed Comanche tracker
    Clay O'Brien .... Billy Joe 'Budger' Cahill
    Marie Windsor .... Mrs. Hetty Green
    Morgan Paull .... Struther, Fraser Gang/Cahill's Ward
    Dan Vadis .... Brownie, Fraser Gang
    Royal Dano .... MacDonald, Hermit who sells Cahill the mule
    Scott Walker .... Ben Tildy, Outlaw
    Denver Pyle .... Denver, Danny & Billy Joe's caretaker
    Jackie Coogan .... Charlie Smith, Town Drunk
    Rayford Barnes .... Pee Wee Simser, Outlaw
    Dan Kemp .... Joe Meehan, Outlaw
    Harry Carey Jr. .... Hank, Jailer at Jefferson Davis County Jail
    Walter Barnes .... Sheriff Grady, Valentine Texas
    Paul Fix .... Old Man, Outlaw
    Pepper Martin .... Hard Case
    Vance Davis .... Negro
    Ken Wolger .... Grandson of Old Man
    Hank Worden .... Albert, Valentine Stationmaster
    James Nusser .... Doctor Jones
    Murray MacLeod .... Deputy Sheriff Gordine
    Hunter von Leer .... Deputy Sheriff Jim Kane
    Ralph Volkie
    Chuck Roberson .... Leader of Bunch
    Joseph Culliton .... Red Hair (uncredited)

    Writing Credits
    Barney Slater (story)
    Harry Julian Fink (screenplay) and
    Rita M. Fink (screenplay)

    Michael Wayne

    Original Music
    Elmer Bernstein

    Joseph F. Biroc

    Chuck Roberson .... stunt coordinator
    Jerry Gatlin .... stunts (uncredited)
    Bob Terhune .... stunt double (uncredited)
    Walter Wyatt .... stunts (uncredited)

    Most of the scenes showing John Wayne riding from a distance were filmed with Chuck Roberson substituting for Wayne.

    The anti-racism subtext was written into the script in response to ongoing criticism of Wayne's infamous May 1971 interview with Playboy magazine.

    John Wayne told an interviewer he gave up caring about the movie halfway during filming when he learned that John Ford was dying of cancer.

    Neville Brand was surprised to be offered the role of half-Commanche scout Lightfoot, a part he felt he was badly unsuited for, but accepted it just because he liked working.

    The opening scene was filmed entirely in the studio.

    The film was released in many cinemas as a double bill with The MacKintosh Man (1973).

    * Revealing mistakes: Rain falling at two different and constant angles when Billy Joe Cahill hides from Abe Frased in the farmyard.

    * Revealing mistakes: Lightfoot's horse has a saddle under the blanket. You can see stirrups hanging under the blanket and in a latter scene, Cahill uses them to mount Lightfoot's horse.

    * Revealing mistakes: Many of the long shots of Cahill are obviously not John Wayne.

    * Revealing mistakes: After Cahill is onto his sons' involvement in the bank robbery, we see him and Lightfoot watching the boys fishing. Later, after the boys have traveled awhile in the buckboard, we see the two men watching the boys again. The medium shot of Wayne and Brand reveals that they are sitting on their horses in the very place from which they had been watching the boys fishing.

    Memorable Quotes

    Filming Location
    Durango, Mexico

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 14 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • Cahill U.S. Marshal is a 1973 American Western film in Technicolor
    It stars Duke as a driven lawman in a black hat.
    The movie was directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
    and filmed on location in Durango, Mexico.

    Cahill's just about an OK movie, and Duke's own quote sums it up,


    It just wasn't, a well done picture, it needed better writing,it needed a little better care in making

    It was generally agreed, that it was a tedious film to make and followed
    a stale formula.


    John Wayne told an interviewer he gave up caring about the movie halfway during filming when he learned that John Ford was dying of cancer.

    I believe that on the films premiere, there were demonstrations,
    on behalf of the Indians, about the films poor reflection of them

    User Review

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 3 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • This was one of the last John Wayne movies I got round to seeing. For some strange reason it doesnt seem to get the TV airings of other JW movies.

    The Train Robbers being the other example.

    It is an enjoyable movie although it does not fit into the standard John Wayne western category. I think it is a little two low key for some people and George Kennedy dominates the movie more than John Wayne.

    The WB promo made for the movie by Robin's Nest Productions called The Man who wore the star which explores the facts of western pioneer life with clips from the movie is well worth watching. This promo is available on the DVD release.

  • Hi all,
    It is enjoyable movie for me and I like it more when I watch it for the second time. For the good review I sertainly must see it for the third, but because it is now the movie of the week I'd like to add Just a few comments.
    It is any doubt brilliant beginning of the film and all that snow add athmosphere to it. I was always doubting were it could be with all that snow, because in the whole film it seems to be summer. Were he chased that outlaws?
    Other nice thing at the beginning is Duke singing that song about walkins the streets down in Loredo from the Three Godfathers, were Harry Carey Jr. sings it. By the way is it possible to get somewere words of it?
    And it is little personal feeling in this movie for me, because when I got passion for work I too sometimes forgot to look: with what problems my son is living. But thanks God he hasn't intention to rob bank.
    I agree with all posts about very impressive evil in the film, mainly because of great Kennedy work. But I don't think that Dukes side are weaker.
    Vera :rolleyes:

  • Hi Vera,

    Your wish is my command.

    Streets of Laredo

    As I walked out on the streets of Laredo.
    As I walked out on Laredo one day,
    I spied a poor cowboy wrapped in white linen,
    Wrapped in white linen as cold as the clay.

    "I can see by your outfit that you are a cowboy."
    These words he did say as I boldly walked by.
    "Come an' sit down beside me an' hear my sad story.
    "I'm shot in the breast an' I know I must die."

    "It was once in the saddle, I used to go dashing.
    "Once in the saddle, I used to go gay.
    "First to the card-house and then down to Rose's.
    "But I'm shot in the breast and I'm dying today."

    "Get six jolly cowboys to carry my coffin.
    "Six dance-hall maidens to bear up my pall.
    "Throw bunches of roses all over my coffin.
    "Roses to deaden the clods as they fall."

    "Then beat the drum slowly, play the Fife lowly.
    "Play the dead march as you carry me along.
    "Take me to the green valley, lay the sod o'er me,
    "I'm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong."

    "Then go write a letter to my grey-haired mother,
    "An' tell her the cowboy that she loved has gone.
    "But please not one word of the man who had killed me.
    "Don't mention his name and his name will pass on."

    When thus he had spoken, the hot sun was setting.
    The streets of Laredo grew cold as the clay.
    We took the young cowboy down to the green valley,
    And there stands his marker, we made, to this day.

    We beat the drum slowly and played the Fife lowly,
    Played the dead march as we carried him along.
    Down in the green valley, laid the sod o'er him.
    He was a young cowboy and he said he'd done wrong.

    Thanks for your comments,
    Please also go to the biography relating to George Kennedy,

    Pals of the Saddle- George Kennedy

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited once, last by ethanedwards ().

  • I think that Cahill U.S. Marshal (Andrew V. McLaglen, 1973) is a bit underrated. Many film fans don't like the sort of Disney quality that comes with a story focused on children, but the moral dilemmas are engaging and the theme of generational fracture is relevant and vital, for that time and for all times. I'm sure that many troubled fathers and sons can relate to it. It may not be a truly significant movie, and the filmmaking is probably mediocre at best, but it's worth viewing, and George Kennedy makes for a memorably menacing villain.

  • Keith

    Some years ago I heard a brilliant rendition of that song by Jim Reeves, does anyone know if this version exists online anywhere?

    Regarding Cahill, I actually think that it is one of Duke/Mclaglens better collaberations. I am not a fan of Mclaglen in general although he made some decent non duke movies such as Shenendoah, Bandelera and 'The Flying Geese'. However for whatever reason he was not as effective with the Duke. 'The Undefeated' and 'Hellfighters' were both horrendous and 'Chisum' was weak in many areas, I actually think that Cahill was as good as 'Chisum' in many levels.

    Cahill benefits from a reasonable storyline and strong acting from the main protagonists, the story flows well and there is a touch of darkness addes which helps the movie. Of course the movie contains weaknesses mostly these can be blamed on Mclaglen, a better script, sharper direction and more character development would have improved this movie immencely.



  • I think the problem is that viewers expect Cahill to be like a Rooster Cogburn type of character and while there is some action it is more a story movie between an absent father and two sons who get involved with a bank robber.

    It is an engaging story and well worth watching but it is unlike other John Wayne movies particularly of that era which I think puts people off the film.


  • With only a meagre ten posts I thought I'd try and add some flavour to this discussion by adding a movie review of the film, the review is by critic 'Charles Tatum.

    In 1973, John Wayne continued making safe, similar westerns that really did nothing to change the genre, except for his final film "The Shootist." "Cahill- United States Marshal" falls into this sure category.

    Wayne is the title character, a tough U.S. marshal who is gone from home a lot, letting his sons Gary Grimes and Clay O'Brien fend for themselves. In order to get back at their dad, seventeen year old Grimes and eleven year old O'Brien join with a gang led by George Kennedy to rob the town bank. The group has a foolproof plan- get themselves locked in jail, escape, rob the bank, then lock themselves up again with a perfect alibi. The bank is robbed, but Kennedy's empty promises about no one getting hurt are broken as the sheriff and a deputy are killed. O'Brien is told to hide the loot, and Grimes and his brother are threatened if they ever talk.

    By this point, Wayne has returned to town, and takes Grimes to go track the imaginary bank robbers. They do stumble upon a group of outlaws, and these men are arrested and sentenced to hang. Grimes and O'Brien must now work to get the hidden loot to Kennedy, save the four innocent men, and look over their shoulder as their father becomes more suspicious of their weird behavior. People begin dying as the truth is slowly uncovered.

    I have always liked John Wayne. He had huge screen presence that has never been equalled. The voice, the stance, you know right away when he is onscreen. Say what you want about the bad film choices he made, and he made some doozies, even his mediocre films are better than some of the cow plop Hollywood passes out today.

    "Cahill" is a good film, despite some flaws. There is never a scene where Wayne finds out the truth about his criminally inclined children, one second he doesn't know, the next second he does. I would have liked to see him figure it out and react. Also, some of McLaglen's action sequences are just plain stilted. Watch the scene where Wayne catches a knife in his shoulder, barely wincing, and knowing that the knife was already there when the scene began. Same for the ridiculous owl-scares-kids scene, with a large fake bird on some string.

    Neville Brand, a name you may not know, but a face you have seen in films before, is excellent here as Lightfoot, a half Comanche tracker who fancies himself a great warrior. Denver Pyle, Jackie Coogan, Royal Dano, and Paul Fix are all well known film veterans, but are given just one or two scenes each and just a handful of lines. Some of the gun scenes are bloody, but the gore looks like bright red paint and is not convincing.



  • I've always liked this movie. I think the opening scene is one of Duke's best starts in a movie; and you're right Neville Brand was great in it. It's kind of a low budget movie, some people are turned away by that, but not me. I like a good small film that tells a good story much better than some of the blockbusters they make today, that's all CGI and no story.

  • I never noticed Neville until I saw this movie. He was great in this and I've noticed him in other movies just because of this one. He was a great asset to this movie.

    Stay thirsty my friends.

  • It is a compact film with basically a story of a father's relationships with his sons but it is strongly scripted. A much overlooked movie. I particularly like the Cahill Promo which comes with the DVD which explains what life in small towns was like in the West with shots of the movie.