THE WAR WAGON
DIRECTED BY BURT KENNEDY
PRODUCED BY MARVIN SCHWARTZ
MUSIC BY DIMITRI TIOMKIN
BAJAC/ MARVIN SCHWARTZ PRODUCTION
Photo with the courtesy of lasbugas
INFORMATION FROM IMDb
Taw Jackson returns from prison having survived being shot, to the ranch and gold that Frank Pierce stole from him.
Jackson makes a deal with Lomax, the man who shot him 5 years ago to join forces against Pierce and steal a large gold shipment.
The shipments are transported in the War Wagon, an armored stage coach that is heavily guarded.
The two of them become the key players in the caper to separate Pierce from Jackson's gold.
Summary written by John Vogel
John Wayne .... Taw Jackson
Kirk Douglas .... Lomax
Howard Keel .... Levi Walking Bear
Robert Walker Jr. .... Billy Hyatt (as Robert Walker)
Keenan Wynn .... Wes Fletcher
Bruce Cabot .... Frank Pierce
Joanna Barnes .... Lola
Valora Noland .... Kate
Bruce Dern .... Hammond or Brown
Gene Evans .... Hoag
Terry Wilson .... Sheriff Strike
Don Collier .... Shack
Sheb Wooley .... Snyder
Ann McCrea .... Felicia
Emilio Fernández .... Calito
Frank McGrath .... Bartender
Chuck Roberson .... Brown/outrider
Boyd 'Red' Morgan .... Early (as Red Morgan)
Hal Needham .... Hite
Marco Antonio .... Wild Horse
Perla Walters .... Rosita
Margarite Luna .... Asian girl (uncredited)
Cliff Lyons .... (uncredited)
Miko Mayama .... Asian girl (uncredited)
Midori .... Asian girl (uncredited)
José Trinidad Villa .... Townsman at bar (uncredited)
Clair Huffaker (novel Badman)
Clair Huffaker (screenplay)
Jim Burk .... stunts (uncredited)
Steven Burnett .... stunts (uncredited)
Everett Creach .... stunts (uncredited)
Eddy Donno .... stunts (uncredited)
Richard Farnsworth .... stunts (uncredited)
Jerry Gatlin .... stunts (uncredited)
Chuck Hayward .... stunts (uncredited)
Tom Hennesy .... stunts (uncredited)
Cliff Lyons .... stunts (uncredited)
Frank McGrath .... stunts (uncredited)
Gary McLarty .... stunts (uncredited)
Boyd 'Red' Morgan .... stunts (uncredited)
Hal Needham .... stunts (uncredited)
Chuck Roberson .... stunts (uncredited)
Alex Sharp .... stunts (uncredited)
Dean Smith .... stunts (uncredited)
Robert Warner .... stunts (uncredited)
Jack Williams .... stunts (uncredited)
William H. Clothier
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Al Jennings .... assistant director
Cliff Lyons .... second unit director
Ed Ames .... singer: title song
As Lomax is riding into Chabisco, the music coming from the saloon is an instrumental version of "The Ballad of the War Wagon."
During the production, Kirk Douglas was late to the set because he was shooting a commercial endorsement for the Democratic Governor of California, Edmund G. Brown. John Wayne was furious, and was late to work the next day because he was shooting a commercial for the Republican candidate Ronald Reagan.
According to director Burt Kennedy, he gave up half his salary so that he could afford to hire Kirk Douglas (quoted in the Production Notes on the Universal Western Collection DVD).
The "War Wagon" itself was built mostly of plywood and other lightweight materials, and painted to look like iron (appropriate "metallic" sound effects-such as when the "heavy" iron doors are opened and closed, etc.) were added to complete the illusion. For many years, at least through the 1980's, the deteriorating remains of "The War Wagon" were displayed in "The Boneyard" (a collection of old outdoor movie props) as part of the Universal Studios Backlot Tour in California.
Average Shot Length and Median Shot Length = ~5.8 seconds.
According to the production notes on the 2003 DVD release, Keenan Wynn's battered hat that he wears in the picture was Leslie Howard's Confederate cavalry hat from Gone With the Wind which Wynn purloined from MGM. Wynn first wore the hat in a 1942 MGM screen test and "wore it in every picture he made".
According to John Wayne, the fight in the saloon was his 500th on-screen fight.
Although Keenan Wynn plays the crazy old man, he was in fact nine years younger than John Wayne.
Length of the War Wagon: 47.5 feet, from lead horse to the back end of the wagon.
John Wayne, who had lost his entire left lung and several ribs in major surgery for cancer in 1964, had great difficulty breathing on an airplane while flying to the location for the start of filming and had to use an oxygen mask throughout the journey. Kirk Douglas recalled that he hadn't realized just how fragile Wayne was until this moment.
* Anachronisms: Pierce's men carry Henry rifles, but their bandoleers hold .30-40 Krag ammunition. Henry rifle ammunition was short and blunt, not long and tapered.
* Revealing mistakes: As Pierce looks out of the gun port modification to the war wagon at the adobe wall with pots on it, the magazine of the Gatling gun is seen to be empty. Also there is physically not enough room above the gun for one to fit on the gun.
* Incorrectly regarded as goofs: Although he is able to speak and understand Spanish throughout the movie, Taw Jackson still needs an interpreter while bargaining with Wild Horse. Given that Wild Horse doesn't want "the white man" in his camp or at his dinner table, it is reasonable that he would refuse to bargain directly with him. Also, it may be that Jackson didn't want Wild Horse to know that he spoke and understood Spanish.
* Revealing mistakes: In the Pierce's ranch, after Lomax and Billy enter in the shack, Lomax lights the lampion. Then his shadow holding the lampion is projected on the wall, but the only light inside the shack comes from the lampion itself.
* Continuity: After he opens the safe, Lomax takes a bottle of nitroglycerin and delivers it to Billy. It is completely full. When Billy begins to spill it in another bottle, it is almost empty.
* Revealing mistakes: The wagon that runs ungoverned, after the last barrel with gold falls, is driven through the opening below the seat.
* Revealing mistakes: When the Gatling gun is fired against the wood wall, you can see that the squibs fired from the back side of the boards.
* Continuity: As Pierce and Lomax are talking to each other, at the top left corner of the screen, you can clearly see Billy enter the bar with his empty whiskey bottle too early.
* Factual errors: The bandoleers of ammo that guards have across their chests contain ammo too large to fit any of the guns (Colts revolvers, Henry repeating rifles) they are carrying.
* Continuity: During the fight in the saloon, Taw's hat is alternately on/off/on between shots.
* Continuity: When the war wagon crashes, we see one wheel on the upside-down wagon spinning counter-clockwise. In the next shot, it's spinning clockwise.
* Revealing mistakes: When Lomax is opening the safe with the nitro, he sets the lamp (the only light source) in a position which would put the lock in the shadow of the safe itself, yet there is remarkably plenty of light on the lock.
* Continuity: When the gold wagon crashes it stops with it's right side wheels up. When Taw gets to it, it has it's left side wheels in the air.
* Continuity: When Taw is standing by the front of Wes' wagon and notices the loose gold near Wes's hiding spot, he turns back to the rest of the gang. When the camera angle changes he turns back towards the gang again.
* Continuity: From the outside of the War Wagon, the port for the Gatling gun extends to the roof of the turret. From the inside, there is a large metal panel between the top of the port and the roof.
* Revealing mistakes: In the scene where the Gatling Gun is fired at a barrel of water, although large holes in the barrel are pouring out gallons of water, the level of the water in the barrel never goes down.
* Revealing mistakes: In the scene where Pierce is inspecting the war wagon, there are 2 small spots visible on the wagon not covered by black paint, revealing that the wagon is actually made of wood, not metal.
Sierra de Organos, Sombrerete, Zacatecas, Mexico
Six Points Texas, Backlot, Universal Studios - 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, California, USA