The War Wagon
Directed by Burt Kennedy
Written by Clair Huffaker
Produced by Marvin Schwartz
Cinematography by William H. Clothier
Distributed by Universal
John Wayne as Taw Jackson
Kirk Douglas as Lomax
Howard Keel as Levi Walking Bear
Robert Walker Jr. as Billy Hyatt
Keenan Wynn as Wes Fletcher
Bruce Cabot as Frank Pierce
Joanna Barnes as Lola
Valora Noland as Kate Fletcher
Bruce Dern as Hammond
Gene Evans as Deputy Hoag
Terry Wilson as Sheriff Strike
Don Collier as Shack
Sheb Wooley as Snyder
Ann McCrea as Felicia
Emilio Fernández as Calita (as Emilio Fernandez)
Frank McGrath as Bartender
Chuck Roberson as Brown
Boyd 'Red' Morgan as Early (as Red Morgan)
Hal Needham as Hite
Marco Antonio as Chief Wild Horse
Perla Walters as Rosita
Chuck Hayward as Blacksmith (uncredited)
Margarite Luna as Asian girl (uncredited)
Cliff Lyons as Outrider (uncredited)
Miko Mayama as Asian girl (uncredited)
Midori as Asian girl (uncredited)
José Trinidad Villa as Townsman at bar (uncredited
Taw Jackson returns to his home town looking for revenge on the greedy mining company owner, Frank Pierce, who stole his land and framed him for a crime he did not commit. Having served his time behind bars, he returns to town and learns that Pierce is getting rich off gold found under Taw’s land. Pierce has commissioned the construction of an epic war wagon, a giant, armored stagecoach with a Gatling gun mounted on top. Pierce tries to recruit a gunslinger named Lomax to kill Taw, but Lomax is intrigued by Taw’s plan to rob the War Wagon and its payload of half a million dollars worth of gold. Taw puts together a ragtag group of adventurers for his plan to ambush the stage at the weakest part of its journey. Can Taw convince everyone to work together? Will Lomax remain loyal? Can Taw conquer the might of the War Wagon?
One day Kirk Douglas was late to the set because he was filming an endorsement for Edmund G. Brown, a Democratic candidate for governor of California. John Wayne was furious, and the next day arrived late to the set after filming an endorsement for the Republican candidate, Ronald Reagan.
Burt Kennedy reportedly gave up his salary so he could hire Kirk Douglas for the role of Lomax.
The real War Wagon was made mostly of plywood, and spent the rest of its life aging on the back lot of the Universal Studios.
Burt Kennedy also directed John Wayne in The Train Robbers (1973).
Keenan Wynn’s battered hat is the same one worn by Leslie Howard in Gone with the Wind.
The fight in the saloon marks John Wayne’s 500th on-screen fight.
John Wayne was forced to wear an oxygen mask during the flight to the set after losing his lung to cancer.
Kirk Douglas hated nicknames, and thus never referred to John Wayne as Duke. He was one of the few people in Hollywood who refused to do so.
This is one of the few John Wayne films where Wayne’s character is involved with doing something against the law.