Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
John Wayne as John Chisum
Forrest Tucker as Lawrence Murphy
Christopher George as Dan Nodeen
Ben Johnson as James Pepper
Glenn Corbett as Pat Garrett
Andrew Prine as Alex McSween
Bruce Cabot as Sheriff Brady
Patric Knowles as Henry Tunstall
Richard Jaeckel as Jess Evans
Lynda Day George as Sue McSween (as Lynda Day)
Geoffrey Deuel as Billy 'The Kid' Bonney
Pamela McMyler as Sallie Chisum
John Agar as Amos Patton
Lloyd Battista as Neemo
Robert Donner as Bradley Morton
William Conrad as Narrator as Opening Credits (voice) (uncredited)
Christopher Mitchum as Tom O'Folliard
John Chisum is an influential land owner who unofficially looks after a territory in New Mexico. His patriarchal nature brings him into conflict with Lawrence Murphy, a greedy land developer who is buying up all the stores in town and raising prices to increase his fortune. Chisum joins forces with a neighboring cattle rancher, Henry Tunstall, to investigate and stop Murphy. In allying with Tunstall, Chisum gets an unexpected bonus in one William Bonney, aka Billy the Kid, who has just signed on with Tunstall. Murphy has taken over most of the town, and he’s appointed his own Sherriff and deputies to hunt down Chisum and Tunstall. Murphy also brought in a lawyer, Alex McSween, to help him, but when McSween realizes what is going on, he agrees to help Chisum and Tunstall and they go in together and open up a new store, with regular prices. Murphy responds by ordering attacks on Chisum’s cattle and attacking the wagon train bringing in supplies to Chisum’s store. Tunstall tries to ride to the Governor’s office to appeal for aid in dealing with Murphy, but is ambushed and killed by Murphy’s so-called deputies. Billy the Kid, who had developed a fondness for his boss and mentor, seeks revenge and kills both deputies, who Chisum had just captured and was bringing back to stand trial. Murphy raises the stakes by bringing in bounty hunter Dan Nodeen, who has encountered Billy the Kid before and wants revenge for permanently wounding him. Billy the Kid’s reckless thirst for revenge gets McSween killed when Nodeen sees him breaking into McSween’s store. Nodeen surrounds the store, and kills McSween cold when McSween comes out. McSween’s wife goes to get Chisum to come to town and take care of Murphy for good!
Notes: Chisum is a fictional re-telling of real life events in the Lincoln County War of 1878 in the fledgling territory of New Mexico.
John Wayne was filming Chisum in Durango Mexico when he learned that he was nominated for an Academy Award for True Grit .
Robert Mitchum’s brother, John, introduced John Wayne to poetry on the set of Chisum, and it eventually led to them recording a spoken word album called 'America , Why I Love Her', which was nominated for a Grammy Award.
On August 3, 1970 President Richard Nixon commented on seeing the movie to the Denver Press. His comments are as follows:
“Over the last weekend I saw a movie-I don't see too many movies but I try to see them on weekends when I am at the Western White House or in Florida--and the movie that I selected, or, as a matter of fact, my daughter Tricia selected it, was "Chisum" with John Wayne. It was a western. And as I looked at that movie, I said, "Well, it was a very good western, John Wayne is a very fine actor and it was a fine supporting cast. But it was just basically another western, far better than average movies, better than average westerns."
I wondered why it is that the western survives year after year after year. A good western will outdraw some of the other subjects. Perhaps one of the reasons, in addition to the excitement, the gun play, and the rest, which perhaps is part of it, but they can get that in other kinds of movies, but one of the reasons is, perhaps, and this may be a square observation-is that the good guys come out ahead in the westerns; the bad guys lose.
In the end, as this movie particularly pointed out, even in the old West, the time before New Mexico was a State, there was a time when there was no law. But the law eventually came, and the law was important from the standpoint of not only prosecuting the guilty, but also seeing that those who were guilty had a proper trial.”
Chisum - Trailer