7pm PST - War Wagon, The (1967) - A rancher and a hired gun join forces to take on the criminal who betrayed them both. Cast: John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Howard Keel, Robert Walker Jr. Dir: Burt Kennedy C-101 mins, TV-PG
In the mid-60s, Kirk Douglas and John Wayne made a number of films together, none of them classics, but the chemistry between the laconic Wayne and intense Douglas always made for an interesting screen dynamic. Considering how far apart they were politically, one can only guess at the between-take chatter as the Vietnam War raged and the hippies took to the streets.
Wayne and Douglas were lifelong friends.
Douglas is a different kind of Hollywood Democrat. He hails from an era when “class” meant something.
Frequently, we conservatives are accused of not liking certain actors because of the actor’s politics. What an absurd charge.
Politics isn’t the problem with today’s leftist celeb-u-stars, it’s their striking lack of class. Too many are boorish and insulting, snobbish and condescending. And worst of all, they use their power to undermine the men and woman currently in harm’s way - something Hollywood didn’t even do during the war in Vietnam.
Last year I had the privilege of attending a screening of ‘Spartacus’ introduced by The Mighty Douglas himself. It was part of an event that included a dozen other films introduced by their stars or director. You could only choose one, but the opportunity to see Douglas in person made the choice easy. Douglas’s politics never entered my mind.
Kirk Douglas is a great actor, a good man and all class.
As far as today’s pick, The War Wagon
is a fast-paced, tongue-in-cheek Western directed by Burt Kennedy, a smart, unpretentious screenwriter and storyteller who never allowed a scrap of fat into his work. For its time, The War Wagon's
not much – a drive-in programmer - but if there were more than a handful of films released this year that were better, send me the list.
The year was 1967. Duke was closing in on 60, Douglas on 50. Still, they’re both pure movie star. Neither hides their middle age and the film remains a reminder of when men used to make the movies.
And then there's Bruce Cabot as the heavy, Keenan Wynn, Howard Keel and the always-all-kinds-of-awesome Bruce Dern doing the support work.
The World Is An Unjust Place Side Note:
Kirk Douglas never won a performance Academy Award.