Wayne & McLaglen tackle the Lincoln County War
Chrijeff | Scranton, PA | 02/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Based upon historical fact, this film follows the famous range war in which Billy the Kid made his name, but chiefly from the viewpoint of aging cattle baron John Chisum (Wayne in the title role). It's 1878 in New Mexico Territory, and Chisum rides into the local town of Lincoln to meet his niece Sallie (Pamela McMyler) off the stage. His foreman and long-time Good Right Hand, Pepper (Ben Johnson practically stealing the movie--he should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor), remarks upon the many acquisitions being made by would-be real-estate magnate Lawrence J. Murphy (Tucker in a cheerfully malevolent role), but Chisum isn't looking for trouble. Still, he is inexorably drawn into the escalating situation when lawyer Alex McSween (Andrew Prine), whom Sallie befriended on the journey, finds it impossible to turn a blind eye to Murphy's machinations, and helps stake the idealistic Easterner to a store to run in competition with the one Murphy bought out from under its original owner. Not until his friend and neighbor, Britisher Henry Tunstall (Patric Knowles), is murdered on the road by two deputies of Murphy's hand-picked sheriff (Bruce Cabot), does Chisum's temper finally come unglued, and the story continues through the siege (canonical) of the McSween store by Murphy's forces, the shooting down of McSween in the street, and at last a classic brawl (in an ultimately burning building) between Chisum and Murphy that always reminds me of two old range bulls butting heads. As always, the supporting cast adds immeasureably to the movie: Geoffrey Deuel as Billy Bonney; Christopher George (who also played a villainous role in the Duke's "El Dorado") as his old enemy, gimpy, half-crazy bounty hunter Dan Nodeen; Richard Jaeckel as Jess Evans, with whom Billy once rode; Glenn Corbett as Billy's friend (and future killer) Pat Garrett. The mild liberties that are taken with history (such as Sallie's attraction to Billy) only serve to fill out the characters better. There's plenty of classic Old West action and a good score (Merle Haggard's vocal, "Turn Me Around," should be released on a retrospective of his songs), and Chisum is portrayed as a decent man who loves the land and wants the best for the people who live on it (interestingly, he isn't expected to carry a romantic relationship at all, though it's strongly hinted that he came close to marrying Sallie's mother). A solid entry to the Wayne oeuvre and one well worth your time."
Gunner | Bethlehem,Georgia | 04/12/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
Chisum is a cowboy movie in the old style. It stars John Wayne, as the New Mexico cattle baron, John Chisum, has Forrest Tucker as a greedy merchant, and has Billy the Kid, , and many others in it. Recommended for fans of John Wayne, Forrest Tucker, and cowboy movies.
Gunner April, 2008
STRONG JOHN WAYNE WESTERN
Tim Janson | Michigan | 01/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've always loved John Waynes westerns of the 60's and 70's. Even in older age he was a commanding presence on the screen. Chisum tells the story of the real-life Lincoln County war between John Chisum (wayne) and L.G. Murphy (Forrest Tucker). Chisum is a cattle baron who has settle this area of New Mexico long ago and a well-respected man of the Community. Murphy is the newcomer. A rich man bent on taking over Lincoln County by buying up everything he can and puttin any competitors out of business. This puts him into direct conflict with CHisum. Chisum soon uses his considerable funds to back a store and bank of his own to compete with Murphy.
Chisum is friends with another rich cattleman, a Northeasterner Henry Tunstall. Tunstall just happens to employ a certain young man named Billy Bonney AKA Billy the Kid. Tunstall is a man of God who tries to get Billy to change his lawless ways. Billy finds himself at odds with Chisum due to a romantic interest that forms between he and his niece Sally. EVentually a couple of crooked deputies kill Tunstall claiming he pulled a gun on them. Billy in turn kills the town sheriff setting off an all out war between the various factions leading to a climactic fight between Chisum and Murphy.
The movie does play quite loose with the various facts of the real life Lincoln County war especially with Kid's relation ship with Pat Garrett. The cast was very strong in this film and includes old Wayne co-hort Ben Johnson as "pepper", Chisums friend who mutters his opinion just under his breath all the time. Glen Corbett is the blue steel-eyed Pat Garrett, and Geoffrey Duel is Billy the Kid. Another of the Duke's old pals Bruce Cabot plays the Sheriff, and Chris George is along as the new sadistic Sheriff Nodeen.
The movie has all the hallmarks of Waynes westerns. Gorgeous scenery, plenty of action, and a good dose of humor. Among the memorable scenes is when Murphy's men have the town barricaded against Chisums arrival so the Duke sends a stampege of bulls plowing into the town. The DVD version I have comes with a commentary track by director Andrew McLagen.
CHISUM - The Duke does it his own way! Again!
Scott L. Mc Kinney III | Elmhurst/Corona, New York | 03/16/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"CHISUM is the kind of good, tough, old-fashioned western that Hollywood has apparently forgotten how to make. This film focuses on the Lincoln County land wars in New Mexico, featuring a look at the involvement of Billy the Kid. The performances are strong down the line, most notably John Wayne as John Chisum and Christopher George as "Sheriff" Dan Nodeen. Although the historical aspect of the film is dubious, and the plot is a patchwork rehash of many "B" westerns (with implied references to several of Wayne's previous westerns), the film is most enjoyable. Andrew V. Mc Laglen (the poor man's John Ford) does a commendable job of directing this ensemble of veteran and up-and-coming actors. While CHISUM does not rank among the BEST of the John Wayne westerns (such as The Searchers, Red River, etc...), it's still VERY entertaining and well worth watching."