"In The Last Wagon, Richard Widmark proved that he was a seamless fit for the Western genre. Although he played his share of heroes, villains, and a little of both in a number of Westerns, his acting always seemed suited for delivering just the right tone at just the right time.
In The Last Wagon, Widmark plays Comanche Todd, a white man raised with Indians and a wanted killer who took revenge on the men who killed his Indians wife and children. Captured by lawmen, Todd is kept by the lawmen at a wagon train headed through dangerous Apache territory. However, the Apaches attack the wagon train, leaving only Todd, two women, and children alive. Now Todd must try to get the family through hostile territory to the nearest fort and certain trial and execution for his crimes.
In the hand of great Western movie director Delmer Daves, The Last Wagon has more than its share of excitement and tense moments. The actors are very good, even though the ending strains credibility to the limit. This is a film that deserved to be released on DVD, and Western film lovers should have a good time watching it."
Rob | Texas | 05/25/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Last Wagon is an outstanding example of what seems to be the Golden Age of American Westerns- the 1950's. Richard Widmark is doing what he does best: portraying an ornery, but honorable wronged man. Characterization is kept simple, yet realistic. For example, the response of the people of the wagon train toward the animalistic lawman who has captured Comanche Tod is very authentic. It shows a theme running through the film that justice is more important than the law.
Widmark's use of Indian skills keeps his "anti-hero" interesting. As his motley crew tries to keep up with him, they learn valuable lessons in not only survival, but character. I originally caught this movie one night packing for a trip, and just could not stop watching it. Bigger screen TVs are helping to bring back appreciation for the beautiful panoramic on-location shots of the American West. The Last Wagon has a good story and some wonderful views free of phone towers and windmill farms."
A Great "Lessons Learned" Western!
Dr. Glenn W. Briggs | KSC, Florida & Chengdu, China | 04/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Filmed in an exquisitely beautiful part of Arizona, this fine 1956 film relates a tale about revenge and survival. "Commanche Todd," a white man who lived among the Indians for more than twenty years, sets out to avenge the murder of his Commanche wife and two young sons by four brothers. Superbly portrayed by Richard Widmark, Todd becomes involved with the young survivors of a wagon train that has been wiped out by Apaches, and who must survive with his guidance. An exciting and riveting film from beginning to end, it is a study in the maturation of widely-varying personalities, with an excellent subplot on trust and interdependency. Truly one of Widmark's best western efforts."
" A BOY'S LIFE"
R. W. Kehr | SKOKIE, IL. United States | 07/21/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film defined its audience and caters to it throughout. When it was made, westerns were at the peak of their popularity and the bulge of that bell curve was adolescent boys. Although Richard Widmark is the star, I think the focal point of the movie is filtered through the character of Billy played by Tommy Rettig. In the mid 50's, there was no more recognizable young TV star than Tommy Rettig who played Jeff on "Lassie". "Lassie" was on every Sunday early evening when every kid in America was home tuning in. They might laugh at "Leave it to Beaver" and think Wally was sorta cool, but openly or secretly, everyone wanted to be Jeff and live on a farm with a dog that was smarter than your math teacher. Richard Widmark's character is the kind of father figure a 10 year old American boy growing up in the 50's would envision, right down to the rather ludicrous name "Commanche Todd". At this juncture, it was cool to have lived with Indians and learned the ways of the wilderness but still have blonde hair and blue eyes.Even cooler, to teach these things to a young fatherless boy who happens to have an unattached beautiful sister. If this all sounds contrived, you'd be wrong. Delmer Daves is an accomplished director who keeps this movie interesting and somehow fresh throughout. I, or perhaps the 10 year old within, totally bought in to the plot and appreciated the whole movie like I'd been to a Saturday matinee. And one of the key elements of this film is probably the most outstanding color photography I've ever seen. In order to provide an experience that TV couldn't offer and ween people away from shows like "Lassie", studios filmed some productions in Cinemascope. This is one of the best of the bunch. With rich saturated Technicolor and the most photogenic Arizona locations you"ve ever seen, the overall widescreen effect is astounding-even on a 27 inch TV. I'm a big fan of Monument Valley and the Anthony Mann high country, but my first reaction to "The Last Wagon" was that this is the most beautiful western I've ever seen."
Before 3:10 to Yuma
James R. Morris Jr. | Asheboro, NC USA | 05/30/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Since Andrew Sarris relegated Delmer Daves to lightly likable back in the 60's, and to my mind underestimated him, Daves reputation has risen, albeit slowly, through the years. Mr. Daves, like Howard Hawks, worked in many genres, and had success in most of them. His direction of Bogart in Dark Passage turned noir on its head, without wholly sabotaging the genre. But it is in the Western that Mr. Daves found his greatest success. The list is impressive: Broken Arrow, Drum Beat, Jubal, 3:10 to Yuma, Cowboy, The Badlanders, and The Hanging Tree. (Some of these, alas, are still not on DVD.) So it is good to see The Last Wagon finally get its DVD debut. Originally released in 1956, it stars the underrated Richard Widmark as a hunted man who befriends a wagon train in peril. Mr. Widmark, too, had made his name in noir, and his unpredictability (he played villains and heroes with equal ease) is used to great advantage by Mr. Daves, who carefully delineates the moral ambiguities in the character. The film was shot in Arizona and few directors integrated landscapes into their films better than Mr. Daves. This is immediately obvious in this beautiful wide screen transfer, where the colors are vivid and forceful, and the vistas expansive in his famous crane shots. His ease with landscapes aside, fewer still directors presented women more fairly and courageously. Here Felicia Farr gives a luminous performance, as does the always provocative Susan Kohner. The Last Wagon is a modest Western but not without intelligence. Mr. Daves himself was a Stanford graduate, and in this deceptively simple, although thoroughly compelling narrative, the themes that run through his best films are present here: prejudice, racism; brutality, and justice. And like John Ford, but unlike Howard Hawks, Mr. Daves extols the virtues of community and respect for other cultures. His films often come across as appeals for compassion and understanding; few directors managed to combine entertainment so effectively with such entreaties. Despite a rather hurried and contrived ending, The Last Wagon resonates with its own parched splendor, anticipating Mr. Daves masterpiece 3:10 to Yuma. "