John Wayne was one of the few personalities who could carry a movie almost entirely on his personality, and Chisum is one of those movies. It came out in 1970, a year after Wayne won an Oscar for his self-referential role in True Grit and Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch revolutionized the screen Western. Hollywood studios (behind the times as usual) continued to make the genre the old fashioned way for a few more years. Chisum follows all the traditional formulas, but, thanks to a solid performance by Wayne and some high-energy action sequences, it manages to be good entertainment. Ben Johnson is pretty standard as the comic sidekick; remarkably, this was the film before his Oscar-winning performance in The Last Picture Show. The director, Andrew McLaglen, went on to direct a number of lamentable -- though quite funny -- sequels to movies that he had nothing to do with originally, including Return From the River Kwai, Sergeant Steiner, and The Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission.
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John Wayne toplines this biography of the cattle owner John Simpson Chisum, a controversial figure who was the most powerful man in New Mexico during the Wild West era. A founder and prominent citizen in the town of Lincoln, Chisum is slow to act when ruthless land baron Lawrence Murphy (Forrest Tucker) moves in on several local businesses and takes them over. By the time Chisum and his ally, fellow rancher Henry Tunstall (Patrick Knowles), decide to go to the law, Murphy's already bought and paid for influence there, as well. The only recourse left to the cattlemen is to take Murphy on in all-out range war that embroils everyone in the county, including Tunstall's hand Billy the Kid Bonney (Geoffrey Deuel) and his comrade Pat Garrett (Glenn Corbett). Screenwriter and producer Andrew J. Fenady based the script for Chisum (1970) on his own short story, a very loosely fact-based account of Chisum, Billy the Kid and their involvement in the Lincoln County wars.
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|Source:||Warner Home Video|