Cahill U.S. Marshal (1973)
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Wayne catches up with some nefarious characters who fit a general description and have a chunk of cash on them. They're not the right guys and he suspects as much. The rest of the story concerns what happens as Grimes and O'Brien are conscience stricken and how that brings about a general righting of wrongs.
My problem with the story is that marshal's kids or not, they've committed a major league felony. In another film Grimes would have hung for it. Two law enforcement officials were killed in the performance of their duty. You do recall in Hang 'Em High those two kids who did not help Bruce Dern overpower Clint Eastwood still hung in the end. Or in True Grit, John Wayne shoots without hesitation some young criminals there.
But this is a John Wayne film involving his family so the Duke is trapped by certain parameters that his fans expect. It makes for some weakly resolved issues in the plot.
But if you're a fan of the Duke, Cahill U.S. Marshal will fill your bill.
Though one of Wayne's later, less acclaimed movies, there's still a whole lot of fun to be had in this well produced, action filled morality tale.
Kennedy is in truly fine form here as a truly vile bad guy, while Neville Brand, who's usually typecast as despicable villains and psychopathic cretins, delivers a standout, heroic performance as Wayne's halfbreed sidekick.
The tense, bloody climax is pretty good.
Nice Western packs thrills , family feeling , shoot'em up and results to be pretty entertaining . Besides , it contains good feeling as friendship , faithfulness , companionship , and enjoyable father-sons relationship . Furthermore , an anti-racism subtext was written into the script in response to ongoing criticism of John Wayne . The screenplay is plain and simple, with a conventional plot , but ultimately gets overcome . Gorgeous outdoors with decent production design by Walter Simonds , though the opening and finale scenes were filmed entirely in the studio . Enjoyable acting by always great John Wayne . Most of the scenes showing John Wayne riding from a distance were filmed with Chuck Roberson substituting for Wayne . His son is well played by Gary Grimes (Summer of 42, Class of 44) , he performed in similar role as a naive cowboy other films (The spikes gang , CulpepperCattle) , though he virtually disappeared without much trace and nowadays is retreated . Neville Brand was surprised to be offered the role of half-Commanche scout Lightfoot, a part he felt he was badly unsuited for, but accepted it just because he liked working . There also appears notorious secondary actors from numerous Westerns such as Denver Pyle , Paul Fix , Harry Carey Jr , Hank Worden , Marie Windsor , Dan Vadis , Walter Barnes , Royal Dano , among others.
Rousing musical score by Elmer Bernstein in his ordinary style , including some marvelous songs with lyrics by Don Black . Colorful and spectacular cinematography in Panavision by Joseph Biroc , being filmed on location in Durango , Mexico . Rightly produced by Batjac Production , a company presided by John Wayne and his son Michael A. Wayne . This well-paced film was compellingly directed by Andrew V. McLagen , son of great actor Victor McLagen . The pic contains McLagen's usual themes as familiar feeling , a little bit of charming humor , friendship and and sense of comradeship among people . Andrew does the human touch and full of insight that accompanied him during most of his films and the story develops pleasantly in a large frame with an interesting plot and fully adjusted to the requirements of the action . Andrew McLagen is a known Ford's disciple introducing similar themes in his films . Andrew holds the distinction of directing the most episodes of "Gunsmoke" . Furthermore , he holds the honor of filmmaking the most episodes of ¨Have gun , Will travel" . And is one of the few directors to have directed both Clint Eastwood and John Wayne . He's a Western expert (McLintock , Shenandoah , Bandolero , Chisum , Cahill , Way West) and warlike specialist , such as proved in several films (Return to Kwai, Wild Geese , Dirty dozen: the next mission, Sea wolves, Breakthrough) . Rating ¨Cahill¨ : Agreeable , and above average Western 6'5 . The picture will appeal to John Wayne fans . Worthwhile watching .
J.D. Cahill is a fearsome Marshal, his reputation goes before him where ever he roams, but when his two sibling boys decide to get his attention by way of joining a gang and then robbing a bank, he is perhaps faced with his toughest challenge.
This is not a great John Wayne film, in fact it's distinctly average, but at its heart, the tale of a single father trying to balance his work and bring up his children properly, is interestingly watchable. Unfortunately after a brisk and entertaining opening the film ambles along without any wish to up the ante. John Wayne, and chief bad guy George Kennedy appear to merely be going through the motions, and some of the technical work here only compounds the cheap feel that cloaks the story. It's ultimately mostly unforgettable stuff, but it deserves a watch because it does at least say a bit more than at first thought, it's just real sad that it's not put together very well. 5/10
The Duke had some great or near great Westerns in the final two decades of his career (e.g. "The Horse Soldiers," "The Alamo," "The Comancheros," "El Dorado," "True Grit," "The Cowboys," "The Train Robbers" and "Rooster Cogburn"), but "Cahill" isn't one of 'em. While I appreciate that Wayne tried to do something different by having the story focus on the ramifications of his neglected kids, the movie simply isn't very compelling and the boys aren't interesting as characters. It doesn't help that Kennedy is decidedly cartoony as the villain. Disregarding the awesome Western locations, the storytelling smacks of a 60s or 70's TV show Western.
Yet, if you're a Duke fan, "Cahill" is mandatory viewing. The relationship between Cahill and the tracker (Brand) is a highlight, as is the Western scenery. Speaking of the latter, the movie is further hampered by three nighttime sequences obviously shot in the studio, which appear at the beginning, middle and end, but that's a minor cavil.
The film runs 103 minutes and was shot in Sonora, Mexico; Arizona; and Calderon Ranch, California. The screenplay was written by Harry & Rita Fink based on Barney Slater's story.