The War Wagon

My dad is a great person to watch any kind of old movies or television with. He’ll be flipping through the channels, and suddenly remark, “I wonder what this is!” and more often than not, he’ll stay on that channel until someone tells him to change it.

I know this is where I get my love of strange old movies. Recently Netflix has offered me a subcategory of “1940s British Dramas with a Strong Female Lead.” Although come to think of it, I would watch pretty much anything with my dad – we once watched a Vincent Price movie, The Bat, which was a delicious noir-esque horror that was just chilling enough to be believable.

My parents have never been believers in cable, and my dad being tech-savvy has been always able to get the biggest baddest antenna (now digital receiver), leaving us to marvel at the number of PBS stations out there or the fascinating number of strange foreign language channels far away from the prime-time networks.

One of the reoccurring favorites is a digital sub-channel put out by KTLA Channel 5, the old WB. On their station 5-3 (THIS-TV), they broadcast movies from the MGM archive, more often than not terrible stuff from the 70s onward. But occasionally you’ll strike gold.

Once, my dad and I watched about an hour of a French western from the 1960s as part of their art-house feature. Another time I saw a bit of an early Chuck Norris movie. It was worse than I anticipated. But recently, we’ve been watching the old blockbuster westerns. The other night we watched The War Wagon with John Wayne and Kirk Douglas. I also felt like I was back in a film class as my dad pointed out the unique traits of old westerns:

  • The protagonist always wears colorful clothes. In this case, John Wayne wore a pink shirt and Kirk Douglas green pants. Everyone else, including the villain, usually wears brown. Blends in better with the dust.
  • Most horse scenes are done with stunt men.
  • The villains are usually associated with the railroad or mining. Or anyone trying to steal your land.
  • All the windows will break in a bar fight scene.

John Wayne and Kirk Douglas on the War Wagon

Where would I be without terrible tv?


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