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TRAIN ROBBERS, THE (director/writer: Burt Kennedy; cinematographer: William H. Clothier; editor: Frank Santillo; music: Dominic Frontiere; cast: John Wayne (Lane), Ann-Margret (Mrs. Lowe), Rod Taylor (Grady), Ben Johnson (Jesse), Christopher George (Calhoun), Bobby Vinton (Ben Young), Jerry Gatlin (Sam Turner), Ricardo Montalban (The Pinkerton man); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Michael Wayne; Warner Brothers; 1973)
“This easy to take Western was hard for me to take.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Burt Kennedy’s “The Train Robbers” is a standard Western that has a unique premise and a dumb plot twist for a surprise ending. It never amounts to more than a nostalgia piece, with an aged and overweight John Wayne trying to bring back the good ole days at every turn of the cutesy but inconsequential tale.

Mrs. Lowe (Ann-Margret) is a buxom widow who wishes to recover $500,000 in gold in the Mexican desert that was stolen by her husband some years ago and stashed away, where only she now knows where it is. There were ten men in on the robbery, but only seven are left. Mrs. Lowe hires Lane (John Wayne) and he hires gunslingers Jesse (Ben Johnson) and Grady (Rod Taylor), who in turn hire Ben Young (Bobby Vinton), Sam Turner (Jerry Gatlin), and Calhoun (Christopher George), to go into the Mexican desert and return the gold to the railroad for a $50,000 reward so that she can clear her family name and use the reward to raise her son.

After the gold are hubby’s seven ex-partners, who are willing to shoot it out for the loot. Also on the trail is a lone Pinkerton man (Ricardo Montalban).

Kennedy’s uninspired direction calls for plenty of landscape shots of the barren desert, the sand dunes and blue skies. Wayne voices his reactionary stance as the self-appointed leader who cuffs his loyal subjects around to give them a taste of his benevolent despotism. Ann-Margret is along to get the horny cowpokes hot without getting herself dirty in an ‘R” rated way. The rest of the cast are all about male bonding around a campfire and showing the Duke that they believe so much in his leadership that they’d follow him to hell if need be. This easy to take Western was hard for me to take.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”