One of many films made late in Wayne's career in which the actor simply rested on his laurels, this is a lackluster production that never amounts to much. The Duke plays a veteran of the Civil War hired by Ann-Margret to recover $500,000 in gold which her late husband stole years before
and hid somewhere in Mexico. She tells Wayne the secret location and promises him $50,000 that Wells Fargo is offering as reward for the gold. She intends to return the rest to the bank, restoring honor to the family name for her son. Wayne hires Taylor and Johnson, two other war veterans, to go
along with him. Also joining up are ex-bank robber Vinton and gunslingers George and Gatlin. After crossing the border into Mexico, the men are surprised to find themselves being followed by a group of 20 armed riders. Montalban, a mysterious loner with a cigar constantly between his lips, is also
tailing them.. After finding the gold hidden in the boiler of an abandoned locomotive, Wayne's party is attacked by the horsemen. Ann -Margret surprises everyone with her ability to use a shotgun, and the attack is staved off. Wayne's party returns home but is ambushed by the remaining gang
members, and, once again, the outlaws are defeated. The next day, Ann-Margret boards a train, so she can take the gold to the bank. She is touched when Wayne gives up his reward as a gift for her son, but the Duke soon learns that he's the one who's been touched. Montalban arrives and tells Wayne
that he is a Pinkerton agent who has been keeping his eye on Ann-Margret's activities. It seems she was a saloon girl who found out about the gold at the original thief's deathbed, then concocted an elaborate scheme, including a nonexistent son, in order to get her hands on the loot. Angered by
having the wool pulled over their collective eyes, Wayne's band rides after the departing train.
This is a simple western in every sense of the term. Characters are easily identifiable archetypes with Wayne at centerstage playing the good guy. He's not helped much by director Kennedy. Working from his own script, this has none of the feel Kennedy gave to the westerns he wrote for Wayne when
Budd Boetticher was the director. Shot in Durango, Mexico, the film looks like a tourism commercial, with lots of shots of unspoiled scenery and men silhouetted against the sky. Released at a time when the western was undergoing some radical changes thanks to films by Sergio Leone and Sam
Peckinpah, THE TRAIN ROBBERS harkens back to the old style westerns Wayne helped make famous. What's lacking is substance and style.
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- Released: 1973
- Rating: PG
- Review: One of many films made late in Wayne's career in which the actor simply rested on his laurels, this is a lackluster production that never amounts to much. The Duke plays a veteran of the Civil War hired by Ann-Margret to recover $500,000 in gold which her… (more)