Cahill U.S. Marshal [1973]

After the late-career high of True Grit, only The Cowboys and The Shootist escaped the curse of half-baked scripts, recycled material, and lackadaisical filmmaking that characterized John Wayne's last half-dozen years in movies. Cahill is no exception, but it's more energetic than The Undefeated and Chisum (likewise nominally directed by Andrew V. McLaglen), with a certain Gothic tinge. Also, the theme of a dedicated professional who lets his job keep him from being part of his children's lives appears to have had some relevance for the producer-star. Marshal Cahill's two sons (Summer of '42's Gary Grimes and the preteen Clay O'Brien) are so unhinged by paternal "negligence" that they get caught up in a twisted bank-robbery scheme with a very bad guy, a veritable bogeyman (George Kennedy). Cahill has to sort his familial crisis and several outlaw crews, with the assistance of a sardonic half-breed scout (Neville Brand) who teases him mightily. --Richard T. Jameson

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