John Wayne Once Explained Why ‘Cahill U.S. Marshal’ Was His Worst Western

Actor John Wayne made one of his last movies in Cahill U.S. Marshal. However, it was far from being one of his favorite Western motion pictures he starred in. Wayne once explained why he considered Cahill U.S. Marshal to be his worst Western. Critics and his fans wouldn’t necessarily agree, but the Duke certainly had his reasons for turning his back on this one.

John Wayne played J.D. Cahill in ‘Cahill U.S. Marshal’

'Cahill U.S. Marshal' John Wayne as J.D. Cahill wearing his Western uniform and holding a gun in front of a horse.
John Wayne as J.D. Cahill | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Cahill U.S. Marshal follows a marshal named J.D. Cahill (Wayne), who neglects his two sons. However, his whole world turns upside down when he finds his kids mixed up with an outlaw named Fraser (George Kennedy) in a bank robbery.

The film largely deals with the robbery, but the movie extends beyond that. It’s actually more focused on the relationship between a father and his sons. Cahill’s abilities as a parent are constantly called into question, but he must push forward. He can sense his children are in trouble as his sons try to navigate their troubles between their father and a robber.

Wayne died on June 11, 1979, making the 1973 Western Cahill U.S. Marshal one of his final motion pictures. He would later star in McQ, Brannigan, Rooster Cogburn, and The Shootist as his final feature films. However, Wayne would find himself much more proud of the final product seen in The Shootist.

John Wayne called ‘Cahill U.S. Marshal’ his worst Western

In an interview with The Film Heritage, Wayne talked about his feelings regarding Cahill U.S. Marshal. He noted that he liked the core theme of the screenplay but thought that it needed a lot of improvements when it came to execution. Wayne referred to Cahill U.S. Marshal as needing “better care” at multiple stages of production.

“It just wasn’t a well-done picture,” Wayne said. “It needed better writing, it needed a little better care in making.”

Wayne starred in 179 movies and television shows, but he picked Cahill U.S. Marshal as his least favorite of the Western flicks he made. The movie introduces some anti-racist themes that could be in response to his infamous 1971 Playboy interview that continues to haunt his legacy to this day.

The movie targeted younger audiences

Cahill U.S. Marshal was made with younger audiences in mind. As a result, it landed better with audiences than it did with critics. The Rotten Tomatoes viewer score currently sits at 65%. Meanwhile, all of the available reviews from critics are negative, although there aren’t enough individual reviews to compose a consensus.

The reviews call Cahill U.S. Marshal “one of his worst” and a “bore” with a “preachy message” that doesn’t stick its landing. However, Wayne would ultimately impress many audiences around the world with his performance in The Shootist. He didn’t earn an Oscar nomination, but many of his fans believe that the voting body snubbed the iconic actor.

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