Photography: United Artists
Photography: United Artists

John Wayne, Kirk Douglas also loom large in this week's lineup.

Here’s our weekly overview of choice options for home-screen viewing. (Note: All times listed are Eastern.)

The War Wagon (1967)

Call it a Wild West heist movie, and you won’t be far off the mark. When cowboy Taw Jackson (John Wayne) is paroled from prison three years after being framed by greedy mining-company boss Frank Pierce (Bruce Cabot), he seeks revenge against the bad guy — and the return of his gold-rich land — with an audacious assault on the steel-plated, heavily guarded “war wagon” Pierce uses for cross-country gold dust shipments. Chief among Jackson’s co-conspirators: Lomax (Douglas), a flamboyant gunfighter who’s introduced in a saloon/brothel where he sports a dragon-bedecked silk robe while enjoying the company of two Chinese prostitutes. (When Jackson complains about the presence of the latter during a confab, Lomax grins and explains: “Can’t get more private. Neither one of them speaks a word of English.”) Slow-burning Wayne and live-wire Douglas develop a richly amusing give-and-take under the efficient direction of genre specialist Burt Kennedy, and are at their best when trading quips before, during and after gunplay. “Mine hit the ground first,” Douglas brags after they dispose of two would-be assassins. Wayne dryly responds: “Mine was taller.” The strong supporting cast includes Howard Keel, Robert Walker Jr., Keenan Wynn and — briefly, as one of those would-be assassins — Bruce Dern. (9:40 pm Tuesday, Encore Westerns)

Jonah Hex (2010)

Critics were unkind to director Jimmy Hayward’s bizarre adaptation of the DC Comics series, and not without some justification:  The narrative is borderline incoherent, suggesting there was much second-guessing and drastic re-cutting (probably to avoid an R rating) during an extended post-production period. But Josh Brolin makes a potent impression as the title character, a hideously scarred Civil War veteran turned bounty hunter who occasionally converses with the dead. John Malkovich is fun to watch as he dials it up to 11 as the villain of the piece, Quentin Turnbull, who plans to disrupt the Centennial celebrations of 1876 by aiming some heavily artillery at Washington D.C. And, shucks, Megan Fox looks right pretty as Lilah, a shady lady whose heart of gold beats wildly for Jonah. Think of it not so much Wild West action as Wild, Wild West action. (2:30 pm Thursday, IFC)

Hang ‘Em High (1968)

Clint Eastwood’s first major American-made star vehicle, produced shortly after his breakout success in Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns, is an impressively gritty and hugely entertaining drama about a cowboy who survives being the guest of honor at a necktie party, and signs on with a territorial judge (Pat Hingle) as a U.S. marshal so he can track down members of the posse that mistook him for a cattle rustler. The original advertising tagline says it all: “They made two mistakes. They hung the wrong man and they didn't finish the job!” (8:45 am and 7:05 pm Friday, Encore)

Buchanan Rides Alone (1958)

In a small Tex-Mex bordertown run by a corrupt family, Tom Buchanan (Randolph Scott) befriends a young Mexican who avenges his sister’s honor by fatally shooting the spoiled son of a politically ambitious judge. The judge is more than willing to free his son’s killer in return for a hefty campaign contribution. But the money can’t be held by anyone for very long  —  and thanks to Buchanan, neither can the killer. Almost, but not quite, a black comedy, director Budd Boetticher's fourth western with screen icon Scott has an understated but richly satisfying flavor of self-parody. (10:20 pm Saturday, getTV)

 

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