John Wayne toplines this biography of the cattle owner John Simpson Chisum, a controversial figure who was the most powerful man in New Mexico during the Wild West era. A founder and prominent citizen in the town of Lincoln, Chisum is slow to act when ruthless land baron Lawrence Murphy (Forrest Tucker) moves in on several local businesses and takes them over. By the time Chisum and his ally, fellow rancher Henry Tunstall (Patrick Knowles), decide to go to the law, Murphy's already bought and paid for influence there, as well. The only recourse left to the cattlemen is to take Murphy on in all-out range war that embroils everyone in the county, including Tunstall's hand Billy the Kid Bonney (Geoffrey Deuel) and his comrade Pat Garrett (Glenn Corbett). Screenwriter and producer Andrew J. Fenady based the script for Chisum (1970) on his own short story, a very loosely fact-based account of Chisum, Billy the Kid and their involvement in the Lincoln County wars.
by Karl Williams synopsis