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John Wayne

10 Classic John Wayne Movies That Are Not Westerns

John Wayne is a Hollywood legend who is best known for his iconic Westerns such as The Searchers, True Grit and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. After losing his football scholarship, Wayne started working for 20th Century Fox as a prop boy before his breakthrough role in John Ford‘s Stagecoach. While Wayne may have made his film footprint in the Old West, the Duke starred in a dozen non-Western movies throughout his career that are often overlooked.
Along with his Westerns, Wayne was featured in dozens of war films including The Green Berets as well as romantic comedies and dramas like A Lady Takes a Chance and The Wings of the Eagles.From The Longest Day to Donovan’s Reef,these are several among Wayne’s best classic movies that aren’t Westerns.
‘In Harm’s Way’ (1965)

John Wayne_Carroll O'Connor_Kirk Douglas_In Harm's Way

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Captain Torrey managed to keep his ship afloat, but he’s demoted when his ship is damaged. When he returns to shore, he attempts to reconnect with his estranged son and falls in love with a nurse (Patricia Neal) before he is assigned to a dangerous mission.
Directed by Otto Preminger, In Harm’s Way was one of the last epic World War II movies to be filmed in black-and-white and features a star-studded cast of Henry Fonda, Kirk Douglas, Dana Andrews, Carroll O’Connor and Burgess Meredith.The movie was written by Navy veteran Wendell Mayes and is considered to be an authentic view into the Navy during the war.
‘Back to Bataan’ (1945)

John Wayne looking to the side while sitting next to a man laying down in the grass in Sands of Iwo Jima-1

As the U.S. struggles to defend Bataan against the Japanese, Colonel Madden recruits resistance fighters to help keep a hold of the city. While he’s away, Bataan is captured along with Madden’s men including the grandson of a national war hero, Captain Andrés Bonifacio (Anthony Quinn). Refusing to give up, Madden and the resistance fighters form a plan to save Bonifacio as well as Bataan.
RELATED:The Tragic History Of Lost Films, From A Hitchcock Feature To A John Wayne Western
Back to Bataan is based on the real-life Battle of Bataan and takes place during the most intense phase of the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II. According to John Wayne: American by Randy Roberts and James S. Olson, Wayne insisted on doing his own stunts for the movie. One scene involved Wayne entering an icy pond and remaining underwater while using a reed to breathe.
‘Hatari!’ (1962)

John Wayne standing behind the front of a jeep with a young man in Hatari!

Sean Mercer and his men capture wild African animals to sell to American zoos, but the job’s interrupted by a reporter who intends to expose them and their exploits. As they continue to clash with the reporter, her tough and strong will begin to wear them down and even rethink their career choice.
Hatari! is directed by the legendary filmmaker Howard Hawks and is the only non-Western Hawks and Wayne made together. The movie was filmed on location in East Africa and according to The Cinema of Howard Hawks, by Peter Bogdanovich, Hawks had planned on Clark Gable co-starring with Wayne in the movie but Gable’s death in 1960 ruled that option out.
‘They Were Expendable’ (1945)

John Wayne, Geraldine Page and Robert Montgomery sitting next to each other in a jeep inThey Were Expendable

Naval officers, Rusty and Brick (Robert Montgomery) present a group of PT boats to their superior officer who is unimpressed and dismisses them. When they receive word about the attack on Pearl Harbor, Rusty and Brick are sent into battle with their PT boats and end up becoming America’s secret weapon.
While the movie’s fictional, They Were Expendable is based on events surrounding a PT boat squadron that defended the Philippines during World War II. The movie is co-directed by John Ford as well as Montgomery and features It’s a Wonderful Life stars, Donna Reed and Ward Bond. Bond and Wayne would work together again several years later on another Ford film, The Searchers.
‘Reap the Wild Wind’ (1942)

Paulette Goddard standing next to John Wayne looking up in Reap the Wild Wind

After a massive shipwreck, Loxi (Paulette Goddard), the owner of a marine salvaging business, and her men race to the wreckage sites to collect the cargo and end up saving one of the ship’s captains, Jack Stuart. After Jack finds a job with another shipping line, rumors surface that his shipwreck was planned by dangerous salvagers.
Directed by Cecil B. DeMille, Reap the Wild Wind is a romantic adventure with a supporting cast of Ray Milland, Susan Hayward and actor-turned-gossip columnist, Hedda Hopper. The movie’s viewed as one of Wayne’s most unusual roles as he plays a character who has a dark and sinister side to him that audiences rarely see the Duke portray.
‘The Longest Day’ (1962)

John Wayne standing next to another soldier in The Longest Day

U.S. and allied troops are planning to invade Normandy, France and despite bad weather, are given the go-ahead by General Eisenhower. The troops storm the Normandy beach and venture into French territory catching the German troops completely off guard.
The Longest Day is a classic war film about the events leading up to one of the most infamous battles of World War II, D-Day. The cast is packed with stars including Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Sean Connery, Richard Burton and Peter Lawford. The movie contains actual archive footage and according to Five Came Back by Mark Harris, was partially filmed by John Ford and inspired scenes in Steven Spielberg‘sSaving Private Ryan.
‘Blood Alley’ (1955)

Lauren Bacall sitting and looking up at John Wayne leaning over a table looking at someone across from him in Blood Alley

Tom Wilder’s an American sailor who is asked by a group of villagers to help them escape from Chinese Communists. Wilder agrees to take them to a British port but as they embark on the dangerous journey, they are followed by a Chinese gunboat and fighter threatening to destroy their entire plan.
Blood Alley is a Cold War drama featuring Hollywood legend Lauren Bacall, who plays Wayne’s love interest. Wayne promoted the movie during his guest appearance on an episode of the hit sitcom, I Love Lucy,where Lucy and Ethel steal Wayne’s cement footprints from the front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater the night before the movie’s premiere.

‘Sands of Iwo Jima’ (1949)

John Wayne lying on the ground of a battle field next to another soldier in Sands of Iwo Jima

During World War II, Marine sergeant, John Stryker is resented by his troops for his strict rules and intense training methods. The men start to appreciate Stryker and his war strategies as they try to survive what would end up becoming one of the war’s bloodiest battles, the Battle of Iwo Jima
Sands of Iwo Jima is directed by silent film director Allan Dwan who successfully transitioned into the Talkies directing several films featuring child-star Shirley Temple. The war movie co-stars John Agar, Forrest Tucker and Richard Jaeckel who all joined Wayne again in the Western, Chisum. Agar also co-starred with Wayne in Fort Apache alongside Temple who married the young actor in 1945.
‘The Quiet Man’ (1952)

Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne sitting in a carriage looking forward in The Quiet Man-1

Sean Thornton’s a former boxer who moves to Ireland and purchases his family’s old home with the intention of living in peace. He meets and marries Mary Kate (Maureen O’Hara) but when her brother refuses to give them her dowry, Sean’s forced to enter the ring for one final fight.
The Quiet Man is directed by John Ford and is one of Wayne’s best performances alongside frequent co-star, Maureen O’Hara. Wayne and O’Hara co-starred together in a total of five films including another Ford film, McLintock! and off-screen, the two were great friends all the way up until Wayne’s death in 1979. The movie earned Ford his fourth Academy Award for Best Director and still holds the record as the director to win the most Oscars.
‘Donovan’s Reef’ (1963)

Lee Marvin next to John Wayne both soaking wet standing in a fish pond in Donovan's Reef

At the end of World War II, Navy veterans, Donovan, Gilhooley (Lee Marvin) and Doc Dedham, remain on a French Polynesian island where they rebuild the local town. Back in Boston, Dedham’s daughter finds out her father’s still alive and travels to the island in an attempt to collect his share of stocks in their family’s company.
Donovan’s Reef is another John Ford film but due to the director’s declining health at the time, Wayne directed a majority of the film himself. While the movie is a light-hearted comedy, it still manages to address serious issues such as racial discrimination, greed and bigotry. Donovan’s Reef reunited Wayne and Ford in what would become their final film together.

John Wayne

”The Shootist”: John Wayne put all his heart into the final movie.

John Wayne. What can you say about him? Whether you enjoy the man’s work or not, there’s no denying that he has made a massive impact on film history and pop culture. But even as a fan, I can’t defend every aspect of the Duke, like the guy’s acting. I can’t think of anyone who’s watched a John Wayne film for his acting chops.

The man was more known for his screen persona than his acting abilities, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have some good advice on acting.There are, however, a couple of films in which Duke pull off a pretty good performance . There’s his iconic role as Ethan Edwards in The Searchers (1956) where he played a cold-hearted and cynical war veteran searching for his niece.

Then there’s his Oscar-winning performance as the one-eyed, fat, drunken Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn in True Grit (1969). But in this column, I’m going to talk about his last performance in a feature film :Тһе Տһootıѕt (1976), directed by Don Siegel.Based on the Glendon Swarthout novel of the same name, the film tells the story of an aging gunfighter named JB Books, played by Duke, who at the dawn of the 20th century finds out he has terminal cancer.

Per this news, he decided to try and spend his final days in peace. But as rumors spread about him through the tiny town of Carson City, Nevada, more people want to get a piece of him. It eventually climaxes with Books realizing that he’ll never escape his past and going out the only way he knows how.Before I go on about John Wayne in the film, I have to talk about the rest of the cast.

This film boasts an all-star ensemble, many of whom took the role purely as a favor to Wayne. There’s Dr. Hostetler (James Stewart) who delivers the bad news to Books about his health and becomes a closer friend throughout the film. “You know, Books,” he says, “I’m not an especially brave man. But, if I were you and had lived my entire life the way you have, I don’t think that the ԁеаtһ I just described to you is the one I would choose.

Then there’s the late, great Lauren Bacall as the widowed boarding house owner Bond Rogers and Oscar-winning director Ron Howard as her wide-eyed idolizing son. The film also features a slew of great TV and Western legends — Richard Boone as the vengeance seeking Mike Sweeney, John Carradine as the town’s undertaker Hezekiah Beckum, Bill McKinney as the ill-tempered Jay Cobb, Scatman Crothers as the liver-stable owner Moses Brown, and Harry Morgan as the fast-talking and loud Marshal Thibido.

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John Wayne

The reason John Wayne is labeled as ‘Draft Dodger’ by the audience in World War II.

Around the time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Wayne was not the big-name actor we remember him being today. He was fresh off the box-office success of the 1939 film “Stagecoach.” According to author Garry Wills’ 1998 book, “John Wayne’ America: the Politics of Celebrity,” the actor received a chorus of boos when he walked onto the USO stages in Australia and the Pacific Islands. Those audiences were filled with combat veterans. Wayne, in his mid-30s, was not one of them.

Being drafted or enlisting was going to have a serious impact on his rising star. Depending on how long the ԝаr lasted, Wayne reportedly worried he might be too old to be a leading man when he came home.Other actors, both well-established and rising in fame, rushed off to do their part. Clark Gable joined the Army Air Forces and, despite the studios’ efforts to get him into a motion picture unit, served as an aerial ɡսոոеr over Europe. Jimmy Stewart was initially ineligible for the draft, given his low weight, but like some amazing version of Captain America, he drank beer until he qualified.

In his 2014 book, “American Titan: Searching for John Wayne,” author Marc Eliot alleges Wayne was having an affair with actress Marlene Dietrich. He says the possibility of losing this relationship was the real reason Wayne didn’t want to go to ԝаr.

But even Dietrich would do her part, smuggling Jewish people out of Europe, entertaining troops on the front lines (she crossed into Germany alongside Gen. George S. Patton) and maybe even being an operative for the Office of Strategic Services.Wayne never enlisted and even filed for a 3-A draft deferment, which meant that if the sole provider for a family of four were drafted, it would cause his family undue hardship. The closest he would ever come to Worւԁ Wаr II service would be portraying the actions of others on the silver screen.

With his leading man competition fighting the ԝаr and out of the way, Wayne became Hollywood’s top leading man. During the ԝаr, Wayne starred in a number of western films as well as Worւԁ Wаr II movies, including 1942’s “Flying Tigers” and 1944’s “The Fighting Seabees.” According to Eliot, Wayne told friends the best thing he could do for the ԝаr was make movies to support the troops. Eventually, the government agreed.

At one point during the ԝаr, the need for more men in uniform caused the U.S. military brass to change Wayne’s draft status to 1-A, fit for duty. But Hollywood studios intervened on his behalf, arguing that the actor’s star power was a boon for ԝаrtime propaganda and the morale of the troops. He was given a special 2-A status, which back then meant he was deferred in “support of national interest.”

The decision not to serve or to avoid it entirely (depending on how you look at the actor) haunted Wayne for the rest of his life. His third wife, Pilar Wayne, says he became a “super-patriot for the rest of his life trying to atone for staying at home.”After the ԝаr, he made a number of films set in Worւԁ Wаr II, including some of his most famous, like “The Longest Day,” “They Were Expendable” and “Sands of Iwo Jima.”

When actor John Wayne visited American soldiers in Vietnam in the summer of 1966, he was warmly welcomed. As he spoke to groups and individuals, he was presented gifts and letters from American and South Vietnamese troops alike. This was not the case during his USO tours in 1942 and ’43. Despite his post-ԝаr patriotism, many labeled Wayne a draft dodger for the rest of his life. He succumbed to stomach cancer in 1979. His enduring influence on American media and the perception of American fighting men led President Jimmy Carter to award Wayne the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1980

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John Wayne

The meaning of the phrase that John Wayne requested to be engraved on his tombstone.

John Wayne lived his life exactly the way he saw fit, right down till the very end. It’s why his tombstone features an odd, but honest message.In 1979, Wayne’s days were unfortunately numbered. He had last appeared in a film three years prior in The Shootist, and after overcoming lung cancer in the mid-1960s, his bout with stomach cancer was proving to be his ultimate killer.

When making final preparations, John Wayne requested a specific phrase in Spanish to be engraved on his tombstone. The tombstone, to this day, reads, “Feo, Fuerte y Formal.”The phrase means “ugly, strong, and dignified.” We couldn’t think of anything that better fits John Wayne if we tried.

However, that isn’t the only thing that’s transcribed on the acting legend’s tombstone. In 1999, the grave was marked with a quote:“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”

John Wayne Converted to Catholicism Late in Life

The 72-year-old acting legend was going through a journey in his final days. Years later, his grandson and Catholic priest, Matthew Muñoz, discussed his grandfather’s transition to Roman Catholicism as he struggled with cancer.“My grandmother, Josephine Wayne Saenz, had a wonderful influence on his life and introduced him to the Catholic world,” said 46-year-old Fr. Muñoz, a priest of the Diocese of Orange. “He was constantly at Church events and fundraisers that she was always dragging him to and I think that, after a while, he kind of got a sense that the common secular vision of what Catholics are and what his own experience actually was, were becoming two greatly different things.”

Further, Muñoz added that his grandfather converting to Catholocism “was one of the sentiment he expressed before he passed on”. The Catholic priest said his grandfather blamed the delay on “a busy life.”According to his grandson, Wayne was a spiritual and Christian man throughout life. This is best evidenced through his written prayers.“He wrote beautiful love letters to God, and they were prayers. And they were very childlike and they were very simple but also very profound at the same time,” Fr. Muñoz said. “And sometimes that simplicity was looked at as naivety but I think there was a profound wisdom in his simplicity.”

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