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One Of Unforgiven’s Most Memorable Scenes Was Inspired By John Wayne In The Shootist – Old western – My Blog

Clint Eastwood and John Wayne may be Western icons but they didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye on the genre that made them both superstars. Back in the early ’70s, B-movie maestro Larry Cohen (“Q: The Winged Serpent,” “The Stuff”) wrote a screenplay called “The Hostiles,” intended as a vehicle for both Wayne and Eastwood to co-star. It was an appropriate title; Wayne didn’t want to be in a movie with the younger actor, writing a poison pen letter to Eastwood citing his hatred of “High Plains Drifter” as one of the reasons.Cohen never fulfilled his dream of a film starring Wayne and Eastwood, and it is perhaps little surprise that the two legends didn’t hit it off. They represented very different eras of the Western; Wayne was the old guard, an indomitable screen legend of Hollywood’s Golden Age and star of dozens of straightforward good guys vs bad guys horse operas, a totem of a certain vision of American manliness and ideals.

Eastwood, on the other hand, was a generation younger and made his name playing far more ambiguous figures in Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy,” laconic antiheroes who were only the protagonist because everyone around them was even more unscrupulous or just plain villainous. “High Plains Drifter,” Eastwood’s second directorial feature, took his “Man With No Name” persona into even darker territory, an early sign that Eastwood was interrogating the tropes of the genre and his own screen image.Eastwood went on to make his defining statement on the western with his revisionist “Unforgiven,” which, ironically, owes far more to The Duke than you might first expect.So what happens in Unforgiven again?“Unforgiven” opens in the roughneck frontier town of Big Whiskey, lorded over by its stern sheriff Little Bill (Gene Hackman). When two no-good cowboys slash the face of a sex worker, Bill lets them off with a fine, enraging the other women in the brothel. Seeking their own justice, they club together to put forth a $1000 bounty on the cowboys’ heads.We then meet William Munny (Clint Eastwood), an aging former gunslinger and widower now scratching out a meager living on his pig farm with his two children. Munny once was a very bad man but hung up his pistols at the behest of his wife before she passed away, and initially shows no interest when he is approached by The Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett), a big-talking young bounty hunter who wants to partner up to claim the prize. Munny is repentant and haunted by some of the terrible things he did in the past, but he sees the bounty as a way of ensuring a better future for his kids. Needing backup, Munny recruits the help of Ned (Morgan Freeman), a former outlaw friend from the bad old days.Arriving in Big Whiskey, Munny falls foul of Little Bill, who runs the town on a strict no-guns policy and wants to dissuade anyone seeking to claim the women’s bounty. Bill severely beats him, leaving it to Ned and The Kid to nurse him back to health before tracking down the cowboys. Ned realizes he is unable to kill again and leaves for home, but is captured by Bill and his men and tortured to death. Now the sheriff of Big Whiskey is about to see the old Will Munny, who strides into town seeking vengeance for his friend.The origins of Unforgiven“Unforgiven” started life as a screenplay entitled “The William Munny Killings,” written by David Peoples in 1976. That was the same year that John Wayne made his final screen appearance in “The Shootist.”Wayne plays J.B. Books, an aging gunfighter with terminal cancer who has thirty kills to his name, although he maintains he never shot anyone who didn’t have it coming to them. Given just a few weeks to live, he becomes an unlikely father figure to Gillom Rogers (Ron Howard), the young son of widow Bond Rogers (Lauren Bacall) who runs the guest house where Books decides to live out his last days.Rather than withering away in pain, Books arranges to meet three men who have a beef with him for a final shootout, taking the challengers down before he is shot in the back by a cowardly bartender. Gillom arrives on the scene and shoots the bartender with Books’ pistol before throwing the weapon away. Before he dies, Books smiles in approval.It was a fine final performance from Wayne, who himself was diagnosed with cancer in 1964 before having one lung removed. He changed the script so he would get shot in the back, because “no man could ever take John Wayne in a fair fight” (via TV Tropes). Wayne had died onscreen several times before, but no one had bettered him in a shootout in over 80 westerns unless it was by cowardly means.“The Shootist” was a fitting end to Wayne’s career and the end of an era, as the straightforward narratives of classic westerns were giving way to darker revisionist takes like “High Plains Drifter” and “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.” Books’ final gesture to Gillom, rejecting the violent ways of the Old West, was at least a passing nod to modernity.One key scene in Unforgiven was influenced by The ShootistClint Eastwood bought the rights to “The William Munny Killings” in the early ’80s but it wouldn’t become “Unforgiven” until a decade later when he would use the screenplay to bring his formidable western screen presence low. When we first see Munny he’s scrambling around in the mud trying to catch a pig, and when he reluctantly decides to chase the bounty he has trouble even mounting his horse.There are clear parallels between Munny and Books although Eastwood’s character is far more regretful and haunted by the past; Wayne perhaps never needed to repent for his screen violence because he almost always played upstanding, righteous characters. Both men are aware that the end is drawing near, although that knowledge is far more acute for Books with only a few weeks to live. The one scene in “Unforgiven” that links them the most arrives after Munny’s beating at the hands of Little Bill when he admits he is scared of death; it correlates closely with the moment in “The Shootist” when Books says, “I’m just a dying man, scared of the dark.” Screenwriter David Peoples saw the scene as the film’s key moment (via Yahoo):“When I started writing the film, the crux of it for me was the scene where Munny is lying there thinking that he’s dying. I just thought that no one had ever seen a tough guy like this be scared of dying unless it’s some kind of last-minute thing. So that scene was important for me to write, and was very much influenced by The Shootist.”Eastwood and Wayne may not have worked together, but given both actors’ stature in the western genre, it feels fitting that their careers were intertwined in this small but significant way.

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John Wayne Snuck An Emotional Tribute Into The Searchers’ Final Scene – My Blog

Celebrity culture has been around since the advent of film. The stars of the silver screen become our heroes, and sometimes they transcend to become almost mythical heroes. John Wayne is one of those actors, a name that instantly floods your mind with specific images and characters. Wayne would become synonymous with the Western genre during Hollywood’s classical film period and defined masculinity through memorable roles such as Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit,” Sheriff John T. Chance in “Rio Bravo,” and Lt. Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort in “The Longest Day.”

Because he’s so well known for his iconic tough-guy image, it’s hard to imagine a young Marion Robert Morrison (Wayne’s given name) looking up to a hero. And yet, “The Duke” tipped his hat and secretly told us. A small unscripted gesture in one of his most famous films gave us a glimpse at his softer side and a clue as to just who might have been Wayne’s childhood hero.
It is beautiful in its simplicity
John Wayne standing in doorway

John Ford’s 1956 film “The Searchers” was groundbreaking in how it challenged the racist male heroes of early Westerns. The film stars John Wayne as Ethan Edwards in what many consider Wayne’s most memorable role. Edwards is not a strong, likable hero but rather a bitter, racist loner who is redeemed only in the final moments of the film. Scott Allen Nollen’s book “Three Bad Men: John Ford, John Wayne, Ward Bond” describes how Wayne’s unscripted gesture in the final moments of “The Searchers” was an homage to a childhood hero, early Western star Harry Carey. The final shot of the film has Wayne standing in a doorway by himself before turning to ride off alone (presumably into the sunset).
The shot is brilliantly framed and lit by Ford, with the interior of the house dark, emphasizing the solitude of Edwards’ life as he walks away from what little family he has left. Just before turning to leave, Wayne made a familiar gesture that was not in the script. Nollen writes:
“He was to look and then walk away, but just before he turned, he saw Ollie Carey, the widow of his all-time hero, standing behind the camera. It was as natural as taking a breath. Duke raised his left hand, reached across his chest, and grabbed his right arm at the elbow. Harry Carey did that a lot in the movies when Duke was a kid in Glendale, California. He’d spent many a dime just to see that.”It was beautiful in its simplicity, like the scene it occurred in. But the gesture was a nod to much more than Carey himself.
‘One of the most resonant gestures in the entire body of Ford’s work’
Harry Carey at saloon
Before Ford’s relationship with John Wayne, there was Harry Carey. To put it in a modern context, it was like Martin Scorsese collaborating with Robert De Niro before his work with Leonardo DiCaprio. According to Mostly Westerns, the pair collaborated on more than two dozen films, and Ford said that he learned a lot about the industry with Carey as his tutor. It was during these early days of the Western where Carey would develop his iconic arm pose where he grabs his right arm with his left hand at the elbow. The gesture would permeate throughout Ford’s films by other actors.
The pose can be seen at the 1:09:30 mark of Ford’s 1917 film “Straight Shooting.”

After Carey died in 1947, Ford would continue to cast Carey family members including Harry Carey, Jr. Both Harry Jr. and Carey’s widow Olive appeared in “The Searchers.” And though the brief gesture might have been inspired by Carey’s widow, it was felt far beyond the Carey family. As Nollen notes:
“Joseph McBride referred to Wayne’s spontaneous, profound re-creation in ‘The Searchers’ as ‘one of the most resonant gestures in the entire body of Ford’s work, a gesture movingly encapsulating whole lifetimes of shared tradition.’”It turns out the rough, tough cowboy John Wayne did indeed have a hero. He also showed his soft side in paying tribute to Carey, his family, and the Western icons that came before him.

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John Wayne Almost Walked Away From One Of His Most Beloved Roles – My Blog

Early Hollywood Westerns, a staple of the classical film era, largely stereotyped Native Americans as bloodthirsty savages. The growing popularity of post-World War II social problem films had the film industry reflecting on its portrayals of minorities, including Native Americans. The man synonymous with the Western introduced a film in 1956 that sent ripples throughout all of Hollywood and reinvented the genre.

John Ford’s 1956 film “The Searchers” looked like a typical western. It pitted “Cowboys vs. Indians” in a familiar landscape, the wide-open desert plains of the Monument Valley area of Arizona and Utah. But its content was vastly different than any Western we’d seen before.
In “The Searchers,” Ford presents complex themes and a racist protagonist played by an actor that audiences had become programmed to root for — “The Duke” himself, John Wayne. The role became career-defining for Wayne — not that he needed it –— because of the depth of the film. It begs the question: How much of an impact would “The Searchers” have had without “The Duke” involved? We almost found out.
The legacy of The Searchers

Jeffrey Hunter John Wayne sitting on horse

The legacy of “The Searchers” is that it is a social problem film as much as it is a Western, exploring the inherent racism of Western heroes. The film turns a mirror towards its own stubborn, racist characters, mostly though Ethan Edwards, played by Wayne. Edwards is an explicitly racist former Confederate soldier, motivated by killing Comanches while searching for his kidnapped niece. When he learns she is living among the Comanche, he threatens to kill her, justifying it with, “Livin’ with Comanches ain’t being alive.”
Ford presents a version of John Wayne that challenges masculinity rather than defines it. The typically strong, stoic hero portrayed by Wayne instead slips into a baneful, obsessive hunter intent on killing not only his enemy but his own kin. Ethan Edwards’ hatred for “the other” is greater than the love of his family, something even the staunchest Wayne fan surely struggles with.

The impact of “The Searchers” has permeated throughout Hollywood masculinity. It inspired a new wave of adult-themed Westerns that would continue to challenge social conventions, including Ford’s own 1962 film “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” The narrative of Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” heavily echoes “The Searchers.” And Edwards’ redeeming line, “Let’s go home, Debbie” precedes Rocky Balboa’s “If I can change, and you can change, we all can change!” plea for foreign relations harmony in “Rocky IV” by nearly thirty years.
It’s hard to believe that John Wayne’s portrayal of Ethan Edwards, called by Martin Scorsese in THR as “the greatest performance of a great American actor,” almost didn’t happen.
Wayne almost wasn’t in the film
John Wayne holding Natalie Wood
On the film’s 60th anniversary, Newsweek revealed that John Wayne almost wasn’t in “The Searchers.” After being cast in the film he was offered the starring role in the Western “Seven Men from Now.” Because Ford and Wayne had such a close relationship — the two collaborated on more than a dozen films — Ford gave Wayne the chance to back out of “The Searchers.” Wayne kept his obligation and turned down the other film.
Randolph Scott was ultimately cast as the lead in “Seven Men from Now” and though the film opened to positive reviews, Newsweek points out, “It doesn’t come close to the legendary stats of ‘The Searchers.’”
Film critic Roger Ebert described Ethan Edwards as one of the most compelling character Ford and Wayne ever created. Ebert writes:
Did they know how vile Ethan’s attitudes were? I would argue that they did, because Wayne was in his personal life notably free of racial prejudice, and because Ford made films with more sympathetic views of Indians … I think it took a certain amount of courage to cast Wayne as a character whose heroism was tainted. Ethan’s redemption is intended to be shown in that dramatic shot of reunion with Debbie, where he takes her in his broad hands, lifts her up to the sky, drops her down into his arms, and says, ‘Let’s go home, Debbie.’”The film made such an impact that the American Film Institute ranks it as the 12th ranked film of all time and it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. And we got the performance of a lifetime out of John Wayne because he stuck to his guns and stayed loyal to a friend like only “The Duke” could do.

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John Wayne and His Sons Allegedly Got Cancer From ‘Nuclear Fallout’ Movie Set – My Blog

Actor John Wayne and two of his sons allegedly got cancer while on the set of his film The Conqueror. He died as a result of stomach cancer at the age of 72 on June 11, 1979. However, “nuclear fallout” on The Conqueror had a huge impact on the Wayne family, as well as other folks in the area.

John Wayne plays Temujin in ‘The Conqueror’
The Conqueror follows Temujin (Wayne), who is a mighty Mongol warrior. He would later be called Genghis Khan. Temujin falls in love with Bortai (Susan Hayward), the daughter of the Tatar’s leader. He kidnaps her and as a result, brings war upon the lands. This story explores the adventure of Genghis Khan.
The critical reception of The Conqueror remains highly negative. The film earned $9 million on a $6 million budget, but critics and audiences continue to slam the movie. There aren’t enough critic scores to account for a final score on Rotten Tomatoes, but the adventure film is currently sitting at 11% with audiences. The film is a laughing stock, primarily due to Wayne’s casting.

John Wayne and his sons, Patrick and Michael, allegedly got cancer from ‘nuclear fallout’ on the set of ‘The Conqueror’

The Guardian explores the devastating story of Wayne on the set of The Conqueror. The film was shot in the Utah desert in 1954. The government detonated atomic bombs at their test site, but that location was more than 100 miles away. The officials said that their filming area would be “completely safe.”
Wayne had a Geiger counter, which is an instrument that has the ability to detect radiation. Images from the set display him holding the black metal box along with his two teenage sons, Patrick and Michael. However, the area certainly wasn’t safe, as the Geiger counter had indicated.
The box crackled so loudly, Wayne initially thought that it was broken. He moved it to another area of the desert along other rocks, where it continued to make the same sounds. However, Wayne simply went along with his duties on the set.
Hollywood remembers The Conqueror by this story, which allegedly killed Wayne, Hayward, director Dick Powell, among many others on the set. Wayne’s sons battled and survived their cancer scares.
The Conqueror went on to be called an “RKO Radioactive Picture.”
The ‘downwinders’ said ‘my government lied to me’

The Guardian interviewed Rebecca Barlow, a nurse practitioner at the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program (RESEP) half a century later. She works in the surrounding area.
“More than 60% of this year’s patients are new,” Barlow said. “Mostly breast and thyroid, also some leukaemia, colon, lung.”
The fallout impacted tens of thousands of people, who are now called “downwinders.” Outspoken advocate Michelle Thomas openly spoke about how it affected the community.
“It’s gone into our DNA,” Thomas said. “I’ve lost count of the friends I’ve buried. I’m not patriotic. My government lied to me.”

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