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John Wayne’s Stagecoach Stunts Sparked A Battle With The Studio – Old western – My Blog

It’s rare to see John Wayne back down in a standoff, but that’s exactly what happened when shooting one of his most revered films. By 1939, Wayne was no stranger to Westerns, though he wasn’t yet a household name. Wayne had already appeared in a string of uncredited roles in films by the legendary director John Ford in the late ’20s. So, when Ford made his triumphant return to the Western genre with “Stagecoach” he tapped Wayne for the lead character, Ringo Kid.

Casting Wayne was the first of a lengthy series of battles with United Artists. The studio wanted a big name for the film, but Ford had a feeling about the charismatic 32 year old and insisted on him for the role. Ford introduces viewers to Wayne in dramatic fashion, with a zoom-in on a rifle-wielding Ringo Kid in front of a gorgeous landscape of Monument Valley plateaus (where many of Ford’s Westerns were shot). When Marshall Curley says, “Hello, Kid” to Ringo, he might as well have been speaking collectively for U.S. film audiences. We called it Wayne’s best movie moment ever. The fight to secure Wayne for the role of Ringo Kid wasn’t the last for Ford or Wayne in the production of “Stagecoach.” Behind the scenes, a standoff between Wayne and the studio took place that rivaled a climax from one of his films. Only this time, The Duke didn’t come out on top.Wayne was doing nearly all of the stuntsAlthough not considered a single-location film (movies with narratives that take place entirely in one location), much of “Stagecoach” takes place inside the cramped confines of the titular horse-drawn carriage. It’s there that Ford introduces us to a collection of flawed characters traveling from Arizona to New Mexico. To get there, they must pass through what was labeled dangerous Apache country (in an unfortunate but common classical Hollywood stereotype of Native Americans as bloodthirsty savages).The stagecoach group includes a prostitute, a drunken doctor, a crooked banker, and a whiskey salesman. Along the way, they pick up Ringo Kid, who recently escaped from prison to avenge the murder of his father and brother. When they lose their cavalry escort, Ringo leads the group to their destination and exacts revenge against the men that killed his family. That’s where the typical Western shootouts and action sequences ensue.In the John Wayne biography “Shooting Star,” author Maurice Zolotow explains that a battle raged behind the scenes over Wayne’s stunt work in the film. Zolotow writes:“Ford permitted Wayne to do many of his own stunts, though he took the risk of Wayne breaking a leg and holding up production. He did it against the opposition of [United Artists producer Walter] Wanger because he knew it would give Duke a better sense of reality, though he insisted on [stuntman Yakima] Canutt doing the most hazardous stunts.”But Wanger pushed back, setting up a real-life standoff that was befitting of a dusty Old West thoroughfare.‘I’m not an actor … I’m a stuntman’“Stagecoach” could be considered as much a drama as it is a traditional Western. Even so, there was plenty of action to keep Wayne and stunt coordinator Yakima Canutt busy. But the sight of their budding star jumping onto roofs made United Artists nervous. According to Zolotow:“Visiting the set one morning, out in Monument Valley, producer [Walter] Wanger was shocked to see Duke playing a scene in which he leaped out of the stagecoach and climbed on the roof. ‘Jack,’ he said to the director, ‘I want you to get Wayne to stop stunting. He is too valuable to lose.’”Ford told Wanger that he’d have to tell Wayne himself. The veteran producer didn’t back down. “Duke, you are going to be an outstanding star. I do not want you to do any more of these stunts,” Wanger told Wayne. “My God, if you broke a leg or an arm it would hold up the picture for weeks.”The young actor, starring in his biggest film to date, boldly responded to the producer as only The Duke could. “Now, Mr. Wanger, there is no need for you to worry,” Wayne answered, as if in character. “I can handle myself. I been ridin’ horses and stuntin’ for years. I’m not an actor. I don’t act. I react. I’m just a stuntman.”Despite Wayne’s protest, Wanger persisted. Ford eventually stepped in so they wouldn’t lose production time and convinced Wayne to let his stunt double do most of the work. It was a rare defeat but ultimately a win for The Duke. The film cemented his status as a Western icon and is included on the U.S. Library of Congress National Film Registry for its cultural significance.

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‘It Was a Pretty Miserable Experience’ – My Blog

John Wayne has worked in a wide variety of filming locations over the course of his career. However, they didn’t all provide comfortable conditions for the cast and crew. Wayne’s son, Patrick, once noted the “worst” film location of them all, calling one of his dad’s filming locations a “pretty miserable experience.” Nevertheless, he still enjoyed making movies with his father.

John Wayne’s son, Patrick, worked with his dad on film locations
'The Green Berets' filming location John Wayne pulling a wagon along

Patrick followed in his father’s acting footsteps. His first roles included uncredited roles at Wayne’s filming locations, which gained him momentum moving forward into bigger roles. Some of these include Rio Grande, The Searchers, The Alamo, and The Quiet Man. However, he later moved more into managing the John Wayne Cancer Institute, which pushes to advance research in the fight against cancer.

Patrick has a wide array of stories from the Wayne filming locations. His father remains one of the most iconic Western actors of all time. Patrick looked up to his dad, but they didn’t always have the best time on the set of the more grueling filming location.
‘The Green Berets’ was the ‘worst’ John Wayne film location for his son, Patrick

Jeremy Roberts interviewed Patrick for Medium about some of the iconic Wayne filming locations. He explained that there was one set, in particular, that he just couldn’t stand.
“That would have to be The Green Berets,” Patrick said. “We were on location at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, which is located about 125 miles west of Atlanta. But it was nothing like Atlanta.”
Patrick continued: “Oh my God, it was pretty dreary. That’s fine but it started raining to the point of where we couldn’t even work. Boy, there was nothing to do except sit there and wait ’til it stopped raining. It was a pretty miserable experience from the weather aspect at that time [filming commenced on August 9, 1967]. It was past the worst part of the summer, so the humidity wasn’t that bad.”
Wayne’s difficult conditions on the Green Berets filming location makes sense for the movie’s story. It follows Col. Mike Kirby (Wayne), who selects two teams of Green Berets for a specific mission in South Vietnam. They must build and run a camp that the enemy seeks to capture, but that isn’t all. They must also kidnap a North Vietnamese General behind enemy lines.
‘The Green Berets’ is a controversial war movie

The Green Berets succeeded at the box office, but critics found the film incredibly controversial. They slammed the film for being heavy-handed and predictable. However, its war politics particularly upset a lot of critics. Nevertheless, The Green Berets easily sold tickets to audiences, making it a financial success.
Wayne went through some rough conditions on the filming location, but it proved to be worth his time. Despite its politics, the film made the legendary actor a large sum of money and remains a well-known war picture. It was also an opportunity for Patrick to work with his father on another film.

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Ann-Margret’s precious memories of ‘teddy bear’ Duke on The Train Robbers – My Blog

JOHN WAYNE was “slightly infirm” on The Train Robbers but tenaciously pushed through filming despite two fractured ribs, balance issues and a daily lie down, according to co-star Rod Taylor. Ann-Margret remembers Duke appearing strong despite his declining health and admitted the Western star “gave me the confidence I lacked”.

By the 1970s, John Wayne was coming towards the end of his career as a Hollywood star. In 1973, aged 65-years-old, he had been living with one lung for the best part of 10 years and was suffering from emphysema on the remaining one. That year he released two Westerns which aren’t remembered as his best but saw the ageing icon carry on with much determination. One of the films was The Train Robbers, which co-starred Ann-Margret and Rod Taylor.
The Train Robbers saw Ann-Margret’s feisty widow work alongside three cowboys in recovering a cage of gold that was stolen by her late husband.
Before shooting started, Wayne had fractured two of his ribs, which was so painful he struggled to sleep at night.

This meant that his action scenes had to be scaled down and co-star Taylor remembered Duke being “slightly” infirm during the shoot.
The Time Machine star said the Western legend had trouble with his balance and understandably needed afternoon naps.
train robbers cast

Despite his health problems on the movie, Wayne refused to delay filming and strived forwards.
Ann-Margret had fond memories of her co-star’s tenacity, recalling: “Duke was still a strong, rugged, formidable man, larger-than-life and incredibly personal. He was a big teddy bear, and we got along famously. Duke gave me the confidence I lacked.”
The Viva Las Vegas star appreciated this given that 1972 had been a very difficult time in her life, having been seriously injured when performing in her Lake Tahoe show.
john and ann
Ann-Margret felt John Wayne gave her the confidence boost she needed (Image: GETTY)
train robbers poster
The Train Robbers poster (Image: GETTY)
In terms of the confidence boost she needed, the actress had to overcome her fear of horses as there was much riding needed for her character. It was here that Wayne gave her the support she needed.
The Train Robbers had average reviews and later Quentin Tarantino would comment the film was “so light it’s barely a movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s not amusing.”
Wayne also released Cahill: US Marshall in 1973, which saw a significantly weakened Wayne having to use a stepladder to climb onto a horse.
That year also marked the death of his most famous collaborator, the director John Ford.
Upon news of the filmmakers’ death that August, Wayne told journalists: “I’m pretty much living on borrowed time.”
Duke would go on to make a couple of better-reviewed Westerns in True Grit sequel Rooster Cogburn opposite Katherine Hepburn and The Shootist.
The latter film was his final one and saw him playing a terminally ill gunfighter.
The Hollywood icon himself died of cancer just a couple of years later in 1979.

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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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