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THE 10 GREATEST PERFORMANCES – Old western – My Blog

Never say to me John Wayne could not act. Ever.The great film historian John Milius once said, “I think John Wayne in The Searchers is the greatest performance in the history of cinema.” It certainly is one of them.Wayne believed in planting his feet and telling the truth, that was his acting style. Like the other stalwarts of the 50s, his style changed after Brando, rooted in greater realism. He gave his finest performance in The Searchers (1956), just five years after the emergence of Brando. It was a towering piece of acting that will forever be hailed as brilliant.“Wayne always played John Wayne” his critics claim. No, he was not. There were always small, subtle variations in his characters and when working with a talented director he trusted, he would take the risks other great actors do. He was unmistakably John Wayne because of his size, voice and mannerisms, but there were differences in each performance. Would they have him do Shakespeare? Why not let the man do what he did best? Or put Olivier on a horse in a western and see how that goes? Wayne and his directors were very aware of what he did well and his limitations as an actor.Academy Award winner Robert Duvall had this to say: “Wayne was a hell of an actor. He understood his characters inherently and knew exactly what the director needed from him. He understood everything about cameras and lenses, but it all started with him. He did what all great actors do, he strived for the truth.”Sadly, Wayne is becoming forgotten among today’s younger audiences. His films are rarely shown on TV anymore, though are commonly available on Blu Ray and DVD. I hope the kids give the films a chance. If there is a place today in the hearts of filmgoers for the Dude, Jeff Bridges’ lovable rogue, surely there is one for The Duke. As an actor, he certainly was among the finest when in the zone.1. THE SEARCHERS (1956)

His greatest performance was as Ethan Edwards in John Ford’s psychotic western, where he portrayed a racist, raging warrior without a war. Finding one after Natives conduct a murder raid on his brother’s homestead, massacring the entire family and taking two daughters with them, Ethan burns with rage, storming away from the burials to begin his search. He seeks those responsible to bring back the girls and scorch the earth in the process. There are deaths, including one of the girls, the eldest found raped and murdered in a canyon. Burying her in his rebel coat Ethan rages when asked about it: “Don’t ask, long as you live, don’t ever ask me again.” For years they search, Ethan’s anger mounting, until his search partner Marty (Jeffrey Hunter) realizes Ethan is not going to bring Debbie home at all. He plans to kill her for being defiled by the Natives. They find her, a woman grown and one of the Natives now, but when face to face with her, Ethan cannot kill her. He instead lifts her high over his head as he does at the beginning of the film when she is a little girl, then sweeps her into his arms and whispers tenderly, “Let’s go home Debbie.” There have been many theories through the years as to why he could not bring himself to kill the girl. It could be in searching he found his humanity, or that seeing his last living family member alive, he could not do it. Others think that Ethan and Martha, his brother’s wife had an affair and Debbie was the result, as they obviously have deep feelings for one another. Never forget the tender kiss he gives her when he sees her after many years, or the way she holds his coat with such love. It is Martha’s name he calls first upon seeing the homestead smoldering. Maybe. Upon returning Debbie home, Ethan watches as all the others go in the house, but he remains outside, framed in the doorway. And then he turns and walks away, forever the wanderer, forever on the outside. More like the Natives than he knows. Watching Wayne’s towering performance in The Searchers I cannot understand how anyone could suggest Wayne was not a great actor. Limited, for sure, but in his element, in westerns and roles like this he was astonishing. He deserved to win that first Oscar for The Searchers, and just about every film historian will tell you that.2. THE SHOOTIST (1976)The most difficult role of Wayne’s career was his last one, as he portrays J.B. Books, a gunfighter in 1901 who learns he is dying of cancer. Back then, there was no hope if you had cancer; you were doomed. He comes to town to see a doctor he once knew, portrayed with folksy warmth by James Stewart to get a second opinion and is told the same thing: he has advanced-stage cancer, and very little time to live. Books decides to stay in the town for the time he has left and takes a room in a boarding house run by a widow, Mrs. Rogers (Lauren Bacall). Her son Gillom (Ron Howard) discovers who Books is and it is not long before the entire town is aware of the gunfighter’s presence. Men come to kill him, wanting to become famous for doing so and he kills them all in Mrs. Roger’s home, terrifying her. When she asks him to leave, he tells her the truth and she permits him to stay. In fact, she will take care of him as the cancer advances. “I’m a dying man, afraid of the dark” he confesses, showing uncommon vulnerability for the character Wayne was portraying, but perhaps a glimpse into himself too. In the end, Books decides not to die screaming in agony, but challenges three sharpshooters and at least two bad guys to a dual, three on one in the local saloon. Witnessed by Gillom, Books guns them all down, but is mortally wounded when the sneaky barkeep shoots him in the back. Gillom kills the man, then staring into the dying eyes of Books, throws away the weapon, earning a nod of approval from the dying man. Wayne gave the most elegant performance of his career here as Books, and the scenes with Bacall are lovely, with their late-life romance. I am not sure Bacall was ever better. Sadly, Paramount dropped the ball on releasing the film, turning it into a summer entertainment when it deserved an awards release in the fall. I saw it at a drive in…A DRIVE IN! Wayne absolutely should have earned a Best Actor nomination as it was among his finest performances and easily among the very best of the year. Deeply melancholy and forever haunting.3. TRUE GRIT (1969)The scene. He rides into a meadow, and four riders are at the other end of the field, four dangerous criminals who will not think twice about killing him. He could ride away, he could let them pass this day, but instead he twirls and cocks his rifle and like a jaunty old knight moves forward to do battle, as though they were jousting. Trading insults, he is attacked for being “a one-eyed fatman” and looks with menace at his enemy. He takes the reins in his teeth, yells “Fill your hand you son of a bitch!” and with a weapon in each hand, charges directly at them. Gauntlet thrown, they charge right back at him. That moment defined the character, Rooster Cogburn who we have been told over and over is fearless, and indeed he is. He survives the fight with the four men, finds his young charge, kills a rattlesnake but not before it bites her. The 14-year-old girl now faces death unless Rooster can get to help. He drains the wound as best he can, throws her on a horse, rides hellbent across the countryside, eventually killing the horse, at which point he picks her up and carries her until he finds a wagon to steal, er, borrow. And he saves her. Rooster was a role Wayne was born to play, a heroic old rascal who drank too much, misbehaved and was quick to pull the trigger. In his portrayal of Rooster he brought to the role a mythic sense of heroism and wonder. And he won his long overdue Academy Award for Best Actor. And no one complained. I think they knew it was 20 years overdue.4. RED RIVER (1948)Howard Hawks’ superb black-and-white western plays like a Mutiny on the Bounty on the cattle trail. Thomas Dunson (Wayne) has amassed a massive herd of beef cattle that he plans to drive to the towns along the Chisholm Trail. Dunson had adopted a son, and now grown, he works for his father and is to a lesser degree his partner. Matt Garth (Montgomery Clift) admires and respects Dunson but disapproves of his vicious treatment of the men. When his father is going to hang a man for an infraction, Matt rebels and takes control of the herd, leaving Dunson in the wilderness with nothing. With nothing but his burning thirst of revenge, he storms across the wilderness in pursuit of Matt, with murder on the mind. Wayne’s portrayal of single-minded fury is unsettling; he is a frightening sight to behold. He catches up, of course he does, and begins to beat on Matt who takes the vicious beating until he has had enough and fights back. That courage is what Dunson had been hoping he would see. Though the ending is a contrived studio conclusion, it works, the men come back together, Matt becomes a true partner, his name included on the brand, and they emerge father and son. Wayne was a towering figure in the film, menacing, dangerous and commanding respect in each scene. Clift holds his own, but the film belongs to Wayne, and Hawks knew it. No Oscar nomination, shame on the Academy.5. RIO BRAVO (1959)This has been described as the ultimate John Wayne performance. A strong, honest law-abiding man who will not back down from trouble, in this case possible death. He surrounds himself with misfits, who always come through for him because he believes in them. There are those in Hollywood who insist Wayne and director Howard Hawks made this film when they became appalled with High Noon (1952), Wayne stating, “No town Marshall would do as Gary Cooper did—run for help.” Though he and Cooper were friends, Wayne did not care for the film. When the chance to make Rio Bravo came across his desk, he leaped at it, loving the role of John T. Chance. This is the ultimate western entertainment. When word that a bad guy’s crew is coming to spring him from the jail Chance has locked him in, the Marshall prepares for their arrival. Surrounding him are Dude (Dean Martin), a good shot but hopeless drunk, the Kid (Ricky Nelson), a lightning-fast draw, and Stumpy (Walter Brennan), a kooky old timer with no teeth and a penchant for using dynamite when he needs it. Together they face down the villains, each rising above themselves. Angie Dickinson is along for a love interest for Wayne, though emphasis is more on the action and inevitable shoot out. Stoic, a hero straight through, it is the favourite western of Quentin Tarantino. If that means anything.6. SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949)Right after Red River, John Ford asked his friend to portray Nathan Brittles in this sprawling western shot in Technicolor. Wayne leaped at the chance to work with Ford, despite the director’s habit of trying to humiliate the actor. Wayne loved Ford, felt he owed his career to the man, and therefore took the abuse. On the screen the results were always a triumph. In this film, in the aftermath of the massacre at Little Big Horn where Custer ordered his men into certain death, Brittles (Wayne) is nearing retirement but given one last assignment, well two actually. He is ordered to broker peace between a group of Natives, and then asked to escort an aunt with her niece to a local fort. He and the niece, Olivia, fall in love, and marriage becomes his retirement. The film has a lovely autumnal feel to it, and Wayne is wonderful, believing his Oscar nomination for Sands of Iwo Jima that year, should have come for this film as it is the better performance. No argument here.7. THE QUIET MAN (1952) As boxer Sean Thornton, returning to the home of his ancestors in Ireland after killing a man in the ring, Wayne gave one of his best performances in one of his most popular films. A love story, with his screen partner of many films, Maureen O’Hara, sparks fly at their first meeting and every scene after. She adores him, and he her, but the question of dowry threatens to ruin their love when Thornton clashes with her brother, long the big man around town, but who might have met his match with Thornton. You can feel the tension building, and when Wayne finally returns his bride to her brother, the donnybrook everyone has waited for is unleashed. Not even Mary Kate (O’Hara) can hide her smile while watching her brother and husband beating the hell out of each other. They return to Sean’s home, drunk, arms around each other, forever friends who now respect one another, and all is well with their marriage. Beautifully filmed by John Ford, who won his fourth Oscar for direction, none of the actors were nominated which seems to me a terrible oversight from the Academy. Wayne, O’Hara, tiny Barry Fitzgerald were all deserving of nominations.8. THE COWBOYS (1972)Wayne dies partway through this western (is it a spoiler 50 years after the fact?), gunned down, shot in the back by Long Hair (Bruce Dern) who bullies and terrifies the boys that Wayne’s character has hired to drive the herd? In what amounted to more of a supporting role than a lead, Wayne plays a gruff rancher who cannot find good honest men to drive his cattle for him, so ends up hiring teenagers and boys to do the job. One of the men he turns down is Long Hair, who Wayne just does not trust. Turns out with good reason. Wayne beats him within an inch of his life and as he walks away, he is shot in the back, and then shot again, dead. The boys, inspired by their leader, take the herd back from Long Hair and he meets his doom. It is a testament to Wayne’s large looming presence that he hangs over the film long after his last scene.The reason, THE SINGLE REASON, this film is on the list is the lovely performances of Wayne and Katherine Hepburn in their only screen outing together, and the luminous chemistry they generated. Returning to his character Rooster Cogburn, the fearless one-eyed Marshall, the role for which Wayne won his only Academy Award, this film is sort of a remake of The African Queen (1951). It’s a bit of a mess but the two leading legends carry the film. A preacher’s sister watches her brother shot dead and their mission destroyed; she meets Cogburn who decides to take her to safety. Unknown to him, they are the targets of a vicious gang who hate Rooster and want him dead. With Miss Goodnight (Hepburn) urging him on, they fearlessly move on until they appear trapped on a river, only to have Rooster rise and do what he does best, shoot people. There is a gentle suggestion of something more between them, of a someday that will never come. Wayne got Hepburn’s stamp of approval as an actor, no small feat. She claimed to love every second she spent with him. The two are superb in a dreadfully written and directed mess, one of those rare times the acting elevates the film in every way.9. SANDS OF IWO JIMA (1949) As the tough talking sergeant in this enormously popular war film, it is his job to get the men ready for war. Tough, uncompromising but fair, Stryker (Wayne) is the ultimate marine, filled with patriotism and courage. The men feel safe under his watch, and so they should as he is a magnificent warrior. Wayne nabbed his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for this, though his performance the same year in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon was stronger, and certainly deeper. Though he would give better performances through his career, this remained one of his most popular roles and films among his fans. This became the template for all tough military trainers to follow, but none were quite as heroic as Stryker, killed lighting a cigarette with his men.10. THE ALAMO (1960)Of the many actors to portray the frontier legend Davey Crockett, Wayne might have been the only one at the right age when he did. Crockett was in his 50s by the time he landed at the Alamo to help Texas fight for their freedom. When John Wayne announced cameras would finally role on his dream project, he appointed himself director, having learned from the greats John Ford and Howard Hawks. The studio executives insisted he portray Crockett, needing box office re-assurance for what turned into a very expensive undertaking. The results were mixed. Wayne and the cast were excellent, delivering powerful and honest performances in the huge sprawling film about the 10-day fight between 180 Texans fighting five thousand soldiers of the Mexican army commanded by General Santa Anna. For 10 incredible days, the Texans held them off, until finally losing the fight. The Mexican General was so impressed, so moved with their valor and immense courage, he granted Texas their independence. Wayne gives a commanding performance as Crockett, surrounded by Richard Widmark as Jim Bowie and Laurence Harvey as Colonel Travis. It takes a long time to get to the fighting, but the war scenes are superb. Wayne helps make the wait worth it.

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John Wayne doesn’t want to be an actor and likes a director . – My Blog

He became one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, but John Wayne once saw acting as just ‘a brief detour’. His real dream was to become a film director.Cinema’s most iconic cowboy could have spent his days behind the camera had he not inadvertently stepped in front of one on a John Ford set, allow the director to see his potential.

The disclosure is in a memoir he was working on that lay undiscovered among family papers. It said Wayne, who ԁıеԁ in 1979, was working at 20th Century Fox in the 1920s simply to pay the bills.It added: ‘I had no thoughts of becoming an actor. Acting was a kind of apprenticeship toward becoming a director. It was also a source of petty cash…

‘I was ԁеаԁ-set on becoming a director.Elsewhere, he adds: ‘If need be, I would take a brief detour into acting or whatever else was necessary to accomplish my goal.’The memoir was found by Michael Goldman in inquire his book, John Wayne: The Genuine Article, published this month. Even Wayne’s family did not know of its existence in their archives.

Its 72 typed pages paint a portrait of an ordinary man who became the Oscar-winning star of True Grit and The Searchers, a larger-than-life icon nicknamed the Duke.Wayne was working on it shortly before his ԁеаtһ in 1979, having repeatedly rejected requests for an autobiography.He wrote about the 1920s, when he headed for Twentieth Century Fox’s studio and found menial jobs in props and stunt-work, learning his for horse-riding, roping, ɡսոѕ and fighting.

he memory of being desperate for money never left him and in the memoir he writes: ‘The big Depression was still two years away, but my one personal depression was staring at me from the bottom of my empty soup bowl.’I needed a job .’He describes working as an extra – kicked off John Ford’s set for inadvertently stepping in front of a camera – and, like some star-struck teenager, was overwhelmed by the excitement of seeing his own movie heroes.On encountering Tom Mix, a silent Western star, Wayne writes of trying ‘to figure out how to make the best impression possible on the greatest cowboy star in the world’.
He records Mix ignoring him on his attempt to ingratiate himself.Mr Goldman notes the irony of Wayne idolising Mix: ‘The man who would become “the most iconic cinematic cowboy in history” was racking himself over how to make an impression on “the most Cinematic cowboy in history”.’The biographer says of Wayne’s ‘brief detour’ in front of the camera: ‘It was a detour that lasted until his ԁеаtһ.’Wayne would ultimately direct just four films, including The Alamo and The Green Berets , “passion projects” for him. But directing was not what he became known for.Wayne does not elaborate in the manuscript on why he never made directing a priority in subsequent years.

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Secrets John Wayne Revealed to Ron Howard About Filmmaking . – My Blog

Although they were celebrities for different reasons, Ron Howard worked with John Wayne on one of The Duke’s late-period movies. Howard said Wayne gave him some interesting advice. In addition, Howard revealed what made Wayne a little different from other actors.

As an actor, Howard is most known for his appearing in the sitcoms The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days as well as George Lucas’ American Graffiti. However, he also appeared in Wayne’s final Western, The Shootist. The film also included James Stewart, Lauren Bacall, and John Carridine. With that cast, the film was almost like a roll call of Old Hollywood actors. Howard’s appearance in the film almost feels like a passing of the torch from one generation to the next.

In an interview with Men’s Journal, Sean Woods asked Howard if working with Wayne and Stewart taught him anything about manhood. “John Wayne used a phrase, which he later attributed to [film director] John Ford, for scenes that were going to be difficult: ‘This is a job of work,’ he’d say,” Howard recalled. “If there was a common thread with these folks – Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Glenn Ford – it was the work ethic. It was still driving them. To cheat the project was an insult. To cheat the audience was damnable.”

What Ron Howard said John Wayne, Bette Davis, and Jimmy Stewart had in common : In a separate interview with the HuffPost, Howard also praised Wayne’s work ethic. “I always admired him as a movie star, but I thought of him as a total naturalist,” Howard said. “Even those pauses were probably him forgetting his line and then remembering it again, because, man, he’s The Duke.

But he’s working on this scene and he’s like, ‘Let me try this again.’ And he put the little hitch in and he’d find the Wayne rhythm, and you’d realize that it changed the performance each and every time. I’ve worked with Bette Davis, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda. Here’s the thing they all have in common: They all, even in their 70s, worked a little harder than everyone else.”

How critics and audiences responded to ‘The Shootist’ : Howard obviously admired Wayne’s methods as an actor. This raises an interesting question: Did the public embrace The Shootist? According to Box Office Mojo, the film earned over $8 million. That’s not a huge haul for a film from 1976. However, the film is widely regarded as a classic among 1970s Westerns.

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How did Paul Koslo ever have a tense encounter with star John Wayne ? – My Blog

In 1975, the Canadian actor starring The Duke in Rooster Cogburn. At the time, Koslo was only 19 and still relatively green in the industry. So working with the Hollywood legend was a bit stressful.

During an installment of World on Westerns, Paul Koslo shared his experiences with John Wayne, including a time where he nearly stepped on Wayne’s lines.As the story goes, Wayne had a short 15 line monologue. And once he was finished, Koslo was supposed to respond. And as they were filming, Wayne said his part. But when it was Koslo’s turn, he froze.“The director said ‘Paul, why didn’t you say your lines?’” the actor remembered.

“And I said, ‘well, because I didn’t wanna cut him off because he hadn’t said all of his lines yet.’” Hearing the conversation, John Wayne jumped in saying, “who’s gonna? Nobody’s gonna cut me off. I can say whatever I want, you got it, kid?”Of course, the interaction made Koslo nervous, and the only response he could muster was, “okay, sir.”However, the actor admitted that the Western icon wasn’t as intimidating as the story made him sound.

Koslo shared that as long as his co-stars worked hard, Wayne was always their biggest supporter.“My impression of him was that if you did your stuff, and you were right on top of it, he was your best buddy. But if you were like a slacker, or you weren’t prepared, he could get on your case.”During the AWOW interview, Paul Koslo also shared some details behind the age-old feud between John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn.

“I mean, Kate and him, they were always like this,” said Koslo, while punching his fists together.According to Koslo, politics were behind the fight. Hepburn was a democrat and Wayne was a republican.“It seemed like… in a fun way. I don’t know if it was for real,” he admitted. “You know, she would be sitting on the hood of a truck going like a hundred feet down to the set where they were shooting, and how Wallis was having heart attacks. She was really a daredevil, and she was full of piss and vinegar.”

The actor also noted that he didn’t get to spend much time with the actress, so he couldn’t get a proper gauge on the so-called feud. Almost all his time was spent with The Duke.The only interaction Koslo had with Hepburn was while shooting an intense scene where they were “moving this nitroglycerin to another location because we were going to rob the U.S. Treasury with it, and [John Wayne’s] about to ambush us.”And that happened right before Paul Koslo nearly stepped on John Wayne’s lines.

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