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John Wayne

This John Wayne Western Rom-Com Was Based on a Shakespeare Play

John Wayne had an absolute monopoly over the greatest Western characters of all-time for almost three decades. After his star-making performance in John Ford’s influential 1939 classic Stagecoach, Wayne starred in innumerable films within the Western genre for filmmakers like Howard Hawks and William Wellman. Wayne could have probably starred in nothing but Westerns for his entire career, but toward the back half of his filmography, he tried his hand at historical epics, romances, and comedies. Ironically, it was within the bizarre Western McLintock! that he got to do all of those things, as the 1963 adventure film took inspiration from the works of William Shakespeare to create one of the weirdest movies Wayne ever appeared in.

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John Wayne Doing Shakespeare


United Artists

McLintock! was directed by his frequent collaborator Andrew V. McLaglen, a solid “workman” filmmaker who directed many Western films for both Wayne and his close friend (and frequent co-star) Jimmy Stewart. While Wayne was generally cast as mercenaries or outlaws, McLintock! saddled him for a slightly unusual role as the aging rancher George Washington McLintock, who must defend his farmland from being trod upon by various rivals that threaten to take a portion for themselves. As if this wasn’t enough for the cranky old westerner to handle, McLintock is also met with the return of his wife Kate (Maureen O’Hara), who left him a few years prior as their daughter Rebecca (Stefanie Powers) graduated from college. As McLintock tries to keep the peace within the community, he must deal with his temperamental wife and find a way to mend their tormented relationship.

McLintock! is loosely based on the story of Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedy The Taming of The Shrew, a work of timeless fiction that has inspired the premise of many classic rom-coms (including the 1999 teen movie favorite 10 Things I Hate About You). Westerns drawing inspiration from other works of fiction wasn’t inherently odd, as Sergio Leone’s The Man With No Name trilogy famously stole the story from Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, and Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai was infamously remade as the American action Western, The Magnificent Seven. What made McLintock! so odd is that it wasn’t the first time that Wayne appeared in a loose adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew.
Prior to appearing in McLintock! together, Wayne and O’Hara did some of the best work of their respective careers in Ford’s 1952 timeless classic The Quiet Man. In The Quiet Man, Wayne stars as boxer Sean Thorton, who returns from America to his Irish hometown of Innisfree, where he falls in love with the feisty Irish woman Mary Kate Danaher (O’Hara). The premises of the two films are virtually identical, but The Quiet Man is the more mature work; the film looks at the realities of marriage, the constraints of tradition, and has a surprisingly nuanced understanding of gender dynamics. While The Quiet Man is largely considered to be a classic (and won Ford one of his four Academy Awards for Best Director), McLintock! features an older Wayne chewing the scenery as he’s called into save a community despite his advancing age.

John Wayne Had a Knack For Comedy

John Wayne laying in the floor in 'McLintock!'

What’s impressive about Wayne’s Western films is that he wasn’t always playing a different iteration of the same character; McLintock’s loud-mouthed, wacky chauvinism couldn’t be more distinct from the brooding nature of his character Major Ethan Edwards in Ford’s 1956 masterpiece The Searchers or his villainous turn as John Dunson in Hawks’ 1948 classic Red River. Wayne was always willing to poke fun at himself, as even some of his older films like Rio Bravo and Hondo had traces of humor in them. However, McLintock! was distinct in that it was purely a “character part,” where he had to shed elements of his charisma in order to play a temperamental, slightly unhinged character.
That being said, Wayne is also credited in helping to craft the story, and clearly had a role in expressing some of his personal beliefs within the film’s narrative. Essentially, McLintock sees the government’s efforts to impede his land as a mistake that leads to chaos within the town. While the madness that ensues is dialed up for comedic relief, it’s clearly a cry for the type of limited government that Wayne so often advocated for. Wayne’s influence on the film is unmistakable; while there’s a unique identity to the films he made for auteurs like Ford and Hawks, it’s likely that McLaglen ceded control to Wayne throughout the creative process. This is also likely considering that McLaglen himself was the son of Wayne’s The Quiet Man co-star Victor McLaglen, who had won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Ford’s 1935 political thriller The Informer. Here’s one case where Hollywood truly is one big family!

McLintock! has aged in interesting ways. On a fundamental level, it seems like Wayne intended for McLintock! to be a “revision” of The Quiet Man that rejected the premise that the woman would have the power in a relationship. In The Quiet Man, it’s evident that even if Sean has seemingly “tamed” Mary Kate, she is the one making decisions in their relationship, which reflects the original satirical point of The Taming of the Shrew. It’s virtually the opposite in McLintock!, as by the end, the titular character has successfully won back his wife after spanking her in public. In the end, she still realizes that they belong together in a moment that certainly has not aged very well. The oblique sexism might make McLintock! more difficult to rewatch than some of Wayne’s other Westerns.
The film does show a side to Wayne that would become absent in his next few Western roles. Films like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance reflected on the end of the western era, and The Shootist even saw him looking at his own mortality. Comparatively, McLintock! is just a lot of silly fun where Wayne gets to play a caricature of himself, and that deserves to be celebrated in its own right.

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John Wayne

John Wayne heartbreak after pleading for one last film before death: ‘Hope to hell I do’

The crowning moment in his acting life came in 1970, when he earned his only Academy Award for Best Actor, as a result of his role in True Grit.

But one project that sadly never made it to life was Beau John, a film Wayne hoped would be his last.
Author Scott Eyman, who wrote ‘John Wayne: The Life and Legend’, discussed what Wayne wanted the project to be like, as well as the confession he made before he sadly passed away.
Eyman noted that Wayne’s wish was made at the end of 1978, just under a year before the western icon died in June.

Wayne reportedly felt directionless without any film work as he’d spent the last years in recovery with health issues as opposed to being behind the camera.
That year, Wayne received the Utah Film Festival’s John Ford Medallion, though he was unable to travel due to his health.
Instead, friend and director Peter Bogdanovich went to accept the award on his behalf, and when the pair were reunited Wayne asked if he’d consider the film he proposed.
Bogdanovich said: “It’s kind of a half-western thing, it’s not cowboys and Indians, you know, it’s — oh, the humour and the wonderful relationship between this grandfather and the son and the son-in-law and the grandson.
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“Wayne said, ‘I hope to hell I live to do it. Just a wonderful story’.”
His friend reassured Wayne he’d do the project, were he alive long enough to commit to it, and in his later life it became the Oscar winner’s main focus in life.
As he grew even more ill, Wayne then proposed the project to director Ron Howard, though he didn’t want anyone but the dying star to be in it.
According to the book, Wayne told Howard: “I found a book. I think it’s a movie. It’s you and me or it’s nobody.”

John Wayne died in 1979

John Wayne died in 1979 (Image: GETTY)

But sadly for Wayne, he died before anything could be done to start the movie.
Howard added: “It never got past the verbal stage.
“And at that point, he was showing signs of not being well. I was a little doubtful.”
Wayne passed away in 1979 as a result of stomach cancer, and was buried in the Pacific View Memorial Park Cemetery in Corona del Mar, Newport Beach.
His legacy was secured when the American Film Institute chose him as one of the greatest male stars of classic American cinema.

He was among a select group of stars who managed to negotiate their way from the silent film era of the Twenties, into the talkies that followed.
He had seven children in total, and was married three times.

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John Wayne

John Wayne battled crippling injuries and heartbreaking loss on Rio Lobo set

The sight of The Duke thundering across The West on horseback remains one of cinema’s most indelible images.
Meanwhile, “Get off your horse and drink your milk” has frequently been attributed as one of John Wayne’s most famous ‘quotes.’

Despite some claims that it came from an advert he shot, it is actually almost certainly an urban myth, most likely started by comedians doing drawling impressions of the Hollywood Westerns legend.
Sadly, though, by the time the star came to film 1970’s Rio Lobo (a blatant remake of Rio Bravo) towards the end of his career, he was in so much pain struggled to get on and off his horse.
In fact, the entire film shoot was surrounded by personal tragedies for the actor.
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John Wayne on horseback in Rio Lobo

John Wayne on horseback in Rio Lobo (Image: GETTY)

John Wayne starred in Rio Lobo
John Wayne was in agony in Rio Lobo (Image: GETTY )

It was director Howard Hawks’ final film and the third film he made with John Wayne about a beleaguered sheriff standing against outlaws.
In a 1971 interview Hawks said of Rio Lobo: “The last picture we made, I called him up and said, ‘Duke, I’ve got a story.’ He said, ‘I can’t make it for a year, I’m all tied up.’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s all right, it’ll take me a year to get it finished.’
“He said, ‘Good, I’ll be all ready.’ And he came down on location and he said, ‘What’s this about?’ And I told him the story. He never even read it, he didn’t know anything about it.”

Famously, when Wayne realised it was a remake of Rio Bravo and El Dorado, he quipped: “Yes, he said, ‘Do I get to play the drunk this time?”

Hawks was less jocular after the film bombed and blamed it on 63-year-old Wayne being too old and out of shape for the role.
Critics and audiences agreed and the film took just over $4million against a production budget of $6million plus all the extra promotional costs which are often the same again.
Wayne’s physical difficulties were not due to his age, however. He had piled on weight for 1969’s True Grit and then while filming The Undefeated the same year, The Duke fell from his horse and fractured three ribs, leaving him unable to work for two weeks.
Later in the shoot, he tore a ligament in his shoulder. With no movement in one arm, he had to be filmed only from the other side.

John Wayne with a rifle in Rio Lobo
John Wayne with a rifle in Rio Lobo (Image: GETTY)

Wayne came into Rio Lobo in considerable pain, out of shape from True Grit and still suffering from a torn shoulder.
Most of his fight scenes had to be filmed with stand-ins or carefully from restricted angles. Some fights even happened off-camera. And he struggled greatly getting on and off his horse.
He also suffered two devastatimg personal blow when his mother died during filming and then his younger brother Robert E. Morrison lost his battle with lung cancer the month after filming ended.
But there was one shining moment of happiness also.

John Wayne in True Grit
John Wayne in True Grit (Image: GETTY)

Always a dedicated workhorse on set, no matter the physical injuries or personal pains, Wayne took a rare break from filming.
He had a very good reason, since it was to attend the 1970 Academy Awards. After exactly 40 years on screen, The Duke finally won the Best Actor Oscar for True Grit.
Touchingly, when he returned to the Rio Lobo set, he was greeted by the cast and crew all wearing eye patches like True Grit’s Rooster Cogburn.

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John Wayne

Ann-Margret recalls ‘gentle’ and ‘welcoming’ John Wayne who did her a big favour

Legendary actress Ann-Margret turns 80-years-old today on April 28, 2021. The singer, dancer and performer made quite the name for herself in Hollywood in a number of films during the early 1960s, including Bye Bye Birdie and State Fair. She is perhaps best known for her epic performance in 1964 hit Viva Las Vegas alongside Elvis Presley, with whom she shared a passionate love affair. Shortly after working with the King, she joined wild west star John Wayne in his 1973 movie The Train Robbers.

Ann-Margret played the lead in the movie – one of her first lead roles – Mrs Lowe.

The story followed her character after her husband had been killed, leaving her half-million dollars.
Mr Lowe had acquired this money from robbing banks in the wild west, however, she was keen to return it to the government to clear her name. John’s character, Lane, had different ideas. He wanted her to help find the money and claim a reward for it.
Ann-Margret recently gave an interview about her time on the silver screen, where she touched upon working with the legendary John.

Ann-Margret continued: “He was so great with my parents. So absolutely welcoming and gentle with them. And anybody who was great to my parents was on a throne in my eyes.
“I was friends with him forever. He was never [pretentious]. He had so many friends and every single person loved him.”
Ann-Margret also previously praised John for doing her an enormous favour in her time of need.
During the filming of The Train Robbers, Ann-Margret was up for an Oscar alongside her co-star Ben Johnson.
However, considering Ann-Margret was filming in Mexico she was struggling to find a way to attend the ceremony.
Without a second thought, John gave her and Ben his own private plane to allow them both to attend the ceremony.
Ann-Margret said later: “The next day, we were back on the set, and Ben had won and I hadn’t.
“I don’t know what Mr Wayne said to Ben, but he got me in a corner, and he just said some wonderful things to me.”
Ann-Margret also spoke candidly about her relationship with Elvis.
The pair enjoyed a relationship together for just over a year while filming Viva Las Vegas.

Speaking in the same interview, Ann-Margret said: “Just thinking about Viva Las Vegas, or anytime someone mentions it, I smile.
“It was one of the happiest times of my life. George Sidney, who directed Bye Bye Birdie also directed Viva Las Vegas. And believe it or not, I had never seen [Elvis] perform.”

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