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John Wayne

Director Tom Dey Thinks He Knows Why Jackie Chan And Owen Wilson’s Shanghai Noon Flopped

While Jackie Chan has always been an affable and comedic performer, even going back to his early martial arts films from the 1970s, something curious happened when he broke into the Hollywood mainstream in the late 1990s. Producers looked at Chan’s playful, heroic, somewhat goofy charm and shifted it into overdrive. Chan’s American films, as a result, tended to be incredibly broad, full of silly mugging, “culture clash” humor, and a general lack of stakes. Chan’s first major American hit was Brett Ratner’s “Rush Hour” in 1998, a serviceable but largely unremarkable police comedy wherein Chan played opposite Chris Tucker. That film was such a runaway success (it made over $244 million worldwide) that a pattern was immediately set for Chan. Pair him with an unlikely co-star, put him in generic action scenarios, and watch the money roll in.
The next few years saw such pieces of mainstream fluff as Kevin Donovan’s “The Tuxedo” (opposite Jennifer Love Hewitt), “The Medallion” (opposite Claire Forlani), “Around the World in 80 Days” (opposite Steve Coogan), two additional “Rush Hour” sequels, and, most notably for the purposes of this article, Tom Dey’s 2000 film “Shanghai Noon” and David Dobkin’s 2003 sequel “Shanghai Knights,” both opposite Owen Wilson.
The premise of “Shanghai Noon” is novel enough: Chan plays Chon Wang (it sounds like “John Wayne”), a royal guard of the Chinese Imperial city in 1881. When the Chinese imperial princess (Lucy Liu) flees the country and hides out in the Old West, Wang follows her to the American frontier. During his search for the missing princess, he forms a partnership with a laconic and friendly gunfighter named Roy O’Bannon (Wilson), and they will spend a great deal of “Noon” comedically bantering.
Martial arts master meets the gunslinger. So far, so good.
Jackie Chan, dumbed down

While “Shanghai Noon” ended up a modest hit — $99 million on a $55 million budget — it opened small. According to a 2000 article in EW, the film’s only earned a trim $19 million on its opening weekend, clearly not breaking any box office records, nor matching the financial glories of “Rush Hour.” Dey, in the same EW article, lamented the low numbers, having been utterly convinced that his film would at least cross the $30 million mark. He blamed Disney’s marketing department for the tepid response, pointing out that the previews for “Shanghai Noon” leaned into the film’s broader, more comedic moments and scenes of fish-out-of-water humor.
“Shanghai Noon” is a light, breezy film to be sure, but Dey did not think he was making a comedy. “I feel like it was misrepresented,” the director said. “The trailers really dumbed it down.” The usage of ZZ Top’s “La Grange” and Kid Rock’s “Cowboy” in the preview certainly didn’t help sell “Noon” as a straightforward Western adventure
Dey would go on to make bright, antiseptic Hollywood comedies like “Showtime,” “Failure to Launch,” and “Marmaduke,” but with “Noon,” his first feature, Dey was determined to make something richer and more nuanced than the average piece of commercial Tinseltown detritus. “I really tried hard to give it extra layers,” he said. “To make it about something: friendship, exploitation. These are real things that mean something.”
First time?

Dey, 31 at the time, had come to directing “Shanghai Noon” after several years in the world of TV commercials. He acknowledged what a big step this was in his career, only to be met with the horrors of a studio marketing department. Although he clearly knew from advertising, it was a step in the process he was not allowed to participate in. Dey lamented: “It was hard because here was the most important product of my life, and I was pretty much frozen out of any involvement in terms of how to sell it.” Eventually, “Shanghai Noon” found enough of an audience to warrant the above-mentioned “Shanghai Knights,” a sequel that saw the same characters travel to 1880s London, although Dey did not direct it.
Generally speaking, “Noon” is affable, if generic. It also received far more positive reviews than 2000’s other major blockbuster, John Woo’s chaotic and terrible “Mission: Impossible 2,” released the same day. The disappointing financials of “Noon” could merely be attributed to competition. “Mission: Impossible” was a higher-profile release, starred Tom Cruise — a bigger star than Chan in America — and came with a larger marketing push.
Dey’s most recent film was the 2022 Netflix film “Wedding Season,” so he still seems to be working, and is still living in the realm of “affable comedy.” It’s fun to imagine a parallel universe, however, wherein a filmmaker like Dey was recognized as being more nuanced, and that he was permitted to pursue his own creative projects. Perhaps Dey, along with any number of Hollywood commercial directors, has a dark heart of strange art waiting to burst out. While we speculate, we can rent “Shanghai Noon” online and stroll past it while we make dinner.

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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.
JUST IN: John Wayne was buried at unmarked grave with a beautiful message

“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.
DON’T MISSJohn Wayne revealed his own three favourite films from his career

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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