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John Wayne

Reap The Wild Wind Was John Wayne’s Chance To Make Good On A Years-Old Grudge

There are few pettier on this Earth than an actor who chased a coveted role and received little to no consideration from the director. Sure, some have thicker skin than others and can handle rejection with little bruising to their ego. And then there are guys like John Wayne, who didn’t like losing anything. Ever.
The Duke had slugged it out in poverty row Westerns throughout the 1930s before landing his breakout role in John Ford’s 1939 triumph, “Stagecoach.” After the success of that film, Wayne had zero interest in groveling for a part ever again. But he made an exception for Cecil B. DeMille, the master of the Hollywood epic who, in early 1940, was casting “North West Mounted Police.” Despite the yawner of a title, this was a big-deal motion picture — Gary Cooper was set to star as a Texas Ranger who joins forces with Canadian lawmen to track down a fugitive outlaw. Wayne learned that the supporting part of Scottish scout Tod McDuff was still in play, and believed that appearing in a DeMille movie would boost his rising profile.
Wayne booked an appointment with DeMille at the director’s Paramount office, and, according to Maurice Zolotow’s “Shooting Star: A Biography of John Wayne,” got completely brushed off. DeMille blew past the actor, who followed him onto the street outside. The filmmaker knew Wayne from the 1930 Western, “The Big Trail,” but after being told the Duke had spent the last decade making Westerns at Republic, a B-Studio at best, he told the newly minted star, “Well, you’ll hear from us if we have something.” Wayne never heard from DeMille until he was casting “Reap the Wild Wind” two years later. Suddenly, DeMille wanted Wayne. The Duke knew this, and was resolved to make the director squirm.
Cecile B. DeMille on the ropesParamountWhen Republic Pictures honcho Herbert J. Yates learned Cecile B. DeMille wanted to screen John Wayne’s latest Western, “Dark Command,” he was over the moon. Though the director was looking at the Duke for the second male lead (behind Ray Milland), a DeMille movie conferred prestige on everyone involved. Discerning moviegoers disinclined to see a random oater might reconsider if they associated the star with a DeMille production.
Wayne didn’t care. Maurice Zolotow recounts the Duke’s response in “Shooting Star: A Biography of John Wayne”:
“‘No, Herb.’ Wayne said, to Yates’ surprise, ‘I don’t want you to send him a print. You just tell him if he wants to see ‘Dark Command,’ you’ll set up a screening for him on the Republic lot. Yeah — that’s what I said. Otherwise, let him just wait until it’s released and see it with the common people.’”
DeMille played along, saw the film at Republic, and loved what he saw. He offered Wayne the role of salvager Captain Jack Stewart in “Reap the Wild Wind.” The Duke, savoring the opportunity to screw with one of the most revered directors in Hollywood, didn’t refuse the part outright. Instead, he sent DeMille 17 pages of script notes designed to pump up his part. “I figured that would just about wash it up,” said Wayne.
Shockingly, DeMille persisted.
Wayne reaps the wild wind on his own termsParamountJohn Wayne was surprised when the filmmaker flattered him in the hopes of convincing him to take the role. “He said he needed me,” recalled Wayne. “Well, I have to admit it kind of won me over.”
The Duke was still leaning toward a no, but he opted to take his newfound influence out for a spin and tried to get a concession or two out of Cecile B. DeMille. Wayne was concerned about making “Reap the Wild Wind” at Paramount, which had Ray Milland under contract. He needed to know that DeMille would have his back if the studio tried to cut down Wayne’s role. DeMille capitulated, as Maurice Zolotow recounts in his book:
“I want you for this film, John,” [DeMille] said. “I want you very much. I give you my word of honor that I will do you justice. You know that I was fair to Preston Foster in ‘North West Mounted Police’ even though Gary Cooper is a Paramount star.”
Wayne then targeted DeMille’s reputation for “bawlin’ out” actors, and let the filmmaker know he wouldn’t stand for such treatment. “John, I never bawl anybody out that does not deserve to be bawled out,” said the director. “I am fair.”
Wayne took the gig and wound up with another box office hit. While “Reap the Wild Wind” plays as a creaky melodrama nowadays, the DeMille association paid off at the time. With Wayne’s big-screen mentor John Ford serving overseas with the United States’ Office of Strategic Services during World War II, the star had to be more open and trusting with his collaborators. Though the movies weren’t that great until Ford returned in 1945 with “They Were Expendable,” this was the period where Wayne solidified his stardom.

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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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