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In The Cowboys, Nobody Wants to Work (For John Wayne) – My Blog

It’s not exactly true that the Western ever died. People are still making movies with Stetsons and Peacemakers, still robbing trains or waiting for the soundtrack to tell them when it’s okay to draw. If you want to watch those movies, they’re available and just look completely different: They may center actors of a different race than the usual Hollywood Western (The Harder They Fall, Django Unchained), or center a female perspective rather than a male one (Jane Got A Gun, The Nightingale), or play the genre for laughs (The Sisters Brothers, A Million Ways To Die in the West). It helps if you have the Coen brothers interested in making it (the quite good True Grit remake or their bizarre The Ballad of Buster Scruggs).

The “oater”—the straightforward, cow-punching movie about a bygone era where the West meant freedom for white dudes and we’re totally fine with that—has become a thing of the past as far as major studios are concerned. And by 1972, it must have seemed that way to a guy like John Wayne, the actor who represented everything about the Western that the genre has discarded. Clint Eastwood, who by then was world famous as the smoking, poncho-wearing Man With No Name, said he once received a letter from Wayne in reference to the 1973 film High Plains Drifter, in which Eastwood said Wayne told him he didn’t like it and that it wasn’t about the people who really pioneered the West. As Eastwood recalled, he realized Wayne was of a different generation and would not have understood that a movie like High Plains Drifter was more of a fable.
When you put 1972’s The Cowboys into context with a movie like High Plains Drifter—when you consider it came out two years after El Topo, or three years after Once Upon A Time in the West and The Wild Bunch, or nearly a decade after Sergio Leone and Eastwood’s trilogy of films first came out in Europe—you have to believe part of the motivation for making it was stubbornness on somebody’s part.
This is a Western about men who are men, and boys who must become men or die (one of them does actually die). It is a Western in which the trail is hard and the pay is shit, but you’re only a real man if you can take it. It is a Western in which the sympathetic white characters call the sympathetic Black character the N-word with a hard R, but the movie tells us they aren’t as racist about it as the real bad guys. It is a movie that features Robert Carradine and A Martinez as child actors, and Bruce Dern having an honest to goodness bloody fistfight with John Wayne. I kind of love it and never want it to change.

It’s some time after the Civil War and some time before the government declared the American frontier settled in 1910, and Wil Andersen (Wayne) is in trouble. He has several hundred head of cattle that need to get 400 miles to market, and he’s short of hired hands. The ones currently working for him want to go pan for gold, lured by the possibility of a job that could potentially pay more and presumably feature Andersen barking at them less. When they ask to go check it out and then come back if they find a better deal, he tells them to blow off and never come back. Why, he laments, does nobody want to work anymore?
When the job market is poor, there are any number of things employers might do to entice potential hires. Raising wages is a popular one, as is offering things like referral bonuses for current employees or sign-on bonuses for new hires. Alternately, you could just hire minors, who don’t complain as much. Andersen is reticent when a friend suggests that to him, and even more so when he visits the local one-room schoolhouse to take a look at his new hires. The teacher lets him in without complaint—this being, as she literally puts it, a man’s world. If an employer needs to come recruit at your school, you should give him the room.
(Does he need to talk to any of the girls, asks the teacher? No, Wayne says, he hasn’t got anything to say to girls.)
Andersen can’t resist the kids’ collective moxie, so he hires on his young charges, as well as a wandering cook, Jebediah Nightlinger (the inimitable Roscoe Lee Browne, who is the best actor in every scene he’s in). Nightlinger is Black, and the boys have somehow never seen a Black man before. He’s bafflingly accommodating of their ignorance about his anatomy.
As they hit the trail, Andersen also takes under his wing the wild child Cimarron (Martinez, ready to cuss and drink and fight) and runs into some other prospective workers that include Bruce Dern, as sleazy as he’s looked in anything he’s made in the half-century since. Dern and his fellows are former convicts, and Wayne looks like maybe he’s going to hire them, except that Dern lied about it. Having failed his background check, Dern slinks off, to return later in the film.
By this point, the boys have learned the ropes and broken themselves in on the trail. We’ve watched their camaraderie, watched them learn things, and actually seen some shots that seem as if the young actors really are ridin’ and ropin’. One of them dies suddenly and tragically on the job—it’s the one time everybody is allowed a moment of silent reflection. The rest of the time, tough love is the order of the day: One kid with a stutter has a tough time informing Wayne that Robert Carradine has fallen into a river. Wayne helps him get over his stutter by making the kid swear at him a whole bunch (and it works! The first time! Forevermore, he is cured of a speech impediment!).
It’s a lot of fun, these scenes of kids palling around with Wayne and Browne, learning things and making mistakes, and it seems like Wayne’s character will even soften to them by the end of the movie, perhaps come away changed by his encounter—a wiser, softer man. This is not what happens! At all!
When Bruce Dern returns with a huge posse of baddies, it is to capture Andersen’s herd and menace everybody at gunpoint. Andersen is too proud to just roll over, of course, so he and Bruce Dern bust each other’s lips. Dern loses the fistfight and in anger, shoots Andersen to death and leaves the boys in the wilderness. These kids murder the cattle rustlers with guns mere seconds before the bad guys lynch Nightlinger. They get the cattle to market, prove themselves as men, and then place a stone marker out on the prairie for Andersen, their adoptive father.
In case you didn’t know they were real men, the boys must deal with Dern, who lies before them broken beneath his horse, captive and not a threat to them at all after they, I am serious, blast holes through his entire posse. You think for a moment there will be some mercy for him. Readers, there is none.
This is the Old West. It’s a tragedy that this time, Andersen’s time, is over, but he’s raised the next generation of hard-ass bosses, the men who are going to think about their own hard-ass upbringing and reason that if it was good for them, it’s good for the next kid.
The Cowboys is a relic now and it was a relic when it came out, but what a relic it is. It is every gorgeous vista under an endless sky, every clenched jaw before a gunfight, every dry one-liner delivered by the Duke that you could possibly ask for, with actors who bridge the gap between the Hollywood of today and that of a bygone era. Please, John Wayne seems to be saying as Leone and Morricone and Clint and Jodorowsky circle the dark beyond the campfire, please let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

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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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What John Wayne said in his angry letter to Clint Eastwood and how Eastwood responded. – My Blog

John Wayne and Clint Eastwood are the two biggest icons of the Western movies, however, Wayne wasn’t always a fan of Eastwood’s work. In fact, Wayne hated one of Eastwood’s Westerns so much he sent him a letter decrying the film. Here’s how Eastwood reacted to the letter — and how the public reacted to this movie.

This Clint Eastwood movie was a lot darker than John Wayne’s films : First, a little background. The Western was a staple of American cinema from its early days. It often presented a glorified view of American expansionism. During and after the civil rights movement, Westerns began to evolve, often presenting a critical or at least cynical view of the Old West. Movies like that became especially popular during the 1970s, but by the 1980s the genre was no longer an American staple.

One of the more famous dark Westerns from the 1970s was High Plains Drifter. The film is about a mysterious criminal who comes into town, to get revenge for his brother who was murdered as many of the townsfolk watched by idly. No one in the film is very sympathetic — they’re all either evil or passive in the face of evil. It’s a far cry from the more uplifting films which made Wayne famous.

What John Wayne said in his letter to Clint Eastwood — and how Eastwood responded : It’s very easy to see High Plains Drifter as a critique of the American West. According to the book Ride, Boldly Ride: The Evolution of the American Western, that’s how Wayne saw the film. In addition, he saw it as incorrect.Eastwood told Kenneth Turan “John Wayne once wrote me a letter saying he didn’t like High Plains Drifter. He said it wasn’t really about the people who pioneered the West.

I realized that there’s two different generations, and he wouldn’t understand what I was doing. High Plains Drifter was meant to be a fable: it wasn’t meant to show the hours of pioneering drudgery. It wasn’t supposed to be anything about settling the West.” According to the book John Wayne: The Life and Legend, Eastwood did not write back. How the public reacted to ‘High Plains Drifter’ : Clearly, Wayne was upset by the film. This raises an interesting question: Did High Plains Drifter resonate with the public?

According to Box Office Mojo, High Plains Drifter earned over $15 million. Even by the standards of the 1970s, High Plains Drifter was not a tremendous hit. For comparison, Box Office Mojo reports a less dark 1970s Western starring Eastwood called The Outlaw Josey Wales earned over $31 million.Regardless, High Plains Drifter has a bit of a legacy. It was the first Western that Eastwood directed himself. Eastwood would go on to direct several other Westerns including the Oscar-winning Unforgiven. Wayne wasn’t much of a fan of High Plains Drifter — and neither was the public.

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