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One Of Unforgiven’s Most Memorable Scenes Was Inspired By John Wayne In The Shootist – My Blog

Clint Eastwood and John Wayne may be Western icons but they didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye on the genre that made them both superstars. Back in the early ’70s, B-movie maestro Larry Cohen (“Q: The Winged Serpent,” “The Stuff”) wrote a screenplay called “The Hostiles,” intended as a vehicle for both Wayne and Eastwood to co-star. It was an appropriate title; Wayne didn’t want to be in a movie with the younger actor, writing a poison pen letter to Eastwood citing his hatred of “High Plains Drifter” as one of the reasons.

Cohen never fulfilled his dream of a film starring Wayne and Eastwood, and it is perhaps little surprise that the two legends didn’t hit it off. They represented very different eras of the Western; Wayne was the old guard, an indomitable screen legend of Hollywood’s Golden Age and star of dozens of straightforward good guys vs bad guys horse operas, a totem of a certain vision of American manliness and ideals.
Eastwood, on the other hand, was a generation younger and made his name playing far more ambiguous figures in Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy,” laconic antiheroes who were only the protagonist because everyone around them was even more unscrupulous or just plain villainous. “High Plains Drifter,” Eastwood’s second directorial feature, took his “Man With No Name” persona into even darker territory, an early sign that Eastwood was interrogating the tropes of the genre and his own screen image.
Eastwood went on to make his defining statement on the western with his revisionist “Unforgiven,” which, ironically, owes far more to The Duke than you might first expect.

So what happens in Unforgiven again?
“Unforgiven” opens in the roughneck frontier town of Big Whiskey, lorded over by its stern sheriff Little Bill (Gene Hackman). When two no-good cowboys slash the face of a sex worker, Bill lets them off with a fine, enraging the other women in the brothel. Seeking their own justice, they club together to put forth a $1000 bounty on the cowboys’ heads.
We then meet William Munny (Clint Eastwood), an aging former gunslinger and widower now scratching out a meager living on his pig farm with his two children. Munny once was a very bad man but hung up his pistols at the behest of his wife before she passed away, and initially shows no interest when he is approached by The Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett), a big-talking young bounty hunter who wants to partner up to claim the prize. Munny is repentant and haunted by some of the terrible things he did in the past, but he sees the bounty as a way of ensuring a better future for his kids. Needing backup, Munny recruits the help of Ned (Morgan Freeman), a former outlaw friend from the bad old days.
Arriving in Big Whiskey, Munny falls foul of Little Bill, who runs the town on a strict no-guns policy and wants to dissuade anyone seeking to claim the women’s bounty. Bill severely beats him, leaving it to Ned and The Kid to nurse him back to health before tracking down the cowboys. Ned realizes he is unable to kill again and leaves for home, but is captured by Bill and his men and tortured to death. Now the sheriff of Big Whiskey is about to see the old Will Munny, who strides into town seeking vengeance for his friend.
The origins of Unforgiven
“Unforgiven” started life as a screenplay entitled “The William Munny Killings,” written by David Peoples in 1976. That was the same year that John Wayne made his final screen appearance in “The Shootist.”
Wayne plays J.B. Books, an aging gunfighter with terminal cancer who has thirty kills to his name, although he maintains he never shot anyone who didn’t have it coming to them. Given just a few weeks to live, he becomes an unlikely father figure to Gillom Rogers (Ron Howard), the young son of widow Bond Rogers (Lauren Bacall) who runs the guest house where Books decides to live out his last days.
Rather than withering away in pain, Books arranges to meet three men who have a beef with him for a final shootout, taking the challengers down before he is shot in the back by a cowardly bartender. Gillom arrives on the scene and shoots the bartender with Books’ pistol before throwing the weapon away. Before he dies, Books smiles in approval.
It was a fine final performance from Wayne, who himself was diagnosed with cancer in 1964 before having one lung removed. He changed the script so he would get shot in the back, because “no man could ever take John Wayne in a fair fight” (via TV Tropes). Wayne had died onscreen several times before, but no one had bettered him in a shootout in over 80 westerns unless it was by cowardly means.
“The Shootist” was a fitting end to Wayne’s career and the end of an era, as the straightforward narratives of classic westerns were giving way to darker revisionist takes like “High Plains Drifter” and “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.” Books’ final gesture to Gillom, rejecting the violent ways of the Old West, was at least a passing nod to modernity.
One key scene in Unforgiven was influenced by The Shootist
Clint Eastwood bought the rights to “The William Munny Killings” in the early ’80s but it wouldn’t become “Unforgiven” until a decade later when he would use the screenplay to bring his formidable western screen presence low. When we first see Munny he’s scrambling around in the mud trying to catch a pig, and when he reluctantly decides to chase the bounty he has trouble even mounting his horse.
There are clear parallels between Munny and Books although Eastwood’s character is far more regretful and haunted by the past; Wayne perhaps never needed to repent for his screen violence because he almost always played upstanding, righteous characters. Both men are aware that the end is drawing near, although that knowledge is far more acute for Books with only a few weeks to live. The one scene in “Unforgiven” that links them the most arrives after Munny’s beating at the hands of Little Bill when he admits he is scared of death; it correlates closely with the moment in “The Shootist” when Books says, “I’m just a dying man, scared of the dark.” Screenwriter David Peoples saw the scene as the film’s key moment (via Yahoo):
“When I started writing the film, the crux of it for me was the scene where Munny is lying there thinking that he’s dying. I just thought that no one had ever seen a tough guy like this be scared of dying unless it’s some kind of last-minute thing. So that scene was important for me to write, and was very much influenced by The Shootist.”
Eastwood and Wayne may not have worked together, but given both actors’ stature in the western genre, it feels fitting that their careers were intertwined in this small but significant way.

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John Wayne’s Son Couldn’t Watch 1 of His Dad’s Movies After His Death – My Blog

John Wayne is a legendary actor who successfully personifies Western movies. He has a very loyal fan base, but some of his critics claim that he plays the same character in every movie. However, Wayne delivered several nuanced performances over the course of his career. His son, Patrick, had difficulty watching one specific movie after his father’s death.

John Wayne starred in over 160 full-length movies
Wayne entered the entertainment industry working as an extra, prop man, and a stuntman. He primarily worked for Fox Film Corporation, but ultimately got his first shot with Raoul Walsh’s The Big Trail. However, the film was a box office failure. Fortunately, Wayne’s huge success at the movies would later come to be.
Wayne ultimately starred in popular Western and war movies over the course of the 1940s onward. Some of his most notable performances include titles such as She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, True Grit, and Sands of Iwo Jima. All together, Wayne starred in over 160 full-length movies over the course of his extensive career.

John Wayne’s son, Patrick, couldn’t watch ‘The Shootist’ after his dad’s death

Jeremy Roberts interviewed Patrick via Medium to talk about what it was like growing up in the Wayne family. He talked about some personal stories involving his father, as well as the collection of Wayne movies. The interviewer asked him if he had any difficulty revisiting any of his dad’s movies after his death.
“I’d have to say no to that question with the exception of one film, The Shootist,” Patrick said. “I couldn’t watch that Western as it was so close to reality. He played an old gunfighter who was an anachronism dying of cancer.”
Wayne plays J.B. Books in The Shootist, who is an aging gunfighter diagnosed with cancer. He heads into Nevada at the turn of the 20th century. Books rents a room from a widowed woman named Bond Rogers (Lauren Becall) and her son, Gillom (Ron Howard). When people pursue Books with questionable motives, he decides that he isn’t going to die a silent death.
Patrick continued: “Too many of the elements in there were just too close to what actually happened to him in his real life, so that film took me about 10 years to watch again [of course I saw it when it was originally released in 1976].”
Patrick Wayne thinks ‘The Shootist’ is his dad’s ‘finest performance’

Wayne earned Oscar nominations for his movies Sands of Iwo Jima and The Alamo. However, he wouldn’t take home the gold statue until his work on True Grit. Patrick believes that the iconic film isn’t quite his father’s best work. He gives that title to Wayne’s work in The Shootist, which he didn’t even earn an Oscar nomination for.
Patrick said, “When I did finally watch it for the second time, I have to say that it’s probably his finest performance as a pure actor, using all his skills and being more than just a cardboard cutout, but more of a real human being — a vulnerable human being — and I think he pulled it off really well.”

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‘It Was a Pretty Miserable Experience’ – My Blog

John Wayne has worked in a wide variety of filming locations over the course of his career. However, they didn’t all provide comfortable conditions for the cast and crew. Wayne’s son, Patrick, once noted the “worst” film location of them all, calling one of his dad’s filming locations a “pretty miserable experience.” Nevertheless, he still enjoyed making movies with his father.

John Wayne’s son, Patrick, worked with his dad on film locations
'The Green Berets' filming location John Wayne pulling a wagon along

Patrick followed in his father’s acting footsteps. His first roles included uncredited roles at Wayne’s filming locations, which gained him momentum moving forward into bigger roles. Some of these include Rio Grande, The Searchers, The Alamo, and The Quiet Man. However, he later moved more into managing the John Wayne Cancer Institute, which pushes to advance research in the fight against cancer.

Patrick has a wide array of stories from the Wayne filming locations. His father remains one of the most iconic Western actors of all time. Patrick looked up to his dad, but they didn’t always have the best time on the set of the more grueling filming location.
‘The Green Berets’ was the ‘worst’ John Wayne film location for his son, Patrick

Jeremy Roberts interviewed Patrick for Medium about some of the iconic Wayne filming locations. He explained that there was one set, in particular, that he just couldn’t stand.
“That would have to be The Green Berets,” Patrick said. “We were on location at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, which is located about 125 miles west of Atlanta. But it was nothing like Atlanta.”
Patrick continued: “Oh my God, it was pretty dreary. That’s fine but it started raining to the point of where we couldn’t even work. Boy, there was nothing to do except sit there and wait ’til it stopped raining. It was a pretty miserable experience from the weather aspect at that time [filming commenced on August 9, 1967]. It was past the worst part of the summer, so the humidity wasn’t that bad.”
Wayne’s difficult conditions on the Green Berets filming location makes sense for the movie’s story. It follows Col. Mike Kirby (Wayne), who selects two teams of Green Berets for a specific mission in South Vietnam. They must build and run a camp that the enemy seeks to capture, but that isn’t all. They must also kidnap a North Vietnamese General behind enemy lines.
‘The Green Berets’ is a controversial war movie

The Green Berets succeeded at the box office, but critics found the film incredibly controversial. They slammed the film for being heavy-handed and predictable. However, its war politics particularly upset a lot of critics. Nevertheless, The Green Berets easily sold tickets to audiences, making it a financial success.
Wayne went through some rough conditions on the filming location, but it proved to be worth his time. Despite its politics, the film made the legendary actor a large sum of money and remains a well-known war picture. It was also an opportunity for Patrick to work with his father on another film.

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Ann-Margret’s precious memories of ‘teddy bear’ Duke on The Train Robbers – My Blog

JOHN WAYNE was “slightly infirm” on The Train Robbers but tenaciously pushed through filming despite two fractured ribs, balance issues and a daily lie down, according to co-star Rod Taylor. Ann-Margret remembers Duke appearing strong despite his declining health and admitted the Western star “gave me the confidence I lacked”.

By the 1970s, John Wayne was coming towards the end of his career as a Hollywood star. In 1973, aged 65-years-old, he had been living with one lung for the best part of 10 years and was suffering from emphysema on the remaining one. That year he released two Westerns which aren’t remembered as his best but saw the ageing icon carry on with much determination. One of the films was The Train Robbers, which co-starred Ann-Margret and Rod Taylor.
The Train Robbers saw Ann-Margret’s feisty widow work alongside three cowboys in recovering a cage of gold that was stolen by her late husband.
Before shooting started, Wayne had fractured two of his ribs, which was so painful he struggled to sleep at night.

This meant that his action scenes had to be scaled down and co-star Taylor remembered Duke being “slightly” infirm during the shoot.
The Time Machine star said the Western legend had trouble with his balance and understandably needed afternoon naps.
train robbers cast

Despite his health problems on the movie, Wayne refused to delay filming and strived forwards.
Ann-Margret had fond memories of her co-star’s tenacity, recalling: “Duke was still a strong, rugged, formidable man, larger-than-life and incredibly personal. He was a big teddy bear, and we got along famously. Duke gave me the confidence I lacked.”
The Viva Las Vegas star appreciated this given that 1972 had been a very difficult time in her life, having been seriously injured when performing in her Lake Tahoe show.
john and ann
Ann-Margret felt John Wayne gave her the confidence boost she needed (Image: GETTY)
train robbers poster
The Train Robbers poster (Image: GETTY)
In terms of the confidence boost she needed, the actress had to overcome her fear of horses as there was much riding needed for her character. It was here that Wayne gave her the support she needed.
The Train Robbers had average reviews and later Quentin Tarantino would comment the film was “so light it’s barely a movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s not amusing.”
Wayne also released Cahill: US Marshall in 1973, which saw a significantly weakened Wayne having to use a stepladder to climb onto a horse.
That year also marked the death of his most famous collaborator, the director John Ford.
Upon news of the filmmakers’ death that August, Wayne told journalists: “I’m pretty much living on borrowed time.”
Duke would go on to make a couple of better-reviewed Westerns in True Grit sequel Rooster Cogburn opposite Katherine Hepburn and The Shootist.
The latter film was his final one and saw him playing a terminally ill gunfighter.
The Hollywood icon himself died of cancer just a couple of years later in 1979.

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