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John Wayne

John Ford’s Claim Of ‘Discovering’ Monument Valley Didn’t Sit Well With John Wayne

There isn’t a more instantly identifiable movie location in the United States than Monument Valley. Situated at the Arizona-Utah border, the area provides a visually striking backdrop thanks to its series of buttes. John Ford made the valley famous via his groundbreaking Western “Stagecoach,” and revisited it throughout his legendary career. Over the last 74 years, filmmakers as diverse as Stanley Kubrick, Sergio Leone, Harold Ramis, Steven Spielberg, and Michael Bay have dropped in on the ruggedly beautiful locale with everything from hominins, Chevy Chase, and Transformers. It’s a cinematic sandbox every movie lover is desperate to visit. And we all have Ford to thank for this.
Or perhaps not.
One of Ford’s other major discoveries was a monument of a man named John Wayne. The tall, swaggering Iowan seemed consigned to a career as a star of B-Westerns until Ford decided he was literally ready for his close-up in “Stagecoach.” His portrayal of the lethally capable Ringo Kid was every bit as essential to the critical elevation of the genre as Ford’s thrillingly precise direction. Wayne owed everything to Ford, and the elder artist never let him forget it.
But The Duke had no shortage of pride, so whenever he spied the opportunity to call Ford out, he seized it and squeezed it like Ringo taking up his trusty Winchester rifle. Wayne’s biographer Maurice Zolotow learned this when he queried the star about Ford’s discovery of Monument Valley. According to The Duke, that discovery was all his.
How petty was my valley?

United ArtistsIn Maurice Zolotow’s “Shooting Star: A Biography of John Wayne,” the star claims he found Monument Valley a good decade before John Ford ever laid eyes on it. In Wayne’s telling he was “proppin’ and stuntin’” on a George O’Brien Western in 1929 when, in a fit of restlessness, he hopped in a car and drove around the Four Corners area of the U.S. Per The Duke:
“I went out on this Navajo reservation. It was comin’ on sunset. Then I came to this valley. I parked the car and got out and looked at it and, well, you know how it looks, and that evening it looked, well, kind of like it was another world. I said to myself this would be a fine location for a Western because the cloud formations were fantastic in this area. Those two buttes — I guess they’re over a thousand feet high — sure would frame a composition.”
A decade later, when Ford was seeking out unfamiliar locations for “Stagecoach,” Wayne recommended Monument Valley. The Duke says Ford had never heard of it. So when Wayne joined Ford and a small crew on a scouting expedition around the Utah-Arizona border, he was stunned when, upon encountering the valley, Ford boasted, “I have just found the location we are going to use.”
Wayne told Zolotow he never stopped being miffed about the petty slight. “He wanted to be the one who found it. I don’t know why he never wanted to give me credit for tellin’ him about Monument Valley.”
As for why Ford’s telling of this story has endured, Wayne could take cold comfort in the most famous line of dialogue from the last classic Western he made with the director: “When the fact becomes legend, print the legend.”
 

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John Wayne

John Wayne Credits His Iconic Cowboy Persona to Wyatt Earp: Here’s Why

Somewhere between truth and Hollywood legend, John Wayne met and became friends with the legendary cowboy Wyatt Earp. Whether or not the two actually crossed paths, Wayne has Earp to thank for his on-screen persona.

The character of John Wayne was forged in the fires of Hollywood during the early 1900s. If you subscribe to legend, a young Wayne met the cowboy while working on set. The future actor had dropped out of college after a bodysurfing injury and got a job as a prop hand in the movie business.

It is rumored that Wayne and Earp met on the set of a western by director John Ford. Earp acted as an adviser on the film, giving it an air of authenticity. The cowboy did become a leading authority on all things Old West in Hollywood. Between takes, Earp took recounted tales of his adventures in the Old West. As a sheriff in Tombstone, Earp believed in only using his weapon as a last resort. But he was also quick on the draw.

According to Hollywood myth, Wayne eventually became good friends with Earp. When the cowboy died in 1929, Wayne served as one of his pallbearers. It’s nice to imagine one of the Old West’s legendary figures passing the baton to one of Hollywood’s iconic cowboys. But it’s more likely to be on the side of a myth than fact.

John Wayne Modeled Himself After Wyatt Earp

A young Wayne was likely to have heard about Earp’s exploits, though. The cowboy did have conversations with John Ford. Whether Wayne was present or not is unknown. But the actor is likely to have heard these tales second-hand from the director. In many ways, he tried to model his characters after Earp (minus the occasional villain or two).

For instance, the actor made director Don Siegel re-edit a scene in his final film “The Shootist.” In the initial scene, it appeared that Wayne’s character shot someone in the back. The actor explained that his cowboy character would never commit such an act. Likewise, Wayne’s on-screen characters adopted the stance of refusing to shoot an unarmed man. It’s a code that Earp lived by when he refused to shoot a man as he ran away.

As an actor, Wayne stood on the backs of the great Wild West figures that came before him like Earp. It’s not hard to imagine the two meeting and becoming good friends. But Earp remained one of several influences in Wayne’s developing career.

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John Wayne

John Wayne Did His Own Stunts in His Favorite ‘True Grit’ Scene

Actor John Wayne made a big splash with True Grit. He never anticipated that he would actually take home the Oscar gold this time around. However, Wayne did have a favorite scene in True Grit that really connected with him on a personal level. As a result, he wanted to do his own stunt work for the sequence.

Rooster Cogburn rediscovers his life in ‘True Grit’

'True Grit' actor John Wayne wearing an eye patch

John Wayne | Paramount/Getty Images

Wayne didn’t get along with his True Grit co-star, Kim Darby, but he pushed his feelings down for the sake of the motion picture. The actor ultimately wanted to give the role to his own daughter, but he didn’t quite have the final say on the casting. Nevertheless, Wayne and Darby’s off-screen interactions ultimately led to a fascinating dynamic for the movie.

Wayne plays Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, who is a washed-up U.S. marshal with no family. The only relationship that he has left is with alcohol. However, everything changes when young Mattie Ross (Darby) approaches him with the request to help catch the man who killed her father. Rooster ultimately accepts the job, but unexpectedly rediscovers his life and redeems himself over the course of the film.

John Wayne did his own stunt work for his favorite scene in ‘True Grit’

Marc Eliot’s American Titan: Searching for John Wayne takes a deep dive into the actor’s life and career, including his work on True Grit. He absolutely loved the filming location itself, but there was one scene in particular that really stuck with the actor.

Wayne’s favorite scene in True Grit was at the end when he tells Mattie to “come see a fat, old man sometime” and then rides off on his house and jumps a four-rail fence. However, Wayne was missing a lung as a result of his surgery, wasn’t in the best physical condition, and was 61 years old.

Nevertheless, Wayne completed the jump in one take without a stunt double. His intention was to show the world that he wasn’t just alive, but was still able to hold his own. Additionally, it was a message to Hollywood that he wasn’t ready for retirement quite yet.

Critics forgave the actor after ‘The Green Berets’

American Titan: Searching for John Wayne explores how the critics responded to Wayne’s performance in True Grit. They previously slammed him for the war movie named The Green Berets that took a pro-stance on the Vietnam War. However, things would turn out very differently for both Wayne and True Grit.

Eliot wrote that advance screenings went extremely well and critics raved about the movie, especially when it came to Wayne’s brilliant performance. Eliot referred to Charles Champlin’s review in the Los Angeles Times, who wrote: “Rooster Cogburn sits like a crown atop [Wayne’s] forty years of playing John Wayne … until you’ve seen John Wayne with the reins in his teeth, you haven’t seen it all.”

Wayne would also finally win his one and only Oscar for his performance in True Grit, making it an especially special moment in the actor’s career.

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John Wayne

Exploring John Wayne’s ‘True Grit’ Colorado Filming Locations Then and Now

True Grit is one of John Wayne‘s most iconic movies he ever starred in. As a result, many of his fans continue to dive into the fun behind-the-scenes information that the film has to offer. The True Grit filming locations are particularly special for many longtime fans. Here’s a look at the real-life locations and how they changed over the years.

The ‘True Grit’ movie follows John Wayne as U.S. Marshal ‘Rooster’ Cogburn

'True Grit' filming locations with Glen Campbell as La Boeuf and John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn one horseback wearing Western clothes in front of rocks and the mountain

L-R: Glen Campbell as La Boeuf and John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

True Grit takes place after a hired hand named Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey) kills 14-year-old Mattie Ross’ (Kim Darby) father. As a result, she seeks revenge on him and hires U.S. Marshal “Rooster” Cogburn (Wayne) for the job. Mattie will need his help to track Tom down and get the job done.

The unlikely pair pursues him but comes across a Texas Ranger named La Boeuf (Glen Campbell) along the way. He joins them, but he has a different idea of justice, which he plans to deliver. The True Grit filming locations breathe life into the movie, offering stunning views and incredible set pieces. However, they changed a bit over the years.

‘True Grit’ Colorado filming locations then and now

A YouTube channel named JeepsterGal sought out the True Grit filming locations. They compared how these locations looked in the film compared to 2007. The True Shot filming locations are in and around Ridgway, Colorado in the San Juan Mountains.

The video begins on the ranch shown in the True Grit opening credits. The Ross Ranch still exists on Last Dollar Road in all of its scenic glory. The images show a green landscape with ranch construction perfect for the Western classic.

Meanwhile, the Fort Smith Saloon is now a store on Lena Street. However, it maintains its Western charm.

The True Grit filming location that depicts the hanging scene is in Ridgway’s Hartwell Park. It’s instantly recognizable thanks to a large tree. The video depicts the scene buzzing with local community life. Meanwhile, the paddy wagon is still on display in the area.

Next, True Grit fans might recognize the Chambers Groceries sign in the background. It’s now an interior wall at the True Grit Cafe.

The video moves to the Ouray County Courthouse, where you can see the stairway and the exit displayed in the film. The funeral parlor behind Wayne and Darby in the town is also visible on Clinton Street. However, the building is now a Natural Foods store. Chen Lee’s is on the same street, although the building with his name on it is gone.

The ferry scenes were filmed at the Blue Mesa Reservoir, which is instantly recognizable by the cliffside. However, the actual location is now underwater. The video lists other True Grit filming locations, such as Sneffels Range of the San Juan Mountains and the Dallas Divide.

Another significant True Grit filming location is the camping spot on Cow Creek at Deb’s Meadow. However, another noticeable tree points out another filming location at the Horsefly Mesa, which is still standing.

Speaking of Horsefly Mesa, McAlester’s Store was in this location. However, one hitching post still remains.

Remember the rock that Wayne drinks while laying against? That’s at the summit of Owl Creek Pass, which is one of the most significant True Grit filming locations. However, the camp and snakepit are on Camp Bird Road outside of Ouray, which is on private property and can’t be accessed by the public.

You can’t miss Chimney Peak with its instantly recognizable appearance on top of the mountains. The final shootout is in Deb’s Meadow below Chimney Peak, which offers the sprawling beauty of nature.

John Wayne earned his only Oscar for his performance in the movie

Wayne only earned a single Oscar win over the course of his extensive career. However, it would be for one of the most iconic movies of his career. Wayne won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for True Grit. However, that isn’t to say that he didn’t think that he should have been nominated for more of his work.

The True Grit filming locations are particularly beautiful. They offer scenic looks at nature that continue to exist today. It’s clear that the area embraces the film, as well. After all, it finally landed Wayne the industry’s top award.

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