Connect with us

John Wayne

Unsurprisingly, John Wayne Hated The Way The Movie Industry Was Heading

In 1949, John Wayne was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Allan Dwan’s war film “Sands of Iwo Jima.” Despite several thoughtful antiwar films that preceded it — specifically “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “The Best Years of Our Lives” — “Iwo Jima” came at a time when patriotic, downright jingoistic movies about World War II were coming into vogue. In particular, 1949 saw the release of films like “Battleground” and “Twelve O’Clock High,” both films about the nobility of war and the heroism of soldiers. Both those films were nominated for Best Picture, although they lost to the political corruption drama “All the King’s Men.” Wayne himself lost Best Actor to Broderick Crawford, the star of “King’s Men.”
In 1969, Wayne looked back on “Iwo Jima” in an interview with Roger Ebert, and posited that he lost his Oscar for political reasons. A lot had changed in Hollywood from 1949 to 1969, and a new, exciting type of grounded, emotional cinema was coming into view. The French New Wave was in full swing, and a new generation of filmmakers, the first to be professionally trained in film school, was starting to appear on the horizon. 1969 was, to recall, the year of “Easy Rider.” Nostalgia about cowboys and soldiers was on the wane.
There was, however, enough nostalgia to net Wayne another Oscar nomination for his appearance in “True Grit,” an award he would ultimately win, beating out both Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight for “Midnight Cowboy.” Prior to his win, he spoke with Ebert about the increasingly left-leaning nature of Hollywood. It seems that, even from the start, pundits were complaining about being “canceled” and that Hollywood was getting “too political.”
Political art

As many critics will be eager to point out, all art is political. Every piece of art is going to necessarily reflect the time and the overarching politic of when it was made, always communicating a message that an artist may or may not even be aware of. If a film seemingly has “no politics” or is “just entertainment,” it is promoting the politic of the status quo, arguing that a lack of change is what is currently needed. Which is, of course, a political statement.
Wayne, however, had no appreciation for such nuances, feeling that politics got in the way of cinema far too often. To Ebert, on the event of his “True Grit” win, he said:
“I was nominated for ‘Sands of Iwo Jima’ but I didn’t win. Well, maybe this time they’ll review the picture instead of me and the war. That little clique back there in the East has taken great personal satisfaction in reviewing my politics instead of my pictures. And they’ve drawn up a caricature of me. Which doesn’t bother me; their opinions don’t matter to the people who go to movies.”
The “clique from the East” Wayne refers to may be a reference to New York critics who were seemingly keen on analysis and sociology. Wayne was also grossed out by some outcry over the new MPAA ratings system that was, in 1968, being pioneered to replace the moribund Hays Code. He said:
“I’m telling you, goddam it, everything’s mixed up now. I got a letter from that fellow who runs the Motion Picture Association. Jack Valenti. He wanted my opinion on the new rating system. I didn’t even answer because — well, my answer would be there shouldn’t be any need for such a thing in our industry.”
The good old daysParamountWayne, without mentioning the Hays Code, pointed out that Hollywood was always good about making movies that appealed to families, implying that sex and violence were usually relegated to fringe productions. He felt that a rating system only stood to make parents afraid of taking their kids to see movies, and would ultimately make cinemas a less habitual past time. Concern about content was, to the actor’s eyes, anathema to cinematic enjoyment.
He then began to look back to a time in the industry — Hollywood’s Golden Age — prior to the enacting of the Paramount Consent Decrees in 1948. Before 1948, studios were permitted to own their own theaters, leading to complete control over every aspect of production. Thanks to the system in place, smaller studios had trouble finding screens and theaters were beholden to studio contracts. In 2020, the decrees were officially overturned.
Wayne recalled when powerful producers and studios ran everything, and felt that it served him just fine. He said:
“All the real motion picture people have always made family pictures. But the downbeats and the so-called intelligentsia got in when the government stupidly split up the production companies and the theaters. The old giants — Mayer, Thalberg, even Harry Cohn, despite the fact that personally I couldn’t stand him — were good for this industry. Now the goddamned stock manipulators have taken over.”
A lack of studio control and an unbinding of family-friendly content irk Wayne further. He grumpily intoned:
“They don’t know a goddamned thing about making movies. They make something dirty, and it makes money, and they say, ‘Jesus, let’s make one a little dirtier, maybe it’ll make more money.’ And now even the bankers are getting their noses into it.”
Star!20th Century FoxWayne didn’t mention “Midnight Cowboy” in his complaints about “dirty” movies. It’s notable, however, that “Midnight Cowboy” was the first X-Rated film to win Best Picture. Audiences were in the mood for more adult fare, it seemed, and Wayne saw the production of stories about sex and sexuality to be the mere capitulation of studios to a sex-starved audience. He does mention the notorious box office bomb “Star!” the Gertrude Lawrence biopic starring Julie Andrews. Wayne’s specific gripes with “Star!” go unsaid, but he objected to Andrews playing the part. He said:
“I’ll give you an example. Take that girl, Julie Andrews, a refreshing, openhearted girl, a wonderful performer. Her stint was ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘The Sound of Music.’ But she wanted to be a Theda Bara. And they went along with her, and the picture fell on its face. A Goldwyn would have told her, ‘Look, dear, you can’t change your sweet and lovely image…’”
Of course, what Wayne fails to acknowledge is that the world was changing as was Hollywood. Thanks to the stripping away of the strict, anti-sex purview of the Hays code, complex adult stories could now make their way to theaters. Previously taboo subjects could be seen on the screen. Wayne preferred the Good Old Days of restriction and the glorification of … well, of characters like John Wayne.
Wayne, of course, wasn’t known for his gentleness, open-mindedness, or racial sensitivity (he allegedly tried to attack Sacheen Littlefeather at the 1973 Oscars). In a 1971 interview with Playboy, he admitted to being openly racist, homophobic, and a white supremacist. He longed for a racist world that society was endeavoring to leave behind. That he felt left behind reflects more on him than on Hollywood.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

John Wayne

John Wayne Was ‘Disappointed’ He Didn’t Get an Oscar Nomination For His ‘Best Achievement’

John Wayne made it to the Academy Awards three times over the course of his career. However, he only ultimately won a single golden statue. Wayne was “disappointed” that he didn’t get an Oscar nomination for She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, which he considered his “best achievement” over the course of his career. Here’s a look at how that impacted the legendary Western star.

John Wayne played Capt. Nathan Cutting Brittles in ‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon’

'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon' Ben Johnson as Sgt. Tyree and John Wayne as Capt. Nathan Cutting Brittles posing with hat over chestBen Johnson as Sgt. Tyree and John Wayne as Capt. Nathan Cutting Brittles | Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon follows Cavalry Captain Nathan Brittles (Wayne) through the final job of his career before he retires. He seeks to settle an intense situation between the Cheyenne and Arapaho. However, he’s also busy transporting the wife (Mildren Natwick) and niece (Joanne Dru) of his superior. Brittles must do all that he can to stop an all-out war from taking place and get them to safety.

John Ford directs a screenplay written by Frank Nugent and Laurence Stallings. It’s the second installment in Ford’s Cavalry Trilogy, which also contains Fort Apache and Rio Grande. It was one of the most expensive Western movies of its time. Wayne plays a character much older than he was in real life, but Ford trusted him with bringing the character to life.

John Wayne was ‘disappointed’ that he didn’t get an Oscar nomination for ‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon’

John Farkis’ Not Thinkin’ … Just Rememberin’ … The Making of John Wayne’s ‘The Alamo’ walks readers through the iconic actor’s career. Wayne wasn’t afraid to call out a bad film when he had them, but he also openly talked about the films that he was proud of. His performance as Brittles in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon remains a huge fixture of his career. However, he wasn’t the only one singing praises of his own performance.

“I feel strongly that Duke should have been nominated for an Academy Award for his role in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” co-star John Agar said. “He was just brilliant. Remember, too, I have a lot of scenes with him. He played a guy 20 years older. To me, Yellow Ribbon was the best thing Duke ever did.”

Public audiences even felt a similar way. The movie brought in a stunning $9.15 million at the worldwide box office, making it a huge hit. As a result, Wayne knew that he had something special here that kept him involved in acting.

“For the first time, Pappy was treating me like an actor, and he showed me great respect, which I appreciated,” Wayne said. “I felt that I’d worked hard and long to reach the stage of my career, having been thinking of giving it up.”

Wayne continued: “I was disappointed at not even being nominated for Yellow Ribbon. I had played a man 60 years old, which was 17 years older than I was. I have always believed that this was my best achievement in pictures.”

‘True Grit’ won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon won an Oscar, but Wayne didn’t even get a nomination. Rather, the film won for Best Cinematography. However, the Academy Awards wouldn’t ignore Wayne forever. He would get two nominations and the eventual win.

Wayne earned his first Oscar nomination for Sands of Iwo Jima. Next, he got another nomination for The Alamo in the Best Picture category. Finally, he won his only Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his legendary performance in True Grit. However, he would prove to have a bigger effect on Hollywood than its top award, influencing fight sequences forever.

Continue Reading

John Wayne

John Wayne Once Explained Why He Turned Down so Many ‘Petty, Mean’ Movies

Actor John Wayne is one of Hollywood’s most iconic figures to ever work in movies. However, he was very specific about the roles he would accept and the ones that he refused to involve himself in. Wayne once explained why he turned down so many potentially big movies that he described as “petty,” “small,” and “mean” through the evolution of Hollywood.

John Wayne played particular movie roles

John Wayne in one of his last movies 'The Shootist' alongside Ron Howard. He's wearing a Western outfit and holding a gun, pointing it out standing next to a stunned Howard.L-R: Ron Howard and John Wayne | Bettmann / Contributor

Wayne has over 180 acting credits to his name, spread across movies and television shows. He became a household name for the Western and war genres, ultimately contributing huge star power to the projects later in his career. However, Wayne also wasn’t afraid to speak up when he didn’t like something about the movies that wanted him involved. This held true for both prospective projects and ones that he already signed on for.
The actor ultimately turned down projects that earned attention at the Academy Awards, including High Noon. However, it wasn’t always because he didn’t like the roles themselves. Rather, Wayne was a patriot, who didn’t want anything to do with movies that he deemed insulting to the American image.

John Wayne explained why he turned down so many ‘petty, mean’ movies at the time

The official Wayne Twitter account shared a behind-the-scenes look at one of his movies, The Shootist. He talked about the state of violence in cinema, but he also touched on how he chose what to star in. The film hit theaters in 1976, so it’s worth taking the time period in mind for what he has to say about “modern” filmmaking.

“The whole idea of our business is illusion and they’re getting away from that,” Wayne said. “They’re putting electric squibs in livers and blowing them up in slow motion and then having blood all over everything. I mean, it’s not that there’s more violence in pictures today. It’s that it’s done with such bad taste that people turn their stomachs, not their emotional insides are affected. It turns their stomach. I just don’t want to play anything petty or small or mean. I don’t mind being rough and tough and cruel, but in a big way, no little petty things.”

The actor believed that cinema should be family-friendly

Wayne had a very firm stance when it came to violence in the movies. The rating board once even reached out to the actor to get his input. However, Wayne didn’t want any part in it because he didn’t think a rating system was necessary. He believed that Hollywood should make motion pictures aimed at the whole family.

Wayne starred in a wide variety of movies that included violence, but they never reached the extremes of what he talked about while filming The Shootist. Today’s filmmaking would certainly give him a shock if he were to see how much some movies push the boundaries and make audiences squirm.

Continue Reading

John Wayne

John Wayne Once Confessed the ‘Stupidest Damn Thing I Ever Did in My Life’ Involving His Romance

Actor John Wayne had three wives over the course of his life. However, the couples would always go through various hardships. Wayne always publicly embraced family life and would combine his image as a father with his tough, Western one. The actor once confided in a friend and told them the “stupidest damn thing” he ever did over the course of his lifetime.

John Wayne married his second wife 3 weeks after his divorce became final

John Wayne and Esperanza Baur, the second wife over the course of his life smiling sitting in a car wearing hats

L-R: John Wayne and Esperanza ‘Chata’ Baur | Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Marc Eliot’s American Titan: Searching for John Wayne touched on personal and professional aspects of the actor’s life. The divorce from his first wife, Josephine, was finalized on December 26, 1945. However, that certainly didn’t stop the actor from jumping into another relationship soon after. Wayne married Esperanza Baur, also called Chata, exactly three weeks after his divorce in the Unity Presbyterian Church of Long Beach, which is where his mother married her second husband, Sidney Preen. Actor Ward Bond was Wayne’s best man.

However, everything in Wayne’s life would change when he returned to Los Angeles after his honeymoon with his new wife. They purchased a new home in Van Nuys, California, and made sure to have a separate room for his mother-in-law. As a result, the newly-married couple started to have some difficulties.

John Wayne said that marrying Chata was the ‘stupidest damn thing I ever did in my life’

American Titan: Searching for John Wayne mentioned that Chata wanted to get a real role in a movie, but Wayne didn’t want her to have the life of a movie star. As a result, he told her that she belonged at home. Chata didn’t take this very well and turned to alcohol, developing an addiction.

Wayne ultimately turned to Bond to complain about Chata and his mother-in-law speaking Spanish and their desire for a bigger home. His new wife and her mother would often sleep in the same bed, forcing the actor to sleep on the couch in the living room.

Eliot wrote that Wayne took pride in his physical appearance and kept it in a specific condition for the camera. His ex-wife also took care of her physical appearance, but Chata refused to remove her facial hair, as she had a bit of a mustache. She also wouldn’t bathe very often and refused to shave her legs, which would make Wayne angry. Their arguments became increasingly frequent, which Wayne told Bond.

“Our marriage was like shaking two volatile chemicals in a jar,” Wayne said, admitting that marrying Chata was “the stupidest damn thing I ever did in my life!”

The actor would marry one final time

Wayne’s life moved on past Chata, as they divorced in 1954. Tragically, she died from a heart attack in 1961. Wayne married one final time to Pilar Pallete in the same year that he divorced Chata. They would ultimately remain married until the actor died in 1979, although they no longer lived together. The couple separated, but it was never legally so.

Meanwhile, Wayne became romantically involved with his former secretary, Pat Stacy, until his death.

Continue Reading