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John Wayne

Rio Bravo’s Success Pushed John Wayne And Howard Hawks To Plagiarize Themselves

No filmmaker loved ripping off their own work more than Howard Hawks. And if your oeuvre is riddled with all-timers like “Bringing Up Baby,” “Only Angels Have Wings,” “His Girl Friday” and “Ball of Fire,” you might copy yourself, too.
Hawks’ most egregious act of self-theft has its roots in “Rio Bravo,” which is widely and correctly considered one of the finest Westerns ever made. The film that Quentin Tarantino calls the greatest “hangout” movie stars John Wayne as Sheriff John T. Chance, who teams up with his alcoholic former colleague (Dean Martin), a hotshot young gunfighter (Ricky Nelson), and Stumpy (Walter Brennan) to keep the outlaw brother of a wealthy local rancher in stir until the federal authorities can ride into town and take him into custody.
In an interview in the 1997 book, “Backstory 2: Interviews with Screenwriters of the 1940s and 1950s,” scriptwriter Leigh Brackett shared that Hawks’ predilection for repetition wasn’t just a big-picture practice. He loved to recycle effective action beats, like a shot of a bad guy getting ejected from a house (in “The Big Sleep”) or a saloon (in “El Dorado”), which then cuts to a shot of a door being torn to pieces by bullets. How did Brackett feel about Hawks going back to the well?
Living on the (lack of a) difference

Paramount PicturesLeigh Brackett also revealed in “Backstory 2” that, when it came to Hawks’ copycat nature, she went along to get along:
“I have been at swords’ points with [Hawks] many a time because I don’t like doing a thing over again, and he does. I remember one day he and John Wayne and I were sitting in the office, and he said we’ll do such and such a thing. I said: ‘But Howard, you did it in ‘Rio Bravo.’ You don’t want to do this over again.’ He said: ‘Why not?’ And John Wayne, all six feet four of him, looked down and said: ‘If it was good once it’ll be just as good again.’ I know when I’m outgunned, so I did it. But I just don’t like repeating myself. However, I’m wrong about half the time.”
It worked better in the solid “El Dorado” than it did in the wholly unnecessary “Rio Lobo.” Much better. But while Hawks made more than a few bad movies post “Rio Bravo,” they’re still agreeable. Basically, you’re watching a bunch of old friends hang out and go through the motions because, well, they enjoy it and they figure we enjoy watching them play the hits. Sinatra was forgetting the words to “My Way” late in his career, but no one left an engagement with the Chairman of the Board feeling cheated. You went to be in the presence of greatness, no matter how faded.
That’s Hawks’ late-career work, and I’m much more tolerant of it now that I’m about to turn 50 than I was in my 20s. We’re all charged up about a fifth Indiana Jones movie with Harrison Ford even though it looks like a CG-stuffed fan flick. But as long as it’s not a 300-pound Elvis Presley laboring through a late-night Las Vegas set, what’s the harm?
 

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John Wayne

John Wayne’s Explosive Encounter Standing Up for a Young Marine Against Heckling USC Students Inspired ‘The Green Berets’

The Green Berets actor John Wayne had an abundance of respect for those who put their lives on the line for the United States. This certainly became apparent in his movies, but it also bled into his personal life. Wayne once confronted some USC students heckling a young marine, which led to The Green Berets.

John Wayne plays Col. Mike Kirby in ‘The Green Berets’

John Wayne as Col. Mike Kirby in 'The Green Berets' in a military uniform holding a gun

John Wayne as Col. Mike Kirby | Sunset Boulevard/Getty Images

The Green Berets follows a cynical reporter named George Beckworth (David Janssen), who is against the Vietnam War. However, he is sent to cover the conflict and must tag along with a group of Green Berets. He meets a tough man named Col. Mike Kirby (Wayne), who leads the team through a top-secret mission. They intend to kidnap an important enemy commander, but nothing is as simple as it seems.

The Green Berets is a financially successful Wayne feature, but it didn’t settle as well with critics. The pro-war messaging offended a lot of reviewers. Nevertheless, his fan base continues to celebrate the passion that the actor had for veterans and the country overall.

John Wayne’s explosive encounter with USC students inspired ‘The Green Berets’

Scott Eyman’s John Wayne: The Life and Legend takes a look at how The Green Berets came to exist. He explained that the “genesis” of the movie comes from an encounter that the actor had on the USC campus. The actor was on the college grounds to discuss a benefit for a children’s hospital and saw some students protesting the Vietnam War. However, an incident really got his blood boiling.

“What got my goat was that these students were heckling a young marine, a corporal, who was going by and heading for his car,” Wayne recalled. “He walked with his back straight as a rod, and he wore his uniform with pride. Then I noticed that where his right arm should have been there was only an empty sleeve which was neatly folded and pinned back.”

Wayne continued: “Turned out he was one of the Ninth Marine Brigade which were the first ground troops America sent to Vietnam. He had a chest full of medals and ribbons and said his drill instructor had taught him to ignore impolite civilians. He said, ‘You don’t give them the satisfaction of noticing them.’ I waved to him as he drove away.”

“And my blood was boiling,” Wayne said. “I ran over to the students and I was just so angry, I drummed my fists into their goddamn table and I said, “You stupid bastards! You stupid fing a**holes! Blame Johnson if you like, blame Kennedy. Blame Eisenhower or Truman or fing goddamn Roosevelt. But don’t you blame that kid. Don’t you dare blame any of those kids. They served! Jesus, the kid lost his arm. I mean what the hell is happening to this country?”

The actor wanted the movie to be ‘as American as apple pie’

John Wayne in The Green Berets. While visiting the troops in Vietnam, he was given a silver friendship bracelet presented by a Montagnard Strike Force unit. He wore the bracelet the rest of his life. More on his travels to Vietnam here: https://t.co/Kd7G2koaw7 pic.twitter.com/RNeiToDZEx— John Wayne Official (@JohnDukeWayne) December 30, 2018

Eyman continued that the first “concrete sign” of Wayne’s The Green Berets was a letter written on December 29, 1965. The actor wrote to director George Stevens expressing his interest in making a feature film about the Vietnam War. He knew that Stevens’ son worked for the government and would need their help to make this picture possible.

“It will have the scope, integrity and dignity required by the subject matter,” Wayne wrote. “Our film about the exciting new unit fighting in Vietnam will be as American as ‘apple pie’ and as harshly against the ‘beard and sandal’ brigade as possible.”

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John Wayne

John Wayne Shouted a Gay Slur to Describe Kirk Douglas’ Costume Choice

John Wayne and Kirk Douglas didn’t see eye-to-eye throughout their time in the entertainment industry. They disagreed on politics, but it went farther than that point. Nevertheless, Wayne and Douglas ultimately were able to put their differences aside to work on a project, even though it originally got off to a rocky start.

John Wayne and Kirk Douglas co-starred in ‘The War Wagon’

John Wayne as Taw Jackson and Kirk Douglas as Lomax in 'The War Wagon' sitting on horseback in cowboy uniforms

L-R: John Wayne as Taw Jackson and Kirk Douglas as Lomax | Bettmann via Getty Images

Scott Eyman’s John Wayne: The Life and Legend tells the stories of the legendary actor and those around him, including his co-stars. Wayne starred in a Universal movie called The War Wagon with Douglas. Wayne wanted Rod Taylor, but the studio overrode his decision and cast Douglas instead “for $300,000 plus 15 percent of the gross after break-even until he got a total of $675,000. After, he got 10 percent of the worldwide gross.

The War Wagon director Burt Kennedy explained how he was having a difficult time with Wayne hand-picking him. It didn’t help that the actor massively intimidated the director.

“The only reason The War Wagon was a hard time was that Duk started me,” Kennedy said. “[He] picked me up off the street. Kirk Douglas said in his book that I was afraid of Duke. Hell, everybody was afraid of him.”

John Wayne shouted a gay slur to describe Kirk Douglas’ costume choice

John Wayne: The Life and Legend explained how The War Wagon production didn’t start off on a great note. Actors Wayne and Douglas certainly didn’t get along when Douglas showed up on the set with a costume that included a “flamboyant ring worn over a black leather glove.” Eyman stated that this was his attempt at stealing the scene and acted as a test for the director.

However, Wayne wasn’t willing to play around with Douglas. He suddenly shouted a gay slur about him to Kennedy, telling him that if they didn’t get him off the set, he would quit the picture immediately. The director wanted to make peace, so he obediently spoke with Douglas. He said, “Don’t you think the ring is a little much, Kirk?” The actor responded, “No, I think it’s just fine. What do you think?”

Wayne responded to Douglas, “It’s great, just great.” He had no issue with shouting at Kennedy but had some reservations about shouting at actors on the same level as him. Wayne ultimately sidled up to Douglas and asked, “You’re going to play it in that effete fashion?”

“John, I’m trying not to let my effeminacy show,” Douglas responded.

The actors later shared a volatile relationship

Eyman touched on the fact that Wayne and Douglas had a complicated relationship. However, they were ultimately able to work together, despite their differences. Nevertheless, there was always a tension between the two.

One of the primary signs of this is how Douglas always refused to call Wayne “Duke,” which his friends and colleagues always called him.

Their performances ultimately did well for The War Wagon. The movie opened to favorable reviews, especially praising Wayne and Douglas for their performances.

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John Wayne

John Wayne and Steve McQueen Peed on a ‘Wall or Curtain’ Together Backstage at the Golden Globes

Actors like John Wayne and Steve McQueen are icons that continue to represent the movie industry to this day. Their cultural mark on entertainment will never disappear from the history books or the minds of their fans. Additionally, Wayne and McQueen certainly won’t be forgotten by the individual who had to clean their pee off the wall or curtain at the Golden Globes.

Steve McQueen and other movie stars respected John Wayne

Writer Jeremy Roberts interviewed McQueen’s biographer, Marshall Terrill. He wrote several books about the actor, including both his career and his personal life. Terrill wrote about his opinions of several movie stars, including Wayne. He had a great amount of respect for him. Not all actors felt the same way, but Hollywood as a whole respected the impact that he had on their field.

McQueen and Wayne had a friendship that also carried away from the glamor of Hollywood. This is true with several folks in Hollywood, including his frequent collaborator, John Ford. In particular, he loved playing Bridge with anybody willing to join him.

John Wayne and Steve McQueen peed on a ‘wall or curtain’ together backstage at the Golden Globes

John Wayne & Steve McQueen sharing a laugh at a party in 1969. Did you see our Instagram Stories from yesterday? Find out how Duke reacted when a young fan wrote in and confused him with Steve McQueen 😂 pic.twitter.com/HfxHutOdPQ— John Wayne Official (@JohnDukeWayne) September 6, 2019

Roberts asked Terrill to expand on how Wayne and McQueen got along. He explained that McQueen had a great amount of respect for the Duke. He recalled a hilarious story between the two actors when they both were set to present at the Golden Globes.

“I remember hearing a story most recently from Barbara Minty McQueen,” Terrill said. “She was looking over pictures in Steve McQueen: A Tribute to the King of Cool and spotted the two pictures of McQueen and Wayne. She chuckled and then told me this great story.”

Terrill continued: “She said the two legends were at an awards ceremony in the 1960s and were either presenters or co-presenters. They were hanging out backstage, waiting to go on, when Wayne didn’t feel like going to the restroom or there wasn’t enough time to find a restroom, and so Wayne took a leak against a wall or curtain.”

However, McQueen didn’t object to Wayne relieving himself there. Rather, he decided to join in.

“She said that Steve started laughing and joined in, also relieving himself. Barbara said Steve remembered the encounter with a huge smile,” Terrill said.” After we both finished laughing, I said, ‘Oh, why did you have to tell me that story after the book was published?’”

The Duke regularly attended award shows

Wayne and McQueen are both widely celebrated actors who attended many award ceremonies, including the Golden Globes and Oscars. Wayne regularly presented awards and honorary awards, which were met with thunderous applause.

However, he also nearly stormed the Oscars stage to pull off actor Sacheen Littlefeather for making a speech in place of Marlon Brando. It took six security men to hold him back and he ultimately made statements after the ceremony to express his frustration at the situation.

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