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Kirk Douglas: ‘I never thought I’d live to 100. That’s shocked me’

Both the house and the man are smaller than you would expect, a result of the diminishing effects of old age that come to us all, if we are lucky enough to live that long. Kirk Douglas, now 100 years old, and Anne, his wife of 62 years, moved into the small bungalow in Beverly Hills about 30 years ago when they downsized from the multiple mansions where they had entertained friends such as Fred Astaire, Lauren Bacall and Ronald Reagan while Frank Sinatra knocked up Italian meals in their kitchen. But if their current home looks unprepossessing from the outside, there are extraordinary treasures within: a Roy Lichtenstein, personally inscribed to Douglas, hangs in the front hallway, while a Picasso and Robert Rauschenberg hang in the living room. The house is filled with modern masterpieces, a testament to the riches accrued by the man originally known as Issur Danielovitch – born so poor that he regularly went hungry until his mid-20s – through his own talent and self-forged toughness.

SPARTACUS 1960 Universal Pictures film with Kirk Douglas in the title role<br>D57KDF SPARTACUS 1960 Universal Pictures film with Kirk Douglas in the title role

Kirk Douglas at 100: a one-man Hollywood Mount Rushmore

When Douglas himself enters the living room, he is leaning on a walker and accompanied by one of the various nurses who care for him and his wife around the clock. There is no question that reaching your centenary takes it out of a man: every movement suggests effort. Most frustrating for him, his tongue hangs heavy in his mouth, the result of a stroke in 1996, and the once-ringing diction is now slurred. Yet to judge the interior by the exterior proves to be a mistake. When Douglas starts talking not even the muffling layers of age can hide his still charmingly boyish personality, even if his body occasionally lets him down. He is, he says, “a little tired today”, but he makes sure to look a lady straight in the eye when he smiles.
“How do I feel in general? Ahh,” he says, with a decidedly Jewish shrug, and during our time together he asks, anxiously and often: “Do you understand what I’m saying?” I do, mostly. That famously pugnacious chin is a little receded, but those familiar close-set eyes, which he passed on to his eldest son, Michael, are bright. Michael, as it happens, is currently staying in the guesthouse by the pool, visiting for a few days, as he does every month. “He comes to visit the old man,” Douglas says with pride.

Douglas (right) with John Wayne in the 1967 film The War Wagon.Douglas (right) with John Wayne in the 1967 film The War Wagon. Photograph: Archive Photos/Getty Images

“I never, ever thought I would live to be 100. That’s shocked me, really. And it’s sad, too,” he adds.
There are so many friends he misses, the downside to being the last legend standing from the golden age of Hollywood.
“I miss Burt Lancaster – we fought a lot, and I miss him a lot. And John Wayne, even though he was a Republican and I was a Democrat,” he says.
Wayne was similarly fond of Douglas – they made a handful of movies together – but he was a little baffled by him. In The Ragman’s Son, one of Douglas’s several beautifully written memoirs, he recounts that Wayne attended a screening of Lust for Life, Douglas’s heartfelt 1956 biopic of Vincent van Gogh, and was horrified.
“Christ, Kirk! How can you play a part like that? There’s so few of us left. We got to play strong, tough characters. Not those weak queers,” Wayne said.
“I tried to explain: ‘It’s all make-believe, John. It isn’t real. You’re not really John Wayne, you know.’ He just looked at me oddly. I had betrayed him,” Douglas writes.

Douglas as Spartacus in 1960Douglas as Spartacus in 1960. Photograph: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

It is understandable that Wayne would see Douglas as a fellow tough guy: built like a small angry bull and with the furious focus to match, he was perfectly cast in films such as 1949’s Champion as the ambitious boxer Midge Kelly, and 1962’s Lonely Are the Brave – still Douglas’s favourite – as a noble cowboy. His reputation offscreen as a stubborn so-and-so who would fight with everyone from Stanley Kubrick to Otto Preminger contributed to this image. But Douglas was always more interested in what lay underneath. His acting theory, he has written, was “when you play a weak character, find a moment when he’s strong, and when you play a strong character, find a moment when he’s weak”. You can see this in his best performances, such as 1951’s Ace in the Hole, directed by Billy Wilder, in which he played an amoral journalist who realises too late he has gone too far, and also, of course, in 1960’s Spartacus, in which he gave humanity to a legendary hero.
To watch Douglas’s performances now, some of them more than 70 years old, it is striking how modern he seems, often more so than many of his contemporaries, who now look rather stagey. Douglas, with his famously intense stare juxtaposed with his relaxed delivery, looks like the precursor to Tom Cruise at his best. “I was not a tough guy [in real life],” he laughs. “I just acted like one.”
Never did he need more of this toughness than when he famously, if not quite single-handedly, broke the Hollywood blacklist (whereby those thought to have communist sympathies were denied work in the entertainment industry). The story has been told often: Douglas hired the blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo for Spartacus.

Douglas and his wife Anne in 2013.Douglas and his wife Anne in 2013. Photograph: Maury Phillips/WireImage
“It was that movie,” he starts, but then trails off, unable to remember the name of his most famous movie. Getting old really is a bitch.

“Spartacus! Yes,” he says, back on track.
Wasn’t he scared that he might be destroying his own career?
“No!” he scoffs. “It would have been very different if I’d been older, but I was stubborn then.”
When Douglas arranged for Trumbo to have a parking pass on the studio lot under his own name, and then included Trumbo’s name in the film’s credits, the blacklist was effectively broken. Some, including Trumbo’s family, have said Douglas has glorified his role a little in his frequent retelling of the tale. When Douglas published a book on the subject, I am Spartacus: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist, Trumbo’s daughter, Melissa, said she “threw it across the room”. But whatever the full truth, there is no doubting Douglas’s courage in letting himself be the public face of the blacklist rebellion.
So, given his famously liberal politics and abhorrence of political bullies, what does he think of the new US president? He reels back as if I’d smacked his cheek.
“That’s an unfair question,” he says.
Too cruel to ask that of a lifelong Democrat?
“Let’s just say I didn’t vote for him,” he replies.

Kirk and Anne Douglas at Golden Globe awardsin 1957.Kirk and Anne Douglas at Golden Globe awardsin 1957. Photograph: Bettmann Archive

Douglas, born when Woodrow Wilson was president, was one of seven children and the only son of illiterate Russian Jewish immigrants. He grew up speaking Yiddish at home in Amsterdam, New York in almost unimaginably deprived circumstances; the family’s income came from Douglas’s father’s daily attempts to sell scraps from a horse and buggy. Douglas fought his way out of his circumstances with his wit and wiles: he talked his way into a college scholarship and then baggsied another for acting school in New York, where he became lifelong friends with another Jewish student, Betty Perske, later better known as Lauren Bacall. Along the way, he had to contend with an enormous amount of antisemitism. When he started to become successful in Hollywood, he was invited to join an exclusive tennis club. The actor Lex Barker warned him at the time: “Of course, Kirk, you understand we can’t run a club the way we do back east. Here we have to let in a few Jews.”
“I am a Jew,” Douglas snapped back: he shed his Jewish name early on, but not his roots. Today, a mezuzah is affixed to the frame of his front door, and he credits his Jewish sense of responsibility for the fact that he has became one of the most generous philanthropists in Hollywood (he recently donated a further $50m (£40m) to, among others, his old college, St Lawrence University, to help students from minority backgrounds.)
Yet, Douglas has said that it is too simplistic to say, as many have done, that his childhood toughened him up. It was the reverse, if anything. If he seemed like a hard-ass when he was younger, it is because he was overcompensating: he was well into middle age before he stopped seeing himself as the scared and bullied little boy he once was, and his famous womanising, he thinks, was part of that. He had, he writes, “a mother complex”: “I constantly sought from the women around me a mother substitute.” His search certainly was constant: from Rita Hayworth to Marlene Dietrich, it is hard to name a famous actress from the mid-20th century who wasn’t seduced by Douglas. At one point he fretted to his analyst that he thought he might be impotent after a disappointing encounter the night before.

Douglas as Midge Kelly in the 1949 film ChampionDouglas as Midge Kelly in the 1949 film Champion. Photograph: Bettmann Archive

“You tell me that you had sex 29 nights in a row with different girls. On the 30th, you say you’re impotent,” his doctor replied drily. “You know, even God rested after six days.”
Douglas has been married twice, first to Diana, with whom he had Michael and Joel, and then to Anne, with whom he had Peter and Eric. But it took a while for matrimony to break his stride.
“I was a bad boy,” he admits, a little sorrowfully. “But Anne knew how to handle me.”
Indeed. Even before they married, Anne invited all the women she knew he had slept with to a party for him in Paris. “I couldn’t believe it when I walked in and saw the guests,” he says, laughing. “Ah! She knows everything.”
In his multiple memoirs, he writes with self-flagellating frequency about how his distant father let him down and how he feels he in turn let down his four sons.

Douglas with son Michael Douglas as a young boyDouglas with son Michael Douglas as a young boy. Photograph: Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
“I am so proud of Michael because he never followed my advice. I wanted him to be a doctor or lawyer, and the first time I saw him in a play I told him he was terrible,” Douglas laughs. “But then I saw him a second time and I said: ‘You were wonderful!’ And I think he is very good in everything he’s done.”
Did he ever feel competitive with Michael?
“No! Only proud,” Douglas insists. This isn’t totally true. He was, he admits, a tough father, one who wouldn’t even let his son win a race in the pool when he was 45 and Michael was 16.

“Geez, Dad, you were so tense, so uptight,” Michael recalled in adulthood.
“Michael didn’t like me much after his mother and I got divorced. It was only when he started acting that we became close,” Douglas says regretfully.
This is also almost certainly an exaggeration – Douglas’s books are full of stories that suggest a lifetime of closeness between him and his boys – but Michael certainly found a way to assert himself when he started acting. For years, Douglas’s dream film project was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but he could never get it off the ground.
“So Michael asked me if he could try to produce it, and I said: ‘Sure!’ Next thing I know, he has a director lined up and it’s all go. So I said to him: ‘Great! When do we start rehearsing?’”
“Not you, Dad,” his son replied, devastatingly. “You’re too old.”
“I couldn’t believe it!” Douglas says, eyebrows shooting up into his hair. “So I said: ‘Who’s playing my part? Jack Nicholson? Never heard of him. Well, at least it will be a flop …’”

Douglas with son Michael in 1988.Douglas with son Michael in 1988. Photograph: Ron Galella/WireImage

By the 1980s, when young women approached him, it was no longer because he was Kirk Douglas but because he was Michael Douglas’s father. He laughs about this now, but I suspect that, for the once legendary swordsman, it stung a little at the time.
Michael Douglas is probably the most shining exception to the rule that children of famous actors rarely end well if they try to follow in their parents’ footsteps. “[Celebrities’] children, surfeited with every indulgence, are having miserable childhoods. The daughter of a television personality jumps out a window. A movie star’s son shoots himself. Why? To the rest of the world it looks as if these kids were brought up with everything,” Kirk wrote in 1988. Over the next two decades, he would have all too many occasions to ask himself this sad question. His youngest son, Eric, who had acted a little and struggled with addictions for years, overdosed and died in 2004 at the age of 46. Today, when talking about his sons, Kirk can’t quite bring himself to say Eric’s name.
Did Douglas ever find an answer to his question?
“Hollywood is make-believe, and that’s confusing,” he says, but he is starting to drift and tire.
History seemed as if it was repeating itself when Michael’s oldest son, Cameron, who had also tried acting, was arrested a few years after his uncle’s death on drugs charges. He was released last year after seven years of incarceration.
“Cameron is OK. He is doing so much better now and he says he will come visit next month. He’s working on a book, you know,” Douglas says, perking up. Douglas himself has just published his 12th book, Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood, a collection of letters between the couple during their marriage.

Douglas with Burt Lancaster at a rehearsal for the Academy Awards in 1959Douglas with Burt Lancaster at a rehearsal for the Academy Awards in 1959. Photograph: NBC/NBC via Getty Images

Not bad to still be publishing at the age of 100, I say.
“Yes, that’s right,” he agrees, stoutly.
One of the most frustrating things about getting older, he says, is how out of touch he feels. “I don’t know who any of the new stars are, and they probably don’t know me,” he says.
Oh, I bet they know you, I say. That makes him smile: “Well, maybe …”
Surely he’s happy he was a star back in the golden age, not now when Hollywood is all about special effects and sequels. He nods vigorously. “Yes, yes. I was so lucky. Now it’s all different. Yes, very, very lucky.”
He asks if I mind if we stop now as he is getting weary, and, of course, I say no, although I wish we could talk all day. He gets up slowly, and with some assistance. But before he disappears he pats my arm and looks up at me.
“We’ll talk longer next time,” he promises.
I can’t wait.

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John Wayne

John Wayne’s death was ‘ordered’ by Joseph Stalin because of star’s threat to comm*n*sm

Wayne was renowned for detesting the values of communism, so much so he even played a prominent role in creating the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals (MPA) in 1944, becoming President five years later.
Its membership included the likes of Ronald Reagan, Walt Disney and Clark Gable.
For a man so intrinsically linked to stereotypical personas of what a man should look like in the Thirties and Forties, it is a surprise that, unlike his fellow Americans, Wayne did not fight in World War Two.
His contemporaries, such as Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Mel Brooks and Kirk Douglas, all served, but Wayne was excused on medical grounds and instead continued his film career.

John Wayne on the set of Stagecoach


John Wayne: The star of the set of Stagecoach (Image: GETTY)

Being unable to serve was a “terrible embarrassment” for Wayne, Carolyn McGivern’s 2000 book John Wayne: A Giant Shadow argued. The star reportedly said: “Mine became the task of holding high and ever visible the value that everyone was fighting for.”
However, there were counterclaims that Wayne could have served, including by author Marc Eliot, who discussed the topic in his 2014 book American Titan: Searching for John Wayne.
He claimed Wayne did not want to fight Germany on account of his relationship with Marlene Dietrich, a German actress he reportedly had an affair with. Unwilling to end the bonk, Wayne instead just vetoed taking part in the war.
In 2014’s publication John Wayne: The Life and Legend, by author Scott Eyman, Wayne, who won the Best Actor Oscar in 1970, described how one encounter affected him while he grew up.
He wrote: “Duke Morrison [Wayne]’s learning experiences were not always pleasant, but deeply imprinted on his ethical compass. He remembered catching a bee, and tying a thread around the creature so all it could do was fly in circles. A boy who was about three years older and had recently arrived from Poland walked by and said, ‘Don’t do that.’

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John Wayne

John Wayne was in so much pain he couldn’t sleep when filming Western with Ann-Margret

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 these films was The Train Robbers, which co-starred Ann-Margret as a feisty widow who works alongside three cowboys in recovering a cage of gold. 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 during this period.
Ann-Margret recalled: “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. In terms of the confidence boost she needed, the actress had to overcome her fear of horses as there was much riding for her character. It was here that Wayne gave her support and helped her overcome this obstacle. Yet even before shooting started, Duke had fractured two of his ribs, which was so painful he struggled to sleep at night.

wayne and ann-margret
John Wayne was in so much pain he couldn’t sleep when filming Western with Ann-Margret (Image: GETTY)

wayne and ann in the train robbers
John Wayne and Ann-Margret in The Train Robbers (Image: GETTY)

As a result, Wayne’s action scenes in The Train Robbers had to be scaled down, with co-star Rod 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.
Wayne also released Cahill: US Marshall in 1973, which saw a significantly weakened Duke 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.”

train robbers poster
The Train Robbers poster (Image: GETTY)

wayne and ann
Ann-Margret thought John Wayne was a “teddy bear” on set (Image: GETTY)

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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John Wayne

10 Best John Wayne Movies, Ranked by Viewers

‘Baby Face’ (1933) – 7.5/10The Most Popular John Wayne Movies According to IMDb

‘The Longest Day’ (1962) – 344
‘The Quiet Man’ (1952) – 367
‘Chisum’ (1970) – 1,999
‘Rio Bravo’ (1959) – 2,355
‘The Searchers’ (1956) – 2,872
‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ (1962) – 2,963
‘El Dorado’ (1966) – 3,372
‘McLintock!’ (1963) – 3,664
‘Stagecoach’ (1939) – 3,905
‘True Grit’ (1969) – 4,016

1‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ (1962)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

Director: John FordStars: James Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin
IMDb: 8.1/10 | Metascore: 94 | Popularity: 2,963
John Ford’s 1962 classic western ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ is a timeless masterpiece. Featuring performances from James Stewart and John Wayne, the film follows Ransom Stoddard (Stewart) as he arrives in the town of Shinbone, Arizona in pursuit of justice.

 
He quickly meets Tom Doniphon (Wayne), the local lawman, and together they take on notorious outlaw Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). In a climactic showdown against all odds, the two succeed in defeating Liberty but at what cost?
The movie thoughtfully explores themes of justice and friendship that are still relevant today. Stewart’s and Wayne’s performances are legendary while the movie’s cinematography and score create an unforgettable viewing experience – one that will stay with audiences for generations to come.
2‘Rio Bravo’ (1959)
Rio Bravo (1959)

Director: Howard HawksStars: John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson
IMDb: 8.0/10 | Metascore: 94 | Popularity: 2,355
‘Rio Bravo’ is an iconic Western classic by director Howard Hawks, starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, and more. This beloved film follows the epic tale of Sheriff John T. Chance as he arrests a powerful rancher’s brother for murder and defends against his gang until a U.S. Marshal arrives with help from unlikely allies; a cripple, drunkard, and young gunfighter.

Rio Bravo (1959) Official Trailer – Johh Wayne, Dean Martin Western Movie HD

Watch this video on YouTube

 
Despite its small budget of $1 million, ‘Rio Bravo’ went on to make over five times that at the box office. Its popularity has only grown throughout the years due to its talented cast (John Wayne delivering a powerful performance), memorable characters, and suspenseful plot arc. It remains one of the most unforgettable classics in Western cinema history.

3‘The Searchers’ (1956)
The Searchers (1956)
Director: John FordStars: John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Ward Bond
IMDb: 7.9/10 | Metascore: 94 | Popularity: 2,872
John Wayne‘s timeless performance in John Ford’s 1956 classic “The Searchers” is widely regarded as one of the best westerns ever made. Based on Alan Le May‘s 1954 novel, the film follows Ethan Edwards, a middle-aged Civil War veteran consumed by his desire to find his abducted niece (Natalie Wood). Along with his adopted nephew Martin (Jeffrey Hunter), Ethan embarks on a quest fraught with danger and emotion.

 
With its complex characters and examination of darker themes, “The Searchers” was both a critical and commercial success upon release and has only grown in popularity over time.
4‘Stagecoach’ (1939)
Stagecoach (1939)

Director: John FordStars: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine, John Carradine, Thomas Mitchell
IMDb: 7.8/10 | Metascore: 93 | Popularity: 3,905
This classic Western film directed by John Ford follows a group of travelers as they make their way from Tonto, Arizona to Lordsburg, New Mexico in a stagecoach. Along the way, they encounter Native Americans and outlaws that challenge them to band together for survival.

 
Starring John Wayne and Claire Trevor, ‘Stagecoach’ is an enduring cinematic masterpiece with its gripping action sequences and rich characters. The themes of courage in the face of adversity have made this movie timeless while it continues to capture viewers’ hearts after over 80 years since its release.
5‘Red River’ (1948)
Red River (1948)

Directors: Howard Hawks, Arthur RossonStars: John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Joanne Dru, Walter Brennan
IMDb: 7.8/10 | Metascore: 96
A classic Western film from 1948, ‘Red River’ has stood the test of time and still captivates audiences today. Directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Walter Brennan, Joanne Dru, and Coleen Gray in supporting roles, the movie follows the story of a Texas rancher and his adopted adult son as they embark on their first cattle drive from Texas to Kansas along the Chisholm Trail.
As tensions rise between them over managing the cattle drive, viewers are treated to thrilling action sequences amidst stunning cinematography and an emotional score. Along with its memorable characters and gripping drama throughout, ‘Red River’ remains one of cinema’s greatest Westerns ever made.
6‘The Longest Day’ (1962)
The Longest Day (1962)

Directors: Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Gerd Oswald, Bernhard Wicki, Darryl F. ZanuckStars: John Wayne, Robert Ryan, Richard Burton, Henry Fonda
IMDb: 7.7/10 | Metascore: 75 | Popularity: 344
An epic war movie, ‘The Longest Day’ is about the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day during World War II. Directed by Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, and Bernhard Wicki, this film features a star-studded cast of John Wayne, Robert Ryan, and Henry Fonda. The story follows several characters from different countries as they fight for the liberation of France in one of the most important battles in history. Through precision camera work and clear storytelling, it conveys a powerful message about courage and sacrifice while still staying true to its historical accuracy.

The Longest Day (1962) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailer

 
‘The Longest Day’ showcases a variety of technical skills that are essential for any successful war movie. It uses dramatic music to emphasize key moments while also relying on voiceover narration to explain complex events or describe emotional scenes with clarity.
7‘The Quiet Man’ (1952)
The Quiet Man (1952)

Director: John FordStars: John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond
IMDb: 7.7/10 | Metascore: 85 | Popularity: 367
Returning to his hometown in Ireland, Sean Thornton is a former American boxer looking to reclaim the family farm. He meets Mary Kate Danaher and falls in love with her fiery spirit despite the disapproval of their community. Directed by John Ford, ‘The Quiet Man’ follows their journey as they strive for happiness together.

The Quiet Man (1952) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

 
This classic romantic drama stars Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne, both delivering powerful performances that have stood the test of time.
8‘The Shootist’ (1976)
The Shootist (1976)
Director: Don SiegelStars: John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard, James Stewart
IMDb: 7.6/10 | Metascore: 77
Directed by the legendary Don Siegel, ‘The Shootist’ is a critically acclaimed 1976 Western film based on Glendon Swarthout‘s novel. The movie stars John Wayne in his final acting role before he passed away three years later; it also features Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard, and James Stewart with a screenplay written by Miles Hood Swarthout and Scott Hale.

 
J.B Books (John Wayne) is a renowned gunfighter struggling to accept his looming death as he is diagnosed with cancer and chooses to spend his remaining time in seclusion at a boarding house managed by Lauren Bacall‘s character–a widow who rents him one room. Despite Book’s wishes for peace during these last days, conflict arises when young gunslingers challenge the greatness of Books’ reputation as the best shooter.
9‘El Dorado’ (1966)
El Dorado (1966)

Director: Howard HawksStars: John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, James Caan, Charlene Holt
IMDb: 7.5/10 | Metascore: 85 | Popularity: 3,372
Sheriff J.P. Harrah (Robert Mitchum) embarks on a journey to bring justice to a small town in California and meets up with an old acquaintance, Cole Thornton, who helps him take on a powerful rancher and his gang of criminals. This classic Western movie features action-packed fights, thrilling horse chases, and gun-slinging showdowns – all held together by John Wayne‘s authoritative presence and Robert Mitchum‘s charming charisma.

 
With its tightly written plot and well-paced tension throughout, ‘El Dorado’ is an unforgettable movie experience that stands the test of time as one of the greats of the Western genre.
10‘Baby Face’ (1933)
Baby Face (1933)

Director: Alfred E. GreenStars: Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, Donald Cook, Alphonse Ethier
IMDb: 7.5/10
Barbara Stanwyck stars in this classic pre-Code Hollywood drama as Lily Powers, a young woman determined to succeed despite her difficult circumstances. She uses her beauty and wit to seek revenge on the men who have wronged her, learning valuable lessons about power and manipulation along the way.

 
Despite its age and John Wayne‘s minor role, ‘Baby Face’ remains an iconic piece of cinema today due to its strong female lead, bold themes, and powerful performance from Stanwyck. It is also an important reminder of how far we have come since 1933 when it comes to gender inequality in America – but also how far we still have left to go.
Popular John Wayne Movies Not Ranked Top 10
Though not ranked the highest amongst the best by viewers, the following films are still very popular.
‘Chisum’ (1970)

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