Connect with us


10 Great John Wayne Movies Where He Wasn’t The Hero – My Blog

John Wayne often saved the day in dozens of Westerns and war dramas, but there were plenty of great movies where The Duke wasn’t the hero. As far back as the late ’20s, John Wayne was getting into gunfights, but after he shot to stardom in the ’30s with Stagecoach, he became a superstar on the silver screen and a larger-than-life hero that upheld justice by deciding right from wrong with a pair of six-shooters. After his career stabilized, he was able to experiment a little with his on-screen persona and occasionally share top billing or even play a villain.From the ’40s until the ’60s, it was rare for actors to branch out too much from the role they occupied with the big studios, who felt audiences were used to only seeing them one way. Some of the best performances of Wayne’s career came from being allowed to add nuance, complexity, and flaws to his performances rather than continue to occupy mythological status to his fans. As times change, these are the roles where The Duke’s talent shines, though there’s no doubt his career taken as a whole is what made his inedible mark on Hollywood.10The Wake Of The Red Witch (1948)

John Wayne as Captain Ralls in The Wake of the Red Witch

A rare non-Western for Wayne, The Wake of the Red Witch finds him playing the corrupt and callous Captain Ralls, who scuttles the Red Witch after his employer, a Dutch shipping baron (Luther Adler) steals and marries the woman he loves (Gail Russell). While Wayne’s character is complex, Capt. Ralls is a cruel man with an almost diabolical obsession with Angelique, and is often driven to drunken rages in which he beats his crew. The entire movie is shown through the eyes of a member of Ralls’ crew (Gig Young), who has a birdseye view of his deplorable behavior in the name of love.
9Stagecoach (1939)

John Wayne in Stagecoach
Stagecoach was Wayne’s breakout role, but he was one of several prominent actors of the time all appearing as passengers on a stagecoach through inhospitable Apache territory. It was the first of several collaborations with John Wayne and director John Ford wherein The Duke played an outlaw called the Ringo Kid opposite a saloon girl (Clair Trevor), a liquor salesman (Donald Meek), and other colorful characters. Through the ensuing adventure, the group learns to rely on one another and not judge each other based on appearances, particularly true for Wayne’s charming rogue.RELATED:John Wayne’s First Lead Role Set His Career Back A Decade
8In Harm’s Way (1965)
John Wayne in InHarm's Way
In the Naval drama In Harm’s Way, Wayne shared billing with Kirk Douglas, and the pair played two Navy mavericks during Pearl Harbor without a lot of the bravado typical of The Duke’s wartime movies. Wayne’s Captain Torrey is undisciplined and often succeeds by luck rather than true skill, which not only causes him to be demoted but forces him to reconcile with his estranged son (Brandon de Wilde). Just as he strikes up a romance with a nurse (Patricia Neal), Cmdr. Eddington (Douglas) has a mission for him that will help salvage his reputation.
7The Sons Of Katie Elder (1965)
The four sons of Katie Elder standing together in The Sons of Katie Elder
In The Sons of Katie Elder, John Wayne stars alongside singer Dean Martin, Earl Holliman, and Michael Anderson Jr. as four brothers determined to avenge their parent’s death. They come to find their family ranch has been swindled from their deceased parents over a card game, and trouble follows them all around Clearwater, Texas until the epic final showdown. Wayne, post surgery for lung cancer during filming, gives a layered performance as the eldest son and gunslinger, and offers a glimpse of the indefatigable character he would play in his next collaboration with director Henry Hathaway in True Grit.
6The Longest Day (1962)
Lt. Vandervoort and with a fellow soldier posing in The Longest Day
The Longest Day is one of The Duke’s epic war movies from the early ’60s, focusing on the trials and tribulations of D-Day from the perspective of both the Allied armies and the German point of view. Wayne plays Lt. Col. Benjamin Vandervoort and shares the screen with a sprawling cast of famous actors including Henry Fonda, Richard Burton, Robert Ryan, and Sean Connery. Vandervoort is a reflection of the film’s vibe overall; it is a stripped-down, no-nonsense war movie informed by individuals who had served in WWII, and as such was not pro or anti-conflict, simply concerned with getting every reality about war thoroughly presented.
5The Sea Chase (1955)
Scene from the Sea Chase with John Wayne and Lana Turner
Despite the fact that Wayne often played heroes of WWII for the Allied Forces in his war movies, he played a German captain Karl Ehrlich in The Sea Chase. The Duke doesn’t use a German accent while he navigates a way home while being pursued by British ships, but does his best to present a German officer who doesn’t agree with Nazi politics but is still perceived as the enemy. It’s a nuanced performance even though it comes across as an odd choice for Wayne.RELATED:John Wayne’s Attempt To Break Out Of Westerns Nearly Killed His Career
4Reap The Wild Wind (1942)
John Wayne in 1942's Reap the Wild Wind.
Cecil B. Demille’s epic Reap the Wild Wind found The Duke playing Captain Jack Stuart rivaling Ray Milland’s Stephen Tolliver for the affections of Paulette Goddard’s Loxi Claiborne. Claiborne is a ship salvager in Florida who falls for Wayne’s rakish captain after his vessel wrecks on the Key West shore. However, any romance they might pursue is truncated by the arrival of Tolliver, a lawyer who designs on Loxi himself. Wayne straddles the line between hero and antihero and comes across more as a rogue than anything else, complete with The Duke’s patented swagger.
3The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is one of Wayne’s best movies and a Western with all the intriguing layers of a film-noir, with Wayne playing gunslinger Tom Doniphon opposite Jimmy Stewart’s Senator Ransom Stoddard. The senator’s platform revolves around who really “shot” the outlaw Liberty Valance and the film changes shape as Stoddard tells onlookers at a funeral the tale of his political origins. Wayne’s character is depicted as possibly dubious for his profession of professional killing, but Stewart’s lovable reputation as an actor is used to belie the possibility that he’s used Doniphon’s reputation as the man who truly shot Liberty Valance to his advantage.
2How The West Was Won (1962)
John Wayne smokes a cigar in How the West Was Won
How The West Was Won was a Western epic comprised of sections directed by frequent collaborators Henry Hathaway, John Ford, and George Marshall. Several members of the huge cast of stars, which included James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck, Debbie Reynolds, and countless others played real historical figures, including Wayne who portrayed Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. At an earlier time in any of their careers, there might not have been the budget to employ so many recognizable Western stars, but in the early ’60s, it was possible to assemble them all together.
1Red River (1948)
john wayne as dunston in red river 1948
The Duke played Thomas Dunson in Howard Hawks’ Western masterpiece Red River, about a tyrannical cattle driver trying to get a herd to Missouri. The drive represents more than a decade of work building up a herd from two heads of cattle into 10,000, and will set Dunson up for life if he can get it to market. Eventually, his cruelty over the course of the journey inspires a mutiny among the cowboys, instigated by his adopted son. While The Duke often played sterling heroes who could be one-dimensional, Hawks got a powerfully sadistic performance out of John Wayne, making the feud with his son even more heartbreaking.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

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


Restoration of John Wayne’s ‘The Searchers’ to Premiere at 2024 TCM Classic Film Festival – My Blog

John Wayne’s 1956 Western “The Searchers” will debut a new restoration as part of the 2024 TCM Classic Film Festival in April.This marks the second Wayne film to receive a premiere of a restored print at the yearly event that takes place on Hollywood Boulevard. Last year’s opening night feature was a 4K restoration of Wayne’s 1959 film “Rio Bravo.”This year’s festival theme is “Most Wanted: Crime and Justice in Film.” Alongside “The Searchers,” TCM announced that Frank Capra’s 1934 film “It Happened One Night,” Elia Kazan’s “On the Waterfront” and the 1974 musical documentary “That’s Entertainment!” will also screen as part of the four-day festival in April.It’s unknown if “The Searchers” will be the film’s opening night movie, though considering “Rio Bravo” was also a restoration last year it would make sense that Warner Bros. would continue to debut new 4K prints of their films as part of the event’s opening night.This year’s TCM Classic Film Festival marks the return of the event after the classic film network underwent significant changes behind the scenes this year. In June, TCM’s senior vice president of programming and content strategy Charles Tabesh, vice president of studio production Anne Wilson, vice president of marketing and creative Dexter Fedor and TCM Enterprises vice president Genevieve McGillicuddy were all laid off, alongside TCM’s general manager Pola Chagnon leaving the company after 25 years.From there, stories started to tumble out that the network was in the crosshairs of a series of cost-cutting measures implemented by Warner Bros. Discovery. In the wake of widespread outcry from fans, both Tabesh and McGuillicuddy were offered their positions back. It was also announced soon after that Warner Bros. Pictures heads Pamela Abdy and Michael De Luca would be overseeing the network, with input from world-class directors including Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.The TCM Classic Film Festival enters its 15th year in 2024 and will also take place during the network’s 30th anniversary.The TCM Classic Film Festival will take place in Hollywood April 18-21.

Continue Reading


John Wayne’s spanking of co-star ‘so authentic she had bruises for a week’ – My Blog

Back in 1963, John Wayne starred in a Western comedy loosely based on William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.Duke played an ageing rancher called George Washington McLintock, a wealthy self-made man facing a number of issues.High-ranking government officials, his own sons and local Native Americans all want a piece of his huge farmstead.Meanwhile, his wife (played by regular collaborator Maureen O’Hara) who separated from him two years prior, is back on the scene demanding custody of their daughter.McLintock! celebrates its 60th anniversary this week, as celebrated by the John Wayne estate on Instagram.A recent post read: “Did you know? Although often seen as simply a knockabout comedy, John Wayne also intended the film to be a statement on his disapproval of the negative representation of Native Americans in previous westerns he had no creative-control over, and his disapproval of wife-beating and marital abuse from either spouse.”A film of its time, McLintock famously has a scene, as captured on its poster, of Wayne’s George publicly spanking his wife played by O’Hara.According to his co-star’s autobiography, this scene was “completely authentic” with Duke carrying it out with “such gusto”, that she “had bruises for a week.”

Continue Reading


Martin Scorsese’s Favorite John Wayne Western – My Blog


 Martin Scorsese considers John Wayne’s The Searchers to be the best Western ever made, describing it as a masterpiece with a deeply painful core. The Searchers has had a significant influence on Scorsese’s movies, inspiring scenes and characters in films like Taxi Driver and Mean Streets. The Searchers is also a favorite among the “movie brats,” a group of influential directors including Spielberg and Lucas, who cited it as a major influence.

Martin Scorsese’s favorite Western starring John Wayne has had a big influence on his career. Scorsese hasn’t made his passion for cinema or filmmaking a secret, and he is essentially a living archive of the medium’s history. He loves everything from the trashiest B-movie to the most highbrow drama, which is something that’s reflected in Martin Scorsese’s own movies. He has helmed everything from gangster epics to psychological horrors to biopics and everything in between.
One genre he hasn’t really dipped a toe into is a Western, which is likely down to the decline of the genre itself than Scorsese avoiding the genre. About the closest he’s come is his 2023 epic Killers of the Flower Moon, though far from being a black-and-white adventure about cowboys righting wrongs, it’s a devastating true-life drama. Scorsese has professed his admiration for a few classic Westerns (via Far Out) such as Ride the High Country or Marlon Brando’s sole directorial outing One-Eyed Jacks, but there’s one that holds a truly special place in his heart.Scorsese Believes John Wayne’s The Searchers Is The Best Western Ever Made
In 2013, Scorsese guest-reviewed a book about John Wayne Western The Searchers for THR, where he proclaimed it a masterpiece but that “Like all great works of art, it’s uncomfortable. The core of the movie is deeply painful.” The premise of the movie sees Wayne’s Civil War vet Ethan Edwards and his nephew Martin (Jeffrey Hunter) setting out to rescue his kidnapped niece. It might sound like the setup for a classic Western adventure, but John Ford’s The Searchers deals with some dark themes, with Wayne portraying the most ruthless character of his career as the deeply prejudiced and revenge-addicted Ethan.
Scorsese has often called The Searchers one of his favorite Westerns, in addition to being one of the greatest movies of all time, period. From the gorgeous cinematography, the evergreen themes and Wayne’s haunting central turn, it’s a film the director finds himself coming back to decades after he first watched it. The Searcher’s ending has been much discussed among film scholars too, with Scorsese himself feeling the shot of Ethan turning and leaving through the door turns it into a “ghost story;” the character has fulfilled his purpose but is now doomed to wander the deserts alone, like a spirit.The Searchers Inspired Scorsese’s Own Movies
Travis Bickle at the movies in Taxi Driver
The film made a major impression on Scorsese when he saw it as a boy, and its influence can be spotted in his own work. His debut Who’s That Knocking at My Door features a scene where protagonist J.R. (Harvey Keitel) talks about both John Wayne and The Searchers in great detail, while the Ford movie appears again in Scorsese’s crime drama Mean Streets from 1973. The Searchers was a direct influence on Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, with the journey of Robert De Niro’s Travis being a mirror of Ethan’s. He’s another loner filled with anger and hatred, looking to rescue a young girl in Jodie Foster’s Iris.The movie ends with Travis rescuing Iris in the bloodiest manner possible, and like Ethan, the movie leaves him on an ambiguous note. The influence of The Searchers can also be felt in the director’s attraction to anti-heroes and flawed protagonists, who may see themselves as fundamentally good men or heroic, despite the appalling acts of violence they commit or the selfishness they display.The Searchers Is A Favorite Of The “Movie Brats”
Steven Spielberg leaning against a camera with George Lucas standing beside him on the cover of Indiana Jones bonus material DVD
The Searchers was well-received upon its initial release, but it soon came to be recognized as an American classic. The late ’60s and ’70s saw the rise of the so-called “movie brats,” who were a group of talented young directors who were also nerds for the medium. Members of this group include Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, John Milius, Paul Schrader and many more. What’s notable about this group is how many of them cited The Searchers as a favorite.
Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan also cited The Searchers as a major influence on Breaking Bad’s finale.
According to The Telegraph, Spielberg claims he rewatches The Searchers before starting work on a new movie, while Milius and Schrader – who penned Taxi Driver – have also sung its praises. The movie was a huge influence on Lucas’ Star Wars, which can be found in its basic promise – a young man and older mentor set out to rescue a young woman – its desert vistas and the sequence where Luke (Mark Hamill) discovers his burnt-out family homestead. Star Wars was a mash-up of many influences from samurai epics to movie serials, but Westerns like The Searchers played a particularly large role in the movie.
Source: Far Out, THR, The Telegraph
the searchers poster
The SearchersRelease Date:1956-03-13Director:John FordCast:John WayneRating:pg-13Runtime:119minutesGenres:Western, DramaWriters:John FordBudget:$3.75millionStudio(s):Warner Bros. PicturesDistributor(s):Warner Bros. Pictures

Continue Reading