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John Wayne

John Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn set fury: Injured Duke struggled to breathe with oxygen mask

Alongside pneumonia, Wayne had coughed so hard at one point that he damaged a valve in his heart, an issue that wouldn’t be diagnosed until 1978, a year before he died of cancer.
Rooster Cogburn’s filming took place in Oregon and Duke had to rely on his oxygen mask for high altitudes, something he tried to keep hidden from the public.
In fact, on another movie, he screamed at a photographer and demanded the film that captured the truth of his ailments; desperate to maintain his macho image.
If this wasn’t bad enough, the 67-year-old injured himself on the Rooster Cogburn set while teaching his eight-year-old daughter to play golf. But lucky for him, his character’s eye patch covered the mark.

wayne and hepburn


Katharine Hepburn respected John Wayne but became fed up with his argumentative nature on set (Image: GETTY)

rooster cogburn poster
Rooster Cogburn poster (Image: GETTY)

Dealing with all these physical problems took a toll on Wayne’s patience and he would become seriously frustrated with Rooster Cogburn director Stuart Miller’s instance on doing multiple takes.
In one outburst, Duke ranted: “God damn it Stuart, there’s only so many times we can say these awful lines before they stop making any sense at all.”
His co-star Hepburn, who largely respected the actor most of the time, would become bemused by his argumentive nature on set and told him at the wrap party: “I’m glad I didn’t know you when you had two lungs, you must have been a real b*****d. Losing a hip has mellowed me, but you!”

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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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John Wayne

4 Leadership Lessons from John Wayne

Am I seriously offering leadership lessons from Hollywood’s top cowboy? No. The leadership lessons are from The Quiet Man version of John Wayne.
In The Quiet Man, Wayne plays Sean Thornton, an Irish-American boxer returning to the little village in Ireland he was born in. Thornton is seeking peace and quiet after accidentally killing a man in the ring back in America.

But there are obstacles to the peace and quiet he wants: his neighbor, “Red” Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen) loves to fight and wanted to own the little farm that Thornton buys upon his return, and Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara) the beautiful, feisty sister of Will. The first time Thornton sees her, well . . . he’s head over heels. She’s keen on him, too, but expects to be wooed in a traditional manner. And if and when there’s a proposal of marriage, Mary Kate expects her brother to pay her dowry and her suitor to accept it happily. Thornton could care less about tradition or her dowry. Her brother has no intention of paying Thornton with anything other than his fists.
In case you didn’t know, pugnacious neighbors and love are major problems when you want peace and quiet. But overcoming obstacles is what leadership is all about. So here are John Wayne/Sean Thornton’s lessons:
1) Stay Focused. Sean wants to return to his roots and live in peace and quiet. No matter how hard “Red” Will Danaher tries to provoke him (even taking a swing at him), he refuses to fight. Fighting would be off-mission. How important is it to stay on-mission? Well, imagine all the pain that would have been spared if TimeWarner hadn’t allowed itself to merge with AOL. The supposed synergies in the merger never developed because the two companies really weren’t compatible. Eventually, TimeWarner rid itself of AOL, which is now an afterthought in the online industry.
2) Be Flexible. Sean falls for Mary Kate. Not exactly part of his Peace & Quiet mission but not necessarily in conflict with it. Of course, in the movie, it is very much in conflict with it, because movies are all about conflict. Sometimes your dream or your plan brings you someplace unexpected – don’t be afraid to go after it. I know, this can be contradictory to Lesson No. 1, but to paraphrase John Wayne’s cowboy persona, “Sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” Putting John Wayne and Walt Disney in the same paragraph might seem strange, but Disney took a small but successful animation business and built an entertainment empire by following his dreams and going places no one expected: he created the first animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was a huge success. His later dreams included live action movies, television programs and a theme park like no other: Disneyland. And then what may have been Walt’s ultimate dream: Walt Disney World. Today the Walt Disney Company is a global juggernaut — all because a man and a mouse followed their dreams.
3) Seek Expertise. Sean and Mary Kate court and get married, but Will Danaher refuses to pay the dowry. Sean doesn’t feel it’s worth fighting to get the money, but Mary Kate feels that a man who loves his wife will fight for her dowry – it’s the same as fighting for her. Sean’s completely bewildered and seeks advice from the local priest, who was an amateur boxer in his youth and knows about Thornton’s past in the boxing ring. The priest tells Sean that if he loves Mary Kate, he needs to fight for her — it’s just the way things are. (He also tells Sean not to worry about hurting Will Danaher, who has a jaw like granite.) When the dot-com boom first began, companies like Microsoft needed lots of programming expertise. They needed it fast, and they needed people with the ultimate in current skills and technological experience. They hired folks right out of college and allowed them to work in a corporate setting that was an awful lot like college dorms: music blaring, food & beverages available at all hours, the work day going late into the night. The tech firms sought expertise and then enabled it to do its thing.

4) Slug It Out. Having tried every other way to win Mary Kate’s heart and her dowry, Sean fights Will in one of the screen’s longest and most epic fisticuffs. The battle seems to rage over the Irish countryside and last for hours. And the movie cuts away before the fight ends and gives the viewer only a small hint as to the final victor. But Sean does get the dowry and Mary Kate. Sometimes the only way to compete is head-to-head. Look at all the old-school retailers who’ve taken to matching Amazon’s prices so that people don’t shop the store floors and then order online.
Sometimes, you gotta go punch for punch.

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