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How John Wayne’s Western Movie Career Ended With a Bang – My Blog


 John Wayne’s final film, The Shootist, serves as a reflection on his career and a study of the cyclical nature of violence in Westerns. Directed by Don Siegel, the film pushes boundaries with graphic violence and explores a more realistic depiction of the Wild West. Wayne’s portrayal of gunslinger J.B. Books showcases his vulnerability and showcases a more sensitive side of the iconic actor.
John Wayne has earned his status as the King of Hollywood Westerns with his nearly unbelievable quantity of outlaw stories. Wayne’s filmography is essentially a catalog of how the genre evolved; 1939’s Stagecoach launched many of the archetypes that would last for generations, 1956’s The Searchers represented a growing maturation that reflected more serious ethical issues, and 1962’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance explored the end of the era as gunslingers reflected on their place in history. Wayne’s work was largely ignored by the Academy Awards, but his one and only Oscar win for Best Actor was for the iconic western True Grit. It was only fitting that Wayne’s final screen appearance would be in a Western, but The Shootist is an essential film regardless; both a reflection on Wayne’s career and a study of the cyclical, all-consuming nature of violence that he had been so eager to distribute.
Directed by Dirty Harry franchise director Don Siegel, The Shootist casts Wayne as the aging gunslinger J.B. Books, who has essentially retired from duty. While Books does manage to take down a burglar with lethal force in his journey to Carson City, the real intent of his journey is to receive consultation on his failing health. Considering that Wayne actually died only a few years later in 1979 after his final public appearance at the Academy Awards, it’s evident that the role was a very personal one fashioned for him specifically. Books seeks shelter in the home of the caretaker Bond Rogers (Lauren Bacall) and takes a romantic interest in her, but also becomes a paternal figure for her son Gillom (Ron Howard), who has grown up without a father. In an emotional journey of reflection and possible redemption, Books seeks to settle down right before his heroism is called upon yet again. It’s a powerful story regardless of the man at the center, but The Shootist is even more impactful as a swan song for Wayne’s career.

In ‘The Shootist,’ John Wayne Gives a Matured Performance
John Wayne in The Shootist

Image via Paramount Pictures
Wayne had worked with an established series of directors throughout his career, but the grittiness that Siegel created was certainly a change of pace from some of his recent films, such as the heartfelt family film The Cowboys. Siegel’s creation of the Dirty Harry series indicated that he wasn’t afraid to show graphic violence, and at the dawn of the “New Hollywood” era, The Shootist was allowed to push the boundaries that John Wayne’s films had previously been barred from crossing. A later sequence where two assassins attempt to take Books out results in their shocking, violent demise with more intricate detail paid to their injuries and the specificities of their weapons. It was important to show the consequences of his actions, as the frequency of death in his films had drawn backlash. Wayne’s cold-hearted diligence during the exciting action scenes indicated that Books’ skills came from a lifetime of experience.
While Siegel succeeded in showing a more realistic depiction of what the fabled “Wild Wild West” actually looked like, it also gave Wayne a chance to show more sensitivity. His performance as Marshall Rooster Cogburn in True Grit was more of a caricature, but The Shootist is more specific in how it reflects Wayne’s history on screen. The opening flashbacks highlight Books’ past adventure and even use footage from Wayne’s previous films, tying the story together in an interesting way. It’s also quite touching that once he reaches Carson City, his first trip is to his longtime physician Doc Hostetler (James Stewart). Stewart was also among the most important figures in the history of the American Western and had been a frequent co-star and friend of Wayne’s. Seeing the two aging actors on screen together isn’t just a fun Easter Egg, but an encapsulation of the archetypes they had represented. Wayne is the gruff, no-nonsense drifter who pushes his physical capabilities, and Stewart is the kindly caretaker who grounds him in reality.
John Wayne’s J.B. Books Is a Terrific Character
John Wayne in The ShootistImage via Paramount Pictures
Despite all of its disturbing moments, The Shootist is also one of John Wayne’s most heartfelt roles. He shows a vulnerability that hadn’t been seen in Wayne’s previous films, as his ego was notorious. Perhaps age had softened his heart because Books feels the physical toll that his work is placing on him. He’s also not celebrating his achievements; he goes to Carson City simply to live his last days in peace and takes discreet precautions to ensure that he won’t be identified. Tragically, none of Books’ efforts can hide his status. After giving Bond a false name and creating a fake headstone for himself, his legendary status as a gunfighter spreads quickly within the community as skeevy journalists, local officials, and prize-seeking bounty hunters all seek him out. Despite having a price on his head and the word from Hostetler that he needs to limit his physical activity, Books feels the need to find a second act as a family man.
To be fair, The Shootist wasn’t the only time that Wayne used a new Western film to reflect upon his career; given that Wayne was starring in new films (primarily action thrillers and Western adventures) up until his death. Even after True Grit won him the Academy Award, Wayne ended up reprising the role for the film’s 1975 sequel Rooster Cogburn. Unfortunately, his Western roles in the 1960s and 1970s were released during an era where Wayne’s brand of storytelling no longer felt cutting edge; he had already started appearing in neo-noir thrillers such as Brannigan and McQ to supplement his work within the Western genre. The Shootist couldn’t have come at a better time for Wayne; it was a film that refused to look at the past with rose-tinted glasses, yet still argued that the heroes of Wayne’s generation should be celebrated for their work.Despite the similarities within the stories, The Shootist is not identical to the film it’s most often compared to – Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven, which at the time appeared to be Eastwood’s final Western. While both films revolve around older gunslingers coming to terms with the decisions that they’ve made and reckoning with those that they left behind, the subtle differences between the two characters represent how far apart Wayne and Eastwood were as stars. While Eastwood generally plays darker, revenge-oriented antiheroes with little regard for anyone beyond himself and his select group of allies, Wayne’s characters at least try to start out with good intentions.
If Unforgiven was about a guilty man looking for an escape, then The Shootist presented the argument to the audience; Is Brooks justified in this situation, and could mentoring Gillom redeem some of his past sins? With mounting responsibilities and the pressures of growing up forcing Gillom to make rash decisions, Brooks knows that it’s his duty to show the young, impressionable boy a lighter path ahead of him. While obviously, the notion of a sequel would have been silly, it is notable that in real life Howard has heeded the lessons that Gillom did with his directorial work. When he began directing features of his own, Howard’s Westerns Far and Away and The Missing presented less glamorized versions of the West that didn’t lionize the era of gunslingers and killers.
‘The Shootist’ Is John Wayne’s Most Emotional Movie
Ron Howard looking down and standing next to John Wayne in The ShootistParamount Pictures
The more emotional storyline in The Shootist comes from John Wayne’s character’s interaction with the Rogers family. In Bond, he finds someone he might foresee a future with, but he’s not aggressive in the way that many of his past characters were. His actions are to protect and comfort her, and his return to gunslinging is only to ensure that no harm comes to the city due to the criminals who are searching for him. The mentor role he plays in Gillom’s life is genuinely heartwarming, but it never becomes schmaltzy. Books teaches him the practical skills that he will need to survive and introduces him to his past associates and local troublemakers to show him the effect that the gunslinger lifestyle has. Regardless, the moment when Books gives his longtime horse to Gillom is incredibly touching.Books’ grizzly death at the hands of a bounty hunter gang and final words of solace to Gillom are quite eerie, as he urges his young protege to remember the costs that this lifestyle has. Considering the gunfight had forced Gillom to use his gun and kill for the first time, it serves as a warning if he seeks to continue down this path. While a lesser director could have used this to indicate that Gillom would immediately fall into the same level of depravity that haunted Books during his adolescence, it’s clear from Howard’s shocked reaction that holding a weapon with the intention to kill is something that he never wanted to see again.
The Shootist is John Wayne’s last love letter to cinema, and there’s a lifetime of regret that perishes with Books. It’s a beautiful, haunting, and fitting end to the career of one of cinema’s most signature icons. Wayne is certainly among the most iconic movie stars of all time, but The Shootist makes the argument that he was also just a great actor who was willing to examine his past with a “warts and all” approach.

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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.

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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.”

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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

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