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30 Most Memorable Western Movies of All Time

Western films have been a staple of American cinema for practically as long as movies have been made.
Movies in the Western genre are set in the American West, typically between the 1850s to the end of the 19th century. While it has been a stable genre — no pun intended! — it has also been the starting ground for several hybrid genres like Western comedies, Western musicals and horror Westerns.
No other genre’s history goes back quite as far as that of Westerns. According to documentarian David Gregory, “It has been estimated that up to 40 percent of all films made before 1960 were Westerns.”

Although the category reached its greatest popularity in the early and middle decades of the 20th century, with several becoming cult classics, films continued to be made even through droughts for Westerns in the late ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. Actors have also made their name starring in Western films, including Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, James Stewart and Jeff Bridges, to name a few.
In 2017, Bridges, the star of the Oscar-nominated genre titles True Grit and Hell or High Water, told The Hollywood Reporter, “Everything’s magnified: the struggle, the serious choices, what you do, the bravery, all those things. I like and appreciate the ambiguity of telling right from wrong,” in reference to Westerns.
While the genre may not be what it was in the early 20th century, Westerns have continued to evolve to remain a notable category in the industry, as seen in the last decade with True Grit, Hell or High Water and Django Unchained.
Find a list of the 30 most memorable Western movies of all time below.
‘The Great Train Robbery’ (1903)

Robbers hold up the train in GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY, 1903.


Robbers hold up the train in ‘The Great Train Robbery’ HOWARD MANDELBAUM/EVERETT COLLECTION

In one of the earliest Westerns in American cinema, the film depicts a group of outlaws who rob passengers on a train and threaten the operator. When trying to run away, they shoot a passenger. The sheriff and his men embark on a manhunt of the men.
‘Stagecoach’ (1939)

Andy Devine, George Bancroft, John Carradine, Donald Meek, Louise Platt, Claire Trevor, John Wayne in STAGECOACH.
Andy Devine, George Bancroft, John Carradine, Donald Meek, Louise Platt, Claire Trevor and John Wayne in ‘Stagecoach’ 20TH CENTURY FOX FILMS/ COURTESY: EVERETT COLLECTION

The two-time Oscar winning film, directed by John Ford, follows a collective group of passengers aboard a stagecoach, including a drunken doctor, two women, a bank manager who stole his client’s money and escaped outlaw Ringo Kid. As they make their trip across the wild west to New Mexico in the 1880s, they must face the threat of Geronimo in the area.
 
‘Red River’ (1948)

John Wayne and Montgomery Clift in RED RIVER, 1948.
John Wayne and Montgomery Clift in ‘Red River’ COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

After working 14 years to build his cattle ranch in Texas, Tom Dunston (John Wayne) is ready to drive them to the market, which is in Missouri. With the help of his trailhand, Nadine Groot (Walter Brennan), and protégé, Matthew Garth (Montgomery Clift), an orphan who Dunston took under his wing, they head out on their journey. But along the way, in the film directed by Howard Hawks and Arthur Rosson, stubborn Dunston and Garth begin to feud, leading to a tense voyage.
‘Winchester ’73’ (1950)

James Stewart, Millard Mitchell, and Tony Curtis in WINCHESTER '73 , 1950.
James Stewart, Millard Mitchell, and Tony Curtis in ‘Winchester ’73’ COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

Lin McAdam (James Stewart) finds himself chasing after a rifle that he won in a contest, but was stolen by the runner-up, Dutch Henry Brown (Stephen McNally). In the film, directed by Anthony Mann, McAdam pursues all efforts to retrieve the rifle, even ending up in a shoot-out.
‘High Noon’ (1952)

Gary Cooper in HIGH NOON, 1952.
Gary Cooper in ‘High Noon,’ 1952 CBS FILMS/EVERETT COLLECTION / EVERETT COLLECTION

The movie, directed by Fred Zinnemann, features Gary Cooper as former marshal Will Kane, who is preparing to leave a small town in New Mexico with his new wife, Amy, played by Grace Kelly. Before heading out, Kane learned the local criminal, Frank Miller, whom he turned in, has been set free and is seeking revenge. The marshal tries to recruit deputies in the town to help, but they turn on him, leaving Kane to fight Miller and his crew alone.
‘The Searchers’ (1956)

Harry Carey Jr., John Wayne, and Hank Worden in THE SEARCHERS, 1956.
Harry Carey Jr., John Wayne and Hank Worden in ‘The Searchers’ COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

The film, directed by John Ford, shows how one man will go through great lengths for his family. When Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) returned home to Texas after the Civil War, he learns members of his brother’s family have been killed or abducted by Comanches. He then embarks on dangerous mission to save the surviving members, including his neice and her adopted brother.
‘Rio Bravo’ (1959)

John Wayne and Dean Martin in RIO BRAVO, 1959.
John Wayne and Dean Martin in ‘Rio Bravo’ COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

When small-town sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne) arrests gunslinger Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) for murder, he must face Burdette’s brother Nathan (John Russell) who wants him out of jail. But with the help of an elderly deputy, the town drunk and a young gunfighter, Chance makes a stand against Nathan, in the film directed by Howard Hawks.
‘The Magnificent Seven’ (1960)

McQueen, Coburn, Buchholtz, Brynner, Dexter, Vaughn, Bronson in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, 1960.
McQueen, Coburn, Buchholtz, Brynner, Dexter, Vaughn, Bronson in ‘The Magnificent Seven’ COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

When a small Mexican farming village is terrorized by a band of outlaws every year, several of the townspeople hire seven American gunmen to defend them. The film, directed by John Sturges, follows the gunslingers as they train and prepare the village for the outlaws who will be arriving soon.
‘One-Eyed Jacks’ (1961)

Karl Malden in Marlon Brando in ONE-EYED JACKS , 1961.
Karl Malden and Marlon Brando in ‘One-Eyed Jacks’ COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

Following a bank robbery, outlaw Rio (Marlon Brando) and his partner, Dad Longworth (Karl Malden) are on the run from the law, but Dad has different plans. In the film, directed by Brando, Dad betrays Rio and takes off with the gold as Rio is captured. Years later, when Rio escapes from prison, he hunts down his ex-partner, who is now a sheriff, in California for revenge.
‘Ride the High Country’ (1962)

Mariette Hartley, Ron Starr, Joel McCrea, Randolph Scott in RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY, 1962.
Mariette Hartley, Ron Starr, Joel McCrea, Randolph Scott in ‘Ride the High Country’ COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

In the film directed by Sam Peckinpah, retired lawman Steve Judd (Joel McCrea) hires his friend Gil Westrum (Randolph Scott) and his young protégé Heck to help transport a gold shipment from a bank through a dangerous area. But Gil and Heck devise a plan to steal the gold. Along the way, the three also get involved with a woman trying to escape her father and fiancé.
‘A Fistful of Dollars’ (1964)

Clint Eastwood in A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, 1964
Clint Eastwood in ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

As drifter gunman Joe (Clint Eastwood) enters the Mexican village of San Miguel, he learns of a power struggle between two gangs — John Baxter (Wolfgang Lukschy) and Ramón Rojo (Gian Maria Volontè). In the film, directed by Sergio Leone, Joe finds himself between the two sides, playing both for his own benefit.
‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ (1966)

Clint Eastwood in THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, 1966.
Clint Eastwood in ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

This Western classic, starring Clint Eastwood, follows three men on a tense journey, all vying for a stash of gold. In the film, directed by Sergio Leone, Blondie, The Good, who is a professional gunslinger, ruins his partnership with Tuco, The Ugly (Eli Wallach), who is a Mexican outlaw. As Tuco sets out to murder Blondie, along the way, they both learn of $200,000 worth of gold buried in a cemetery. But each man has different information on its location, so they must keep each other alive as they set out on a journey to find the gold. Along the way, Angel Eyes, The Bad (Lee Van Cleef), who is a hitman, learns about the gold, which leads to Blondie and Tuco teaming up once again, to get their hands on the gold before anyone else.
‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ (1968)

Henry Fonda in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, 1968.
Henry Fonda in ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

A woman moves from New Orleans to Utah, just to find her new husband and family killed. When she learns the man responsible pinned it on a known bandit, Cheyenne (Jason Robards), she teams up with him to search for the real killer, henchman Frank (Henry Fonda). They also have help from a mysterious gunslinger on a mission to get even. The film is directed by Sergio Leone.
‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ (1969)

Robert Redford and Paul Newman in BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, 1969.
Robert Redford and Paul Newman in ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ COURTESY OF 20TH CENTURY FOX FILM CORP./ COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

The film based on real-life outlaws is set at a time when the west starts to become more civilized. The leaders of a small gang, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, are on the run from a special posse who begins trailing them after their regular train robbery. No matter how far they go, the group seems to be right behind them. But when they finally escape them, their journey takes them to Bolivia, thanks to a suggestion from Butch. The film was directed by George Roy Hill.
‘True Grit’ (1969)

John Wayne and Kim Darby in TRUE GRIT, 1969.
John Wayne and Kim Darby in ‘True Grit’ COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

Nothing matters more than bringing her father’s killer to justice, so Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) sets out on a journey to seek vengeance. She hires U.S. Marshal “Rooster” Cogburn (John Wayne) to help her track the murderer Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey) down, and along the way, a Texas Ranger, La Boeuf (Glen Campbell) joins the manhunt, hoping to capture Chaney for the murder of a Texas senator. In the movie, directed by Henry Hathaway, they all embark on the dangerous trek together.
‘The Wild Bunch’ (1969)

Ben Johnson, Warren Oates, William Holden and Ernest Borgnine in THE WILD BUNCH, 1969
Ben Johnson, Warren Oates, William Holden and Ernest Borgnine in ‘The Wild Bunch’ COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

This Sam Peckinpah-directed film, set in 1913, follows a gang known as The Wild Bunch as they attempt one last robbery before retiring. Once outlaw Pike Bishop, played by William Holden, and his gang make it to Mexico for the job, they end up in a violent last stand against their enemies. The film also stars Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson and Robert Ryan.
 
‘Buck and the Preacher’ (1972)

Harry Belafonte, Ruby Dee, Sidney Poitier in BUCK AND THE PREACHER, 1972.
Harry Belafonte, Ruby Dee, Sidney Poitier in ‘Buck and the Preacher,’ 1972. COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

Post-Civil War, Buck (Sidney Poitier), a soldier turned trail guide, is helping former slaves settle in the West. At one point, a con artist, Preacher (Harry Belafonte), joins the group and clashes with Buck. But the two must learn to put their differences aside when a group of bounty hunters, led by Deshay (Cameron Mitchell), tries to bring the freed slaves back to Louisiana. The film is directed by Sidney Poitier and Joseph Sargent.
‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’ (1976)

Chief Dan George and Clint Eastwood in THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, 1976.
Chief Dan George and Clint Eastwood in ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’ COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

After Josey Wales’ (Clint Eastwood) family is killed by Union men led by Capt. Terrill (Bill McKinney), Wales seeks revenge by joining the Confederate Army. But when the war ends, he refuses to surrender and hand over his weapons. Josey then flees to Texas where he meets a group of settlers to start a new life, but with a bounty on his head. Eastwood also directed the film.
‘Dance With Wolves’ (1990)

Kevin Costner and Graham Greene in DANCES WITH WOLVES, 1990.
Kevin Costner and Graham Greene in ‘Dance with Wolves’ ORION PICTURES CORP/COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

Directed by and starring Kevin Costner, the film follows a Civil War soldier, Lt. John Dunbar, (Costner) as he develops a relationship with a Native American tribe. As he gets closer to them, he decides to leave his former life behind and join them. After getting the name Dances With Wolves, he is welcomed in as a member and stands with them in any fight. John also finds a surprising romance in the tribe.
 
‘Unforgiven’ (1992)

Clint Eastwood in UNFORGIVEN, 1992.
Clint Eastwood in ‘Unforgiven,’ WARNER BROS/COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

One of the many Westerns starring and directed by Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven sees a prostitute disfigured, narrowly escaping death, prompting co-workers to post a reward for the murder of those responsible. To the displeasure of the sheriff, two groups of outlaws head to Big Whiskey, Wyoming, one led by William Munny (Eastwood) and the other by English Bob (Richard Harris), in search of the men behind the crime.
‘Tombstone’ (1993)

Kurt Russell, Sam Elliott (n driver's seat), Bill Paxton in TOMBSTONE, 1993.
Kurt Russell, Sam Elliott (in driver’s seat) and Bill Paxton in ‘Tombstone’ BUENA VISTA PICTURES/COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

In the movie directed by George P. Cosmatos and Kevin Jarre, Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) and his brothers, Morgan (Bill Paxton) and Virgil (Sam Elliott), think they have left their gunslinger ways behind them as they settle down in Tombstone, Arizona. But things take a turn when trouble finds the trio once again, this time with a group of outlaws. The men team up with Wyatt’s best friend, Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer), to take on the gang of cowboys.
‘The Quick and the Dead’ (1995)

Russell Crowe and Gene Hackman in THE QUICK AND THE DEAD, 1995.
Russell Crowe and Gene Hackman in ‘The Quick and the Dead’ TRISTAR PICTURES / COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

A female gunslinger, Ellen (Sharon Stone), rides into a small frontier town looking for revenge for her father who was killed by the town’s mayor, Herod (Gene Hackman). While there, she enters a violent competition with other outlaws all there with their own motive. In the film directed by Sam Raimi, Ellen fights to the death to get justice. The movies also stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe.
 
‘Lone Star’ (1996)

Chris Cooper in LONE STAR, 1996.
Chris Cooper in ‘Lone Star’ SONY PICTURES CLASSICS/COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

When local sheriff Sam Deeds (Chris Cooper) is called to investigate a 40-year-old skeleton found in the desert in Rio County, Texas, he starts to uncover the town’s dark secrets. In the movie, directed by John Sayles, Deeds begins to learn more about his father, former legendary sheriff Buddy Deeds, all while trying to solve the mystery murder and expose the town’s secrets. Along the way, he also rekindles an old high-school romance.
‘Open Range’ (2003)

Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall, and Diego Luna in OPEN RANGE, 2003.
Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall and Diego Luna in ‘Open Range’ TOUCHSTONE/COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

In this Western, directed by Kevin Costner, Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall), Charley Waite (Costner), Mose Harrison (Abraham Benrubi) and Button (Diego Luna) have a close friendship as they drive their cattle across the West. But when Mose finds his way to a small town, he encounters a corrupt sheriff (James Russo) and rancher Denton Baxter (Michael Gambon) who run the village with fear and violence. When Mose doesn’t come back, Boss and his men head out to find. Along their journey to rescue Mose, they face everything from heated exchanges, violence and an unexpected romance.
‘3:10 To Yuma’ (2007)

Alan Tudyk, Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Peter Fonda, Lennie Loftin in 3:10 TO YUMA, 2007.
Alan Tudyk, Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Peter Fonda, Lennie Loftin in ‘3:10 To Yuma’ LIONS GATE/COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

Rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale), who heads into Bisbee, Arizona, captures famed outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) who has been terrorizing the area. The film, set in the 1800s, follows Evan as he escorts Wade to the train so he can be brought to trial. Throughout their tense journey in the movie, which was directed by James Mangold, they face danger at every turn on their way to the 3:10 to Yuma train.
 
‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’ (2007)

Brad Pitt as Jesse James, Casey Affleck as Robert Ford in THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, 2007.
Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck in ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’ WARNER BROS./COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

Jesse James (Brad Pitt) is a famed outlaw with many after him to collect the reward placed on his head. But as Jesse continues his ways and plans his next big heist, two of his own recruits have other plans. As Robert (Casey Affleck) and Charley Ford (Sam Rockwell) grow jealous of Jesse, they decide to try and kill him, but things don’t go as planned, in the film directed by Andrew Dominik.
‘Appaloosa’ (2008)

Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris in APPALOOSA, 2008.
Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris in ‘Appaloosa’ NEW LINE CINEMA/COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

It’s the 1880s Southwest, and Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) are traveling into lawless towns desperate for them to bring justice. Along the way, they learn the mining town of Appaloosa is being terrorized by Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons), a newly arrived rancher and a gang. In the film, directed by Ed Harris, Virgil and Evertt must work together to bring them down, but when a mysterious widow (Renee Zellweger) arrives to town, their bond is tested.
‘Rango’ (2011)

Rango (voice: Johnny Depp), Beans (voice: Isla Fisher) in RANGO, 2011.
Rango (voiced by Johnny Depp) and Beans (voiced by Isla Fisher) in ‘Rango’ PARAMOUNT/COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

This animated Western follows the story of a pet chameleon named Rango (voiced by Johnny Depp) who embarks on a lifestyle change following an identity crisis. Rango accidentally finds himself in a frontier town as the new sheriff, where he ends up taking on the hero role and faces thrilling encounters. The film is directed by Gore Verbinski.
 
‘Django Unchained’ (2012)

Jamie Foxx in DJANGO UNCHAINED, 2012.
Jamie Foxx in ‘Django Unchained’ ANDREW COOPER/©WEINSTEIN COMPANY/COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

With quite the ensemble, including Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kerry Washington, the pre-Civil War film follows Django (Foxx), a slave who joins a German bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz (Waltz), on a mission to find two men. Once they are found, Schultz offers to help Django find his long-lost wife, Broomhilda von Shaft (Washington), if he agrees to be his partner. The two embark on a journey to find her when they learn she was sold to a plantation in Mississippi. They work together to come up with a plan so that the owner, Calvin Candie (DiCaprio), welcomes them into his home so they can save his wife.
‘Hell or High Water’ (2016)

Ben Foster and Chris Pine in HELL OR HIGH WATER, 2016.
Ben Foster and Chris Pine in ‘Hell or High Water’ LOREY SEBASTIAN/CBS FILMS/COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

In the film directed by David Mackenzie, Toby Howard (Chris Pine) is a divorced father who is about to have his family ranch foreclosed on. In an attempt at making a better life for his sons, Toby and his brother Tanner (Ben Foster), who is an ex-convict, plan several heists at the bank that’s foreclosing the ranch. At the same time, Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges), who’s close to retirement, is out to stop them

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John Wayne

REVIEW: THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE

If I’m being honest, when choosing to settle down with a good old western, I usually choose to pick the more stylised, epic works of Sergio Leone or more grittier fare like Sam Peckinpah’s open exit wound of a movie, The Wild Bunch. However, it would be hideously remiss of me to ignore the more stately classics that forgore the blood and dust in favour of honour and dignity; furthermore it would also mean losing out on a sizable chunk of the filmography of the legendary John Ford and that of the Duke himself, the one and only John Wayne.Arguably one the best of their collaborations (if not one of the best westerns of its generation) is The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a movie that fuses old school, six shooter heroics with a genuine attempt to bring civility to a lawless land.

A movie of staggering nobility, you wouldn’t be a million miles off suggesting that The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is the Western equivalent of Casablanca. After all, both ultimately hinge on a cynical man who knows how to follow the rules of a lawless society who gives up his meager dreams in order to help a rival in love for a cause bigger than himself, but Ford weaves politics into the story to suggest that the act of bringing down a chronic ass-hat like Valance is imperative for cilivised life to get its first toe hold in a town like Shinbone – something that ironically is the very opposite of what the upright Stoddard is trying to achieve.Both men, Stoddard and Doniphon, are forced to face ideals directly opposed to their cherished world views while Valance (played by the typically angry brows of a swaggering Lee Marvin) is a symbol of a time that has to pass if the world is to move on – even if it takes one last cold blooded act of the old world to galvanise it into being.Wayne is almost a supporting player as he stares bemused at the idealistic Stoddard’s refusal to give up in the face of Valance’s petty tyranny, but he’s a perfect counterpoint to the passionate decency that James Stewart always seemed to project so well and it is he who is actually the gatekeeper who allows al.ost everything to occur even if it means that his way of life is slowly rendered obsolete by it. It’s a stubbornly subtle performance lurking under Wayne’s usual trademark bluster but it’s incredibly affecting as he plows the moral road in secret in order for the greater good to flourish.

However, despite giving us a western that contains precious little of the kind of action you’d usually expect to see from a movie with “shot” in the title, the movie ends up being riveting stuff and Ford loads the movie with eccentric townsfolk who are every bit as three dimentional as the leads. Be it Peabody, the drunkenly verbose newspaper reporter or Link, the cowardly marshal whose belly makes him look like a giant capital D, everyone has a part to play and even the smallest of roles has significance (hello Lee Van Cleef as one of Valance’s henchmen).

In fact, if you need even further proof as to how well The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance hits you right in the feels with its deadshot aim, it’s all there in the opening scene. As everyone sits by Tom’s coffin, we have no idea how any of them got here or even who the hell Tom actually is and yet you’re utterly gutted even before the film has truly started. If that wasn’t enough, John Ford ballsily tells us that no matter what we’re about to see, we’ll already know that both Stoddard and Doniphon will not only both survive but Hallie ends up with the younger man – and yet even though we know everyone’s eventual destination, we are still utterly hooked on their journey; now if that isn’t the mark of true storytelling genius, I don’t know what is….

At one point someone utters the legendary phrase, “when the legend becomes fact, print the legend”, which are arguably the most relevant words I’ve ever heard spoken in a Western (well, that and everytime Wayne calls someone “Pilgrim”), and that’s exactly what The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is – the Old West forcibly dragging itself into the modern world off the back of it’s own legend – but when it comes to sheer, cinematic decency that’ll rock you to your emotional core, Ford’s classic can easily match Casablanca and To Kill A Mockingbird to the draw…

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John Wayne

John Wayne and Robert Duvall Nearly Came to Blows Filming a Classic Western

Robert Duvall currently has 3 films in production as he turns 91 this week. The actor once fired up fellow western actor John Wayne so much that the two nearly got in a fistfight on set.

The film “True Grit”, which was based on a 1968 Charles Portis’ novel, earned John Wayne an Oscar in 1969. As soon as Wayne read the book, he started working towards playing the lead role of US Marshall Rooster Cogburn. The legendary actor also tried to get his daughter Aissa the role of Maggie. Unfortunately, Wayne failed, despite his iconic status. However, due to Wayne’s popularity, Elvis dropped out of the secondary role in the film when he was refused billing above John Wayne. His replacement? A 38-year-old Robert Duvall.

At the time, Robert Duvall was well established as a solid character actor. Duvall would later become a regular leading man and headliner, perhaps with “True Grit” to thank for helping get him there. Duvall was also known for having quite the temper. In Duvall’s early acting days, he roomed with fellow young actors Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman. The three bonded over their love for acting and practical jokes, but Hackman and Duvall regularly got into fights due to their respective poor tempers.

Robert Duvall Had An Interesting Approach To His AngerHoffman once described how Duvall would use his anger to fuel his performances. Duvall would pick out someone in the audience, and imag ine that they hated him. Then, he would yell “F* you!” to them as he left stage, post curtain call.

Years later in 2003, while Duvall was filming “Secondhand Lions”, his costar Michael Caine described Duvall’s temper as “quite violent”. Apparently, Duvall’s fiery temper didn’t fade with age.

Duvall has also described himself as a method actor. With method acting, the actor is meant to fully immerse themselves into the role. Duvall’s approach to acting was certainly an intense one. If anything got in the way of Duvall’s go to methods, he would become intensely irritated, which caused problems on the set of “True Grit”. Duvall ultimately ended up in loud confrontations with co-star John Wayne and the films’ director, Henry Hathaway when things weren’t going his way.

Being a director, Hathway also had a loud personality and wanted things done according to his methods. This didn’t sit well with Duvall, who’s quoted as saying of Hathaway, “He’d say, ‘When I say, ‘Action!’ tense up, Goddam you.” It’s hard to work under that as a young actor.”

John Wayne Finally Got Fed UpThis film meant a lot to John Wayne, who had been vying for the role since he laid eyes on the book. Robert Duvall constantly causing problems and disruption on set eventually got to Wayne. He verbally fought with Duvall numerous times on set, but eventually threatened to punch his fellow actor if he didn’t stop fighting with the film’s director on set.

It’s said that no punches were thrown– perhaps Wayne’s passion for the project really did save the peace.

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John Wayne

Why John Wayne Disliked His Hit 1969 Film True Grit And The Troubles That Lay Within It S Production

John Wayne had to play the pot-bellied, one-eyed Westerner before the Academy would consider him to be an actor worthy of an Oscar. In his career spanning over 50 years, Wayne delivered massive hits and was a megastar. However, True Grit allowed him to pour his 40 years of acting experience into a character that was as memorable as Wayne made it.

True Grit, adapted from a 1968 novel of the same, starred John Wayne as U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn. The film is narrated by Mattie Ross, played by Kim Darby, who hires Rooster to avenge the murder of her father Tom Chaney. Alongside starring in the film as La Boeuf, the famous country singer Glen Campbell also created and sang the theme song of the film and won a Golden Globe and Academy nomination for Best Original Song.

True Grit is an iconic piece of cinema that has inspired sequels, remakes, and small-screen adaptations. Though this film is one of the most loved and watched films of all time, there are many interesting facts about True Grit that fans are unaware of.

True Grit Won John His First and Only Oscar

John Wayne was a Western megastar and maintained his position as one of the top box office draws for over three decades. Wayne made his big debut with Raoul Walsh’s The Big Trail and delivered several massive hits, including Stagecoach, Red River, The Searchers, The Man Shot Liberty Valance, The Quiet Man, The Longest Day and The Shootist. It is, thus, surprising that Wayne’s first and only Academy Award came 39 years after his first film. He was nominated under the Best Actor category for his film Sands of Iwo Jima in 1949. However, that year, William Crawford took home the award for his role in All the King’s Men.

In 1969, Wayne competed against Pete O’Toole who was nominated for Goodbye Mr Chips and Richard Burton, who was nominated for his portrayal of Henry VIII in Anne of the Thousand Days. Wayne took him the award that night, his only Oscar from his almost 50-year-long career.

Wayne Actually Hated True Grit

The story goes that after Wayne read the novel on which True Grit was based, he decided to lobby for the role of U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn and that is how he got the part. More importantly, the film won Wayne his first Oscar. So, it is only logical to assume that Wayne would have loved the film. However, in reality, Wayne hated True Grit.

If IMDb is to be believed, Wayne was unsatisfied with the way the film was made and thus, in all the interviews that he did as part of the promotional tour, he maintained that he liked his other roles and films better than True Grit. In fact,in one of the interviews, he stated that he considered his role in Stagecoach to be his best performance of all time. Who knows what must have conspired between Hathway and Wayne to elicit such a response from the actor, but Wayne must have certainly regretted saying these words after winning the Oscar that year.

Wayne Wanted His Daughter to Play Mattie Ross

Wayne did not only lobby for the role of Marshall Rooster, but he also pushed for the role of Mattie Ross to be given to his daughter Aissa Wayne. Aissa was 14 at the time but had never acted professionally. Thus, Hathway decided to audition other actresses for the role. Among others, he auditioned Karen Carpenter, Sondra Locke, Sally Field, Tuesday Weld and Mia Farrow and decided to cast Farrow in the movie. As luck would have it, Farrow backed out from the film at the last minute and the role went to Kim Darby.

Darby was a popular TV actress at the time who had appeared in shows like Gunsmoke, The Eleventh Hour and Star Trek. After the success of True Grit, she did deliver some successful films but she eventually became addicted to amphetamine, which ruined her career. However, Derby eventually managed to get a hold on her life and she now makes occasional appearances on television and films.

Elvis Presley Was Chosen to Play LaBeouf

Elvis was a prolific artist who conquered many mediums. Elvis did a total of 31 films during his career and True Grit could have made that number, 32. Elvis was chosen to play the role of Texas Ranger LaBoeuf. Everything was clear and Elvis had almost agreed to begin to shooting when his manager Tom Parker demanded that Presley be paid a hefty price for the role. However, since Wayne was already a huge star at the time and came with an equally heavy price tag, the producers couldn’t hire both Elvis and Wayne. Since Wayne was already playing the lead character, the producers decided to replace Elvis with Country star Glen Campbell. After the film released, reviewers criticized Campbell for his limited acting skills. However, Campbell bought something to the film that added to its iconic status — the film’s title song for which he won an Academy Award nomination. He also won the Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer for True Grit.

Wayne Was Against Wearing the Eye Patch

Marshal Rooster will always be remembered for his gruff disposition and his one-eye black patch. However, Wayne was against wearing the patch for the simple reason that in the novel on which the film is based, Rooster did not wear a patch even though he was blind in one eye. What ensued were debates and discussions. However, in the end, Wayne decided to listen to his director and agreed to wear the patch, which eventually became synonymous with the character of Rooster. It is, thus, that Wayne wore the patch in the sequel as well.

Though he may not have been happy about wearing the eye patch, he did bring it to good use. In November 1975, Wayne donated the patch along with a letter to the Southen California Symphony Society to be auctioned to raised funds. In 2012, the patch and the letter went up for auction at a starting bidding price of $35,000.

There Was a Marked Difference Between the Real-Life and On-Screen Age of Various CharactersWithin the film industry, many actors play characters that are older or younger than their real-life self. However, in most cases, the age difference is such that it can be easily made up for with makeup and character portrayal.

This wasn’t the case with True Grit. As you already know by now, the film was based on the novel of the same name written by Charles Portis. Based on the book, Rooster was no more than 40 and Darby was a 14-year-old girl at the time the story takes place. However, in real life, there was a marked difference between the age of actors and their onscreen avatars. For instance, Wayne was 61 when he played the 40-something Marshall Rooster and Darby was 21 and appeared as the 14-year-old Mattie Ross in the film.

A Stuntman Performed Most of Wayne’s Stunts

True Grit will certainly also be remembered for its iconic scenes. In one such scene, at the very beginning of the film, Wayne is seen confronting a bunch of bad guys in an isolated meadow. The scene brings you to the edge of the seat — as you bite your nails in anticipation, Wayne puts the horse reins in his mouth and takes out two guns in his two hands and chases the goons throw the meadow. The scene is as invigorating as it is stylish and sets the tone for the whole movie.

Of course, Wayne was the face of Rooster. However, not many people know that Wayne did not do most of the stunts. Chasing outlaws on horseback isn’t something easy-to-do for a 61-year-old star. Most of the scenes were performed by Jim Burk, a stunt double. Jim trained horses for Westerns and cavalry films and has also worked on other films like Chinatown and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

True Grit is an iconic film that played a crucial role in the revival of the Western genre. It was also the perfect goodbye from Wayne to a genre that had given him so much. He played the pot-bellied, one-eye Marshal Rooster with great ease, pouring his forty years of acting experience into the role. In the rare moments in which the gunslinger lets his guard down and showcases his emotional side, it becomes so easy to identify him as a simple man who has loved and lost and who, thus, is bent on living his last days alone. It is this depth to the character that made Marshal Rooster Cogburn so lovable.

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