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John Wayne

John Wayne’s Red River Sparked A Feud Between Howard Hawks And Howard Hughes

Howard Hughes’s deliriously ahistorical “The Outlaw” is probably best known for star Jane Russell’s brassiere, which the director painstakingly designed to accentuate her 38DD bosom. Never mind that Russell claimed she wore it all of a few minutes, loathed the fit, and padded her own bra the old-fashioned way; the undergarment is still on display in a Hollywood museum — the, er, stuff of showbiz legend.
The film itself is an agreeably campy Western. Doc Holliday (Walter Huston) rides into Lincoln, New Mexico looking to recover his stolen horses. He tells his friend Pat Garrett (Thomas Mitchell) that Billy the Kid (Jack Buetel) is the thief, which sets up a not-terribly-understated homoerotic love triangle. It’s a goofy movie that should be a lot more fun than it is, but its script by Jules Furthman boasts some nifty flourishes, one of which finds the sharp-shooting Holliday trying to goad Billy into a duel by grazing him with bullets.
If you’ve seen Howard Hawks’ “Red River,” this should sound familiar. It certainly did to Hughes, who’d either fired Hawks from directing “The Outlaw” or frustrated the filmmaker so thoroughly that he quit. Either way, when Hughes caught wind that Hawks had concluded his then-unreleased Western with a scene wherein John Wayne fires a series of shots at Montgomery Clift in an attempt to drive his charge-turned-rival to violence, he threatened to sue if the sequence wasn’t removed from the final cut. With the release of “Red River” less than a month away, a compromise needed to be reached in short order.
Hawks v. Hughes

United ArtistsHughes’ attorney Lloyd Wright contacted Edward Small, a major investor in “Red River,” to arrange a screening of the disputed footage for the eccentric industrialist. Sure enough, Hughes dug in on his objections, and threatened an injunction that would delay the film’s planned September 1, 1948 release indefinitely.
Small, who’d worked with Hughes before, knew the businessman wouldn’t back down until he got his way, so he arranged a showdown of sorts between the contentious parties. Hughes and Hawks met at one of the former’s aircraft plants in Inglewood, California. According to Scott Eyman’s “John Wayne: The Life and Legend,” the two fought bitterly over a potential remedy. This forced Small to play to Hughes’ vanity:
“‘Both men were tall and lean, and I felt like the referee between two animated redwood trees,’ remembered Small. Finally, Small suggested that Hughes edit the sequence to suggest what Hawks, Feldman, and Small should do. Hughes made a few cuts, eliminating about twenty-four seconds, including a shot where Dunson’s bullet creases Matt’s cheek. Also removed were nine words of Wayne’s dialogue: ‘Draw. Go on, draw. Well, then, I’ll make you.’ As Small realized, ‘If I had made the same infinitesimal alterations, he probably wouldn’t have accepted them.’”
A quick fix to an enduring classic
United ArtistsIn 2022, these fixes could be implemented in-house overnight, with new DCPs rushed to multiplexes within days. In 1948, editing teams had to fly to the Southwest (where Wayne’s movies tended to premiere) and splice the recut footage into the already struck prints. They got the job done, and “Red River” debuted on time. The film went on to triple its budget at the U.S. box office, and earn Academy Award nominations for Best Motion Picture Story and Best Editing.
74 years after its release, “Red River” is recognized as one of the finest Westerns ever made. John Wayne gives one of his very best performances as the conflicted Dunson; upon seeing his longtime collaborator in the film, John Ford exclaimed, “I never knew the big son of a bi*** could act!” Wayne is every bit as unsympathetic here as we would be years later in Ford’s “The Searchers,” but Hawks and Furthman state the case for his character’s bigoted obsolescence more plainly. He operates outside the law to maintain his empire. He is a murderer. Westward expansion might be a fait accompli, but the country will collapse if men of his tyrannical ilk seize the reins of these new territories.
Like Hughes and Hawks, America struck a tenuous compromise, one that has been renegotiated for well over a century. It is disconcerting to see Dunson’s type rise again.
 

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John Wayne

John Wayne Once Revealed the Real Reason Why He Didn’t Serve in the Military: ‘I Was America’

Actor John Wayne often defines the Western movie genre. He also stands as an American cultural icon for many folks around the country. However, Wayne didn’t serve in the military, which always haunted him throughout the rest of his life. The actor once revealed the real reason why he didn’t serve and the purpose he truly wanted to fulfill in the war efforts.

John Wayne gave excuses to keep him from serving in the military

Actor John Wayne, who refused to serve in the military, on the set of 'Cast a Giant Shadow' with his leg hanging out the side of a military vehicle.

John Wayne | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Marc Eliot’s American Titan: Searching for John Wayne explores the ins and outs of the actor’s career, personal life, and his hardships involving military service. Many celebrities, such as Jimmy Stewart, still served in the military in one way or another. However, the initial story was that Wayne couldn’t serve in the military, but begged to do so.

Eliot explained that this story was a complete fabrication. The actor’s local board called him, but he claimed to be exempt on the grounds that he’s the sole supporter of his family. However, he failed to mention that he was going through a divorce. Additionally, Wayne excused himself from military service because of an old soldier injury. He was ultimately granted an exemption “for family dependency reasons.”

Wayne supposedly wanted to join the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), which would later become the CIA. They sent him a letter urging him to sign up, but he claimed that his wife, Josephine, hid it from him.

John Wayne revealed that he wanted to serve another purpose in the military than serving in it

American Titan: Searching for John Wayne pointed to how Wayne changed his story about why he didn’t serve in the military. The actor got much more personal with Dan Ford, John Ford’s grandson. Wayne didn’t think a traditional military position would work for him but believed that he could add value to the war efforts in other ways.

“I didn’t feel I could go in as a private, I felt I could do more good going around on tours and things,” Wayne said. “I was America [to the young guys] in the front lines … they had taken their sweethearts to that Saturday matinee and held hands over a Wayne Western. So I wore a big hat and I thought it was better.”

Wayne certainly made his passion for America and the military very clear. However, even his mentor, Ford, continually picked on him for not serving in the military. Meanwhile, Ford praised Stewart for serving America, which certainly got under Wayne’s skin. It was all in favor of getting a better performance out of the actor.

The actor always regretted his decision to not serve his country

Eliot’s book explained how much of an impact having no military service had on Wayne. His third wife, Pilar, said that his decision not to serve in the military was the real reason why he became a “super-patriot for the rest of his life trying to atone for staying at home.”

Regardless of the various reasons Wayne gave for not serving in the military, he certainly didn’t like to discuss it. However, he certainly uplifted those who did serve in the military. Wayne once defended a veteran when a group of USC students against the Vietnam War harassed the young man.

Wayne also displayed where his heart was for the military in some of his motion pictures, including The Green Berets. Critics ripped the movie apart, but it was a major success at the box office.

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John Wayne

John Wayne’s Weird Voice Cameo in ‘Star Wars’ Sounds Nothing Like Him

John Wayne spent much of his Hollywood career playing tough-as-nails characters. Many of The Duke’s portrayals came in westerns and war movies; sci fi movies like Star Wars weren’t part of his repertoire. Wayne’s grandson, Brendan Wayne, has a role in the Star Wars universe with his work in The Mandalorian. It turns out he’s following in his grandfather’s footsteps. Wayne’s weird voice cameo in A New Hope means he was the first Wayne to travel to a galaxy far, far away.

Several John Wayne movies have perfect Rotten Tomatoes scores

Wayne earned three Academy Awards nominations in his career. He picked up a win for best actor in 1970 for playing Rooster Cogburn in True Grit.

Yet neither The Alamo, which he directed and starred in, nor True Grit earned favorable ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. Twelve Wayne movies earned 100% scores on the Tomatometer, but Sands of Iwo Jima was the only one for which he also earned an Oscar nomination.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope scored better than 90% with critics and fans on Rotten Tomatoes. He doesn’t show up in the credits, but Wayne has a voice cameo thanks to a sound designer who held on to audio snippets he no longer needed.

Wayne has a voice cameo in the first ‘Star Wars’ movie as Garindan — sort of

He doesn’t appear on screen, and we don’t hear his signature drawl, but John Wayne shows up in A New Hope. The Duke voices a crucial character and it was a complete accident, according to sound designer Ben Burtt.

Burtt once revealed how Wayne’s voice cameo in Star Wars happened (h/t to SlashFilm):

“I always wanted to do an insect man – we didn’t really have an insect man come along until Poggle the Lesser [from Episodes II and III]. We had that character that looked kind of like a mosquito from the first Star Wars [Garindan] that we found we needed a sound for. 

“[I] was wondering back a few months ago how I did it – because I keep notes and tapes – and I discovered it was an electronic buzzing which had come off of my synthesizer that was triggered by a human voice. And I listened to it and realized it was John Wayne – I had found some loop lines in the trash from the studio that had been thrown away. So the buzzing was triggered by some dialog like ‘All right, what are you doin’ in this town’ or something like that.”‘Star Wars’ sound designer Ben Burtt

Wayne’s voice cameo in Star Wars— looped and filtered through synths — shows up in Star Wars. He just doesn’t commandeer a stagecoach or call anyone pilgrim.

Stunt performer Sadie Eden played Garindan on screen, according to IMDb. Garindan is the character that alerts stormtroopers about Luke, Ben, C-3PO, and R2-D2 in Mos Eisley. The stormtroopers then attack the Millennium Falcon before it blasts off to Alderaan.

Like his grandfather, Brendan Wayne is part of the Star Wars universe. Unlike his grandad, this Wayne isn’t limited to weird voice cameos.

Pedro Pascal voices Din Djarin in The Mandalorian, but the younger Wayne is the person in the suit battling the mudhorn and tangling with a krayt dragon. He plays a key role on the show, and he channeled his grandfather to deliver the physical mannerisms.

At one point, Brendan Wayne resembled his grandfather too closely. During one headstrong moment, co-star Carl Weathers had to stop the scene when he started laughing at Wayne acting out the scene just like his grandfather.

John Wayne’s voice cameo in Star Wars was modified and filtered through synths. Meanwhile, grandson Brendan Wayne keeps the tradition going with his role in The Mandalorian.

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John Wayne

John Wayne Movies: The Duke Got Trademark Look From Director John Ford

John Wayne was unmistakable in movies. His career lasted six decades because of his indelible presence on camera. One of his trademark attributes could be credited to his frequent director, John Ford. Ford directed Wayne in 14 movies and had a relationship with him via the studios even when he wasn’t directing. It was Ford who gave Wayne his key look on film.

Paramount Home Entertainment released the Wayne/Ford classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance on 4K UHD on May 17. In some of the bonus features, Ford’s grandson Dan and film critic Molly Haskell discuss what Wayne brought to movies, and how Ford inspired him.

John Ford told John Wayne to create ‘an intense look’ for movies

In a John Wayne movie, the audience knew that when Wayne’s character looked intensely at the villain, he meant business. As a director, Ford knew the importance of an intense look. Cinema is a visual medium, after all. 

“My grandfather always told Duke Wayne, he says ‘When you need to convey something you need to just, give ‘em an intense look. Give ‘em an intensity. Let the audience read into that look,’” Dan Ford said. “John Wayne was a fabulous nonverbal communicator. John Wayne was a much better actor than people give him credit for.”

Critics underestimated John Wayne movies

Haskell said that critics underestimated Wayne throughout his career. Wayne became such a staple in westerns and war movies that critics assumed he was playing himself. Of course, Wayne was not actually a sheriff or veteran, though he did have his own ranch. Haskell gave Wayne credit where it’s due. 

“The idea of acting so often has been disguising yourself, playing characters who are completely alien from what is perceived as your basic personality,” Haskell said. “So an actor who seems to just be playing himself or playing a role that is close to what he is is not seen as acting at all.”

The critical tide has turned 

Haskell was happy to see critics raise their esteem for Wayne to match that of his fans. Near the end of Wayne’s career in the ‘70s, and after his death, critics could be dismissive of that singular look that Ford taught him.

“John Wayne’s one of the great movie actors of all time,” Haskell said. “In the ‘70s and ‘80s this was not a popular point of view. He was a national icon but among critics and the eastern liberal establishment he was not a favorite, partly because of his politics but mostly because he acted in westerns and westerns themselves were not taken seriously.”

As the dominant genre of Wayne’s work, westerns themselves have risen in esteem too. Especially the westerns Ford directed, with or without Wayne, now get their due. His grandson was happy to see that. 

“He had a tender, sentimental side that certainly shows in his work,” Dan Ford said. 

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