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John Wayne

Handing Dirty Harry To Clint Eastwood Was A Decision John Wayne Would Come To Regret

Following a brief resurgence powered by his enormously entertaining (and Oscar-winning) portrayal of Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit,” John Wayne suddenly found himself scrambling in the midst of the 1970s New Hollywood era. He’d already played the tough old man of the West who whips kids into shape in “Big Jake” and “The Cowboys,” effectively leaving him nowhere to go in the genre but revisionist à la Sam Peckinpah or Clint Eastwood. This was not the red-blooded American movie star’s style.
With his Western safety net cut out from under him, Wayne turned his attention to law-and-order cop flicks. He had a crack at “Dirty Harry,” and would come to regret passing on it. Ergo, when Lawrence Roman’s script for “McQ,” a straightforward actioner about a gruff detective in hot pursuit of the drug dealer who killed his former partner, turned up at The Duke’s Batjac production company, he leaped on it. After all, who better to slake his generation’s thirst for busting up long-haired, non-caucasian scumbags than the movie star who represented everything the Boomer-driven counterculture hated about the United States?
Dirty Harry versus slightly unkempt Wayne

Warner Bros.The primary problem with Wayne attempting to capitalize on the success of “Dirty Harry” was the star-producer’s conservative, visually flat aesthetic. At the time, The Duke mostly favored out-to-pasture filmmakers who had no issue with getting overruled by their leading man on set. So it was a tad surprising that Wayne opted for John Sturges, a director of supreme widescreen style in classics like “Bad Day at Black Rock,” “The Magnificent Seven” and “The Great Escape.” Alas, those movies were made a decade prior, and Sturges had lost his zest for filmmaking since then. According to Scott Eyman’s “John Wayne: The Life and Legend,” the once great director was now more interested in hobbies like boat designing.
Not that this mattered. Wayne knew “McQ” was a formulaic mediocrity on the page. Still, this placed it a cut above his most recent work. Per Eyman’s book, The Duke remarked, “I haven’t made a movie in over six months, and this one is better than most of the junk they’ve been sending me.”
A lumbering model of law enforcement
Warner Bros.If not for Sturges’ widescreen framing (which, sadly, is rarely better than competent), a delicious supporting turn from the late, great Clu Gulager, and Wayne busting out a Mac-10 submachine gun in the film’s finale, there would be nothing to distinguish “McQ” from a network cop show. It’d be easily forgotten if anyone other than The Duke had been cast in the lead role. This is not a compliment.
As Eyman notes:
“[E]ven if Wayne hadn’t looked every week of his 63 years and been far too old for the part he was playing, ‘McQ’ would have been an ordinary picture. ‘John Wayne,’ wrote Vincent Canby of The New York Times, ‘looks as if he should be celebrating his diamond jubilee on the force. […] There’s a scene […] in which Wayne is required to pick a lock and his massive hands are so gnarled from years on the range that you get the impression of a bear trying to tie a shoelace.’”
The film wouldn’t recoup its budget until 1980 (one year after Wayne’s death), but this didn’t stop the star from plowing forward with another, worse cop thriller in 1975’s “Brannigan.” Though it’s not surprising Wayne would want to capitalize on the law-and-order fervor that had gripped the nation, it’s disappointing he didn’t care to do more than go through the by-now creaky motions. He was just making movies to make movies and turning out second-rate imitations of vigorously violent films that were well out of his traditionalist wheelhouse. Unwilling to challenge himself, his time had passed.

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John Wayne

Original Cast of John Wayne’s ‘The Cowboys’ to Celebrate Film’s 50th Anniversary With The Duke’s Family

The career of John Wayne is one of the most revered in all of American filmmaking regardless of genre. Even long after his death, his unmatched contributions to the Western film genre are still a thing of legend.

John Wayne: An American Experience, The Cowboy Channel, Stockyards Heritage, and Hotel Drover have partnered up with the members of the cast of The Cowboys and Wayne’s family. Together, they will host a celebratory festival in honor of the 50th anniversary of the fan-favorite film. The official John Wayne Instagram page announced the event by paying tribute to one of Wayne’s many iconic moments.

“In honor of the 50th Anniversary of The Cowboys, celebrate with members of the original cast & the Wayne family June 24, 25, & 26 in the Fort Worth Stockyards! For a list of events and tickets, head to”

The 1972 film is based on the book of the same name by William Dale Jennings. Wayne stars alongside Roscoe Lee Browne, Slim Pickens, Colleen Dewhurst, and Bruce Dern. The Cowboys tells the story of a down on his luck rancher being forced to hire a group of inexperienced cowboys to get his herd to market on time. It’s one of Wayne’s most enduring films with his performance often regarded as one of his best.

The Cowboys Still Holds A Special Place in Hearts of Film Fans

Fans of the film will no doubt be thrilled by the opportunity to hear directly from the people who worked and lived alongside Wayne during the making of the classic film. One member of the cast, A Martinez who played Cimarron, took to his own Instagram account to post a message about his experience shooting The Cowboys for its 50th anniversary.

“It was a thrill and an honor to be a part of this project,” said Martinez in his post. “A haunting, timeless theme, adapted from the novel by William Dale Jennings, brilliantly directed by Rydell. With gorgeous cinematography by Bob Surtees, an indelible score by John Williams –– and a great performance by John Wayne –– the power of #TheCowboys abides.”

The 3-day celebration includes outdoor screenings after sunset on the Livestock Exchange lawn all three nights. Fans will have meet and greet opportunities with 9 members of the cast. Then, A live televised film panel with a studio audience will film at The Cowboy Channel Studio Sunday night. In addition, there will be special installations and reception at John Wayne: An American Experience, a sprawling 10,000 square foot exhibit providing an intimate look at the life of The Duke.

Any fan of John Wayne who can make it to Fort Worth, Texas for this celebration of a beloved piece of Wayne’s filmography should purchase tickets as soon as possible. Relive the memories of this classic film alongside cast members and Wayne’s family with the special event.

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John Wayne

This John Wayne Western Almost Starred Elvis Presley

When you hear the names Elvis Presley and John Wayne, the word icon undoubtedly comes to mind. Although they were famous figures in their own right, they had more in common than you might think. For instance, they nearly starred alongside one another in one of Wayne’s many westerns.

As the undisputed King of rock ‘n’ roll, Presley became a worldwide viral sensation for his gyrating hips and rock-n-roll music. Yet, he also dipped his toes into the world of movies.

He had performed in various movies like King Creole and Blue Hawaii in the past. In addition, he had some Western movie experience when he starred in Love Me Tender. According to IMDb, the movie is a Western set during the end of the American Civil War.

Elvis plays the role of Clint Reno, the brother of a Confederate soldier who becomes involved in a train robbery. The movie was released in 1956, just as Elvis became a rising star. As a result, he grabbed the attention of another acting veteran.

Love Me Tender was the hitmaker’s first movie role. Little did he know, John Wayne was watching at home. As a result, Wayne decided he wanted to collaborate with the rising star.

Elvis Presley’s manager decides on True Grit role

Billy Smith, Elvis’ cousin, once answered whether John Wayne asked Presley to star with him in a movie more than once. According to Smith, via his Youtube channel, co-starring alongside Wayne wasn’t Presley’s style, or rather, it wasn’t his manager’s preference.

Billy Smith, Elvis’ cousin, once answered whether John Wayne asked Presley to star with him in a movie more than once. According to Smith, via his Youtube channel, co-starring alongside Wayne wasn’t Presley’s style, or rather, it wasn’t his manager’s preference.

As Smith described, anytime anyone wanted to collab with The King, it was “always carried through Colonel.” Presley was at the height of his fame around this time. According to Smith, “Colonel didn’t want him to play … second star with anybody else.” 

Sadly, Presley would miss out on the role of LeBoeuf. In addition, he wouldn’t get to join forces with one of the genre’s most beloved figures. Glen Campbell would instead take on the part. 

However, maybe the decision happened for a better reason. When the film was released in 1969, it was a critical moment for Presley’s career. In December of 1968, just before True Grit premiered, Presley embarked on his now-legendary “comeback special.” In 1969, he delivered almost 60 performances at the magnificent International Hotel in Las Vegas. 

During this whirlwind of a year, Presley proved the point of his manager: Elvis Presley would play second fiddle to nobody, even John Wayne. 

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John Wayne

John Wayne Credits His Iconic Cowboy Persona to Wyatt Earp: Here’s Why

Somewhere between truth and Hollywood legend, John Wayne met and became friends with the legendary cowboy Wyatt Earp. Whether or not the two actually crossed paths, Wayne has Earp to thank for his on-screen persona.

The character of John Wayne was forged in the fires of Hollywood during the early 1900s. If you subscribe to legend, a young Wayne met the cowboy while working on set. The future actor had dropped out of college after a bodysurfing injury and got a job as a prop hand in the movie business.

It is rumored that Wayne and Earp met on the set of a western by director John Ford. Earp acted as an adviser on the film, giving it an air of authenticity. The cowboy did become a leading authority on all things Old West in Hollywood. Between takes, Earp took recounted tales of his adventures in the Old West. As a sheriff in Tombstone, Earp believed in only using his weapon as a last resort. But he was also quick on the draw.

According to Hollywood myth, Wayne eventually became good friends with Earp. When the cowboy died in 1929, Wayne served as one of his pallbearers. It’s nice to imagine one of the Old West’s legendary figures passing the baton to one of Hollywood’s iconic cowboys. But it’s more likely to be on the side of a myth than fact.

John Wayne Modeled Himself After Wyatt Earp

A young Wayne was likely to have heard about Earp’s exploits, though. The cowboy did have conversations with John Ford. Whether Wayne was present or not is unknown. But the actor is likely to have heard these tales second-hand from the director. In many ways, he tried to model his characters after Earp (minus the occasional villain or two).

For instance, the actor made director Don Siegel re-edit a scene in his final film “The Shootist.” In the initial scene, it appeared that Wayne’s character shot someone in the back. The actor explained that his cowboy character would never commit such an act. Likewise, Wayne’s on-screen characters adopted the stance of refusing to shoot an unarmed man. It’s a code that Earp lived by when he refused to shoot a man as he ran away.

As an actor, Wayne stood on the backs of the great Wild West figures that came before him like Earp. It’s not hard to imagine the two meeting and becoming good friends. But Earp remained one of several influences in Wayne’s developing career.

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