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John Wayne

The Most Rewatchable John Wayne Movies, Ranked

John Wayne became an icon over the course of his career, particularly from his roles in war and great western movies throughout Hollywood’s Golden Age. Fans of Wayne might also know him as The Duke, which is a nickname that stuck with him since his childhood. As a young boy, Wayne’s best friend was his dog Duke, and when he befriended a local fireman, who called the dog Big Duke and Wayne Little Duke, the nickname stuck, with Wayne preferring it to his actual name, Marion.
His career skyrocketed, and now he is one of the biggest names in the western genre, becoming nearly synonymous with the American mythos of the wild west and western films in general. Wayne starred in over 165 movies, many of which became huge successes. Even though Wayne was problematic in his sociopolitical beliefs, to this day we still can’t get enough of his lovable, rogue, heroic characters throughout his filmography. His cowboy swagger is just one of many reasons we keep going back to Wayne’s film, but which of them are the most rewatchable all these decades later?
8 The Alamo (1960)

John Wayne in The Alamo

United Artists

Directed by Wayne himself and written by James Edward Grant, The Alamo was a project that Wayne decided to direct and star in way back in 1945. Based on the true story of the infamous Battle of the Alamo, Wayne starers as Davy Crockett, who assisted a group of soldiers defending themselves against Gen. Santa Anna (Richard Boone, who definitely wasn’t Mexican) in the battle of the Alamo.
We are given all the tense, action-packed fighting scenes that we love about westerns with a bit of an education too on the way many Americans perceived the Battle of the Alamo (the film, of course, is rather historically inaccurate and glorifies the American occupation, when in reality they were illegally invading and colonizing Mexico). The movie was nominated for a whopping seven Oscars, including Best Picture. The Alamo can be seen as a classic, and its fights and story never get old, so of course, we go back to it every time.
7 Chisum (1970)

ChisumWarner Bros.

Based on the Lincoln County war of 1878, and also adapted for the screen by Andrew J. Fenady, from his short story, titled Chisum and the Lincoln County War, Chisum follows John Chisum (Wayne), who owns a large ranch in Lincoln, New Mexico. It wouldn’t be the same without his sidekick and helper, Pepper. Together and with other men, including Billy the Kid, they get involved with fighting the land developer Lawrence Murphy, who has practically bought the whole town and has plans for Chisum’s ranch. Chisum is a surprisingly complex and detailed movie leading to a good ol’ western showdown, filled with historical context (and numerous real historical figures) and brilliant cinematography. Once understanding the complicated plot and massive ensemble cast, the film just gets better after each watch.
6 She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

She Wore a Yellow RibbonRKO Radio Pictures

The gorgeous 1949 American Technicolor western She Wore a Yellow Ribbon was one of the most expensive Westerns made at the time. It was part of the great John Ford’s ‘cavalry trilogy’, and Wayne gave one of his best performances, starring as Nathan Brittles. Brittles is a retiring US Cavalry Captain, set to venture on one last patrol to protect his troops from an attack, led by the Indians. As he bravely leads his men into the battle, his commanding officer, Major Mac Allshard, orders him to deliver his wife, Abby, and niece Olivia to Sutross Wells. As a tale of honor and young love, we see that despite wearing a yellow ribbon in her hair (which is a sign that her heart is promised to another man in the Cavalry), Olivia catches the eyes of two young officers who compete for her attention. Along with Wayne’s fabulous performance, the film also won an Oscar for Winston C. Hoch’s masterful Technicolor cinematography.
5 Red River (1948)

Red RiverUnited Artists

Red River, directed by Howard Hawks, tells an epic, entertaining story about the first cattle drive along the Chisholm Trail. The film follows Wayne as Thomas Dunson, who sets up a cattle ranch that quickly becomes a thriving success, though he couldn’t have done it without help from Groot and Matt Garth, who is an orphan that Dunson kindly took in when he was a young boy. Unfortunately, the Civil War left Dunson and Matt in some serious need for money, so they lead a cattle drive to Missouri for a better chance of earning some more money.
But their journey isn’t all plain sailing, as they bump into some challenges along the way. Red River is more complex than your average western shoot-em-up, essentially a sprawling and visually stunning drama about the west rather than a ‘western’ per se. The film also works wonders as a tale of (symbolic) father and son who don’t quite see eye-to-eye, which is perhaps a reason for it being so re-watchable and an absolute classic.
4 Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)

John Wayne in Sands of Iwo JimaRepublic Pictures

The 1949 war film Sands of Iwo Jima, directed by Allan Dwan, follows Wayne as Marine Sgt. John Stryker who is sick of the attitude from his men about his tough training techniques. As the war goes on, the soldiers actually begin to accept and respect Stryker’s view on war and even tolerate his hard and actually quite brutal training. They come to realize that it will be in their favor to listen to him, and they will need his training tactics in order to survive the war.
One of the earliest post-war films dramatizing the plight of American soldiers overseas, the film chronicles one of the deadliest and bloodiest events in World War 2, known as the Battle of Iwo Jima. Wayne does a brilliant job as Stryker, the hero of the story, even if he was a little harsh, in what is an exciting, action-packed movie that also shines a light on the soldiers in the true story who sacrificed their lives during the war. The Sands of Iwo Jima is a great re-watch, especially as a Memorial Day movie.
3 The Cowboys (1972)

The CowboysWarner Bros.

Based on William Dale Jennings’ 1971 novel of the same name, The Cowboys includes one of the best villains and hero death scenes we have been given in western movies, which already makes it totally re-watchable. When Wil Andersen (Wayne) asks a group of school boys for help driving his cattle to the market, they are bombarded by thieves and cattle rustlers, which ultimately leads to a dramatic western fight.
No one likes to see the hero of a story die, but we can’t deny that it’s captivating; as Wil Andersen dies, his blood is on the hands of Watts. The death of Wayne’s character is emotional and heartbreaking after he grew close to the boys that helped him, and they even began to see him as a father figure. After his death, the boys finish the trip, they carve into a gravestone ‘Beloved Husband and Father,’ making it all the more sad. No matter how many times we watch it, we are still touched by this certified tearjerker of a story, and we can’t get enough of it.
2 The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

Wayne Stewart The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 1962 ParamountParamount Pictures

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is perhaps one of the most well known and classic western movies in cinema. Directed by the fantastic John Ford, and starring an amazing cast (the great James Stewart, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, and Wayne of course), the movie follows the story of Senator Stoddard who, with his wife Hallie, attends the funeral of Tom Doniphon.
We then learn of Stoddard and Doniphon’s friendship through flashbacks, as he remembers a time when Doniphon saved him against a local outlaw, Liberty Valance, and the stories and questions that unfold of their involvement as enemies of Valance. With a brilliant cast, the onscreen relationships, tension, and drama makes this movie an easy watch and a brilliant story to follow, and definitely goes down as a classic western, one of the last old-school greats of the genre.
1 True Grit (1969)

John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn in True GritParamount Pictures

Directed by Henry Hathaway, 1969’s True Grit marks the first appearance of Wayne as U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn, and was the first movie adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel of the same name. The story follows 14-year-old Mattie Ross, whose father has just been murdered. Distraught and after revenge, she hired Rooster Cogburn to help go on a mission to find the man responsible. Along their dangerous journey, a Texas Ranger, La Boeuf also joins in, with the hopes of catching him for a reward.
Wayne, a decade before his death, won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in True Grit, which is arguably his most beloved, eccentric character who makes every scene more enjoyable. It has become an iconic movie, and there was even a 2010 modern remake of the classic which starred Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, and Josh Brolin.

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John Wayne

John Wayne Pushed Through a Severe Injury to Ensure ‘The Train Robbers’ Premiered on Schedule

John Wayne is known around the world as one of the most iconic cowboys of all time. Decades after his death, John Wayne continues to be praised for his nearly 200 unforgettable appearances in film and television. And though his larger-than-life presence, good looks, and husky voice took him far in Hollywood, it was his commitment to his films that led to John Wayne playing such a large role in cinema history.

The Duke began his career in 1926. As time went on, the stoic superstar developed a reputation as a stunt man. Many of his Westerns involved action-heavy scenes, and the technology to make stunt work easier to fake didn’t yet exist. As such, many legendary John Wayne films were extremely physically demanding.

Hiring a stunt man was an option used by many in Hollywood. But The Duke refused. Instead, he insisted on doing his stunts himself. Though this was an admirable step to take, it led to many injuries for Wayne throughout his career.

The audience knew that the hero would win in the end, but reaching victory often involved getting punched, kicked, shot, and stabbed along the way. He was even blown up and crushed by a bulldozer (on separate occasions, of course).

John Wayne Filmed ‘The Train Robbers’ With Broken Ribs

Perhaps the most horrifying injury of John Wayne’s career occurred on the set of the 1973 Western The Train Robbers. In the film, Wayne plays the starring role of Lane, the leader of a group of cowboys hunting down a dastardly train robber.

According to the John Wayne biography entitled Duke by Ronald L. Davis, The Duke broke two ribs mere days before filming began on The Train Robbers. As Wayne was an irreplaceable star, the injury led to a rearranging of the film. Rather than focusing on high-speed chases and deadly battles between cowboys and outlaws, The Train Robbers honed in on dialogue and character building.

That said, it was still a Western, and every Western needs a certain amount of action. For The Duke, it was essential that “the action scenes looked believable”. Wayne was so committed to his scenes that he flat-out refused to work around his injury. “He wasn’t a crybaby,” his wife Pilar Wayne told The LA Times. “He could tolerate pain.”

And tolerate pain, he did. John Wayne pushed through the broken ribs, determined to keep the film as close to the original script as possible. While filming, he was clearly limited with his movements and he appeared somewhat ill on set.

On-screen, however, no one could tell the difference. The Duke still gave a fantastic performance. Three years later, his Hollywood career came to an end, but John Wayne will always be remembered as the tough-as-nails actor he truly was.

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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 JohnWayne.com”

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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