John Wayne branded ‘idiot’ Gone with the Wind star ‘too stupid to do anything except act’ – My Blog
John Wayne was well known for his tough and gristly persona on and off-screen, not holding back on what he really thought of peers he clashed with. He lambasted Red River co-star Montgomery Clift as “an arrogant little bas**rd” and blasted Gene Hackman as “one of the worst actors in Hollywood.” Duke was part of a conservative inner circle that included his long-time collaborator John Ford and it turns out Wayne’s exceptionally rude dismissal of a Gone with the Wind star was rooted in a feud with the director.
Back in 1953, Clark Gable – lead of Gone with the Wind which premiered 83 years ago today – starred opposite Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly in Ford’s romantic adventure Mogambo. The director was a notoriously bad-tempered character who often humiliated and baited his cast to get better performances out of them. During the African production, he would make remarks about Gable’s age and weathered appearance. The actor even walked off set in protest of the filmmaker’s treatment of Gardner.
The scene of Gardner being pushed into a mud pool by a baby elephant was only captured because Ford ignored the actress’ cries for help as he encouraged the crew to keep shooting.
According to Turner Classic Movies: “Gable and Ford had known each other for years, but their personalities clashed when working together. Ford lost patience with what he thought were Gable’s needless requests for retakes and by the end of the shooting Ford and Gable were not even speaking to each other. And they never worked together again.”
Wayne’s daughter has shared specifically why this grated on her father.
ava and clark
In her book John Wayne: My Father, Aissa wrote: “During the filming of Mogambo, Ford and Gable had clashed again and again and the subsequent feud had simmered for years. In my father’s way of thinking, disloyalty to allies, support in any fashion for their enemies, was expressly forbidden. If Clark Gable took on John Ford, my father’s code demanded that John Wayne stand by his old pal.”
As a result of his loyalty to Ford, Duke made some extremely rude comments about Gable: “[He’s] extremely handsome in person. That’s one guy that doesn’t need Hollywood to make him look good. But Gable’s an idiot. You know why Gable’s an actor? It’s the only thing he’s smart enough to do.”
His daughter also shared why her father thought the Gone with the Wind star wouldn’t be able to have another career outside of acting.
Wayne saw himself as more of a star than an actor, which was in contrast to Gable’s view of being a thespian.
Duke said: “I don’t act at all, I react. In a bad picture, you see them acting all over the place. In a good picture, they react in a logical way to a situation they’re in, so the audience can identify with them. All I do is sell sincerity, and I’ve been selling the hell out of that since I started. I was never one of the little theatre boys. That arty crowd has only surface brilliance anyway. Real art is basic emotion. If a scene is handled with simplicity – and I don’t mean simple – it’ll be good and the public will know it.”