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John Wayne Called ‘Red River’ Story ‘One of the Best’ He’d Ever Heard but Didn’t Want to Play an Old Man

John Wayne had an eye for what he felt would work with his casual acting style. He wasn’t afraid to turn down projects that he didn’t feel connected with. However, Wayne initially didn’t see himself fitting in on Red River, even though he called it “one of the best” stories he ever heard of. Fortunately, the legendary actor ultimately agreed to sign onto the project.

John Wayne played Thomas Dunson in ‘Red River’

Red River follows a headstrong man named Thomas Dunson (Wayne). He starts a Texas cattle ranch that begins thriving but not without some help. Thomas’ loyal trailhand named Groot (Walter Brennan), his protogé, Matt Garth (Montgomery Clift), and an orphan that Thomas welcomed with open arms.

Thomas needs money as a result of the economic impact of the Civil War. He and Matt lead a cattle drive to Missouri. They hope to get a better price there, but the journey isn’t as smooth as they initially thought. Thomas and Matt don’t see eye-to-eye, as they begin to butt heads on the long journey to Missouri.

John Wayne called the story ‘one of the best’ he’d ever heard, but he didn’t want to play an old man

John Farkis’ Not Thinkin’ … Just Rememberin’ … The Making of John Wayne’s The Alamo explores Wayne’s extraordinary life. His career experienced a series of ups and downs, involving film projects with varied success. However, Red River director Howard Hawks originally wanted Gary Cooper or Cary Grant to star in the lead role. Cooper thought the role was “too violent” and Grant didn’t want second billing. As a result, Wayne was hired on Red River.

However, Wayne didn’t initially want to star in the lead role because Thomas was a lot older than the actor was in real life. However, Hawks had some choice words to try and convince him to sign onto the project.

“I never showed Wayne the screenplay,” Hawks said. “I just told him the story and he thought it was one of the best he’d ever heard, but he said, ‘I don’t want to play an old man.’ I said, ‘Duke, you’re going to be one pretty soon, so why not get some practice?’ He said, ‘How the hell am I gonna play one? I was about 50 then, so I said, ‘Just watch me getting up. That’s the way to play it.’”

Hawks brought in Walter Brennan to show Wayne how to play an older man for his role in Red River. However, the actor ultimately went with a totally different way to play the character.

“Brennan showed me how to walk like a tottery old man,” Wayne said. “I went home that night and thought of all the old cattlemen I knew when I was a kid. I was raised in the West. I rode a horse to school. And none of the outdoors-men were tottery.”

However, Wayne ultimately brought an “erect” and “domineering” performance to the role instead.

‘Red River’ earned 2 Oscar nominations

Wayne ultimately predicted that Red River would be a successful movie. It earned $4.5 million against a $2.7 million budget. Additionally, Red River made it all the way to the Oscars. It earned nominations for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story and Best Film Editing. However, the film lost out to The Search and The Naked City, respectively.

However, Red River remains one of the most iconic Western movies of all time. The movie is sitting at a 100% critics score and an 87% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics praise the film for delivering everything that a moviegoer could possibly want from a Western.

John Wayne

Why John Wayne Turned Down the Chance to Work With Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood and John Wayne are the two biggest legends in the history of Western movies, however, they never worked together. The duo did have the opportunity to work together once in the 1970s. Here’s why the film never came to fruition.

How John Wayne responded when Clint Eastwood tried to work with him

Firstly, a little background. According to the book John Wayne: The Life and Legend, it all starts with Larry Cohen. Though Cohen is not a widely known director like Steven Spielberg or Quentin Tarantino, he’s a huge name to fans of B movies. He directed famous B movies like The Stuff, Q: The Winged Serpent, It’s Alive, and God Told Me To. He also wrote a script called The Hostiles shortly after Eastwood released his classic High Plains Drifter.

The Hostiles was about a gambler who wins half of an estate of an older man. The gambler and the older man have to work together despite the fact that they don’t like each other. Eastwood optioned the screenplay with the intent of playing the gambler alongside Wayne as the older man.

Eastwood sent a copy of the script of The Hostiles to Wayne. Although Eastwood felt the script was imperfect, he saw its potential. However, Wayne was not interested. Eastwood pitched the film to Wayne a second time and Wayne responded with a letter. Wayne’s letter complained about High Plains Drifter. Wayne was offended by the film and its portrayal of the Old West as a cruel, violent place.

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John Wayne

Ann-Margret Refused to Call John Wayne ‘Duke’ While Introducing 1 of His Movies

Ann-Margret once starred in one of John Wayne’s lesser-known movies. However, she refused to call him by his popular moniker Duke. Here’s a look at the film they made together — and why she declined to call him by a nickname.

The one time Ann-Margret and John Wayne made a movie together

Ann-Margret is probably most known for her work in musicals, specifically Bye Bye Birdie, Viva Las Vegas, and The Who’s Tommy. However, she also dabbled in the Western genre. She starred alongside Wayne in the mostly forgotten movie The Train Robbers.

Wayne was also known as The Duke or just Duke. According to USA Today, the nickname was derived from his childhood dog. It stuck with him for many years. It continues to be used today — even on the box covers of the DVDs for his movies.

John Wayne | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

During an interview with Interview Magazine, Ann-Margret explained why she didn’t refer to the Rio Bravo star by this famous name. “When I came to this country, first of all, mother and I didn’t know English,” she said. “I would curtsey, then say, ‘Thank you,’ and then when I was leaving, curtsey. For example, we went to Dallas to introduce a film I did with John Wayne. And I never called him Duke. I just couldn’t. That’s the way I was raised. When you meet someone, you say either Mr. or Mrs. or Miss. You stand up.”

Ann-Margret revealed she treated other famous people in much the same way. For example, she worked with director George Sidney on Bye Bye Birdie and Viva Las Vegas. She always called him Mr. Sidney.

What Ann-Margret thought about John Wayne

Ann-Margret refused to use Wayne’s most famous moniker. However, she had a positive view of the actor. During an interview with Fox News, she was asked what she expected when she met Wayne. “Oh, I didn’t know what to expect,” she revealed. “But when he hugged me, it’s like the world was hugging me. He was so big and wide with that booming voice. 

“We were shooting in Durango, Mexico and my parents came down to visit me,” she added. “He was so great with my parents. So absolutely welcoming and gentle with them. And anybody who was great to my parents was on a throne in my eyes.”

How the world reacted to ‘The Train Robbers’

Wayne starred in many classic Westerns, including The Searchers, Stagecoach, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. However, The Train Robbers is mostly forgotten. It didn’t gain a cult following like Once Upon a Time in the West or Dead Man. It wasn’t a critical success either, garnering a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, Ann-Margret had some fond memories of making the film — even if she refused to call Wayne by his famous nickname.

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John Wayne

True Crime on Amazon Prime: ‘Lorena’ Reexamines a 90s Tabloid Sensation

True crime might not be the first type of show that comes to mind when you think of the offerings on Amazon Prime Video. The perpetually buzzy genre is usually more associated with the likes of Netflix and HBO.

However, the streaming service boasts at least one standout docuseries from 2019. It’s one that can scratch the true crime itch for fans, but also give them a much needed new perspective on a well-worn tabloid sensation from the 1990s.

‘Lorena’ was produced by Jordan Peele of ‘Get Out’ fame

Jordan Peele, Head of Amazon Studios Jennifer Salke, and Lorena Gallo attend the 'Lorena' Premiere during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

Jordan Peele, Head of Amazon Studios Jennifer Salke, and Lorena Gallo attend the ‘Lorena’ Premiere during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. | Rich Fury/Getty Images

Lorena, as the simple, to-the-point title suggests, chronicles the sordid story of Lorena and Jon Bobbit. The series was produced by Jordan Peele, the comedian-turned-director best known for Get Out and Us, and released on Amazon Prime Video in early 2019 following a premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

In 1993, Lorena Bobbitt infamously cut her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt’s penis off in his sleep with a kitchen carving knife. She drove off with it, tossed it out the car window into a field, and eventually called 911 to report the incident. After a search followed by 9.5 hours of surgery, John Bobbitt was able to get his penis reattached and functioning normally.

Thanks in large part to the salacious and sexual nature of the Bobbittss story, it quickly became a tabloid and late-night talk show sensation. Sadly, as one might expect from a male-dominated culture, the media spectacle largely focused on John Bobbitt as a sympathetic victim and cast Lorena as a hysterical victim. John Bobbitt went on to become something of a cult figure for a time, even starring in two pornographic films.

Part of the mission statement of Lorena, the series, was to use the true crime format to recontextualize the Lorena Bobbitt story. Despite the prevailing perception of the incident beforehand, in reality, John Bobbitt had subjected Lorena to years of domestic abuse and rape, up to and including the night of her attack.

John Bobbitt was eventually acquitted on rape charges. Lorena Bobbitt was found not guilty by a jury for reasons of insanity.

“25 years later, Lorena is a groundbreaking re-investigation of the deep moral issues and painful human tragedies buried at the heart of this infamous American scandal,” Amazon’s official description of the series reads, as reported by Deadline. “Lost in the tabloid coverage and jokes was the opportunity for a national discussion on domestic and sexual assault in America.”

Lorena saw a positive reaction upon its release, currently boasting an 82% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was the biggest project yet from director Joshua Rofé, who previously helmed Lost for Life, a documentary about juvenile offenders sentenced to life in prison.

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