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John Wayne

John Wayne’s incredible lesser-known legacy unearthed in forgotten Star Wars role

Today, western film fans will get the chance to watch Wayne in another of his standout roles, as the classic How the West Was Won airs on BBC Two from 1.30pm. Wayne heads an all-star cast, which includes the likes of Henry Fonda, James Stewart, Debbie Reynolds and Gregory Peck. Released in 1962, and directed by iconic filmmaker John Ford, it follows four generations of a New England family who move on to a newly tamed town.

It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning three, while the American Film Institute in 2008 ranked it among the top 10 western films of all time.

Wayne was already a major Hollywood star at the time, and nearly a decade later would collect a Best Actor Oscar himself, for his role in True Grit.
The star died in 1979 aged, 72, as a result of stomach cancer – but part of his lesser-known legacy is the part he played two years before his death in Star Wars: A New Hope.
Sound designer Ben Burtt discussed Wayne’s role in the film, and how he decided on the icon to be the voice of character Garindan.

John Wayne's incredible lesser-known legacy unearthed in forgotten Star Wars role


John Wayne’s incredible lesser-known legacy unearthed in forgotten Star Wars role (Image: GETTY)

Star Wars: Some of the New Hope cast
Star Wars: Some of the New Hope cast (Image: GETTY)

In a 2021 Slash Film report, Burtt noted that he accidentally used Wayne’s voice as the character’s, following manipulation on it to create the perfect tone.
He said: “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.
“And 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.”

John Wayne's character in Star Wars: A New Hope
John Wayne’s character in Star Wars: A New Hope (Image: YOUTUBE)

Burtt added: “I had found some loop lines in the trash from the studio that had been thrown away.
“So the buzzing was triggered by some dialogue like, ‘All right, what are you doin’ in this town’, or something like that.”
While the use of his voice was minimal, some film aficionados consider it Wayne’s final role in cinema.
The character of Garindan arrives early in Star Wars: A New Hope, and offers clues to the whereabouts of R2-D2, C-3PO, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewie and Obi-Wan.

John Wayne's voice was used to create the character's voice
John Wayne’s voice was used to create the character’s voice (Image: YOUTUBE)

According to StarWars.com, the character was a “long-snooted Kubaz”, that “made a living ferreting out information in Mos Eisley and selling it to the highest bidder”.
It added: “After the Empire hired Garindan and other spies to search for a pair of missing droids, the Kubaz discovered a duo that fit the Imperial description.
“He followed Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi to Docking Bay 94 for their rendezvous with Han Solo, then summoned Imperial troops to apprehend them.”
Years before his death, Wayne coined the term The Big C in 1964, to describe cancer.

Filming locations in the UK
Filming locations in the UK (Image: EXPRESS)

Due to his condition, Wayne had to have his left lung removed, as well as four ribs, and while he began his recovery well, he continued smoking and chewing tobacco
Wayne remains one of Hollywood’s most enduring stars, with his career beginning in the silent movie era of the Twenties, and on to global stardom throughout the following decades.
In total, he starred in 179 films and television productions, and by 1970 had collected the Oscar gong he had so craved for his performance in True Grit.
He was so influential that the American Film Institute selected Wayne as one of the greatest male stars of classic American cinema.
Married three times and divorced twice, Wayne had seven children in total, including his daughter Aissa, who once recalled her final encounter with her father.

John Wayne

Here Are the American Film Institute’s Top 10 Westerns of All Time

The American Film Institute decided the top 10 Westerns of all time and we’ve got the 411 on the ones that ranked. People have always loved Westerns, and we’ve listed 8 of the most popular according to AFI.

First up, Cat Ballou, the 1965 Western comedy from Elliot Silverstein. It starred Jane Fonda as Cat and Lee Marvin in a dual role as both the man who killed Cat’s father and the gunslinger who helps her get revenge. Narrated through song by Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye, what made “Cat Ballou” so special was the female lead, which was rare for a Western.

Next, John Ford’s turning-point 1939 film, Stagecoach. It starred John Wayne and Claire Trevor. The film follows a group of interesting characters as they travel in a stagecoach together, which paved the way for the road trip trope. The passengers have to contend with the Ringo Kid, an outlaw, and the threat of Apache attack as they travel to New Mexico in the 1880s.

McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Robert Altman’s 1971 film, was a Revisionist Western piece starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. The film follows gambler John McCabe as he upstarts a successful brothel in a Washington town with Constance Miller’s help. The two strike up a romance, but when a mining company offers to buy his property, McCabe refuses.

No list of Westerns would be complete without Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The 1969 film from George Roy Hill starred Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy and Robert Redford as the Sundance Kid. The two got into all sorts of trouble, fleeing from the law after train robbing. The pair escape to Bolivia, but find they must fight the urge to commit crimes.

AFI’s Top Ten Westerns: Stagecoaches, Shoot-Outs, and Searchers

Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch comes up next. The 1969 Western starred William Holden, with Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates, and Ben Johnson as his gang. The outlaws prepare to go through with a heist, only to find out the whole thing is a setup. The film is full of gratuitous violence and bloody shootouts; sure to satisfy fans of more gory Westerns.

Up next on the list, Red River. This 1948 Howard Hawks film follows John Wayne as Thomas Dunson, who aims to drive his cattle to Missouri for a better price. Montgomery Clift stars as Matt Garth, an orphaned youth whom Thomas takes under his wing. The film was shot on a grand scale, with sweeping landscapes and plenty of cattle. This is a must-watch for those who love big Westerns.

Then, Western star Clint Eastwood took a stab at directing his own with 1992’s Unforgiven. Starring Eastwood and co-starring Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris, the film follows Eastwood’s William Munny as he comes to town to catch a group of bandits. Harris’ English Bob comes to town as well, for the same reason, and the two outlaws clash with the local sheriff.

Additionally, the 1953 film Shane takes the American cowboy and turns him on his head; the cowboy retires to a ranch in Wyoming, but while working there falls in love with the ranch owner’s wife. He realizes that to save the ranch he has to fight the big cattle baron threatening to take the land. There’s something about watching a kid shout “Shane! Come back!” over an echoing, barren wasteland that tugs on the heartstrings.

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John Wayne

John Wayne: Which of the Duke’s Films Made the Most Money?

During his iconic Hollywood career, John Wayne made many popular films. These filmed are remembered for their drama, action, locations, scenes of heroism, and of course, for the Duke himself.

His films were usually Westerns or were about war. Wayne’s was a career that pretty much anyone hoping to make it in the movie business would envy.

Here’s an interesting question: Out of all of those popular movies, which of the Duke’s films was the most successful financially? Let’s find out.

According to UltimateMovieRankings.com, that title goes to the 1962 film, “How the West Was Won.” This film also starred James Stewart, Henry Fonda, and Gregory Peck in this movie about the expansion into the American West. It made $440 million. (The website has adjusted the earnings of each of these films. The figures presented here are the films’ domestic grosses.)

Interestingly, the second most financially successful film of Wayne’s career was also released in 1962. It was “The Longest Day” and made $382 million. This film told stories from D-Day during World War II. The cast also included Fonda, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Eddie Albert, and Richard Beymer.

Bringing in the third-highest gross of the Duke’s career was “Reap the Wild Wind.” It was released in 1942 and made $361 million. It also starred Paulette Goddard and Ray Milland and followed the events that took place after a shipwreck in Key West.

The 1954 film “The High and the Mighty” comes in fourth place on the list of John Wayne’s highest-grossing films. It made $347 million. In fifth place is the 1955 film “The Sea Chase.” It also starred Lana Turner and “Gunsmoke” star James Arness.

List of John Wayne’s Most Financially Successful Films Also Includes One That Won Him an Oscar

The top 10 list of John Wayne’s highest-grossing films includes some of his most popular, as well as the film that won him an Academy Award.

Rounding out the top 10 highest-grossing John Wayne movies include “The Alamo” from 1960 in sixth place with $300 million. “The Sands of Iwo Jima” from 1949 comes in seventh place with almost $296 million. “Red River,” which was released in 1948 is in eighth place with almost $270 million.

The 1969 film “True Grit” is in ninth place with $262 million. It was his role as Rooster Cogburn that won John Wayne an Academy Award. The movie also starred Glen Campbell, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, and Kim Darby.

Rounding out the top 10 was the Duke’s 1959 film “Rio Bravo” with almost $251 million.

Now we know which John Wayne’s movies were his biggest financial successes in the United States. So, which film came in last on that list? This title goes to the 1929 film “Words and Music.” It reportedly grossed $13.6 million.

Interestingly, the list of John Wayne’s highest-grossing films worldwide is different from the domestic list shared above. The top five films on this list, from No. 1 to No. 5, are: “How the West Was Won”; “The Alamo”; “The High and the Mighty”; “Rio Bravo”; and “The Sea Chase.”

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John Wayne

John Wayne Turned Down ‘Waco Kid’ Role in 1974’s ‘Blazing Saddles’: Here’s Why

“Blazing Saddles” fans, you almost had John Wayne playing the “Waco Kid” in Mel Brooks’ classic film. But “The Duke” said no.

Mel Brooks, who directed and co-wrote the script for “Blazing Saddles,” was asked about Wayne turning down the role in a 2016 interview with Philly Metro.

“He did,” Brooks said in confirming Wayne turned down the role. “I wanted him to play the Waco Kid, because the Duke was such a good actor. His reality is that he is the cowboy Western.

“We were in the commissary at Warners, I gave him the script and he promised he’d read it overnight,” Brooks said. “The next morning I saw him and he says that he loves it — every beat, every line — but that it’s too blue, that it would disappoint his fans. He said, though, that he would be the first one in line to see it.”

Gene Wilder Takes Over Role In ‘Blazing Saddles’

When Wayne passed on it, Brooks initially looked to actor Gig Young to play the “Waco Kid.” Young, who battled alcoholism, showed up for the first day of filming. It did not go well. He collapsed during his first scene while dealing with withdrawal symptoms.

So, who did Brooks eventually turn to for this role? It just took one phone call to Gene Wilder, who flew out to Los Angeles and started filming.

Brooks and Wilder had worked together on an earlier Brooks film, “The Producers.” Wilder actually turned down another role in the film, that of Hedley Lamarr. Comedian Harvey Korman, who made a name for himself on “The Carol Burnett Show,” eventually was cast in that role.

Cleavon Little Role Originally Set For Richard Pryor

Of course, Cleavon Little plays Sheriff Bart in the movie. It was a role that Brooks wanted to give to Richard Pryor, who was a co-writer of the movie script. Warner Bros., though, was reportedly scared off by his drug arrests.

They wouldn’t insure Pryor for the movie, so the part went to Little. Other cast members include Madeline Kahn, Slim Pickens, and former National Football League star Alex Karras.

The studio gave Brooks a $2.6 million budget for his 1974 release. As of 2012, “Blazing Saddles” had earned $119.6 million in the United States and Canada combined.

One could say that Warner Bros. earned back what it put out, and then some, from the witty, wild mind of Mel Brooks.

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