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John Wayne

More Awesomeness, or John Wayne Part 2

I’ve been reminded that, in my earlier column on what to me were three glorious days spent in the company of John Wayne, I said that there is more to the story. Here’s what I meant:
I hurried through all my duties in shooting my special to hang with my new friend as much as possible. Just at this moment of typing I’ve identified the feeling I was having then. It was as if a 7th grader (me) had been befriended by the popular, big, tall, jock upperclassman. And wished everyone could see us together, maybe with his hand on my shoulder.
(Did anyone just reach for an airsick bag?)
The picture, “The Shootist,” was his last. There is debate still about whether Wayne knew at the time that he — like the legendary gunfighter he was playing — was dying of cancer. Most agree that he did.
Here was a greatly talented, highly intelligent, college-educated, well-read man of immense personal charm and humor. I think we can agree that he knew.
There’s a rough-going scene in which he asks Jimmy Stewart, playing his doctor, not to spare him the details of what will happen as the disease progresses. It’s fascinating, if true as some say that he had not been able to do this in life, but — by requesting that the script be sharpened in detail on this point — chose this route to the information.If I had to pick 10 highlights of my life, one would be my arrival on the set at almost the instant this scene was shot in the doctor’s office. The crew knew their long-time friend was not well. There seemed to be more people than usual standing around watching. When Stewart delivered the line with the dread word in it — the one even doctors will euphemise, as in “ca. of the breast” — a burly stage-hand-type near me had to quickly cover his mouth, apparently fearing that the sort of tearful, involuntary snort he emitted might have been picked up by a mike, spoiling the take. Similar moments on the part of crew members could be seen all around.

A second consequence of my time on the set with John Wayne: It’s early afternoon on the Western town square set. Costumed extras relaxing, smoking, gossiping, strolling, reading trade papers, Wayne off somewhere resting, napping or playing chess during a long break. (I can eye-witness report this: during breaks he shed his boots and slipped into a chartreuse pair of those fluffy marabou slippers more associated with women. Ludicrosity rampant. Probably a custom-made joke gift from a colleague. Or taken off a very large lady.)
A lone horse was at the hitching post. A huge horse. I had a sudden semi-rational urge. “Is that Dollar?” I asked. And I got onto John Wayne’s horse. To my surprise I find that I’ve recounted this sorry tale before, in this very paper in 1998. Reading it again scares the chaps off me, so suffice it to say that by the time Dollar’s spine-punishing trot had escalated into something more hazardous, then de-accelerated from there, and I was returned, trembling, to terra firma, there’d been a great deal of yelling from the crew and scattering of sun-bonneted extras (one clarion voice sounded above the rest: “Who the —— is that on Duke’s horse?”) and I was in a position to state for the record that an eternity lasts about 45 seconds.

I had one more glorious day with Wayne. He had agreed to appear on my special, and as I sat beside him — he in full costume — on a buckboard, with me holding the reins, in one hand, he said, “Are we rollin’?” At “Yes,” he took my hand mike and said into it, “Hi, this is John Wayne interviewing Dick Cavett.” (Don’t let me awaken, I thought.) We had a good time, and I might be able to retrieve this one for a future column.
The sun was up and the sky still bright but it had gotten to the time in the afternoon when the light changes undesirably for color film. I asked if they had finished shooting for the day.
“Yeah, it’s gettin’ a little yella.” (I won’t force the symbolic poignancy of those words.)
When we parted, I told him as best I could what a good time we had had together and what it meant to me. I said I felt kind of foolish, asking for an autographed photo.
“That shouldn’t be any trouble.”
He called for one, wrote on it, and without showing it to me, put it in an envelope.
We talked for a while more, mostly about the current prices of Indian artifacts, which I had seen swoop suddenly upwards. I asked him if he owned the beautiful beaded and long-fringed plains rifle case — probably Sioux or Cheyenne — he carried in John Ford’s “The Searchers.”
“I wish you hadn’t said that,” he said, grinning. “I bet I’ve thought about it a hundred times. I can’t watch the picture because of it. I tried later to find it, but somebody smarter than I am must’ve gotten it.”
“Didn’t it occur to you, maybe on the last day, to just slip it into your duffle bag?”
“It does now.” (Laughter.)

Having said goodbye and still aglow, while driving on the freeway, I remembered the picture. Pulling over like a responsible citizen, I slipped it out of the envelope, hoping there might be more than just the traditional “Best wishes” and a signature.
It read: “To Dick Cavett from John Wayne.”
This, of course, was enough. But below it there was another line.
“We should have started sooner.”
You bet I cried.

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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