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John Wayne

Spend some time with The Duke before and after The Big Game.

We could think of only one person who might be considered as important as football to many of our readers this weekend: John Wayne. So here are five movies starring The Duke available for streaming before or after the Super Bowl. Just click on the titles, and you’ll see where to find them.

Rio Bravo 

Howard Hawks directed dozens of diverse movies — everything from musicals to war stories, gangster melodramas to screwball comedies — throughout a prodigious and prolific career that spanned from the silent era to the early ’70s. But Rio Bravo (1959) stands apart from his other certifiable masterpieces as a uniquely revered cult fave, one that elicits rapturous praise from fans and filmmakers alike. (Quentin Tarantino famously declared: “When I’m getting serious about a girl, I show her Rio Bravo, and she better bleeping like it.”) John Wayne, Dean Martin, Walter Brennan and Ricky Nelson are improbably but perfectly matched as the outgunned good guys who, in the true Hawksian tradition, remain true to personal codes of honor and duty — even as they grapple with limitations, weaknesses, inner demons, and really nasty hangovers —while bound together for a common purpose (in this case, keeping a killer behind bars while trying to avoid being killed).

The Sons of Katie Elder 

As we noted in our 50th anniversary commemoration, this fan favorite was the first film Wayne made after his life-saving 1964 cancer operation: “Wayne remained every inch the thoroughgoing professional throughout the arduous production of The Sons of Katie Elder (1965), determined to prove that he had indeed ‘licked the Big C’ and was back in the saddle, literally as well as figuratively. If he ever resented [director Henry] Hathaway’s demanding drill-sergeant style of directing, he chose not to hold a grudge — and, just four years later, gladly re-teamed with the director for True Grit (1969), the movie for which he won his only Academy Award for Best Actor. Some biographers have theorized that The Sons of Katie Elder was an invaluable boon to John Wayne, in that it convinced him that working hard at what he did best was the way to continue cheating death. Such armchair psychology is usually of dubious value while taking the measure of any man. But in Wayne’s case — well, maybe there is something to the notion that there’s nothing like a brush with death to reignite one’s work ethic.”

El Dorado 

If the plot of El Dorado (1967) seems a tad familiar, well it should — director Howard Hawks more or less recycled it from Rio Bravo (1959), and then re-recycled it for Rio Lobo (1970). But never mind: As often is the case with John Wayne westerns, the storytellers, not the story, are what really matter here. As critic Roger Ebert noted in his original review: “Wayne plays a professional gunman who comes to town to take a job from a rich rancher who wants a poor rancher’s water (who says the plot has to be original?). But the sheriff turns out to be his old buddy, [Robert] Mitchum, and so he turns down the job. Then the rich rancher hires another gunman (Christopher George), and Wayne sides up with the drunk and disheveled Mitchum. Duke’s team isn’t exactly made of heroes. Mitchum has been hitting the bottle for two months, his deputy (played with charm by [Arthur] Hunnicutt) is a windy old Indian fighter, Wayne has a bullet near his spine that causes a slight touch of paralysis now and again, and his sidekick ([James] Caan) is a kid who carries a shotgun instead of a pistol because he’s such a lousy shot. Hawks fashions scene after scene of quiet, earthy humor from this situation. Without great care, the movie could have degenerated into a put-on, but Hawks plays it straight and never allows his actors to take that last fatal step in overacting.” Movie buffs, take note: Listen closely, and you’ll hear a sly reference to Shoot the Piano Player, the 1962 film by Francois Truffaut, the great French filmmaker who, during his days as a critic, championed Hawks’ films long before many U.S. critics did.

Big Jake 

When we asked Ethan Wayne back in 2007 to name his favorite of his famous father’s movies, he didn’t hesitate: “For me,” he said, “it’s Big Jake (1971), just because I was in it, my brother [Patrick Wayne] was in it, my other brother [Michael Wayne] produced it — and it gave me a chance to work with my dad.” Ethan played The Duke’s kidnapped grandson in the western drama, a gritty action flick directed by George Sherman that also featured Maureen O’Hara, Wayne’s longtime friend and frequent co-star, in a supporting role. “The crew that was on that movie, from the stuntmen and the caterers, they were all guys I grew up with,” Ethan Wayne recalled. “They were like my uncles. And the best thing about it was, I was there for just three weeks out of the filming — I was there for the entire filming. And it was the most fun a kid could have.”

The Shootist 

On Jan. 22, 1901, legendary gunfighter J.B. Books (John Wayne) rides into Carson City, where a local doctor (James Stewart) confirms his worst fears:  “You have a cancer. Advanced.” At the time of its release, The Shootist (1976) discomforted many fans who couldn’t help viewing it as an unwelcome reminder of The Duke’s real-life battles with “The Big C.” But now, decades after Wayne’s passing, this underrated western can be better appreciated as a respectful elegy for a Hollywood professional of tremendous dignity and stature. (A nice touch: The opening credits are flashed over clips from many of Wayne’s earlier westerns.) One might argue the film isn’t quite equal to the man it honors — but there’s no denying The Shootist allows Wayne one of his few opportunities to play a character who frankly expresses a fear of his own mortality (“I’m a dying man, a-scared of the dark!”) even while remaining true to his personal code: “I won’t be wronged. I won’t be insulted. I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.”  Directed by Don Siegel, The Shootist is deeply moving as it symbolically ends an era of history and literally ends a historic screen career.

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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