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John Wayne

The Darkness Of The Searchers Stuck With John Wayne Even When He Wasn’t On Set

John Wayne might’ve been an ornery cuss. He might’ve made the worst film of his career in support of the Vietnam War at a moment when it was clear to anyone with two eyes and a conscience that the conflict was a moral and logistical sinkhole. He was a racist.
But he never wrote a single movie he performed in, and, from everything I’ve read about him, tailored movies to fit his persona — i.e. what he thought audiences expected from him as a movie star. “The Green Berets” is an outlier. For the most part, Wayne understood that he couldn’t play infallible heroes. He had to bleed. He had to lose a fistfight or two, or at least take some serious lumps en route to a hard-won victory. On rare occasions, he had to die. Regardless of where the film was headed, when he stepped in front of a camera, John Wayne had to be human.
Wayne’s willingness to tarnish his heroic image post-stardom is on startling display in Howard Hawks’ masterful “Red River.” His Tom Dunson is a broke Texas rancher driven to madness whilst pursuing a perilous cattle payday in Missouri. He murders men in cold blood. He vows to kill his adopted son (Montgomery Clift). That performance prompted Ford to exclaim “I never knew that son of a b**** could act.”
Wayne at his best presented America at its worst

Warner BrosOne year after the release of “Red River,” Wayne turned in one of his most nuanced portrayals in Ford’s “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.” But this was a warm-up for his turn as Ethan Edwards in Ford’s 1956 all-timer “The Searchers.” Wayne may be the protagonist of the movie, but the Confederate-soldier-turned-mercenary is as much of a villain as the Comanche chief who’s kidnapped his niece (Natalie Wood).
Wayne wasn’t a stupid man. He understood Ethan. And, according to David Welky and Randy Roberts’ “John Wayne: Treasures,” being Ethan took its toll on him emotionally. Harry Carey Jr., a Ford regular and friend to Wayne, was struck by the star’s darkened demeanor.
“[W]hen I looked up at [Duke] in rehearsal, it was into the meanest, coldest eyes I had ever seen. I don’t know how he molded that character. Perhaps he’d known someone like Ethan Edwards as a kid. He was even like Ethan Edwards at dinnertime. He didn’t kid around on ‘The Searchers’ like he had done on other shows. Ethan was always in his eyes.”
Ford and screenwriter Frank S. Nugent (working from a novel by Alan Le May) cleverly hemmed the Duke into a character who looked and sounded like just about every Western hero he’d been playing since “The Big Trail” in 1930. Ethan’s got Wayne’s trademark swagger and even gets a catchphrase (“That’ll be the day,” which, yes, inspired Buddy Holly’s definitive hit). But Ethan is a man burdened by hatred. He fought to preserve slavery for the South. He abhors the indigenous people of the land he’s travestied several different ways. There is no place for Ethan Edwards in the United States if this country is to bury its genocidal actions and rise to its lofty ideals.
John Wayne is immortal, and ours to reckon with forever
Warner BrosEthan likely haunted Wayne because, whether he could admit or not, both men had outlived their usefulness. John Wayne remains the quintessential American movie star because his heroism is tragically situational. In a perfect world, Ethan’s niece is never jeopardized because we’d rein in our sense of manifest destiny and learn to live alongside the people who were here before us. That he’s tasked with rescuing her is a failure of humanity, one in which he played a crucial role.
Taken as a whole, John Wayne’s career was one macho misadventure. On one hand, he codified the cinematic ideal of what a man should be, but on the other, in his very best movies, he showed us with excruciating specificity how being this kind of man leads to nothing but misery.
Wayne’s legacy does not belong to him alone. It’s a collaboration shared with several great filmmakers, and it is ours to pick over for as long as images can flicker or stream across a screen. America wouldn’t be America without wanton killing, and the movies wouldn’t be the movies without John Wayne. We’re stuck with the bastard. You can inveigh against him all day long, and this is wholly valid, but you cannot erase him.

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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