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 Post subject: Re: John Wayne
PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:09 am 
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Prince Judah
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Well, I've been trying to catch a few of the John Wayne films during the current TCM marathon and here are a few observations:

The Sea Chase (1955) - this one has been touted as unusual in that Wayne plays a German captain of a steam freighter, at the start of World War II, but - to me - Wayne is just Wayne in this one, meaning a typical heroic leader that he usually plays, with all sorts of troubles and conflicts with his men. Lana Turner is the female lead. Some minor SPOILERS ahead: this has a few brutal scenes but these do not having anything to do with warfare. The first is with Jim Arness, in a sizable role as one of the ship's crew; there's tension between him and Wayne's captain character. At one point, Arness is swinging an ax, cutting wood, but he's frustrated over the latest argument with Wayne, gets distracted and somehow manages to swing his ax into the foot of a crewmate (I think the other sailor is played by Claude Akins). Ugh! Later, a very young sailor dives into the sea while they're anchored at an island and has a bad shark encounter. He doesn't die right away, but his character arc does not end well, to put it mildly. These sound like grisly moments but nothing is really shown, being a fifties film.

Spoiler:
btw, this is one of the few (10 or 11) John Wayne films in which his character might die at the end or does die - but it's a bit ambiguous at the end - there's a shot of a beach and narration suggesting that there's a chance that Wayne and Lana Turner might have made it...


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 Post subject: Re: John Wayne
PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:19 am 
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Blood Alley (1955) - Wayne plays a merchant marine stuck in China and ends up helping a bunch of villagers escape to Hong Kong in a daring plan. It's similar in some ways to the later Sand Pebbles (66), starring Steve McQueen. In Blood Alley, Wayne is paired with, a bit unusually, Lauren Bacall, who later appeared in Wayne's final film, The Shootist. Also in a sizable role is Mike Mazurki, who fought Chuck Heston in Dark City (50). Mazurki & Wayne don't tangle in this one, being allies, and Mazurki plays a huge Chinese man. This was an early producing effort by Wayne (his Batjac Productions) and he took the role after Robert Mitchum was fired. It does come across like a typical Mitchum role, so it's like watching Wayne in a Mitchum role.

Red River (48) - I've seen this one before and didn't plan to watch it again, but ended up seeing most of it again. Wayne plays an unlikable and even hateful sort of man in most of this film. Those familiar with this should remember the climactic scene of Wayne stomping towards Montgomery Clift, the scene which the whole film had been building up to. This is the kind of stuff that set Wayne apart, especially nowadays; most any other stars trying this determined walk would come off as laughable; Wayne sends a chill down the spine - he has murder in his eyes and there will be blood. Of course, many are critical of the way it finally ended - in the original draft, Wayne was to die, but (as the TCM guest expert said), director Hawks blinked and wanted a happy ending for all involved. Some trivia: Clift's character is named Matthew Garth, the same as Heston's in Midway (76). Also, I just mentioned The Outsiders in my previous post; another character is named Cherry Valance, also one in The Outsiders.

The Shepherd of the Hills (1941) - Wayne's 1st color film, kind of a strange one - this is the first time I've seen it. It's based on a famous novel, but made significant changes from the novel, and this may be why it seemed kind of off to me during much of it. Wayne plays a local in the Ozarks whose family are moonshiners and he has a lot of deep-seated rage over his mother's death, even though he didn't really know her - she had died soon after his birth and the supposed desertion by his father. A stranger (Harry Carey - very good here; he was also in the final act of Red River) arrives, buying the plot of land that Wayne's mom is buried on, and Wayne gets upset... The scenery is very nice but Wayne's obsession over finding & killing his mother's killer - his father - just comes off as strange; firstly, it's not like he's actually searching for his father, he just resides in the Ozarks all his life; secondly, Wayne's aunt seems to be the shrill cause of Wayne's hate, but she's so annoying - including to Wayne - that it's unlikely that she would influence him at all.

Reap the Wild Wind (42) - I'm watching this one now; earlier DeMille epic; some of the early scenes reminded me of Gone With the Wind - Paulette Goddard seemed to be channeling Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara. Wayne quote, to Raymond Massey - "Shut up about her! Or I'll tear the jaw out of your face!" Wayne expert Scott Eyman (he wrote a book about him, published recently, John Wayne the Life and Legend) hinted that Wayne didn't think too much of star Ray Milland as a leading man, considering him lightweight. Ray does seem out of place as a tough hero in this one, punching out scurvy swine alongside Wayne. Overall, though, it's not a very exciting picture.


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 Post subject: Re: John Wayne
PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:38 am 
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Chrysagon wrote:
Yeah :lol: - this was mentioned about Page in one of the featurettes or mini-documentaries on the DVD. The person saying this also gave her the benefit of the doubt - that she was doing this as some kind of Method acting, to really 'get into' the role of a real frontier woman, but it sounds a little gross anyway; she was also described as "Bohemian" - meaning she might have just been that way, like some beatnik.

Well, she must have done something right. She was nominated for an Academy award for Best Supporting Actress.

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 Post subject: Re: John Wayne
PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:40 pm 
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Chrysagon, those are some good summations of Wayne's films and career. Glad you finally saw Hondo. That was one that I didn't see for a long time, either. I don't think it is quite in the league of the Ford/Hawks/Wayne films; but it is surprisingly good. For a long time, the film was unavailable to see due to copyright issues with the Wayne estate. I first saw it when it was shown either by a local Houston station or syndicated network in 3D around 15 or so years ago. You could pick up free 3D glasses at local stores. However, 3D really does not work on standard def TVs. The net result was that the movie's color looked wrong and there was no real 3D effect. It was rumored that the latest Blu-ray release would be 3D, but at the last minute, that did not happen.

I think the things that make it interesting are Wayne's performance, the offbeat casting of Page, the somewhat sympathetic treatment of the Indians (even though they were still shown as fairly savage) and the dialog. It was written by James Edward Grant, who would sometimes doctor other people's scripts so that Wayne would have good "John Wayne dialog". I think Grant's dialog and Duke's performance made Hondo Lane an interesting and unique character for Wayne.

As to the Rio Bravo/El Dorado comparisons, I have to say I much prefer Rio Bravo. I saw El Dorado theatrically as a kid and loved it. But once I saw Rio Bravo on the Late Show, I was no longer terribly interested in El Dorado.

Rio Bravo is really something of a remake as well. Before doing the western version of the story, most of its themes had already been covered in two non-westerns - Only Angels Have Wings and To Have and Have Not. All of these films feature certain stock elements. There's a rugged hero (Cary Grant in Only Angels, Bogie in To Have, Wayne in the other two); there's a sympathetic drunk (Thomas Mitchell in Only Angels, Walter Brennan in To Have, Dino in Rio Bravo, Mitchum in El Dorado), and there's the woman who comes along and falls for the hero (and vice versa) - (Jean Arthur in Angels, Bacall in To Have, Dickinson in Rio Bravo). El Dorado largely dispenses with this plot device, probably due to Wayne being too old to be a romantic leading man by '67. All three of the films that feature the woman subplot handle it the same way. She's supposed to leave on the next plane/boat/stage before the big climax, and decides not to leave. All three feature the leading lady saying the line "I heard someone say she wasn't going, and that someone was me" (I'm trying to remember the exact line).

Sometimes, Hawks uses an element from a story and does a slight variation in one of the remakes. So Brennnan went from being the drunken sidekick in To Have and Have Not, to being the "old deputy" in Rio Bravo, with Dino taking on the drunk part. El Dorado then had Mitchum as the drunk, and Arthur Hunnicutt as the old deputy. The interesting thing to me is that Hawks was able to recycle the same plot and characters so many times with enough changes to make them all interesting.


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 Post subject: Re: John Wayne
PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2014 7:23 am 
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Ed Bannon wrote:
Chrysagon, those are some good summations of Wayne's films and career. Glad you finally saw Hondo. That was one that I didn't see for a long time, either. I don't think it is quite in the league of the Ford/Hawks/Wayne films; but it is surprisingly good.

I agree that it's not quite up there with the Ford & Hawks westerns done with Wayne; close but no cigar, as the old saying goes.

Ed Bannon wrote:
As to the Rio Bravo/El Dorado comparisons, I have to say I much prefer Rio Bravo. I saw El Dorado theatrically as a kid and loved it. But once I saw Rio Bravo on the Late Show, I was no longer terribly interested in El Dorado.

I have my own take on the Rio Bravo/El Dorado debate, but I'll save that for a future post, in the next day or so.
Ed Bannon wrote:
The interesting thing to me is that Hawks was able to recycle the same plot and characters so many times with enough changes to make them all interesting.
That's been fascinating to me, as well, for many years - it's amazing to me how El Dorado duplicates much of Rio Bravo but the variations are enough to make it a fresh new approach to a western somehow - an illusion maybe.


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 Post subject: Re: John Wayne
PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2014 7:36 am 
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Here's some more offbeat trivia, gleaned from the on-going TCM marathon: some of the choices for the marathon might be looked upon as odd; yesterday, I watched about half of a silly comedy-drama starring George Gobel & Diana Dors, called I Married a Woman (1959). The film is in black & white, except for an early scene in a movie theater - there, the couple watch a movie which is showing in color; the actors on the screen are... John Wayne & Angie Dickinson! (probably done during their stint on Rio Bravo) It's a simple scene of the two talking at the end of some romantic drama. Weird. Wayne might have appeared a 2nd time later in the film but I didn't watch the 2nd half. This is what's known as an unbilled cameo. Speaking of cameos, in about an hour, as I type this, the marathon will start showing The Greatest Story Ever Told, which has that cameo by Wayne as a Roman centurion. Personally, I wouldn't have picked that film as part of a John Wayne marathon, but that's just me.

A little while ago, a watched the last half-hour of The Shootist (76). Some SPOILERS now for those who haven't seen it: Wayne's last gunfight on film and of his career is with Bill McKinney (the hillbilly villain in Deliverance and main villain of The Outlaw Josey Wales), Richard Boone (Paladin) and Hugh O'Brian (Wyatt Earp). The last one he shoots and kills on film is O'Brian (Wyatt Earp).
The last character we see looking at the body of Wayne's character - Wayne's final character on film - is played by James Stewart.


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 Post subject: Re: John Wayne
PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 8:41 pm 
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Prince Judah
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I just came across this new DVD set (released today), called John Wayne: The Epic Collection -
http://shop.tcm.com/detail.php?p=538847 ... _JohnWayne

Image < this includes a book and memorabilia

This has 40 Wayne films on 38 discs - huge. I'm not getting this myself, but for anyone who has no Wayne films on DVD and had been interested in getting some, this is a big option. Also, the sellers like to market it as a great Father's Day gift. But, it's expensive - 150 bucks. The films in this set are:

    1932 - Big Stampede / Ride Him, Cowboy / Haunted Gold
    1933 - The Telegraph Trail / Somewhere in Sonora / The Man From Monterey
    1939 - Allegheny Uprising
    1942 - Reunion in France
    1944 - Tall in the Saddle
    1945 - Back to Bataan
    1945 - They Were Expendable
    1946 - Without Reservations
    1947 - Tycoon
    1948 - Fort Apache
    1948 - 3 Godfathers
    1949 - She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
    1951 - Operation Pacific
    1951 - Flying Leathernecks
    1952 - Big Jim McLain
    1953 - Trouble Along the Way
    1955 - The Sea Chase
    1955 - Blood Alley
    1956 - The Searchers
    1957 - The Wings of Eagles
    1959 - Rio Bravo
    1962 - Hatari!
    1962 - How the West Was Won: PART 1
    1962 - How the West Was Won: PART 2
    1962 - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
    1963 - Donovan's Reef
    1965 - In Harm's Way
    1965 - The Sons of Katie Elder
    1966 - El Dorado
    1968 - The Green Berets
    1969 - True Grit
    1970 - Chisum
    1972 - The Cowboys
    1973 - The Train Robbers
    1973 - Cahill: United States Marshal
    1974 - McQ
    1976 - The Shootist


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 Post subject: Re: John Wayne
PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 6:57 pm 
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150 bucks for 40 movies is incredibly affordable. I'd love a set like that if I didn't already own so many of his movies.

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 Post subject: Re: John Wayne
PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2015 8:54 pm 
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I just found out that Heston almost played opposite John Wayne in The Comancheros (1961). He would have played the part eventually played by Stuart Whitman, a roguish gambler. I read this in the Wayne biography by Scott Eyman; the passage in the book is very brief and reads:
Quote:
Originally, the film was planned for Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster as a follow-up to their very popular Vera Cruz; after Cooper died, the western was reconfigured for Wayne as part of his three-picture deal with Fox. Charlton Heston was originally set as Wayne's co-star, but after Ben-Hur Heston wasn't about to take second billing to anyone, so the studio downshifted.
That would have been quite a combo - Wayne and Heston starring together in a western. Later in the book, it reads that James Stewart and Heston were considered for the part of John Elder in The Sons of Katie Elder (65), the part played by Wayne. As we now know, the only picture that Heston & Wayne ended up being in together was The Greatest Story Ever Told, in which Heston's role was small and Wayne's was a strange cameo, and they had no scenes together.

There was even a remote possibility that Heston would have played Rooster Cogburn, in the sequel to True Grit, as every big time actor of that time (1975) was being considered in case Wayne was not able to reprise his famous role. Finally, it reads that just before John Ford's death, he sent several messages to Heston that he wanted to do a picture with Heston. Henry Fonda told Heston that Heston wouldn't have liked it, that Ford was "a mean son of a @%#&*" :mad: Image


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 Post subject: Re: John Wayne
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 3:15 pm 
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A lot of interesting stuff, Chrysagon! All of it quite surprising. I have a hard time believing Heston wouldn't be a co-star to John Wayne, despite coming off Ben-Hur. Heston and Stewart as John Elder could have worked better than Wayne age-wise, Wayne looked too old to be the brother of some of that family. That there were plans to make a sequel to True Grit without Wayne boggles the mind, why would they? He made that role iconic and anyone else playing it shortly after Wayne wouldn't be wise.

Very funny about Fonda telling Heston not to work with Ford, Heston looked up to Fonda so I guess that could be true. Still, passing up the chance to work with such a legend and that the legend requested it is quite an honor! Maybe Heston was still turned off by having worked with another bully director - Sam Peckinpah and didn't think it was worth it, who knows.

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