Saturday, May 26, 2007

Happy Birthday, Duke

John Wayne would have been 100 years old today, and Turner Classic Movies has been showing a few of his films in tribute. I used to think it was not Wayne's job to "act" in a film. It was his job to be John Wayne. Certainly he's not what you might call a classically trained Shakespearean actor. Later, when I became more familiar with Wayne's work, I found I needed to give him a bit more respect as an actor.

That's not to say he should play Hamlet or be cast in the lead of Death of a Salesman. For the life of me I cannot remember which film featured a drunken Dean Martin as a co-star and which featured a drunken Robert Mitchum as co-star. Many of these cowboy flicks run together. But within a certain range, Wayne was actually quite talented and generally quite smart about the roles he accepted. If you watch In Harm's Way, The Searchers and The Quiet Man all in a row, you'll see he's asked to do something just a little different in each film, and he does it quite well. Like I said, he's not Olivier, but he does a little more than just stumble around calling people Pilgrim.

The three films mentioned above are probably my favorite Wayne pictures. You can throw in True Grit and She Wore A Yellow Ribbon as honorable mentions. I'd love to hear your favorites too.


Anonymous said...

I love Red River because the supporting cast behind Wayne is so great. Montgomery Clift and Walter Brennan.

John DuMond said...

Hmmm, let's see. Here's a few of my favorites (in addition to the ones you mentioned):

Cahill, US Marshal
The War Wagon
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
El Dorado
(with Robert Mitchum)
Rio Bravo (with Dean Martin)
Fort Apache

I'm sure there are more, but that's what I can come up with at the moment.

Victor Gischler said...

John D,

Ahhhhh. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance ... wish I'd remembered to mention taht one. Good job.


Anonymous said...

One of my favorites is Big Jake. Maybe not a great movie, but several great scenes and lines.
"Anything goes wrong, your fault, my fault, nobody's fault, I'm gonna blow your head off."

Randy Johnson said...

The Shootist, Big Jake, And The Cowboys.

Anonymous said...

Too many good movies to pick a favorite!

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

In no particular order:

True Grit
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Rio Bravo
The Shootist

Stephen Blackmoore said...

True Grit ("Fill your hands, you sonofabitch! I'm comin' through!")

Rio Bravo / Rio Lobo (I can never remember which is which)

The Quiet Man

The Shootist (Hey, the Duke dies in a pool of his own blood at the end. Did he ever do that in any of his other films?)

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

"Rio Bravo / Rio Lobo (I can never remember which is which)"

Rio Bravo has Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

...and Angie Dickinson when she was smokin' hot.

Anonymous said...

You gotta love The Wings of Eagles. John Wayne as a Navy pilot turned screenwriter. I'm a sucker for movies about writers.