I am excited because, way, way back, at the beginning of the year, Wandering Through The Shelves asked for some of us to fill in a few dates with a theme. I suggested Westerns because I love westerns and Voila! My mind has been all in a dither because I could choose some classics like Shane or High Noon. I could go to the man with no name in the Spaghetti Westerns which I love. I could even pick much newer films like the remake of the remake, Magnificent 7. I decided to go with one of my favourite actors ...John Wayne whom I love! There is some negativity & bashing now about this dignified man because of his politics and not going to war in WW2 but let's just set things straight...I do disagree with his stance on HUAC and his conservative leanings but I so respect his unshakable belief in his patriotism. He believed the States were in a crisis in the early 50's and he was not the total A-hole made out in the film "Trumbo". He had an ongoing injury from his football days plus he had the head of the studio stopping him from getting into the action during the war ( without Wayne knowing). Wayne tried more than once to get in but was denied. This man is not a coward. Anyhoo, I went all John Wayne this week and am proud of it. I think because, Wayne reminds me of my Dad and I think my dad and Wayne looked similar (when they were older)
1. RED RIVER-1948
This film, I believe, started to really capture John Wayne as a great actor. He plays a man who, with the help of his sidekick pal and an orphan, build up his land and his cattle. They start out on an epic cattle drive but as time passes, Wayne's character becomes more obsessive and tyrannical to the point where the orphan, now a grown man, mutinies with the other men and leave Wayne behind. Sounds like a dry land Mutiny on the Bounty with Wayne not happy and set for revenge. This is a classic film in so many ways from the hee-hawing at the start of the cattle drive to even the contrived ending... this film is stellar!
2. THE SEARCHERS-1956
I may have spoken about this film before but I don't care because it is so good. Wayne plays Ethan, a veteran from the civil war who reunites with his brother and the brother's family. You can instantly see that Ethan and the brother's wife have an unspoken love which is dealt with great respect. Soon, unfortunately, Ethan's brother and his family are ambushed and killed by Indian warriors except for the little girl and the adopted son who is part Indian. So begins an epic 5 year search for Ethan and the adopted son in tow, for the little girl taken by the tribe ruled by Scar. You get to see how prejudiced Ethan is, making you wonder whether he means to save the girl or kill her. It is John Ford all the way from his stock actors he always used (Ward Bond etc..), the music to the great Monument Valley. This is another true classic.
3. THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE-1962
OK This film stars John Wayne and my favourite actor, James Stewart (who also played in a number of Westerns) as uneasy "friends" in a town who are very fearful of this gang led by a deliciously evil Lee Marvin. Wayne plays the old west where the law meant the gun. James Stewart's character is a lawyer who represents a newer west who wishes to bring peace and order to the town. Vera Miles is the gal both leads are sweet on and she ends up choosing Stewart but you know it was not the right choice (strangely enough). This is one western where I cry when Wayne, realizing he lost the girl, destroys his home. It is actually quite a moving, but sad commentary on the life of the old west. This is why it is best to print the legend.
OK, OK...2 more.... I can't stop!
This is a fun, comedic western starring John Wayne and his best partner, the beautiful Maureen O'Hara as once married, now separated, couple. She was living out east with a lot of airs where he stayed out west where he was comfortable. She is one feisty lady who can look beautiful in a feathered hat but can get down and dirty with the men and be their equal. This is a little bit of the Taming of the Shrew and I love how he tames her at the end because it is all sexual chemistry between those 2. Yvonne DeCarlo (Munsters) was down on her luck at this time and Wayne asked her to act in this film and he helped her out and she never forgot.
5. TRUE GRIT-1969
This is the film that I prefer...WAAAY over the remake with Jeff Bridges. I like this actor a lot but disliked his portrayal...felt he was trying too hard. Anyway, This is the film that won Wayne his Oscar...finally (He should have won it for The Searchers). He plays a grizzled, drunken SOB called Rooster Cogburn who is hired by the spunky Mattie to bring her father's killer to justice. Along comes Glen Campbell who also wants Chaney brought to justice but for another crime. The 3 of them start riding out on the trail and come across the Ned Pepper gang. "Fill your hands, you Son of a Bitch". I love that line!!
Happy Thanksgiving to all my American blogger friends and stay away from the malls on Friday:)