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Archive for the ‘John Wayne’ Category

Marion Mitchell Morrison (born Marion Robert Morrison)
May 26, 1907 – June 11, 1979

John Wayne was born 115 years ago today. Here he is with Gary Cooper and Gene Autry. Judging by what they’re wearing, it looks like Coop was shooting The Hanging Tree and Duke was working on Rio Bravo (both 1959).

This has to be one of the coolest photos ever stuck on this blog.

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Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Robert Stack, Joy Page, Gilbert Roland, Virginia Grey, John Hubbard, Katy Jurado, Paul Fix

Indicator has announced a special edition of Budd Boetticher’s wonderful Bullfighter And The Lady (1951) for a July Region B release. You get both Boetticher’s complete 124-minute cut and the 87-minute version released by Republic. John Wayne produced the picture, which landed Boetticher (and Ray Navarro) an Oscar nomination for Best Original Story.

You also get a slew of extras:
• Audio commentary with Glenn Kenny & Farran Smith Nehme
My Kingdom For… (1985) Boetticher’s autobiographical documentary about bullfighting
• Interview with Mary Boetticher (2022)
An Evening With Budd Boetticher audio recording
• Limited edition booklet

The Olive Blu-Ray was nice, a bare-bones release of the extended cut. It certainly deserves this deluxe edition. It’s a great, great film. Highly, highly recommended.

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Directed by John Ford
Starring John Wayne, William Holden, Constance Towers, Althea Gibson, Judson Pratt, Ken Curtis, Willis Bouchey, Hank Worden, Denver Pyle, Strother Martin, Hoot Gibson

When John Ford’s The Horse Soldiers (1959) first arrived on Blu-Ray (in 2011, if memory serves), it was a huge improvement on the old DVD, and there’s plenty of reasons to believe Kino Lorber’s new 4K restoration will be another leap forward.

The Horse Soldiers is a better picture than it gets credit for being, and getting better and better looking on video is a great way to crank up interest in it — and hopefully a bit of a reappraisal.

After a stuntman was killed on location, Ford lost his enthusiasm for the film and pretty much checked out on its completion — but even watered-down Ford is better than just about anything else you’ll see.

William H. Clothier’s cinematography here is, as always, top-notch — and should be stunning in this new restoration. A commentary from Joseph McBride will be a nice addition. Coming in June. Highly, highly recommended.

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Texas Independence Day.

God bless Texas — and John Wayne.

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Directed by John Ford
Starring John Wayne, James Stewart, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Edmond O’Brien, Andy Devine

Just saw that John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) is coming to 4K in April — the first Ford or Wayne picture to do so.

It’s hard to imagine this looking any better than the Blu-Ray, but who’s to complain? It’s one of the finest Westerns ever made.

Image swiped from John Wayne.

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Merry Christmas!

Here’s John Wayne and John Ford with Santa. There’s probably some Christmas spirits around, too.

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Nashville Scene used to boast a film writer named Jim Ridley. He’s about my age and he passed away a few years ago. Came across a compilation of his writing over the weekend called People Only Die Of Love In The Movies. In it, there’s his short piece on Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo (1959).

You may know by now that Rio Bravo is my favorite Western. I’m not gonna say it’s the best necessarily, but if I was headed to the electric chair and I got to watch one Western before they threw the switch, that’d be the one I’d pick (and not because of its long-ish running time).

Anyway, Mr. Ridley nailed Rio Bravo. What makes it special. What it is about it that’s so different. After reading his piece, I thought I would’ve loved to have met him for coffee or lunch somewhere just to geek out on Rio Bravo. That woulda really been something.

Rio Bravo cast and crew

Here’s a couple gems from his review (from Nashville Scene, November 2, 2006):

“After the big-budget thud of Land Of The Pharaohs, Howard Hawks emerged from a three-year sabbatical, including a stay in Paris and a purposeful study of TV drama, to create his 1959 rifle opera: a laid-back yet hard-headed response to the sanctimonious High Noon — which pissed off the director because no lawman worth his badge would ask civilians to risk their hides doing his job. The result is an irresistible ode to loyalty, cool under fire and masculine honor — which in the Hawks universe extends even to Angie Dickinson’s stand-up saloon girl.”

“Perhaps the most purely enjoyable Western ever made, Rio Bravo only deepens with age and repeated viewing, right down to the genial juxtaposition of Martin’s slouch and Wayne’s saunter. It’s doubtful another American movie has ever taken so much interest in the way its characters walk — or understood why it matters.”

Mr. Ridley, I’m sure sorry we never got to talk Rio Bravo. Would’ve been a blast.

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I don’t read near as much fiction as I used to. Of late, my reading’s become largely focused on research for my own books. So when I was offered a copy of Robert Dwyer and Austin Wright’s The Sheriff, I was happy to have a reason to read a novel again.

Austin Wright proudly admitted to me that The Sheriff was influenced by a handful of key Western movies — one is Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence (1962), pictures he’s loved since childhood. That alone got me interested.

The Sheriff is centered around Sheriff John Donovan, who founded the Texas panhandle town of Three Chop. He’s run the place for a good 20 years. But the times, they are a-changing, a sad fact that Donovan has to wrap his head around, fast. With a new century on the way, Sheriff Donovan’s community (along with the West as a whole) in a state of flux and his health failing him, some bad men make their way to Three Chop.

Over the years, the end of the Old West has proven rich for storytellers, both in print and on film. And as we’ve seen in many terrific Westerns (especially those from the 50s), you can use the Western as a framework for all sorts of commentary on all sorts of issues. (Quick example: the ton of McCarthy/HUAC allegory packed into 50s Westerns.) This end-of-the-West story has plenty to say — about everything from religion to mortality to progress to big business, and it does it without sacrificing action, pacing or authenticity. 

It’s so easy to recommend The Sheriff. It’s a big story about some big issues — leading to the big showdown. Click on the cover to buy one.

One more thing: being that Wright is an admitted John Wayne nut, does his sheriff’s name come from Wayne and Donovan’s Reef (1963)? 

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Directed by John Wayne
Starring John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey, Frankie Avalon, Patrick Wayne, Linda Cristal, Joan O’Brien, Hank Worden, John Dierkes, Denver Pyle, Olive Carey, Chill Wills, Joseph Calleia, Ken Curtis, Richard Boone

We may never get to see John Wayne’s The Alamo (1960) restored the way we want it to be — the way it deserves to be. But there’s something out there — a Blu-Ray/DVD set from Germany — that’s a little closer to the ideal.

Koch has a three-disc set with the shorter cut on Blu-ray and the 202-minute roadshow version on DVD. (Sadly, the only known print of the longer cut has deteriorated to the point that nothing can be done with it.) There are a handful of extras, some in German, some in English. Amazon.de had a version with different cover art — that one is already sold out. 

Since this might be as good as we’ll ever get, this is highly recommended. If you have any details about this — like is the roadshow version anamorphic, is the intermission included and what sort of region lock might be on it — please let us know.

Thanks to Graham for bringing this up.

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Few movies cover the honor and traditions of our military as well as John Ford’s She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1949). So it makes a fitting image for Memorial Day.

“Lest we forget.”

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