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Archive for the ‘John Wayne’ Category

Ricky N Rio Bravo

Allow me to take a second to be a proud dad, 50s Western style.

My wife Jennifer and daughter Presley were walking around the flea market at the NC State Fairgrounds this weekend. A dealer friend asked where I was, since he was trying to track down a John Wayne movie with a character named Colorado — or some other state.

“That’s Ricky Nelson in Rio Bravo,” Presley quickly replied.

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1 Liberty Ford

My wife and I watched John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) on our honeymoon. So as our anniversary rolls around, it usually comes to mind. And this seems like a good excuse to highlight yet another Ford masterpiece.

Liberty Valance Wayne hat

Here’s Wayne’s hat from the film. In black and white, it seems so much lighter.

Liberty Valance Marvin vest

Lee Marvin’s vest. After his years doing M Squad on TV, Liberty Valance helped Marvin transition from heavy to leading roles as he returned to features.

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One of Edith Head’s sketches for Vera Miles’ costumes.

LIBERTY CAST tea cropped

John Ford and his terrific cast break for tea. Judging from who’s present and how they’re dressed, they must’ve been shooting the dinner scene where Marvin makes Stewart drop Wayne’s steak — and Strother Martin gets kicked in the face.

Valance BTS punch

Jimmy Stewart punches John Wayne — with Ford and crew very very close.

Liberty Valance Marvin Martin Van Cleef

Jennifer and I often celebrate our anniversary by going out for steaks. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

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Return of Jack Slade NB MB

Since watching Fury At Gunsight Pass (1956), Neville Brand has been on my mind. (Blake Lucas brought him up, too.)

If I was to make a list of underappreciated actors, Neville Brand would be near the top. He’s so good in so many pictures — big ones and small ones. And there was so much more to him than just a bad guy.

After serving in World War II — where he was awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart and other decorations, Brand studied acting on the G.I. Bill. His first sizable film role was in D.O.A. (1950). His career as a heavy was off to the races.

Neville Brand: “With this kisser, I knew early in the game I wasn’t going to make the world forget Clark Gable… I don’t go in thinking he’s a villain. The audience might, but the villain doesn’t think he’s a villain… I just create this human being under the circumstances that are given.”

Brand Laredo with bookFrom time to time, he’d play something other than a thug, or his thug would have a decent amount of screen time, and he’d really shine. Something like Halls Of Montezuma (1950), Stalag 17 (1953), Anthony Mann’s The Tin Star (1957) or Don Siegel’s Riot In Cell Block 11 (1954). There’s Reese Bennett on Laredo (1965-67). And he had great chemistry with John Wayne in Cahill: U.S. Marshall (1973), giving the film a much-needed shot in the arm.

Brand fought Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and alcoholism. Was a veracious reader with a huge library (some of it was lost in a fire in the 70s). And everyone seems to say the same thing: that he was a tough guy — but also a really nice man.

He’s seen up top with Mari Blanchard in The Return Of Jack Slade (1955), one of the many movies to benefit from his presence, and reading on the Laredo set.

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Directed by John Ford, Henry Hathaway and George Marshall
Starring Carroll Baker, Lee J. Cobb, Henry Fonda, Carolyn Jones, Karl Malden, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, Robert Preston, Debbie Reynolds, James Stewart, Eli Wallach, John Wayne and Richard Widmark. Walter Brennan, Andy Devine, Agnes Moorehead, Russ Tamblyn, Lee Van Cleef. Narrated by Spencer Tracy.

How The West Was Won (1962), the star-studded three-strip Cinerama blockbuster, is scheduled for the Century 16 Suncoast Theater in Las Vegas, January 25 and 28. Check for other theaters in the Cinemark chain. The screen won’t be curved, but at least it’ll be bigger than your television.

Of the epic’s many segments, I’ve always felt Ford’s Civil War segment was the best thing in the picture.

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Thanks to Noel for the tip.

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Marvin Donovans Reef

“And from the East came three wise men, three kings bearing gifts, to gaze upon the child and to kneel before him in adoration… the king of Polynesia… the emperor of China… the king of, the king of the Unites States Of America.”

That’s Lee Marvin as “Boats” Gilhooley in John Ford’s Donovan’s Reef (1963). John Wayne’s the guy watching over his shoulder. It’s a picture that if people’d quit complaining about how it’s not The Grapes Of Wrath (1940) or The Searchers (1956), they’d realize just how wonderful it is.

Here’s wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays.

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Rio Bravo cast and crew

Who would’ve thought? The government actually got something right. Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo (1959) has been selected for preservation in the Library Of Congress. That means their board has deemed it “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

We coulda told them that years ago.

Thanks for the news, Blake.

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Don’t Forget To Vote!

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“Our country thrives on change… no guns or bombs or Army coups… just the biggest and best weapon of all, our right to vote. X’s on paper. The ballot box, a good thing.” — John Wayne

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