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Archive for the ‘John Wayne’ Category

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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John Ernest Crawford
(March 26, 1946 – April 29, 2021)

Johnny Crawford, the child actor who was absolutely wonderful as Mark McCain (son of Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain) in The Rifleman, has passed away at 75.

Crawford not only co-starred in one of the best Western series ever, he recorded a single or two with the great Bobby Fuller, one of my all-time favorites, and appeared in Howard Hawks’ El Dorado (1967). And there were tons of TV appearances over the years, including being an original Mouseketeer.

In the 90s, he assembled a big band, the Johnny Crawford Orchestra. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago. Ask anyone who ever met him, and he was a super-nice guy.

A episode of The Rifleman is airing on MeTV as I type this.

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Lee Aker
(September 25, 1943 – April 1, 2021)

Lee Aker, who most will remember from the Rin Tin Tin TV show, has passed away at 77. He also appeared in Hondo (1953, above) with John Wayne, High Noon (1952), Ride Clear Of Diablo (1954) and Destry (1954).

Aker suffered a stroke and died April 1 near Mesa, Arizona. Sadly, his body was unclaimed.

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As we close the door on 2020, I’m not sorry to see it go. This has not been the best year for any of us.

But in 2020, as it’s been from year to year since the beginning, this blog and the folks who read it (and comment on it) have been a blessing — “just as sure as the turning of the earth.”

Thanks to you all.

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One of my favorite images in all of Cinema — John Wayne in John Ford’s 3 Godfathers (1948), shot by Winton C. Koch. He’s holding a baby (Robert William Pedro Hightower) and keeping the sun out of a dying friend’s eyes.

To me, this is a Christmas movie. To some, it just happens to take place around the holiday. There’s no snow, no Christmas trees, but the drunks in New Jerusalem sing “Silent Night.”

What do you think? Is 3 Godfathers a Christmas movie?

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Way To Go, Dodgers!

I’ve been sitting on this photo forever, and I’m so happy to be able to put it out there tonight. After beginning this crazy season with a still of John Ford wearing a Dodgers cap in Monument Valley, this seems like the perfect way to end it.

In an incredible Game 6 (Blake Snell had a one-hitter in the sixth inning), the Los Angeles Dodgers have defeated the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 2020 World Series. This was a terrific series — both teams were outstanding and each game was a blast.

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A new exhibit, John Wayne: An American Experience, is under construction in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards.

It will feature over 10,000-square feet of interactive rooms dedicated to Duke’s incredible film career, time as a cattle farmer and close relationships with great American leaders.

The exhibit will open in December.

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Directed by John Ford
Starring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Ben Johnson, Claude Jarman Jr. , Harry Carey Jr., Chill Wills, J. Carrol Naish, Victor McLaglen, Grant Withers, The Sons Of The Pioneers

Olive Films is adding Rio Grande (1950), the third of John Ford’s “Cavalry Trilogy,” to its Signature Edition series. (The first two were Fort Apache and She Wore A Yellow Ribbon.) The release date is listed as November 17.

John Ford did Rio Grande for Republic to get the opportunity to do The Quiet Man (1952), but such dealmaking does not take away from this brilliant movie. The cinematography from Bert Glennon alone is worth the upgrade to Blu-Ray. Essential.

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