Thursday, May 26, 2011

John Wayne

Marion Robert Morrison was born on May 26, 1907. The Duke was playing secondary roles and doing low-budget work when his role as The Ringo Kid in John Ford's Stagecoach made him a star in 1939. How can you tell a star is born? Just look at this on-screen entrance (from a French clip of the film).

For many people, especially the cineasts of the 60s and 70s, the definitive John Wayne picture is The Searchers. The ending is absolutely iconic, with the lone character of Ethan framed in the doorway as all about him go off to their families. (He's holding his elbow in his hand that way to echo the stance of his old friend Harry Carey).

There's something about Wayne's simple presence that does the job by the time The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence came along. Even evil old Lee Marvin is wary of taking him on.

Probably the only time you'll see John Wayne cry? Watch him accept his Academy Award for True Grit. What a class act!

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