John Wayne: The Unquiet American Biography



that's far enough what's this all about just that I hate your get up ya doped oven got one of my men killed and when I'm bad at it he stood for something it was a very strong menin but when you look back at his life you see nothing but contradiction it's an old argument in this country that the one about the right way of doing things there should be the shoulds you know and it never works out that way because when you look at their own lives they leave a lot to be desired there's a lot of gaps in their own lives about the truth and John Wayne's life his service to his country the illusion that he created in his life versus the truth he was not a cowboy he was not a westerner he was not somebody who liked the outdoors even he was not somebody who had planned a career other than law and the whole legend was created effect out of nothing but once this amazing symbolic force was generated and film after film weighing in effect sacrifice to it tried to live up to it tried to be that they like the red black holes john wayne has been dead for 18 years but he's still voted America's favorite actor more popular than Mel Gibson Tom Cruise even Clint Eastwood it took away in 20 years to become a star but he saw himself as a symbol for something larger for America itself it was a patriotic mission that won him the adulation of millions but also ridicule and contempt the Duke starred in a hundred different roles but as John Wayne he wanted to be remembered for only world john wayne was born in 1907 in iowa deep in America's Midwest his autocratic mother never really loved him giving him a name he was to hate Marion Morrison his father moved the family out west when he was 10 to a dirt farm in the Californian desert they live in a place covered with rattlesnakes and he would have dreams of rattlesnakes at night even later in his life he would have recurring dreams of snakes and somehow I think that the dreams of the snakes and the poverty in which became a meshed in his own life I don't think you ever escaped something like that his mother favored his younger brother very much over my father and then she named him Marion which is very much of a feminine name so in growing up I think didn't have the love of her attention that he could have gotten from his mother then on the other hand he had to deal with his name and people made fun of him so I think he had had been insecurity in his early years that's where it started his mother almost always seemed to resent him in some way his father loved him dearly and John Wayne was pulled back and forth the family fights night after night Marion Morrison never wanted to be an actor far as a cowboy he hated farm life and detested horses his ambition was to be a lawyer but this was dashed when he lost his football scholarship at University although a natural athlete he just couldn't run fast enough in 1927 the young Morrison moved to Hollywood hungry for any work that might spring him from his poverty he went to work in the studio Fox studio as a property person didn't really get noticed until he was 22 years old and Raoul Walsh saw this big strong kid moving things around gracefully and easily and quite astonishing they said he would put him in this great epic Western he was about to make an untried to 22-year old actor just because of the way he looked most of us have an image of John Wayne in our minds and it's an image from later in his career and he's looked so young and so poised and so vulnerable Mary Morrison doesn't sound like a leading man's name he's starring as a cowboy hero in the big trail the director of the film had to come up with a man somebody had said a Revolutionary War hero Anthony Wayne that didn't sound quite right Tony Wayne not exactly right John Wayne he's got a new name he wasn't even present at the meeting John Wayne got a name without being there you take honey girl from here on down Dave little easier going on to me this movie unfortunately flopped and so after this first appearance as a cowboy with a brand new name which was given him by Raoul Walsh John Wayne for Marion Morrison wearing buckskins and having his hair long he was out of work again and nowhere to go except to use this cowboy experience in a series of be pictures keep going Clara no matter what happens without the be movie genre John Wayne has no career in many ways to draw a modern-day equivalent it's television John Wayne would make films in five or six days three days if necessary it wasn't unusual or work 16 or 18 hours a day they were looking for big strong rugged men who would work for almost nothing who would work in deplorable conditions who could do what they wanted them to do and John Wayne was a worker freeze up your guns outlaw and cinch him on tight dubby blood are runnin in town before night B guns a-blazing and singing that singing sandy most notorious gunman since Billy the Kid the dead make it fast slippery this is your last draw but he'd make 12 movies and year you'll never handle guns again Morgan you have to remember people are growing up and they're seeing him in their movie theaters almost every month he becomes another member of the household Wayne was lost in the wilderness of b-movies for almost a decade his personal life too was increasingly troubled age 26 he'd married Josephine Sainz daughter of a wealthy Hispanic family they had four children together but he disliked her devout Catholicism she would only kiss him he complained if a priest let her Wayne was spending more and more time aboard the yacht of leading film director John Ford Ford had spotted him in 1927 working at Fox Studios brilliant and ruthless he was to become Wayne's greatest patron it was Ford who rescued Wayne from the b-movie treadmill in 1938 for a wage check of just $3,000 he gave way in the part of the Ringo kid in what was to become the classic movie stagecoach [Applause] steady whoo-hoo hey look it's Ringo that was an enormous Lee powerful entrance foreign actors here Wayans presents though he was pretty green was unmistakable saw the film as a kid and I was just going to the movies as along with what was it 44 million Americans every week and that one film established Wayne as an actor as a star with stagecoach the world got its first look at the hero Wayne was to make all his own dependable and taciturn a protector of the innocent in a world full of Menace when the Indian attack occurs Wayne who's the prisoner inside is freed and given a gun and climbs up on top the rest are down there under his protection so the this combination of the free spirit and yet the guardian spirit for the community is put together in Ford films with a great artistic control that he had been developing long before he knew Wayne and Wayne was the perfect carrier in many ways John Ford became John Wayne's father I think John Ford became John Wayne's role model and John Wayne was John Ford's best son in love Baxter he loved his tequila and the Duke drank boy he drank like a fish hmm and I can hold my liquor but I couldn't hold it along with the Duke and he loved to go out with this particularly English actor and tie one on and they were out I think on a couple of week drunk when our country the u.s. entered the second world war they couldn't get a hold of the Duke no we could find him he was drunk somewhere down in Mexico war confronted Wayne with a momentous decision fights and risk his newly won fame or stay at home making movies the war came along and Wayne had served nine years of apprenticeship in these beef movies and he was just beginning to move up into the ACE because of stagecoach 1939 and he didn't want to leave because he figured I've waited all this time for my chance if I go I won't I won't get it again he was telling John Ford I count one more movie to do and then I'm going in and he was making all these excuses in the letter they're really kind of comic that I have the letter I have the papers to fill out but I'm on location I don't have a typewriter you know they're not gonna accept John Wayne if he prints in his name it's clear he just didn't want to go II didn't want to give that up remember most of the leading men some of the biggest names were gone from Hollywood during the war Clark Gable was gone Henry Fonda was gone Tyrone Power was gone John Wayne steps into a vacuum during the war years I think 15 John Wayne films were released during that period of time he becomes one of the leading stars nominated for the best performance award Wayne would always be deeply insecure about his failure to serve his mentor John Ford himself an admiral during the war would too meant him over this decision all his life when he acted as a service meant as an American military hero without a war record that bothered him people assumed that he was a hero when he was touring the Pacific he was drinking with some servicemen and at least one of them took umbrage to the fact that he hadn't served and made some pointed remarks that ended up in a fistfight by 1949 Wayne was Hollywood's biggest star and resumed a prolific working relationship with John Ford he was not only at the peak of his acting powers but fast becoming a symbol of post-war American self-confidence increasingly Wayne himself believed that he had a role to play in his country's destiny what he learned from Ford was essentially the myth of America that America is a separate nation it's got a special mission from God it's not like other nations and again Wayne summed that up that he was not like other people and when he led of cavalry troop it was not like other cavalry troops it was almost guaranteed to prevail Wayne was a student of Wayne in other words no one studied Wayne like Wayne did so he learned to move with that wonderful grace because he told me when he saw himself on the screen in those early films he couldn't stand to watch himself he said I look clumsy and I flooded along you know I was heavy footed and he taught himself that grace and that poise he was an extraordinarily graceful man physically he was there's a memorable scene in Red River where he's walking to a confrontation with his son and he's pushing his way through a herd of cattle and John Ireland is trying to have a confrontation and a gunfight you know that young man isn't gonna use his gun don't you yeah did I have an any such notion mr. Dunson mr. Danson I'll say it just one more time view whirls and draws and fires and turns around and keeps going it's an entirely fluid motion I don't know another actor that could do that Baryshnikov but but he wouldn't be too plausible in the part but it it was a dancers skill at dancers grace there was a wonderful practice very practiced walk he added down and there was a way of squinting a way of taking a position in a row his body language spoke reams of dialogue without having to sad the way cocked his eye he had his mannerisms down in the same way the Cary Grant had his mannerisms down in a more sophisticated way and I think Wayne's evoke in America of honesty which may not be so but evoke it of bluntness forthrightness in the man plain speaking the common man as opposed to the British elitist you know Laurence Olivier would be the bad guy and John Wayne would be a good guy because he spoke plain English you know he would turn up his pants so that his footwork showed he had a military kind of placket front shirt with the buttons going out this way that would spread which emphasized his shoulders he wore dark clothes which tended to slim him and give him a silhouette what he was creating was an image not only of manhood or of a particular actor but many people came to think of America there was no sexuality but there was honesty you knew what you were getting a woman would look at him she knew what was for supper there were no surprises but at least he'd be straight and true to her probably you know in the summer of 1955 Ford and Wayne began work on a film that showed Wayne was just as impressive in the role of a complex antihero it was a film which reflected and altogether darker America in the searchers Wayne plays Ethan Edwards a former soldier who spends years pursuing a nice kidnapped by the Comanche driven on by racial hatred and bitter obsession we'll find them in the searchers there is another character the landscape of Utah's Monument Valley a frontier wilderness which in its magnitude added to the power of the Wayne legend I think John Wayne felt more at home here in Monument Valley than he did at his own house he just blended in I mean it you put some other actor out here he doesn't fit the way Wayne did in this country it's just made to order you know these huge monuments he was a huge man physically an overpowering I mean that was a God's gift to him and and my name is Valley it was his home I mean he belongs here okay there's an Upper Keys that she taught there's a ton of a car moving that day I did that I did I'm gonna walk over to the spot where we where I did the scene with John Wayne and the searchers it was when I found out that my sweetheart was we had been killed by the by the Indians and I came running in here thinking I'd seen Lucy who was my girlfriend and jumped in here and started putting my boots back on because I run down there barefooted what you saw was a buck we're on Lucy's dress I found Lucy back in the canyon don't ever ask me long as you live don't ever ask me more he says what do you want to do draw you a picture you know there's like just his eyes we're like like like that and it was frightening you know but it brought my the tears to my face it made me cry and which that's what John Ford wanted but Duke was responsible for that emotion in that scene it was great off the screen Wayne loved to indulge an insatiable appetite for manly pastimes pokhara and marlin fishing in an environment where women were rarely accepted Duke was a strong sensual macho man and long before women's lib ever came along I was a strong natural sensual Irish woman he didn't have to defer to me as a woman and he said I usually prefer the company of men except for Maureen O'Hara she's the greatest guy I ever knew when Duke found out that I'd given up drinking it was like I given up my manhood it was almost like I'd been they'd taken my machoism away from me you know and it ended up setting terrible drinking – Duke was like duck hunting and tennis or whatever it was a sport he did go uh you know after the women on a pretty regular basis I I know that I'm there's no question about that whatsoever he loved women the Wayans bought a home in the conservative stronghold of Newport Beach a wealthy suburb south of Los Angeles Bayshore Drive was a world away from the poverty of his childhood now Wayne was free to enjoy a rather surprising pastime I'm John Wayne we're down here in Texas filming picture called the Alamo now this story tells about some rugged self-reliant men in 1960 Wayne set out to put on-screen an epic story that would illustrate those same traditional American values that he nut said in his own home when I first met him he was looking for locations for the Alamo I saw him for years you know writing the script rewriting the script trying to cast the the movie and he had a passion about the Alamo more than any other movie ever made if the Alamo was a woman it would have been John Wayne's lifetime love this is a film he cared about that he wanted to make for a decade and when he finally makes it he produces it he directs it he stars in it for some reason the Alamo became his paradigm of what true patriotism is these people who sacrifice themselves for freedom as he even saw the storyline and he was determined to put this together and to show that he could do something that would restore discipline to America he was beginning by that time and his public sayings to say we've gone soft we're not tough we're not manly so he was getting a kind of grandiose vision of himself as almost saving America with this movie the picture was released in October 1960 Wayne embarked on a nationwide publicity tour but already the reviews were catastrophic Newsweek called the Alamo the most lavish be picture ever made b4 banal if that wasn't bad enough Wayne the director had gone over budget by five million dollars just everything seemed to go wrong and it blighted his hope to be a director Clint Eastwood and other people have moved fairly naturally from being an actor into being a director Wayne always wanted to do that but no one really wanted to risk him after the Alamo he somewhat lost control of his career at that point the pain of failure was particularly sharp for Wayne his film appeared just as Nixon and Kennedy were slugging it out in one of the closest presidential campaigns in American history Wayne threw himself and his film into the Republican cause I think he minded the reviews that said the film wasn't a great film that it wasn't a class he felt he was trying to say something about America and about what America could be and should be and maybe will be but nobody picked up on that Wayans political convictions had emerged only after World War two having failed to fight against the Japanese he declared war of the Communists in 1948 Wayne became president of the right-wing motion picture Alliance dedicated to purging the film industry of subversives all over the world they pour their mouthings into the years where the people wearing him down their resistance by repeated hammering through the way John Wayne liked to work with what he felt were the radicals in the film industry is calming and talked to him get them to go before you act the house on American Activities Committee and say what they knew about communist certainly this was the case with Carl Foreman scriptwriter of High Noon he wanted Carl Foreman to go and to say I was wrong when Foreman refused to do it John Wayne often took credit anyway in his own mind said to the hear and Carl Foreman out of town that he got about a Hollywood I think it was probably a very necessary thing at the time because the radical liberals were gonna take over our business trouble there was that they were spouting by rote somebody else's way of life and that's all over those fellas over there that's the way they want to live but we don't have to have it in our country the atmosphere itself gradually became a climate of hysteria in which people stopped thinking rationally and became totally emotional you are now have ever been a member of the common party join wind at that point was obviously highly emotional highly fought patriotic and being what when was made a tremendous impact on a lot of people look but also good analysis he was totally good-natured typical American the Defense Department has asked me to help bring you this story of Viet Nam's attempt to build itself into a nation the leaders of the North Vietnamese military forces said that the organization composition and training of American forces were not fit to tackle a Revolutionary War I guess they forgot 1776 anyway the war in Vietnam confirmed all Wayne's deepest anxieties about the threat of communism his next project the Green Berets would be the only Pro Vietnam failed to come out of Hollywood all these people that are appearing here tonight went to Vietnam I've been advised to say that if you didn't know it I want you to real I'm a real American right here that did a sensational job in Vietnam shaking hands and he's done a great job he's a great citizen in every category ladies and gentlemen mr. John Wayne right here new men I want to say thanks for showing the whole world the kind of men a free country can put up when the going gets rough you're the best we have and all right off into the sunset with you anytime the 60s was a time of great turmoil people sensitiveness was heightened and he was seen more and more as a voice of the pastor of the establishment or of or of the Vietnam War which of course he exacerbated by making the green berets the Green Berets take care of children they give out soap they refuse to torture the way other people were doing over there so it's a presentation of the Vietnam War as entirely an exercise in humanity it was laughed at out loud by many of the even military audiences when it was released it made money they all make money but but the critics made fun of it even some of his fans made fun of that movie I thought of him with anger after his Green Berets Green Berets made him very much out of touch to me and destructive his point of view of the war that was racist and simplistic and it was ridiculous it was highly destructive to what I saw that was not truthful and when I came home you know I started to react to him as more than just a movie movie star and I started to dislike him intensely so what's this empty nonsense about Ronald Reagan being just an actor I've watched Ronald work his entire adult life preparing for public service his will be a new informed vigorously dedicated leadership so on November the 8th vote for Ronald Reagan you had what Richard Nixon will tap into and we'll call the silent majority to that America John Wayne is is is a hero and so politicians are bending over backwards particularly conservative politicians to identify not only themselves with John Wayne but John Wayne with them there are certain groups of people who feel threatened there's a sort of a thing about feeling threatened and they feel that there's barriers to protect and boarders to defend and I think we all do as people but some people more than others and I think that when you start to really believe the Western mythology of taking up the gun and defending your perimeter you become dangerous because that's when you start looking for enemies Wayne now found himself increasingly out of step with the 1960s he sank into a deep depression and there were other shocks awaiting him not only possible bankruptcy from incompetent financial advice but rapidly declining health from a much publicized part of cancer which had left him with only one lung his third marriage too was under strained it started going wrong because the kids started to grow up and Duke was a very old-fashioned person who wanted his family with him at all times every one of his contract that he signed with the studio he would demand that the family would go with him so when the kids got a little bit older and they had their own friends and their also their own school don't they their hobbies or whatever and we couldn't go with him or the kids refused to go I was always like what I have to go and tell him the kids I want to go oh my gosh you know they should work in 24 hours a day to make my family happy and now you guys won't go with me growing up I was on the side of every movie he made except for one I can't remember which one what was difficult was when I got a little older I wanted to be with my friends I didn't want to be in Mexico with the horses I think that was hard as I got older I'd have to go I don't care for boats at all I like solid ground where I can paint you know three four five hours a day if I feel like it and that costs a lot of a lot of friction he really wanted things to kind of stay still he didn't think that the kids were growing up he wanted them little so I called him my 19th century man because things are changed he was only really happy when he was working on a movie that's when he was disciplined focused when he was off the set he was kind of at odds and adrift he was somebody whose whole life had been the proving of himself in his movies but by the end of the sixties way no longer looked like a traditional Hollywood hero at 62 he was both paunchy and short of breath we went shopping and he was bald-headed they had little hair around the edges here and his big gut hanging out and the first thing he would do like a goddamn homing pigeon he'd go and buy donuts buy you know two or three dozen donuts and he'd eat him about a handful and kept urging me to eat him and people would be looking at him and he looked and he'd smile and he'd say yeah that's right he said I'm John Wayne I'm John Wayne but Wayne was nothing if not adaptable just a year after playing a rugged war hero in the Green Berets he reinvented himself in the biggest image makeover of his entire career yeah are you looking for cyan again it was Bo he put his foot wrong he's tired ah yes no grade I have braided iron stoves up harder grades than this well yeah beer Wayne was a very shrewd manipulator of his image that was a perfect career move and it capitalized on what people were feeling about Wayne at that point anyway Abbie Hoffman the radical said he's like a dinosaur he'd eat me but what a dinosaur what a survival from the old age of of huge things John Wayne always instant box-office and the best actor candidate this year for his starring role in True Grit Peter O'Toole in the by mr. chips Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy Richard Burton in an of the thousand days and John Wayne in True Grit the winner is John Wayne Wow by the non-meta to put that patch on 35 years earlier when he walked up to the stage and got it I noticed that he was holding it by the base you know most people hold it by the body he held it by the base and he had to wipe a tear from his eye he was actually crying later when I asked him I said dad why did you hold the Oscar that way he said it's such an honor to me that I didn't I just wanted everybody to see the whole Oscar [Applause] in 1974 Wayne accepted an invitation from students to visit Harvard University formerly a bastion of opposition to the Vietnam War I knew that we wanted the Duke up on top where you'd drive the thing where he could see the crowd and command the vehicle so I didn't know how to get from inside up up on the top and so I expect 10 fingers so there's a way to get up so I think he's a Duke and I went like this without even hesitation he just puts his big leather shoe in my hands and 260 pounds or whatever he wait at the time and he just climbed right up in this unconventional way to get on top he knew exactly what had to be done to get up there I think the police told me it was the largest crowd that had ever been assembled in Harvard Square it was right next to a three floor dormitory and people try snowballs at him I don't know whether he explicitly thought Here I am back and back in the wagon train and the Indians are trying to surround it and I'm gonna get through cuz I'm John Wayne [Applause] I'm just happy that you all weren't here 200 years ago they didn't never got that tea into the harbor is it true that your toupee is real oh here not mine that took tremendous guts to just wing it like he did the one thing that people like him never want to expose himself to is a situation where there they can only look bad and you know up on stage answering unscreened questions about a few which you're bound to be hostile and I thought that was the the thing that really made the day was how how witty and funny he was off-the-cuff 6:42 that's five seconds but Wayne remained a conservative at heart and found the liberal climate of the Jimmy Carter years deeply depressing more and more he sought escape aboard his converted minesweeper the wild goose Wayne's right-wing opinions were becoming increasingly extreme he defended the taking of Indian land and attacked the civil rights movement arguing that white Americans need not give up supremacy until blacks were better educated he would have the TV on and I never forget one time he'd yell it that whoever was speaking if he didn't agree with her views and I remember one time Ted Kennedy was on saying something and I I didn't know what was happening but I remember he took something and he just threw it at the television set he was so irate broke the TV we're being represented by men whore kowtow to minorities where they can get votes and I think it's bad for for our country and I am sad to see minorities make so much of themselves as a hyphenated American I wish they all get to thinking that they're Americans as they should and as if luckily been born here and couldn't be better off in any other place they shouldn't there shouldn't be so much whining and bellyache I remember you started taking Spanish lessons because he said I'm moving to Mexico this country is falling apart it's not what I've put my life into it's not what I've tried to portray in my movies the Vietnam War and he just got he did he got on what he got depressed and he was gonna move to Mexico he was almost like he was giving up you're gonna lay me out for the public to golf at at 50 cents a head children 10 and when the curiosity Peters out you're gonna stuff me in a gunnysack but Wayne would never quit America and give up filmmaking his last film The Shootist featured an aging gunfighter confronting cancer the journalist George Plimpton had observed the Duke on the set I had a feeling that I wasn't gonna like him he stood for a lot of things that I didn't particularly approve of as a right-wing he-man he was a general man and he had a great deal of sympathy for people I didn't think he would have stood up for talked at length about Montgomery Clift for an example who who had a life pattern that was entirely the opposite of what John Wayne would expect how a person should behave he was involved with drugs homosexual and all of that and but Wayne was of the highest opinion of him as a professional he loved professionals he was always on the set knew all the crew by name we hear his voice all over the set having fun with somebody if you listen to him talk you did not at all guess that he was this figure that was sort of the pride of the ultra-right not that at all Wayne boasted that he'd licked the Big C in the 1960s but in 1978 it returned with a vengeance and this time the cancer would win there were times that I'd be with him and I look at his handkerchief he blow his nose and the last year's so to be blood all over the handkerchief and he knew he had some serious intestinal problems didn't want to talk about it didn't want to alarm his family or he just wanted to carry on and above all he didn't want to die in bed by some terrible irony Wayne's cancer may well have come from two of the things he loved best the American military and making films in this case a historical epic shot just 90 miles from the Nevada testing sites when the Conqueror was shot in 1954 the nuclear test had already been going on since 1951 so there was considerable radiation in the environment already but 1954 was really a banner year for testing and the clouds came right over snow Canyon and just plastered the entire crew and the cast they were never out of range of radiation the entire time the film was being shot st. George like many other desert communities in the southwest doesn't have a lot of foliage trees brush to hold down the dirt and the sand it is desert and what happens in the desert is that dust storms come up so what that means is that all the particulate matter of all these isotopes from nuclear testing would be in that sand as a blue over the entire the Southwest so everybody had the chance of becoming contaminated just by breathing there were many people in the cast that died maybe about three-quarters by now have died from the radiation at that time by the 70s the solid tumor cancers started to show up which is in keeping with John Wayne's cancer which was a solid tumor in his stomach I knew for quite a while he came and told me and but being Duke you know he was very brave he says I'm gonna beat it because the first time you know he did I knew it bothered him because I got cancer and I was in st. John's hospital waiting for my surgery and the phone rang and it was Duke & Duke and I would chat it and talked and everything and then Duke started to cry and he said Maureen why you why me Wayne was too sick to undergo chemotherapy but nothing would stop him making one last public appearance the 1979 Oscars where he had been invited to present the award for Best Picture he has stomach removed because they found cancer and he just wanted to get up there so much and so what he did was he got a wetsuit to put on over him so at least he looked like he had something on his bones I it was awful but his face still showed and then I was watching him and I knew how weak he was and with a wetsuit how warm he must have been and he was standing there and I kept thinking hurry up hurry up hurry up he's not gonna make it it's gonna pass out and you know he made it and I knew it was difficult for him he stood up there and he said I'm gonna be here you know many many more years after and and I think that he knew he was dying but I think he met in spirit and now it is time for his fans and supporters in the Congress to give him the Congressional Oscar several of John Wayne's friends and colleagues came to Washington to tell Congress why the ailing actor should receive the National gold medal on the way up on the plane I was thinking what can you put on a medal for John Wayne John Wayne cowboy John Wayne actor John Wayne football player what do you put on it to the people of the world John Wayne is not just an actor and a very fine actor John Wayne is the United States of America he is what they believe it to be he is what they hope it will be and I feel that the matter should say just one thing John Wayne American John Wayne died three weeks later on June the 11th 1979 I really wish it would have passed away a lot sooner than he did he really he was on the morphine for many many months I mean he was not there I really pray that he would just pass away and you know his cult is unlike all others most of those cults are for rebellious figures youth doomed figures like James Dean or Marlon Brando Montgomery Clift Wayne is a symbol of sober industrious responsibility which is normally dull or irrelevant or dim and he makes it vivid and personal and dramatic nobody else seems to be able to do that to take conservative values and make them sexy and exciting and where do you find somebody who can represent all of that

44 thoughts on “John Wayne: The Unquiet American Biography

  1. Abbie Hoffman, the radical of the 1960s, paid tribute to Wayne's singularity, saying, "I like Wayne's wholeness, his style. As for his politics, well—I suppose even cavemen felt a little admiration for the dinosaurs that were trying to gobble them up"  Things like when someone like Abbie Hoffman could express admiration for the man or the time Wayne showed up at Harvard to accept the Brass Balls Award and he received a standing ovation tell much more about him than a bunch of individuals speaking 20 years after his death

  2. wonderful documentary. nice editing job! but my comment isn't about mr. wayne but about Maureen O'Hara. how can anyone not just love Maureen O'Hara. I think she's great!

  3. It's a good thing he isn't alive today. If he thought the country was falling apart then, he would be appalled at what is going on today.

  4. It figures, I am glad that this documentary came out because John Wayne was an actor and a phoney!! He is a great example of many of the right-wing Chickenhawks and phoney "macho" types of many Conservative politicians and pundits such as Rush Limbaugh, Walley George, Sean Hannity, Ted Nugent, Ted Cruz, and countless others including the current US President!!

  5. I love the comment he made about radical liberals,  it's just too bad that his statement turned out to be prophetic and we now see a Hollywood full of anti-American rhetoric.  We need another John Wayne to kick ass and get the liberals out of the entertainment business.

  6. Yeah, so ask him about his war service. He refused to serve, making too much money, safe at home, playing the part of the true heros.

  7. The Duke was king of the ability in discerning trends. And despite the man's weaknesses, the LORD GOD of Heaven blessed him with a patriotism against the tyranny abroad that has strengthened our nation despite the despots of liberal sins that contaminate any civilized society.

  8. Certainly, a thought-provoking adventure into the mind of self-admitted "white supremacist". He was as much a manufactured myth as many of the myths so many still believe are true about America. His gold medal should have said "Myth" and let others fill in the rest with their own personal foggy notions. But truth and honesty don't sell tickets very well.

  9. When they say that Franck Sinatra was a public relation for the mafia, I say what about the other actors. John Wayne seems also to be a public relation for some big interests.

  10. DOES anyone HERE know where the ROOTS of anti-American fear came from…. we all know how it was abused. But I wish to know WHO said being a communist meant wanting to destroy the democratic/capitalist system. I believe that person is the one that caused all this hysteria.
    I have tried to GOOGLE who the USA borrowed funds from to make weapons and pay for the military, but it keeps going back to a payment system were the corporations that were over taxed during the war years, then had that money returned.
    Speaking of communist pushing for worker rights vs a capitalist system I can understand that era much better. The immaturity of Hollywood makes me want to puke.
    Communist thinking would have bankrupted the nation JUST MY OPINION….if you have a better understanding of economics please give it, explain it, and tell me how free & well feed the individual would be.

  11. What I don't understand is why the government did not  nduct him during the war.  Did his studio intervene? …did he have some ailment i.e. bad sight, bad knee etc that kept him from serving ? For all his fans out there this is an honest question. Please do not take it negatively

  12. The Duke was and always be one of my Heroes, he passed two months shy of my nineteenth birthday, it was a great loss, for all, he was the Duke, there'll never be another.🤠

  13. this person that made this, does not like John Wayne. We know he drank and smoked and liked women but all the rest of it is just negative of what he stood for and the way he viewed America. Just say them plainly. Quote his peers. What did people say about him when he was alive. America is better than anyone else, that is why people come here.

  14. John Wayne was,and will forever be,the Best actor in the movies.He was a good man and a great American.There will never be another John Wayne.

  15. Through his movies John Wayne did more for the American prestige around the world than any past and present American presidents would dream to accomplish. While growing up in France, we could not wait for the Sunday afternoon John Wayne movie on the tub. He made us dream of a far land where everything was possible. I have not counted how many time I have watched his movies but, it never gets hold.

  16. I was with him in 1970 i made a jail set for a movie for him rio lobo in Tucson AZ i also pick him up at the air port in Tucson we talked some i liked john when i was young i looked like Montgomery cliff the actor and he would stare at me and i wondered why he did that i found out he said i looked like cliff .

  17. Gee, no offense or anything, but while Congress was dickering over what kind of award they were going to confer posthumously to John Wayne, it might have been nice for them to have done a little something for hard-working poor Americans (the real life heroes) who struggle to survive everyday, but who don't have a list of movie credits under their belts.  I think maybe they could've made the time to do both, you know?  Come to think of it, and I know this is just crazy talk here, but maybe they could do something right now, and call it the John Wayne Public Service Bill (if that makes them feel better about it).

  18. Oliver Stone served in Nam and was wounded and decorated, so what, so did I, 27 months in country in I Corp as a combat Marine. Stone isn't half the man Wayne was, did see him at USO all over world for the troops, way to busy smoking weed with his progressive left Hollywood brothers. So Stone, how you like the election, Wayne is smilin down on us, so Stone "how do you like those apples?"….great line from Good Will Hunting.

  19. I will admit John Wayne was a gifted actor. I enjoyed watching The Shootest. I take isuue however with some of his views. Particularly those concerning race.

  20. It is my understanding that a very young John Wayne knew the real and very old Wyatt Earp, and that through talks with him, John more or less adopted Earp's personality in his cowboy movies.

  21. I loved John Wayne always respected him.One of the last great men as Katherine Hepburn put it.If there had been no John Wayne we would be a poorer society
    His influence lives! He's still loved by millions.And the Alamo was a success with the people maybe some critic's didn't like it but he went millions over budget with his money
    but he made money just took longer . The part about he didn't like the outdoors and the west and horses is a lie!!! He did had s ranch in nogalas az. had auction every year had all the famous Western painting s in his home Zane Grey the originals !! But he was also a intelligent,articulate man of great taste.He had a yacht the Wild Goose went deep sea fishing all the etc,etc.zI know because I'm a stone cold fan. yeah Elijah Skyeagle

  22. John Wayne a little bit before my time but I still saw True Grit and then my favourite Brannigan I love that movie. I know some people didn't like it but at my age now at 60 I still love it. I live in the UK and John Wayne himself as Brannigan just stands out so different from anything else. He died when I was in my early twenties he is still very popular on UK TV CHANNELS his films are always being shown somewhere. One thing i forgot his accent it just stands out so much, i love it.

  23. My husband was born dirt poor in a coal mining family, served our nation in Vietnam & was spit on when he returned-with his best friend in a body bag. They met in boot camp and shipped out together. They represented those who fought in that war, poor white country boys-my husband-&poor black inner city boys-his best friend. My husband is a conservative Republican, but being nonjudgmental about a person's life style, he is friends with everyone he meets, gay, black, just like the Duke was with Montgomery Cliff & other liberals in Hollywood, My husband truly believes as the Duke did that being born in or legally immigrating to the USA is a gift like no other. He is & my BIL was Duke fans. My BIL, retired cop, received 3 Purple Hearts in Vietnam but couldn't get an appointment at the VA before he died. The DUKE's pride in America made both of them feel better about their horrendous treatment after Vietnam. One person CARED about vets & their sacrifice. And what a person he was, the DUKE!

  24. Good documentary but a tad too much venom. So the man was not everything he was as presented on screen, so what ?

  25. Hey Libtards, everyone knows John Wayne was not a perfect man!!!!! But The Duke was the man everyone fell in love with!!!! The Duke loved Good and fought and hated Evil!!!!! Grow up already Democrypts!!!!

  26. Wayne always got to be the tough guy in movies, the hero. He was really just a big chicken and did not have the balls to fight in ww2. He reminds me alot in many ways of rock hudson. lol

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