Category Archives: John Wayne

Happy Birthday, Vera Miles.

Vera June Miles
(Born August 23, 1929)

Vera Miles was lucky enough to survive Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), but she had to be the one to discover Mrs. Bates.

Vera shot scenes as John Wayne’s wife in The Green Berets (1968), but they were cut by Warner Bros. I’ve never even seen a still from one of her scenes. Wayne made it up to her by casting her as his better half in The Hellfighters (1968).

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Filed under 1960, Alfred Hitchcock, John Wayne, Vera Miles

Blu-Ray News #135: John Wayne Sets Sail In HD — The Sea Chase (1955) And Blood Alley (1955).

John Farrow, John Wayne and Lana Turner working on The Sea Chase.

Two mid-50s John Wayne pictures are making their way to Blu-Ray from Warner Archive. Both were shot in early CinemaScope by William H. Clothier, so an upgrade to high-definition is certainly worthwhile.

The Sea Chase
Directed by John Farrow
Starring John Wayne, Lana Turner, David Farrar, Lyle Bettger, Tab Hunter, James Arness, Paul Fix, John Qualen, Alan Hale, Claude Akins

Wayne’s a German freighter captain trying to make it home from Australia in the early days of World War II. Production in Hawaii was cursed with all sorts of problems: Wayne had a terrible ear infection, Lana Turner hated John Farrow, etc. But it’s hard to beat that cast.

Blood Alley
Directed by William A. Wellman
Starring John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Paul Fix, Mike Mazurki, Anita Ekberg

This was to have starred Robert Mitchum, but he and director William Wellman had a falling out. Mitchum was fired and Wayne took his place — it was produced by his Batjac company.

Wayne is an American sailer who’s broken out of a Red Chinese prison by a group of villagers who want him to help them sail away to freedom in Hong Kong. Wellman’s great at this kind of stuff, and Blood Alley is a solid adventure picture with a great cast and terrific Scope photography from William Clothier.

This is the movie Wayne was plugging on I Love Lucy, when Lucy and Ethel stole his footprints from outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

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Filed under 1955, DVD/Blu-ray News, James Arness, John Wayne, Warner Archive

Remembering D-Day.

This is a movie blog, so we’ll pay tribute to those who fought on the beaches of Normandy via color stills from The Longest Day (1962, which is in glorious black and white CinemaScope), itself a tribute to the many sacrifices that helped push World War II toward its end.

Here’s the crew hard at work recreating the events of June 6, 1944.

Richard Burton (as Officer David Campbell) and Richard Beymer (as Private Dutch Schultz). Burton took time off from Cleopatra (1963) to shoot his scenes. Cleopatra was bleeding 20th Century-Fox dry at the time, which had a huge (negative) impact on Darryl Zanuck’s budget for The Longest Day.

Robert Mitchum as Brigadier General Norman Cota.

Richard Todd as Major John Howard. Todd’s voice is one of God’s great gifts to mankind — I would listen to him (or Richard Burton, for that matter) read the phone book.

John Wayne as Lt. Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort.

From the Army’s website: “The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 Soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolf Hitler’s crack troops.”

To quote John Wayne in an entirely different movie (John Ford’s She Wore A Yellow Ribbon): “Lest we forget.”

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Filed under 1962, 20th Century-Fox, John Wayne, Richard Burton, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, Roddy McDowall, Sean Connery

Happy Memorial Day.

Lets all take a minute to remember the brave Americans who’ve given their lives for their country.

This is a detail from the Japanese poster for The Green Berets (1968), John Wayne’s tribute to the men and women serving in Vietnam. As a kid, I’d get lost in Frank McCarthy’s incredible poster art (click on it and it’ll get a lot bigger), absorbing all the rich detail he packed into it. Wonder where that art is now?

John Wayne visiting the 7th Marines at Chu Lai, June 1966.

Wayne’s movie still gets people stirred up. But honoring our military folks isn’t about politics, it’s about gratitude. We owe them all so much.

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Filed under 1968, John Wayne

Making Movies: Bonnie And Clyde (1967).

B&C 2

I’ve always loved Bonnie And Clyde (1967) — and always been fascinated by how it all came about.

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Here’s Arthur Penn, Gene Hackman and Warren Beatty — obviously shooting the scene where Buck Barrow gets shot.

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This one spares me the trouble of writing anything.

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This is the scene where Bonnie and Clyde meet C.W. Moss (Michael J. Pollard).

Ranchman Cafe ad

The real Bonnie and Clyde robbed the bank in Ponder, Texas. The Ranchman Cafe ran this ad after the movie people came to town. The cafe is still there — and they claim John Wayne ate there, too.

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One of the great achievements of Bonnie And Clyde, as I see it, is how well it captures the rural Texas way of life. My grandparents lived in Strawn — not far from the National Guard Armory in Ranger, robbed by Bonnie and Clyde. Aside from all the shooting, the movie feels a lot like my summer visits to towns like Strawn, Breckenridge and Albany.

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It (and The Beverly Hillbillies) also introduced me to bluegrass.

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Filed under 1967, Arthur Penn, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, John Wayne, Making Movies, Warren Beatty

Blu-ray News #62: They Were Expendable (1945).

Poster - They Were Expendable_10

Directed by John Ford
Starring Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed, Ward Bond, Jack Holt

If you ask me, and you didn’t, John Ford’s They Were Expendable (1945) is the greatest war movie ever made. It’s inspiring, exciting and heartbreaking — all at the same time. Ford and George Montgomery both served in the Navy (Montgomery on PT Boats), and the picture has a grittiness to it that seems so real it’s uncomfortable at times. And Donna Reed in a t-shirt and ball cap is more stunning than in the nicest dress she ever wore in her TV show. She’s just terrific in this.

they-were-expendableFolks, They Were Expendable is as good as movies get. I’m sure Joseph H. August’s cinematography will be stunning in high definition. Thanks to Warner Archive for putting this one together. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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Filed under DVD/Blu-ray News, John Ford, John Wayne, Warner Archive

RIP, George Kennedy.

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George Kennedy
(February 18, 1925 – February 28, 2016)

George Kennedy, one of Hollywood’s finest, and busiest, character actors, has passed away at 91.

Kennedy made so many good movies in the 60s and 70s (he was plenty busy in TV, too), it’s hard to keep track of them. Charade (1963). The Sons Of Katie Elder (1965), in which he and John Wayne execute one of the most perfectly-timed hits in all of cinema — as Wayne smacks Kennedy in the face with the spoke of a wagon wheel. Cool Hand Luke (1967, above), as Dragline — which landed him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. The Dirty Dozen (1967). And a personal favorite, Thunderbolt And Lightfoot (1974).

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Filed under 1967, 1974, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne