Posts Tagged ‘John Wayne’

My Classic Movie Pick: Tall in the Saddle

The kitchen floor remodeling/painting of the walls/new pantry cupboard/new sink faucets installed is all completed.  It was done in time to welcome the grandparents to our home as we all gathered recently  to celebrate child #3’s graduation from high school.  3 graduated, 4 to go is my mantra currently!  With all of the hubbub done and calmness and serenity back in my life, it’s back in the blogging saddle for me and I know of no better way to do this than to recommend a classic movie. TAll in the Saddle poster 1In April, over at Turner Classic Movies, the star of the month was John Wayne.  The station aired a lot of his famous movie roles

which  I had seen already.  The station also aired lesser movie roles that Wayne played, in B westerns which he acted in before 1939’s film Stagecoach jumped his career path up a notch.  I decided to watch some of those lesser known films and found one that was made in 1944, RKO Studio’s  Tall in the Saddle.  A western, with a touch of noir, 2 ladies in distress, and Gabby Hayes.  What a fast-moving, fun film it was for me to see. Wayne portrays Rocklin, a cowboy who is traveling to a town in Arizona to begin working on a ranch owned by a Mr. Red Cardell.  Rocklin decides to sit up top with the stagecoach driver, Dave, played by Gabby Hayes.  Now,  I had never seen Hayes in a movie before and only knew him from the caricature of him in Mel Brooks’s comedy tribute to westerns, Blazing Saddles, and in the song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”, Hayes is mentioned in the lyrics.   Therefore, this was fun for me, to see Hayes in action and he didn’t disappoint, as his Dave loves to drink, is a bit hard to understand with his garbled talk(just a bit, not as exaggerrated as it is in Brooks’s film) and his agreeing with Rocklin that women are nothing but trouble.  Also on the stagecoach to the same Arizona town are the lovely Miss Clara Cardell(Audrey Long) and Miss Cardell’s grumpy aunt, Miss Elizabeth Martin(Elisabeth Risdon).   Miss Cardell is immediately attracted to Rocklin, but she is demure about it and her aunt keeps scolding her for looking at the cowboy!  Aunt Elizabeth is such a grumpy, bossy gal that I kept wanting Miss Clara to tell her off and to get out of her life.  The old aunt does eventually get out of Clara’s life, but not in the way one would expect.

Dave and Rocklin, on the way to AZ, discussing women!

Dave and Rocklin, on the way to AZ, discussing women!

Lovely Clara Cardell

Lovely Clara Cardell

Grumpy Aunt Elizabeth

Grumpy Aunt Elizabeth

The stagecoach eventually reaches its destination and Rocklin finds out that his new boss, Red Cardell, has been murdered; shot in the back.  At this point in the film, Rocklin meets the Harolday family.  Stepdad Harolday(Don Douglas) and his two grown up stepkids: Clint, a weakling who loves to gamble(Russell Wade) and the very strong-willed and hot-headed Arly(Ella Raines).   Arly and Rocklin immediately dislike each other, or at least Arly acts like she does, but we can tell she is also attracted to the new cowboy in town.

Rocklin and Arly, fighting off their dislike for one another

Rocklin and Arly, fighting off their dislike for one another

Rocklin confronting the lawyer about Clara's inheritance.

Rocklin confronting the lawyer about Clara’s inheritance.

Rocklin telling the Haroldays his suspicions about Red's murder.

Rocklin telling the Haroldays his suspicions about Red’s murder.

There are a couple plots weaving their way throughout this movie, which make it an interesting one to view.  First, the murder of Red Cardell and the attempts on Rocklin’s life.  Who commited the crime and who wants Rocklin dead?  Second, the lovely Clara has now inherited her dead Uncle’s ranch.  The grumpy aunt and a low-life lawyer(Ward Bond) join forces to try and steal the inheritance out from under poor Clara.  Rocklin suspects they are up to something and wants to help Clara.  Third, the love triangle in the movie.  Clara likes Rocklin a lot, Arly likes Rocklin a lot, Rocklin likes both ladies and is torn between the two.  It gets resolved but in an unusual way.

Tall in the Saddle is available to buy via TCM’s Shop  and it is also available through Amazon.  There are a few clips and the movie’s original trailer are all on Youtube.  From a serialized story written by Gordon Ray Young that was then adapted for the screen by Paul Fix and Michael Hogan, directed by Edwin L. Marin, seek out Tall in the Saddle to see Wayne in an early star turn, dealing with sneaky, double-crossers, inheritance stealers, two lovely ladies, and Gabby Hayes’s inestimable help.

My Classic Movie Pick: The Shootist

Today’s post is for the great James Stewart Blogathon.  Hosted by an excellent  blog that I enjoy reading, Classic Film and TV Cafe.  Be sure to click on the provided link to read other bloggers’ posts about Jimmy Stewart and his various  acting  roles.   T J Stewart Blogathon     When I saw that Classic Film and TV Cafe was going to host this blogathon, I thought for a while as to which  role of Stewart’s to write about.  I decided on  The Shootist, a  movie that came in the latter days of Stewart’s movie acting.   The Shootist, movie poster The Shootist, originally a novel written by Glendon Swarthout  and published in 1975, was sought out by Paramount Pictures and Dino De Laurentiis Company to be made into a movie.  The author’s son, Miles, and Scott Hale wrote the screenplay.  Don Siegel was tapped to direct.   The movie’s plot is about an aging gunfighter, John Bernard, J.B. Books, who learns he has  cancer.  He also learns that despite liking this new town of Carson City, Nevada to live in, he only has 2 months at the most before the cancer will kill him.  Word gets out that the famous Shootist, Books, is in Carson City and old foes and friends appear, all wanting to cash in on the fame that surrounds this dying gunman or to just get final revenge.  It is Books’ dilemma, how to die with dignity amidst the turmoil that is happening around him due to these malcontents and fortune-seekers who are looking for him in Carson City.

Who better to portray the aging gunslinger than John Wayne, the most famous of Western heroes in film?  In 1964, Wayne had surgery to remove a cancerous lung.  Now, in 1976, when The Shootist was made, it would become  an ironic fact that Wayne would act the part of the dying gunslinger,  and he himself  would also die of cancer in 1979. Wayne had to lobby for the role of J.B. Books since the producers originally wanted George C. Scott!  Wayne did get the part and then proceeded to request that former cast members of other films he had made be cast in this film.  He specifically requested James Stewart, Lauren Bacall, Richard Boone, and John Carradine.

James Stewart, by the 1960’s, was taking on more paternalistic roles.  He had played opposite Wayne  in another great Western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, released in 1962.  Although the two actors didn’t run around in the same circle of friends, they both admired each other’s abilities in conveying characters on screen and had a great respect for one another. Stewart, in The Shootist, plays Dr. Hostetler who J. B. Books makes an appointment with in order to get a second opinion about his back pains.  The clip of that scene can be viewed here.  It is a warm and friendly scene of two old aquaintances re-meeting one another again.  Then the cold, factual Medical Man emerges as Dr. Hostetler gives Books the bad news: the back pains are a symptom of cancer.  Then there is more bad news, that Books only has 2 more months to live.  The doctor tells Books that when it’s time, medicines can be given to him to help ease the pain.

Stewart’s voice is still strong in this film, not quavery as one might expect with an aged actor.  The hair is white, the movements of his body as he walks across a room or sits in a chair are slower than that of a younger man, but it doesn’t distract one iota from his role as Dr. Hostetler.

The Shootist is a great ensemble piece.  All of the cast brought their A-Game to this movie.  Lauren Bacall is Mrs. Bond Rogers, the widowed landlady who rents a room to Books.  She tells him that she doesn’t abide with guns, and yet there is a growing fondness between her and Books.   Ron Howard(former child actor, teen actor, and now movie director) plays Gillom Rogers, son of the landlady.  He looks up to Books because he is a famous gunslinger and Books becomes a mentor/father figure for Gillom.     Richard Boone is Mike Sweeney, out to kill Books in order to get revenge for a brother’s death.  Hugh O’Brien is Jack Pulford,  a gambler and keen shot who wouldn’t mind taking Books down in order to promote himself.   Sheree North is an old flame, Serepta, who shows up hoping to get Books to marry her so  later she can have a book written by a ghost writer about her life with Books and make money off of his notoriety and death.  John Carradine is Carson City’s undertaker Hezekiah Beckem and he pesters Books about having a headstone made.  Scatman Crothers is Moses Brown,  the livery worker who cares for Books’s horse.  Richard Lenz is Dan Dobkins the local newspaper reporter, wanting to write sensationalized versions of Books’s killings.  Harry Morgan is Marshall Thibido, who is anxious to have Books leave Carson City.

The Shootist is available via Amazon to either buy or view through Instant Rent.  It is also available through TCM’s Shop.  To close out my post, here are a few more shots of John Wayne and James Stewart, from The Shootist.

Giving Books the diagnosis.

Giving Books the diagnosis.

TS, arguing with Wayne

 

 

The Shootist, Wayne and Stewart

 

 

 

 

My Classic Movie Pick: The Quiet Man

Since it will soon be St. Patrick’s Day, I thought my classic film should in some way highlight Ireland, and my pick does just that, 1952’s Republic Pictures  technicolor classic, The Quiet Man.   The first time I saw  The Quiet Man  was when  my late father-in-law rented it.   I was in high school at the time and it was a Saturday afternoon which I was spending  at my future husband’s family home.  His dad loved movies and knew a lot about actors, actresses, good plots, good directors, and he assured me and his son that this was a wonderful movie.  The Quiet Man stars John Wayne, but it isn’t Wayne in a  Western or a War picture.  The Quiet Man is really  a simple tale, about an ex-boxer from Pittsburgh, PA wanting to go back to the land of his ancestors and put down some roots in order to live a more quiet existence.

A gorgeous view of Ireland!

A gorgeous scene  of Ireland.

Wayne's character, Sean Thornton, arriving at the depot nearest his parents' birthplace.

Wayne’s character, Sean Thornton, arriving at the depot nearest his parents’ birthplace.

Michaeleen (Barry Fitzgerald) giving Thornton a ride to Innisfree.

Michaeleen (Barry Fitzgerald) giving Thornton a ride to Innisfree.

Sean Thornton( John Wayne) arrives at the nearest train depot just a few miles away from the town of Innisfree, birthplace of his parents, grandparents, and various other ancestors.  He wants to buy the family’s ancestral home, a quaint cottage on a good piece of land, known as “White-o-Morn”.  After some confusing directions given to him by the  locals, Michaeleen Oge Flynn ( Barry Fitzgerald) pulls up in his cart, hops on over to Thornton, and tells him that he can drive him to Innisfree.  Thornton gladly accepts and soon he and Flynn have become fast friends, and Flynn remembers Thornton’s family before his parents sailed away to America.  As soon as Flynn gets Thornton to Innisfree, Thornton wants to get out of the cart and stretch his legs and to have a smoke.   As he is gazing around at the countryside, he sees a flock of sheep with the most beautiful shepherdess attending  them.  It is love at first sight for Thornton.

Mary Kate Danagher, love interest for Sean Thornton, played by Maureen O'Hara.

Mary Kate Danagher, love interest for Sean Thornton, played by Maureen O’Hara.

Thornton soon has a couple of problems on his hands in this new community.  One, he has outbid the Squire “Red” Will Danagher in buying the family homestead.  The Squire,( played by Victor McLaglen), is a bully and has a bad temper, especially at a “Yank” who would dare to buy land that is adjacent to his spread of property.  Second, Thornton has unknowingly fallen in love with Mary Kate Danagher, the Squire’s sister.  The Squire is outraged that the “Yank” wants to marry his sister and forbids the courtship to begin.   It is at this point that some minor characters in the film come up with a trick to play on the Squire, in hopes of convincing him to let Thornton court his sister.  The minor characters are the priest, Father Lonergan(Ward Bond), Rev. Playfair(Arthur Shields), and Mrs. Playfair(Eileen Crowe).  The trio knows that the Squire is actually in love with the widow Tillane(Mildred Natwick), so they play on his fear of never marrying the kind widow.   They tell the Squire that what woman would want to be his wife when a woman already lives in his home cooking and cleaning and overseeing things, that woman being his sister Mary Kate.  At the annual horse race, they further trick the Squire into thinking that since he forbid Thornton from courting his sister that the “Yank” was now interested in courting the widow!  Soon the Squire gives his permission for the “Yank” to court his sister.

The Squire (Victor McLaglen) letting the courting of his sister begin.

The Squire (Victor McLaglen) letting the courting of his sister begin.

Squire "Red" Will Danagher (Victor MacLaglen)

Squire “Red” Will Danagher (Victor McLaglen)

Widow Tillane (Mildred Natwick)

Widow Tillane (Mildred Natwick)

Reverend Playfair(Arthur Shields).

Reverend Playfair(Arthur Shields)

Father Lonargen (Ward Bond)

Father Lonergan (Ward Bond)

The wedding happens and at the reception, the Squire decides to propose to the Widow Tillane in front of all the gathered guests.  The widow is embarrassed and shocked that the Squire would do such a thing and she turns him down.   That sets the Squire’s temper blazing.  He finds out that he was tricked into letting his sister be courted by Father Lonergen and Reverand and Mrs. Playfair.   In his anger he denies Mary Kate her dowry, which includes lovely furnishings, fine china, a piano, and money; items  which she was planning on bringing with her into the marriage.  Thornton tries to explain to Mary Kate that he loves her and doesn’t care about that other stuff, but she does, so much so, that she gets into a fierce argument at the couple’s new home and explains that she’ll cook and clean but not be a real wife for Thornton until she has all her things about her in her own home.  She also accuses her new husband of being a coward for not getting into a physical fight with her brother over her dowry.   Thornton doesn’t want to fight anyone physically anymore, and the Reverend Playfair, a boxing fan, knows the reason why Thornton is so reluctant to fight, and it is also the reason why Thornton has left America.  In his last match under his fight name, “Trooper Thorn”, he accidentally killed his opponent.  From that moment on, Thornton retired from boxing and vowed to not fight anymore.

Soon after the sad wedding reception has passed, folks in Innisfree who like the “Yank” convince the Squire to let Mary Kate have her things about her, and all but the money is brought to the newlyweds’ cottage.  Mary Kate is happy, and after confessing  to Father Lonargen how she has been treating her husband, Mary Kate allows herself to truly be Thornton’s wife, but soon she  is nagging her husband again to confront her brother about the money he has withheld from her.  Thornton refuses, and the next morning before Thornton has risen, Mary Kate has packed a bag and run off to the train station, as she is too embarrassed by his inaction to get her money for her from her brother.  Thornton awakes, realizes where she has probably gone to, and makes his way to the train depot.  The townsfolk of Innisfree see the “Yank” storming off to the depot and decide to follow him.  He finds his wife,  drags her off the train, and forces her to walk the 5 miles back to Innisfree and to her brother’s home.  Thornton then confronts the Squire and demands that he give them Mary Kate’s money.  The Squire refuses and Thornton then tells him to take back his sister.  The Squire relents and hands over Mary Kate’s money and together she and Thornton throw it into the fire.  Mary Kate really didn’t care about the money.  She wanted  to know that  her husband would stand up for her, that he truly loved her.   As the townsfolk watch, the Squire and the “Yank” have a brawl,  punching each other all over the countryside and town.  They manage to visit a pub, have a drink, and then brawl some more.  The end result is that all negative feelings the Squire had for the “Yank” are now gone and they call a truce, to try and be friends.    The film ends with the Squire and the widow beginning their courtship, and Mary Kate and Thornton happy in their love for one another.

The Quiet Man is a fun film to watch.  It  contains elements of drama, comedy, and romance.  The viewer really cares about what is going to happen to the characters.  The movie is beautiful to look at and most of the outdoor scenes were shot  on location in Ireland.  The technicolor shows the countryside to it’s full advantage.  The acting  is excellent, from the stars to the supporting character actors.  The Quiet Man was nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor-Victor McLaglen, Best Art Direction, Best Sound, and Best Adapted Screenplay.  It did win the Academy Award for Best Director-John Ford, and Best Cinematography-Winton C. Hotch, and Archie Stout.

The Quiet Man is available at Amazon, it can be requested through Netflix, and on Sunday, March 17th at 8:30 p.m., CST, it will air on Turner Classic Movies.  TQMJohn Wayne and Maureen O'Hara

              Movie poster 1                   

A movie poster for The Quiet Man in Spanish.

A movie poster for The Quiet Man in Spanish.

          

My Classic Movie Pick: Hondo

Hondo (film)

Hondo (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I fondly remember many Saturday evenings, sitting with my parents and younger brother,  watching a Western on one of the three networks that at that time, in the 1970’s, were the dominant television channels an American could tune into.  My memories seem to tell me that it was NBC that usually aired these Westerns, and of course, the best ones starred John Wayne.   I have seen a lot of Wayne’s Western films over the years, but imagine my surprise  when three years ago on Turner Classic Movies, they aired one I had never heard of before, Hondo.   This technicolor movie  was made in 1953, directed by John Farrow(father of actress Mia, wife to actress Maureen O’Sullivan), with John Wayne in the lead role, as Hondo Lane.    The film was based on a Louis L’Amour short story, The Gift of Cochise.  At 84 minutes, it has an intricate plot, told well at a fast pace that doesn’t lose the viewers interest one iota.

The plot revolves around 4 characters, the remaining cast members adding to the ebb and flow of the minor sub-plots.  Wayne’s Hondo Lane is a half-breed, working as a message runner for the U.S. Calvary stationed at a fort in the New Mexico territory.  The year of the setting isn’t mentioned, but I would guess it’s after the Civil War.  Lane has a reputation for having killed 3 men the previous year, but we can also tell that Lane is an honorable man and we are on his side from the beginning of the movie; we can safely assume that he killed those 3 men in self-defense.  He does mention his first wife, now deceased, from time to time.   She was a beautiful Native American woman, and her death has added a layer of sadness to Lane’s persona, as well as his views on the treatment of the Native Americans by the white settlers and the U. S. Government.   He can see both sides of the arguments, so to speak, due to his unique heritage.

Geraldine Page, portrays the second character of the film, that of Mrs. Angie Lowe.   Her parents were early settlers to the New Mexico territory, and it is their small ranch that she lives on as she was an only child and the sole inheritor of the property.  She has a husband, who was an orphan her parents helped raise, but we do learn later that  he isn’t a model husband.  Angie is a strong woman, smart, but will do what she can to protect her son from the facts about his father’s antics.  Her son, Johnny, age 6, is the only blessing in her life from her marriage to Ed Lowe(played by Leo Gordon, a tall actor, who often played bad guys in Western movies and television shows.)  Johnny, played by Lee Aaker, is a typical 6 year old, and while he doesn’t have a lot of lines to say, a subplot does revolve around him involving the 4th main character of this film, Apache Chief Vittorio, played by Michael Pate.

Chief Vittorio, strong and in command of his tribe, is increasingly worrying about more and more white settlers that are moving into his territory.  He is not happy that there is a U. S. Calvary presence in the area either.  His second in command, Silva(played by Rodolfo Acosta), is a hot-head who Chief Vittorio often has to rein in.   This tribe of Apaches has always been on good terms with Angie Lowe and her parents, often stopping at the ranch due to it’s having a good source of water on it.  The Chief, during one of these visits for water, becomes curious as to why Angie’s husband is never around.  He is impressed with Johnny’s bravery at trying to protect his mother during this visit as Silva makes a crude gesture towards her.  Chief Vittorio decides to make Johnny a blood brother with the Apaches, and he also warns Angie that if her husband doesn’t show up soon, that he will come back to take her and her son and raise her son in the Apache way, so that this brave boy will learn to be man.

Minor characters in the film are: Ward Bond as Buffalo Baker, a fellow message deliverer for the Calvary and Lane’s friend, James Arness(the future Sheriff Matt Dillon of Gunsmoke fame) as Lennie, an Army Indian Scout, Tom Irish, as Lt. McKay, a new Calvary officer, and Paul Fix, as Major Sherry, in charge of the fort.

The aspects of the settlers vs. the Native Americans is portrayed with wisdom, the developing relationship with Lane and Angie is told in a moving way and with restraint.  Geraldine Page indeed, was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her part in this film.  There is a tangle Lane gets into with a card player he angered that is central to the plot,  his being mistaken as a Calvary soldier that leads to an unfortunate encounter with Chief Vittorio and Silva, and the news that the Apaches may be preparing for an uprising, all this fits into this very well acted Western.    All in all, Hondo is a  very fine film, and Wayne gives a very thoughtful performance.   If you haven’t seen it, seek it out.  It is available on dvd through Amazon, through Netflix and Netflix Steaming.

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