Saturday, May 26, 2007

Happy 100th Birthday Marion Robert Morrison

Or Marion Michael Morrison John Wayne, who was born today in 1907. IMO he was an underrated actor even though he churned out those cheesy oaters for Republic Pictures in the 30s. I tend to disregard his execrable politics and just enjoy his flicks now that I've gained an appreciation for classics. A lot of people say he fashioned himself as a super patriot as making up for never having fought in WW2, and his whole life was full of contradictions. He's thought of as the über cowpoke because he made so many westerns but in reality he disliked horses and was more at ease in a dinner jacket than leather.

A remarkable picture that the Duke was in that few people have seen was one of his first and actually one of the first talkies. "The Big Trail" directed by prolific director Raoul Walsh is interesting in a lot of ways. It was supposed to be Wayne's big introduction as a movie star and gobs of money were thrown into production. It was filmed on location all over the west and is truly unbelievably lavish for the era. They did one thing wrong, though, that delayed Wayne's big breakthough for a decade - it was filmed in the then new wide screen process and theaters at the time didn't have the equipment to screen it. It had a limited run and the Duke then had to go churn out all those stinkers for a paycheck until John Ford's "Stagecoach".

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