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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Eternal Cowboy Star: John Wayne

I was a small boy when John Wayne died in 1979. But even at that age  I loved the films of John Wayne and watched them in cinema halls with my friends while playing truant from school. Later,  I built up a collection of his films and have now over 90 of his films on my hard disk. For me there is no bigger star of cowboy films than John Wayne. Maybe Clint Eastwood would come a close second, but Wayne was the original macho star.
I saw his movie in a morning show in 1985 or 86  titled "True Grit". In this movie he plays an aging one eyed Marshal and the best scene is when he goes at the outlaws with the horses reins clenched in his mouth and both guns firing at the outlaws. It was a great shot and I am so glad that John Wayne won an Oscar as the best actor for this role in 1973.
Wayne was the original macho movie star. He had strong views about negroes. In one of his interviews in Playboymagazine he was asked what he thought of black rights. His reply was succinct and  lucid. He said "tell me in which country in the world does a black have a better life than in America?". How very true, as all over the world like in Africa, the black man is dying of hunger, malnutrition and internecine wars.
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John Wayne was a tough star and he lived his roles. One can remember his roles in  The Horse Soldiers, Big Jake, North to Alaska, the Longest day, True Grit and many more. I am told he acted in almost 170 films and never played a role as a supporting actor.  I have almost 90 films of his on my computer and it gives me great pleasure to watch him action on a afternoon holiday with a glass of beer.
Wayne teamed up with all the top heroines of that era. In any case the career of John Wayne touched almost 40 years. He was honored posthumously with the President of the United states Freedom Medal in 1980.
John while filming close to the Nuclear test site suffered some radiation and later developed cancer of the stomach. I think he died prematurely in 1979. He lived a full life and married thrice with 7 children from 2 wives. But this is just an aside and one cannot forget his drawl and the cowboy hat and the blazing gun.  Truly a Hollywood great.
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