John Wayne was prolific in movies, and he didn’t just make westerns, either. He did a variety of movies over his 50 year film career; the critics have their favorites, but so do all his fans. Here are my three favorite John Wayne movies ever.
A classic Western…
Rio Grande, made in 1950, saw the first pairing of John Wayne with Maureen O’Hara, as well as the acting debut of Wayne’s son, Patrick Wayne, in a bit part as an unidentified boy. John Wayne plays Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke, assigned with his regiment to prevent the Apaches from terrorizing settlers on the Texas frontier. When his son, Jeff, whom he hasn’t seen in 15 years, is sent with a group of recruits to serve under his father’s command, the underage soldier’s mother, Kathleen, played by O’Hara, soon arrives to get him released from the Army. It is plainly obvious that the two are still in love with each other, and both are justifiably proud of their tough, young son.
Meanwhile, the Apaches escalate the troubles, finally kidnapping a wagon full of children who were being transported to Ft. Bliss for safety. John Wayne finally gets the controversial orders from his new commanding general, to cross the Rio Grande in to Mexico, retrieve the children, and stop the troublesome Apaches once and for all. In the process, he is wounded, and his son shows himself to be a hero; both things soften the heart of the wife and mother played by Maureen O’Hara.
And now for something completely different…
The 1960’s movie Hatari, while not a Western, showed the same kind of independent masculinity in a group of big game hunters commissioned to capture wild animals for a zoo. John Wayne plays Shawn Mercer, along with an international cast of actors playing his team. Bruce Cabot, known as “the Indian,” is mauled by a rhino; Elsa Martinelli, as photographer Dallas, complicates things just by being a woman instead of the man they expected. Romance blooms, pitting Pockets (Red Buttons) against Kurt (Hardy Krueger) as they vie for attention from the beautiful Brandy, (Michelle Girardon); fighting turns to friendship between sharpshooters Kurt and newcomer Chips (Gerard Blaine). And all around is the beauty of Tanzania, its people and its animals. Rhinos, giraffes, ostriches, monkeys, big cats, elephants and more upstage the human actors. The music by Henry Mancini is not to be missed!
The more things change…
In the 1963 Western comedy McLintock, John Wayne plays George Washington “G. W.” McLintock, a cattle baron with a large ranch and a daughter off at college. With the return of his daughter, Becky, his estranged wife Katherine, played by Maureen O’Hara, returns as well. Against a backdrop of settlers flooding in, to the dismay of ranchers and Indians alike, G. W. also has family troubles aplenty. When the daughter’s suitor takes the unusual wooing tactic of spanking his haughty intended, G. W. is finally persuaded that spanking is the only thing that will get his wife’s attention as well, leading to a climactic scene of him chasing her all through the town for the purpose.
This film is definitely not P.C. regarding interactions between men and women, drinking, Indians, Chinese cooks, or just about anything else. But it is a comedy, loosely based on The Taming of the Shrew, not meant to be taken seriously. It is definitely entertaining. Stephanie Powers is an adorable Becky, and Jerry Van Dyke is quite amusing as the dude, Junior. “Junior’s not a dude. He’s nifty,” says Becky.
Besides being another pairing of John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, McLintock also features John Wayne’s son, Patrick Wayne, as the daughter’s suitor, a much bigger role than the boy in Rio Grande. Chill Wills plays in both movies as well, and Bruce Cabot, from Hatari, is in McLintock, too.
If you are a John Wayne fan, you have an ample number of movies to choose from; but if you haven’t yet seen these, my three favorite John Wayne movies ever, you are missing a treat.
IMDb, Rio Grande, The Internet Movie Database
Wikipedia, Rio Grande
IMDb, Hatari!, The Internet Movie Database
Wikipedia article, McLintock!
IMDb, McLintock, The Internet Movie Database