Saturday, May 26, 2012

"Fill Your Hands"



"You Son Of A Bitch!" On this day, 1907 in Winterset, IA, Marion Robert (later Mitchell) Morrison was born. Of course, the quote and the picture are from True Grit. As Rooster Cogburn (who the cat that rules the roost here at The Poor Farm is named), he won his only Best Actor Oscar.

Of course, there have been acres of print written about The Duke, his politics, his personal life, his acting performances and his directorial skills, much of it detrimental at times.

I don't care. If there is one thing those who did not care for him cannot deny, it was the fact that he was larger than life. That trait, which he cultivated in his roles, also extended to his personal life and his politics. He was all in, whether it was drinking with his old buddy Ward Bond or Bruce Cabot, or chasing Communists. He was notorious for berating fellow actors who were not prepared and ready to put in a hard day. He was always ready, even when he was down to one lung.

One of the more oft jabs at his acting is that he always played the same character - The Duke. He always was pro American, walked the same walk, and espoused the same values. He refused movie roles that required him to curse, because it didn't fit his image. What is wrong with that?

And besides, that particular complaint rubs me the wrong way, because obviously those who say that have never seen Red River, The Searchers, The Quiet Man, or even 3 Godfathers. Tell me the roles Wayne played in those movies were all alike, and how they're just the same characters as in Sons of Katie Elder or El Dorado. I'll be waiting.

The Duke was loyal to those who worked well with him, too. The aforementioned Bond and Cabot, Ben Johnson, Maureen O'Hara, both Harry Careys, Walter Brennan, Chill Wills, Hank Worden, Ken Curtis and many others. He didn't mind splitting star time on the screen with Kirk Douglas, Jimmy Stewart, Dean Martin, Robert Mitchum and plenty of other notables. Like Rock Hudson, who credited Wayne with saving his career by giving him a role in The Undefeated, even though Wayne was aware that he was gay - didn't matter to him, what mattered was Hudson needed the work, he was a good actor, and the Duke could use him. On the other hand, Montgomery Clift reportedly wasn't happy with Wayne or Brennan on the set of Red River. But, the supposed romance between Clift and the alcoholic John Ireland disrupting the set more than likely was the culprit, not just that Clift was bisexual.

Anyways, I'll watch an old Duke movie just about any day over what passes for entertainment on today's boob tube. Even if I've seen it nine hundred times already. For all her "charms", Snooki just doesn't have it over The Duke.

12 comments:

jed said...

There's a nice little present you could get yourself, to celebrate.

Jeffro said...

I've seen that! Had I any money......

Earl said...

I can't complain about John Wayne, he did provide some fine characters and good stories. Still Oppie should have shot him in the Shootist, the way it was in the book, but for America it wouldn't have worked and that film is really deeper than our culture would like. The best unseen part he ever played was as the Centurion at the Cross. Good to remember, after we are gone will the country know that he was more important to who we were than our political leaders?

creakypavillion said...

Any man who loves Airdale Terriers is on my side automatically.
And if after that he turns out to be a guy who was personal friend with Reagan - hey, I will even watch Westerns if he plays

Jeffro said...

Earl - he certainly deserves a lot more respect than the pols.

Tatyana - The Duke endorsed Reagan for Governor of California, but I don't think they were really great friends or anything. Ol Ronaldus Maximus wasn't all that bad as an actor, either.

lotta joy said...

My favorite phrase of all time was recently used by my niece when she found out she had invasive cancer: "Fill your hand you son of a bitch!" It's appropriate at any and all occasions as far as I'm concerned. But...Wait! Snooky has "qualities"?????

Jeffro said...

lotta joy - well, maybe not to the female eye. Actually, any "qualities" she has are pretty well negated for me when she opens her mouth.

creakypavillion said...

according to Wiki, they were friends:
"Instead he supported his friend Ronald Reagan's runs for Governor of California in 1966 and 1970"
[from your link]

Jeffro said...

Ol' Ronaldus Maximus got under The Duke's skin as well: http://www.nytimes.com/1987/03/16/us/reagan-angered-john-wayne.html

Frank W. James said...

I personally think Wayne's protrayal of Ethan Edwards was a far greater feat than his role as 'Rooster'. I've always thought he should have been given an Oscar for his work in THE SEARCHERS. It was his best performance...

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Jeffro said...

I totally agree, Frank. I, as well as most people, felt like the Oscar Wayne received for True Grit was more of a delayed recognition for his past works, rather than the actual role. Sorta like saying "We've ignored you long enough and you deserve an Oscar."

Lisa Paul said...

Roger Ebert has a number of wonderful posts on The Duke -- who he considers a wonderful actor. An actor who didn't "show" you his acting, but just was. As the Duke once told Ebert: "Don't act, react."