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.