So, the other night on AFN Movie (that's American Forces Network, or Army cable if you prefer) was True Grit. A good film to be sure, but I've never really understood why John Wayne got an Oscar for that role.
To me, there are two films for which he deserved on Oscar much more than True Grit. They are, not surprisingly, also my two favorite John Wayne movies.
The first movie is The Searchers. I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it, but it's John Wayne at his best. Throughout the movie he is obsessed with finding his niece who was abducted by Indians. His motives for finding her, however, are not always clear. Is it for pure revenge? Is it his hatred of the Indians that took her? Is it to save her?
The plot is intense - especially for 1956 - and it certainly makes you wonder about how John Wayne is going to handle the climax of the movie. To me, he is so convincing in his role that I can never look at a John Wayne film quite the same. For all of his critics, he's one heck of an actor.
The other film is one of his non-Westerns: The Quiet Man. In this film, the Duke plays an American who has returned to Ireland to reclaim his ancestors' home. Predictably, he falls in love with the beautiful Maureen O'Hara. Her proud and stubborn brother, played by Victor McClaglen, doesn't like John Wayne very much and creates a few problems. Not much of a synopsis, I grant you, but I'll toss in that John Wayne has a dark past he's trying to escape. How's that? Interested yet?
It's an old-fashioned movie made in 1952, but it's a great one. I'd hate to give away the plot, so I won't. Just trust me that it's a good movie.
There are other John Wayne movies that I love too. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is fantastic. Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne in a John Ford movie - you can't get much better than that. Also, the Duke's last movie, The Shootist, gets better every time I watch it. Another movie with Jimmy Stewart, it is even better when you know that during the shooting of the movie, it was known that the Duke had stomach cancer. His character in the movie also has cancer. There is a particular scene with Jimmy Stewart as Wayne's doctor where you can tell it is real emotion.
Seriously, you need to see these movies. Put them on your Netflix list and I promise you won't be disappointed. If you are, you are probably a communist. Maybe.
*I am surprised this is the first John Wayne tag. After all, we do have 3 Stooges, Absinthe, and several other random tags...