Sunday, May 27, 2007

Happy 100th Duke!

Every year the Harris Poll asks Americans who there favorite movie star is, and John Wayne is the only actor ever to make that list pothumously. Even more astounding is that he's made it every year since. This year he was number three (!) beating out George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Johnny Depp, Mad Mel, Harrison Ford, Clint, and Will Smith. Truly an extrordinary achievement no one will ever come close to equaling.

John Wayne's been my favorite actor for decades. I was lucky enough to have been alive when he was still making films and went to see a few. Even near-seventy he held the screen like no other. I consider The Searchers to be the greatest film ever made and Wayne's performance to be the greatest ever committed to film. Both Spielberg and Scorsese make it a point to screen The Searchers before beginning one of their own. And no wonder, it is a masterpiece of storytelling, theme, and performance.

I had the opportunity a few years ago to go to Monument Valley where Wayne and John Ford made their greatest pictures together. The Navajo Indians own the valley and adore these two men. They've named places of honor for both and remain grateful to this day for their friendship and respect. It's quite a thing to see pictures of John Ford and John Wayne in places of honor in American Indian owned businesses and homes.
There's a shot of Wayne in Beautiful Loser. A great shot of him and Gail Russell from Angel and the Badman. Had to have the Duke in the movie. Had to.


Blogger Gina said...

Wonderful tribute. Haven't made it to The Searchers yet, but I'm going to have to do that. I do love True Grit, The Quiet Man, Liberty Valance, and The Shootist, among others. Happy belated birthday, Duke.

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