John Wayne

  1. Gary Cooper, The Plainsman, 1934.    Duke was trying to get out of B-Westerns when an A was suggested just before his first son (and future producer), Michael, was born… Duke, as per usual, was on time for his interview. CB DeMille was not. Didn’t get any better… “You were in The Big Trail, weren’t you? You did just fine. But a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.” Said Wayne: “I’ve learned to read bad lines as well as anyone in the business.” CB said: “I’ll get back to you.” CB-talk for get lost. “To him I was now just a minor star of mere B westerns.” Wayne never forgave CB for rejecting him as Wild Bill Hickok for seven years – in time forReap The  Wild Wind, 1941.   Jean Arthur was Calamity Jane, even though Wild Bill and wilder Jane never had the affair CB gave them .   No matter. Print the legend
  2. Richard Dix, Man of Conquest, 1938.   To sweeten the pill of a weird contract at Republic, Herbert J Yates paid Wayne less then he’d been making at Universal – $3,000 a film for eight films, or $461.54 a week. (For non-Westerns, Wayne had to supply his own clothes!). Yates promised he have the lead in the film about Sam Houston. He lied. Of course. “You’re not strong enough.” he said about the sudden choice of Dix. Meanwhile Duke was stuck in The Three Mesquiteers and nagging at John Ford: “When is it my turn?” “Just wait. I’ll let you know when I get the right script.” “And,” said Duke, “he did.” Stagecoach.
  3. Tim Holt, Wagon Train, 1939. RKO wanted a replacement for George O’Brien Wayne was mentioned. “A mistake,” memoed distribution chief Ned Dupinet. “He is in same catergory as dozen others with disadvantage having been sold cheaply and, in our opinion, little prospect of gaining popularity… He is one of the poorest of so called Western stars, seems miscast and his pictures [are] doing little [business] at Universal… Better to go ahead with George Smalley who had not been identified with cheap Western pictures and with whom we would have chance building worthwile singing stars like [Gene] Autry.” How wrong could a guy be..! At the time, 1937, O’Brien was second, Autry third and Duke seventh in the Western Top Ten. Within a year, thanks to John Ford’s Stagecoach, Wayne and Holt would (temporally) escape B-movies which, said Wayne biographer Scott Eyman, were like the Mafia – “once you were in, you were in for life.” Holt carried on making the RKO saddle sore programmers until 1951; Smalley was never heard of again. Duke was among his friend Holt’s last visitors at the Shawnee Hospital just before his death in 1973.
  4. Robert Livingston, The Kansas Terrors, 1939. Herbert J Yates was the nincompoop running Republic Pictures. He loaned Wayne for Stagecoach for $6,000, when he could, should have asked for $60,000. He also let Jennifer Jones get away and thought his Czech wife, Vera Hruba Ralston, was an actress. Obviously, he was staggered to find – due to the John Ford classic – that that there was an A Star hidden in plain(s) sight in the Mesquiteers quickies. He swiftly promoted Duke to Dark Command, and bowing to fan-mail pressure, brought Livingston back as Stony Brooke… after having failed to made him an A star!
  5. Tim Holt, Wagon Train, 1939. RKO wanted a replacement for George O’Brien Wayne was mentioned. “A mistake,” memoed distribution chief Ned Dupinet. “He is in same catergory as dozen others with disadvantage having been sold cheaply and, in our opinion, little prospect of gaining popularity… He is one of the poorest of so called Western stars, seems miscast and his pictures [are] doing little [business] at Universal… Better to go ahead with George Smalley who had not been identified with cheap Western pictures and with whom we would have chance building worthwile singing stars like [Gene] Autry.” How wrong could a guy be..! At the time, 1937, O’Brien was second, Autry third and Duke seventh in the Western Top Ten. Within a year, thanks to John Ford’s Stagecoach, Wayne and Holt would (temporally) escape B-movies which, said Wayne biographer Scott Eyman, were like the Mafia – “once you were in, you were in for life.” Holt carried on making the RKO saddle sore programmers until 1951; Smalley was never heard of again. Duke was among his friend Holt’s last visitors at the Shawnee Hospital just before his death in 1973.
  6. Ronald Reagan, Knute Rockne All American, 1939.   “Win one for The Gipper”  is one of the lines in US cinema. And, good grief, Ronnie Reagan made it happen! Trying to rev up a fast imploding career (he was always stuck as the hero’s best pal), Reagan suggested that Jack Warner should film the story of Knute,  the legendary Notre Dame football coach. “And I could play George Gipp.” You’re too small.  Reagan promptly produced an old photo of him playing college football –   he was actually bigger than The Gipper. Bye bye Duke … and Jamws Cagney, Robert Cummings, William Holden, Dennis Morgan, Spencer Tracy, Robert Young.
  7. Victor Mature, Captain Caution, 1939.   Hoping to cash in on the Warner Bro pirate films with Errol Flynn, comedy producer Hal Roach tried to get Wayne for Dan Marvin of the good ship Olive Branch. However, Duke was done with B-movies. (Alan Ladd had a tiny rôle).

  8. Preston Foster, North-West Mounted Police, 1940.  
    Duke & DeMille Part Two. This time it was after Stagecoach, and CB DeMille sent him the script – for a rôle fourth in line to Gary Cooper, Madeleine Carroll and Paulette Goddard. Wayne sent it back. With a note. “A lot of water’s gone under the bridge.”  Leading to Duke & DeMille Part Three… Their seven-year feud ended in 1941. When DeMille asked him to join for Reap The Wild Wind.   And Duke insisted on a re-write… an utter no-no on any CB film!  And DeMille  read Wayne’s  letter to his writers and proclaimed: “If an actor can see what’s wrong and work it out, why couldn’t you?”  Wayne only agreed after forcing DeMille to confess that the only reason he wanted him was “to make Ray Milland look like a man.” Duke was never yelled at during the shoot, was invited to lunch every day by CB   – who even used him as assistant director for a fight sequence.

  9. Ronald Reagan, Santa Fe Trail,   1940.     Busy with John Ford, Raoul  Walsh, Henry Hathaway and Tay Garnett, Wayne was the 1940 target for General Custer. Duke was not keen on the part,  as Jack Warner’s assistant Steve Trilling memoed Hal Wallis on June 24, 1940 –   “merely a straight part… a foil for Jeb Stuart [Errol Flynn].” He was right. Bosley Crowther’s New York Times review did not even mention Reagan. Who later said – often – that second fiddling to Flynn was a recipe for professional oblivion.
  10. Chester Morris, Wagons Westward, 1940.    Republic announced its star attraction until Duke studied the script and proclaimed that he wasn’t [pause] a dual-role [pause] kinda fella. Enter Morris as outlaw Tom Cook and lawman David Cook.

  11. Dana Andrews, Canyon Passage, 1945.   If you can’t get Duke for a Western you sign Dana Andrews?  Made no sense… For his first major  Western (and colour debut), Hollywood’s resident realisateur Jacques Tourneur had wanted to reunite the 1938 Stagecoach trio of Duke, Claire Trevor and Thomas Mitchell. 
  12. Bill Elliott, Plainsmen and the Lady, 1946.   Officially, Duke fled the gambler helping start the Pony Express because of the script. More like because the leading lady was  Vera Hruba Ralston, the ex-Olympic ice-skater  wife of the Republic Picture boss, Herbert  J Yates. A star on ice, not on screen. She had a thick Hungarian accent and couldn’t  act. Yates killed his famed B-movie empire by  putting her into pricey A pictures, 26 in all – only those featuring Wayne turned a profit. This explains why Duke  never directed  his Alamo dream projectfor another 13 years.  To spite him, Yates even lavished  a colossal  $2,193,939on his own Alamo film, The Lost Command, 1954 – minus Vera!  Ellliott, no longer  “Wild Bill,”  was Republic’s current Red Ryder – and the first Red, Don  “Red”  Barry, was lost among tbe heavies. 
  13. Gregory Peck,  Duel in the Sun, 1946.    Before producer David O Selznick got his clumsy hands on it, RKO planned it for Duke and Teresa Wright. (Her  husband, Niven Busch, wrote it for her). Hedy  Lamarr was briefly involved, then Selznick saw his demure lover, Jennifer Jones, in this sexual potage. Opposite a similarly miscast  Peck.
  14. Joel McCrea, Colorado Territory, 1948.    Director Raoul Walsh’s Westernised High Sierra was a “cheater” – a re-make in a differing genre, said McCrea, so people wouldn’t know! The top Brother,  Jack Warner, insisted on using contract players until Walsh dressed and saddled six of them and Warner had to agree: No good!
  15. Gregory Peck, Twelve O’Clock High, 1948.     “Duke told me he’d turned it down,” said Peck. “And I seized it!” Just not that fast… Clark Gable was extremely keen on General Frank Savage. At first, Peck thought it was too similar to Command Decision (which Gable made). He read it again. “A fine film, much honoured and respected, about the psychological stress of total involvement of these men with the bombing of a ball-bearing works in Frankfurt.” Just too honest for such a gung-ho movie-hero as Duke – and Peck’s finest hour (more so than To Kill A Mockingbird). Also in the Brigadier General Savage loop: Dana Andrews, Ralph Bellamy, James Cagney, Van Heflin, Burt Lancaster, EdmondO’Brien – and three-bobs-worth of Roberts: Montgomery, Preston and Young. This was Peck’s finest hour; forget To Kill A Mockingbird.   Seeing him glued to his chair in a catatonic state of battle-fatigue made one helluva impression on me when I saw it in…, hell, I was 11 years old!  It marked me for life.  It also affected Rian Johnson, who named  it as an influence on his Star Wars:  Episode VII – The Last Jedi, 2016.

  16. Broderick Crawford, All The King’s Men, 1949.  
    You can take this script and shove it up Robert Rossen’s derrière…  Duke’s furious reply to his agent Charles K Feldman on receiving director Robert Rossen’s script of Robert Penn Warren’s novel. It threw acid on the American way of life, smears the machinery of government for no purpose of humor or enlightenment… degrades all relationships… and is populated by drunken mothers; conniving fathers; double-crossing sweethearts; bad, bad, rich people; and bad, bad poor people if they want to get ahead… Feldman was equally furious. The novel had wonthea Pulitzer Prize, Columbia paid $200,000 for it, Rossen was comparable to Capra, Huston and Wyler (We do no represent him!}… therefore, failing to submit such a project to Wayne would have been a dereliction of duty. I have never quarreled with your judgment and I won’t do so now.They remained friends and Duke stayed with the agency until Feldman died. Nominated alongside Wayne for The Sands of Iwo Jima, Crawford won the Oscar. As did the film! No coincidence that Rossen was called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1951. He took the Fifth Amendment. Columbia Pictures severed all connections with him and and bought up his rights and residuals in the films he made for the studio, including King’s Men and The Brave Bulls. Two years later, a cowed Rossen named 57 Hollywoodians who had once belonged to the Communist Party. Crawford, a Duke co-star in Seven Sinners, 1940, played Stark and won the Oscar from Wayne, nominated for the gung-ho Sands of Iwo Jima.

  17. Gregory Peck, The Gunfighter, 1949.    John Bowers and André De Toth wrote it for Duke but felt his $10,000 offer was not good enough. They sold it to Harry Cohn, the Columbia czar known as The Most Hated Man In Hollywood. Wayne refused to play, never forgiving  King Cohn for the way he had mistreated him as a young contract player (calling him an alcoholic, vulgar and a little too serious after Maker of Men in 1931).  Cohn sold the script to  Fox resulting in the Silver Spurs award for Peck – when angry Wayne said: “Wal, who the hell. Decided you were.   Best cowboy of the year?” Although based on the real Jimmy Ringo, killer, OK Corral gunfight survivor and eventual suicide, the film had many similarities with Wayne’s final, The Shootist, 1975. So he won in the end.  The very end.
  18. Errol Flynn, Rocky Mountain, 1949.   Hating most of his Warner movies, Reagan asked for a Western. “Find a good ’un and we’ll do it.” And they did. Literally. No one had said, they’d do it with Reagan. Errol was in like Flynn after John Wayne refused a $200,000 offer, Four years later, Duke made John Ford’s classic version of another Alan Le May book. The Searchers.
  19. Burt Lancaster, Vengeance Valley, 1950.     Lancaster’s first Western… Producer Hal Wallis had what his publicity man Paul Nathan, called a typical John Wayne part: “slow-thinking, slow-moving and very heroic.” But he did not have Wayne. So Owen Daybright, no less, went to his contract player who had to work for Wallis, Duke did not.
  20. Gene Evans, The Steel Helmet, 1950.     “FIRST IMAGE ON  THE SCREEN is a dogface’s helmet WITH A BULLET HOLE in it,” growled the “tabloid philosopher” and WWI vet Samuel Fuller in his usual capitals. “The helmet rises slowly to reveal THE GRITTY, CIGAR-STOMPING FACE OF SERGEANT ZACK, A WWII VETERAN...”  Naturally, everyone saw Duke as the Sarge. Except Sammy – making the film his way and not for a studio, but the independent producer Robert L Lippert, who gave  Fuller  his start as an auteur with  I Shot Jesse James, 1948.  

  21. Kirk Douglas, The Big Sky, 1951.     The Silver Fox, Howard Hawks, launched Wayne’s second career with Red River in 1946 and, paid $30,000  for the rights to AB Guthrie Jr’s Western saga. But Duke  was too booked. Or sussed this was another Hawksian love story of two guys. After much talk of Brando, Clift, Cooper, etc, Hawks slid downwards into Douglas and Dewey Martin.
  22. James Cagney, What Price Glory, 1951.     No surprise that director John Ford wanted his man – his star! – as Captain Flagg opposite Dan Dailey as First Sergeant of the US Marines.   Ford had been there, as an Raoul Walsh s uncredited assistant director, when the duo were created by Victor McLaglen and Edmund Lowe… in 1925. (They returned in Hollywood’s first official sequel, The Cock-Eyed World, in 1928 – and two others, Women of All Nations, 1930, and Hot Pepper, 1932. Wayne was (nervously) Lieutenant Cunningham in a star-studded John Ford stage production of Maxwell Anddersdon’s play (with Pat O’Brien, Gregory Peck, even Oliver Hardy), raising funds for the Order of the Purple Heart in 1949. in the 1949 run of the Maxwell Anderson play,

  23. Gary Cooper, High Noon, 1951.   
    Writer Carl Forman created Marshal Will Kane for Fonda – passed over by the suits  for being grey-listed for his politics. “Not for me,” said Wayne, Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Charlton Heston, Burt Lancaster.   Gregory Peck found it too similar to his previous Gunfighter(!). Kirk Douglas came thisclose to playing Kane with Lola Albright as the missus. Cooper was keener.  He even cut his fee to wear the tin star  – and win the Oscar on March 19, 1953. And a  life-long friendship wigh Forman. But guess who who picked up the Oscar fort Coop?    Duke Wayne! “And now, I’m gonna find out why I didn’t get High Noon instead of Cooper.”   Huh?  He had  (a) refused it as “the most un-American thing I’ve seen in my whole life” and (b) ordered Cooper out of it!!    And tried to throw Foreman tout of Hollywood – “You’ll never work in films again!”  (Forman left, of his own accord, for London and… The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Key, The Guns of Navarone, The Victors, Mackenna’s Gold, Young Winston).  Eisenhower and Reagan never  called High Noon  anti-American (and they were Republi cans like Wayne). It was their favourite movie. Idem for Democrat  POTUS Bill Clinton. He  watched the all-time  class some  17 times in the White House.

  24. Frank Lovejoy, Retreat, Hell, 1951.      Duke planned to storm Inchon in Korea with his leathernnecks and utter the immortal line: “Retreat, hell! We’re not retreating, we’re just advancing in a different direction.”  But delays clashed with The Quiet Man’s start date.  
  25. Will Rogers Jr, The Story of Will Rogers, 1952.    Warners tested Bing Crosby and Wayne, who took the  Joel McCrea line: Doing Wyatt Earp or Buffalo Bill was easy, the audience had never  seen them – unlike  Will Rogers or Jack Benny.   Junior Will had nothing to lose…
  26. Gregory Peck, The World In  His Arms, 1952.     Borden Chase wrote it for Duke. And he didn’t like it. Director Raoul Walsh turned to Peck who had pleased him so much the year before as Captain Horatio Hornblower, RN. By 1956, Duke was the world’s highest paid actor, at as devilish $66,666 .66 per film.
  27. Forrest Tucker, Jubilee Trail, 1953.      For a six figure and a rare points deal, Republic boss Herbert J Yates bought Gwen Bristow’s book for Duke and his often Duchess, Maureen O’Hara. They passed. So did Yates, scaling down his “Greatest American Drama Since Gone With The Wind” (hah!) to B, even Z-level, by starring his missus, the execrable Ralston against Tucker – famously big except where it counted. At the box-office.
  28. Gary Cooper, Vera Cruz, 1954.  Western paradox. The movie that is often called the “first spaghetti Western,” was scripted by his Red River writer, Borden Chase for… Duke!But he  was hog-tied elsewhere. Cooper took it – and Burt Lancaster . Ityv was a largely  improvised Western.  Script pages were  elivered about five minutes before each scene, according to director Robert Aldrich.
  29. Tyrone Power, The Long Gray Line, 1954.   Originally, John Ford wanted ole Duke as  Marty Maher, aka the working title: Mister West Point, the Fordian Irish Non-Commissioned Officer serving at theUS  Military Academy for 50 years of grey-uniformed cadets. 
  30. Sterling Hayden, The Last Command, 1954.     Duke tried to make the Alamo story three years earlier in Mexico except his Republic chief, Herbert J Yates, insisting, quite correctly, upon Texas locations. Wayne left the studio, Yates refused to sell him the property – going ahead with Hayden as Jim Bowie. In 1960, Wayne finally made his version, The Alamo – producing, directing and starring as Davy Crockett – in… where else but Texas!

  31. James Arness, Gunsmoke, TV, 1955.    The US Marshall blueprint was all Duke. He passed, suggesting Arness who  made three Wayne films in  the 50s – and went on to play Marshall Matt Dillon for  a record 20 years. Wayne  gave the on-camera introduction in the pilot.

  32. Rock Hudson, Giant, 1955.   
  33. Humphrey Bogart, The Left Hand of God, 1955.     Legendary director Howard Hawks considered  Wayne, Gregory Peck for “the priest” – -mainly, Kirk Douglas.  Duke’s credo? “Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say too much.”
  34. Colonel Tim McCoy, Around The World In 80 Days, 1955.   After producer Mike Todd dumped Gregory Peck  for not taking his cameo of an US Cavalary commander seriously enough, a mystery begins. Story One: Wayne then lobbied for the role and Todd wouldn’t hear of it. Story Two: Todd called up Duke and he wouldn’t hear of it. Either way, the real Colonel was not the real McCoy!  Stars who did  accept cameos included Charles Boyer, Joe E Brown, Ronald Colman, Noel Coward, Marlene Dietrich, Fernandel, Buster Keaton, Peter Lorre, Victor McLaglen, George Raft, Frank Sinatra, Red Skelton.

  35. Randolph Scott, Seven Men From Now, 1956.   
    Since producing his Bullfighter and the Lady. Duke and writer-director Budd Boetticher were trapped in a feud (bred by scenarist James Edward Grant). Suddenly, they were steps away in the same studio. Duke called Boetticher over and introduced him to a script his new find, Burt Kennedy, had written for him. “Brilliant,” said Bood [as Duke pronounced Budd]. Sure, said Wayne, the best Western he’d had read since The Searchers – which he’d just finished. so too early for another vengeful tale. Head Brother Jack Warner, didn’t help keep him aboard by saying it could be another High Noon. (Wayne hated that film!). Gary Cooper, Joel McCrea and Robert Preston passed, Robert Mitchum tried to buy it. Wayne said: “Get Scott – he’s through!” Not quite. He was churning out his own oaters, one reason his Estate included $100m… As producer, Duke rescued Scott’s fading career with this first of four more austere Boetticher Westerns (programmers, really) – all written by Kennedy for Wayne… who eventually let Kennedy direct him in The War Wagon, 1966, and The Train Robbers, 1972.

  36. Robert Mitchum, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, 1956.   One of Robert Mitchum’s greatest roles…  Basically a two-hander, based on Charles Shaw’s novel. About a US marine and an Irish nun stranded on a Pacific atoll during WWII.   Deborah Kerr was, apparently, always set as Sister Angela. But Corporal Allison – Mister to her – changed from John Wayne and to Kirk Douglas to Clark Gable to an outstanding Mitchum. Directors also switched from William Wyler and   Anthony Mann to a John Huston on good rather than great form  Bob and Deb made up for his shortcomings. Thirteen years later they were sought for something of a re-make: the Western Two Mules for Sister Sara. Only this time the nun was a hooker in an old habit. And habits. Eventually played by Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine.  Bob and Deb, friends for life after he caught her swearing at Huston,  made three more films together. 

  37. Joel McCrea, The Tall T, 1956.    ”I wrote them for Duke, but Randy made ’em…” For the second of their nearly-Duke-finally-Scott projects, scenarist Burt Kennedy and director “Bood” Boetticher based their darkest horse-opera on Elmore Leonard’s taut story, The Captives (his first book to be filmed).   Featuring, bien sur,  Kennedy’s  classic line for Duke, er Scott: “Some things a man can’t ride around.”

  38. Tyrone Power, The Sun Also Rises, 1956.  There are two main characters in Ernest Hemingway’s first novel. He wrote it in 1925.  They took forever to reach the screen. They are part of the post-WWI “lost generation.”  Jake Barnes is impotent. Lady Ashley  is  a nymphomaniac. Words, said Hollywood censors, “not proper for screen presentation.”  Ann Harding first won the rights in 1934  to co-star Leslie Howard. She sold out in 1944 to Constance Bennett, who  quit before finding her Jake.  By 1949, the couple were Montgomery Clift- Margaret Sheridan. Dewey Martin was a ‘52 Jake. There followed Gregory Peck-Jennifer Jones, Robert Stack-Dana Wynter – ultimately Tyrone Power-Jennifer Jones – she split for another Papa Hemingway heroine, Catherine  Barkley, A Farewell to Arms. Ava Gardner took over only to be  replaced by  Susan Hayward (rivals in Papa’s Snows of Kilimanjaro, 1952) Hemingway insisted Ava was Brett  and no one  else.  And the offensive words? Producer Darry F Zanuck promised they would be un-uttered. He (half) lied.  Impotent was spoken, as a doctor explained his war wounds to Jake.  And Brett, well, she was no longer a nympho, just a lush.    Zanuck even suggested Duke as Jake.  A probable joke. Or insult. 

  39. Victor Mature, China Doll, 1957.  Mature was looking way older than his poster image. Well, the poster-artist had to look after the boss. Film was made by Mature’s Romina company and John Wayne’s Batjac.

  40. Spencer Tracy, The Last Hurrah, 1957, While shooting Legend of the Lost with Sophia Loren in Libya and Cincecitta, Wayne got a letter from John Ford. His tentative deal with Orson Welles to play veteran politico Frank Skeffington was thwarted by Columbia czar Harry Cohn’s reaction to receiving documents alleging Welles’s communist or subversive activities. They were sent by an actor who had boasted all over town that he was to play the role – a Ford regular, the rancid bigot Ward Bond.   (Welles always said he was out of town when his lawyer refused as the money and billing were wrong – “if you can conceive of such a thing”).   “You know my very decided views on traitors, Commies, fellow travelers and such like,” said Ford’s letter. “You also know my integrity in making films. Also, my ideas of justice; you are not guilty until proven so (and the jury is not necessarily Ward Bond).” He then asked Duke to take over the Irish-American politico boss (based Boston Mayor James Michael Curley) and the longest death scene in Hollywood history. Wayne passed. it would break his boycott of Columbia and Harry Cohn,etc. Pity as this was exactly the kind of role that Wayne could/should have played at this time. OK, he was 50 to Tracy’s 57 (looking more like Skeffington’s 70s), but Ford knew Duke could hack the older make-up, etc. He’d aged well when playing Nathan Brittles, aged 62, at 41, in She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, 1948.

  41. Marlon Brando, The Barbarian and the Geisha, 1957.   Wayne wanted to call it Pine and Bamboo, which director John Hutston certainly preferred to First Ambassador, East Is East, The Kimona Curtain, etc. Geisha. When hearing the final title, Huston yelled: “Are serious? If so I am changing my name, too !” As big an error as his Genghis Khan in The Conqueror, but Wayne hoped for a good partnership with Huston. As if to show Duke who was boss, Huston started an affair with Wayne’s leading lady, Eiko Ando. Everything went downhill from there.
  42. Clint Walker, Yellowstone Kelly, 1958.    What had been a John  Ford project for John Wayne was dropped as they decided saddlinbg up The Horse Soldiers would be better.  As Kelly, Walker aka TV’s Cheyenne, 1955-1963.  rode his TV horse. Brandy.
  43. Randolph Scott, Ride Lonesome, 1958.   The Scott-Boetticher-Kennedy team showed battle fatigue with this one as Scott hunted his wife’s killer. Boetticher made good oater. He never won an Oscar. He didn’t need to. His real name was… Oscar. “Sometimes things would happen,” said Kennedy,”someone would hit their head or do something by mistake and they’d leave it in and call it a director’s touch.” As for the writer’s touch, it was there again, but given to outlaw Pernell Roberts, not Scott: “There are some things a man just can’t ride around.”
  44. Victor Mature, Escort West, 1958. Second of the two only co-productions between Bajac and Romina. No better than the first. Which is obviously why Duke was not aboard either one.
  45. Randolph Scott, Comanche Station, 1959. “They pretty much shot the scripts,” commented Kennedy of the final shoot, all done in 12 days.   This time, Scott saved Nancy Gates from Comanches. Then, he retired until Sam Peckinpah implored him to join Joel McCrea in their last stand: Ride The High Country, 1961. After which, Scott packed it in again. And meant it. Meantime, Wayne eventually let Kennedy direct him in The War Wagon, 1966, and The Train Robbers, 1972.

  46. Richard Boone, The Alamo, 1959. 
    “That picture lost so much money I can’t buy a pack of chewing gum in Texas without a co-signer!” Duke’s crusade. His dream project, since the 40s. He would direct and play, maybe, just a short rôle. Sam Houston, maybe. Prepping started in December 1947 with location hunts in Texas and Mexico for a 131 page outline by John Ford’s son, Pat Ford, in which Davy Crockett was obviously penned for the boss (“Soldiering is a trade, Bub”). But Republic boss Herbert Yates kept stalling as the previous Wayne projects – The Angel and the Badman, The Fighting Kentuckian – lost money. (Oh really?). Worse, Yates showed his true, camembert-smelly self by making his own el cheapo Alamo, The Last Command (Arthur Hunicutt, aka Pa Kettle, was Crockett!). The two men never met or talked again. Duke formed what became Batjac Productions. Warner had a Yatesian distrust of him directing but got interested anew in 1958 after Rio Bravo. Too late. Duke had $2.5m from UA, which Batjac had to match but $5m was not enough. He broke bread with Texas businessmen, keen on changing the image of their beloved state from that of Giant, and all that boiled down to Wayne working for free. The set took a year to build at Bracketville. He agreed to almost any deal to make the damn film – like agreeing to play Crockett. Various backers feared Wayne would be bankrupted (themselves, more like it) and never understood the need for an assistant director (Robert Reylea, l Steve McQueen’s future production partner), a second-unit director for the battles (Cliff Lyons, though Duke shot most of it).  And they all expected that John Ford would ride in out of the sun and be the real director. No way!    Duke gave him a second unit to play with  – but his stunts, fights, explosions were never used. Wayne was not allowing people to think – or print – the legend that Ford directed The Alamo. He did not. As the old wrangler Raoul Walsh suggested, there was nobody better qualified than Wayne to direct and Reylea, who later worked with Brooks, Sturges, Wise and Wyler, said, technically, Wayne was best He knew it all: cameras, lenses, stunts, editingt. Communicating with actors, not so much. (Richard Widmark was soon bored with him). Knowing Duke had mortgaged everythjing for the budget, Boone played Houston for free. Well, for the character’s beautiful buckskin jacket… Ford called the result “the most important motion picture ever made.” George Stevens put it  among the screen’s finest literature. Not really. ’Twas an almighty flop. Too long. Way too talky – for a Western, let alone a Wayne film. He cut an extra 31 minutes. Too late. The damage was done. He rushed through North to Alaska, Hatari! The Comencheros, to stock up his cash reserves. They all did beter. UA never played fair, he said, but still sold his dream to UA. And then, suddenly, whaddyaknow, it made a profit!
  47. Laurence Harvey, The Alamo, 1959. Charlton Heston and William Holden passed, so that left Wayne as the only acceptable  Davy Crockett…. instead of Richard Widmark, who became Jim Bowie instead of… as he was known in Hollywood…  Sonny Tufts??!!    Duke passed Colonel William Travis (once aimed at Clark Gable) to Harvey – and felt he deserved the Oscar nomination more than old-time Chill Wills as Beekeeper. 

  48. James Stewart, Two Rode Together,  1961.    Producer Stanley Shpetner’s suggestions for Marshal Guthrie McCabe were impiosible.  Henry Fonda and John Ford had fallen out during Mister Roberts  (Fonda had two sack him!) – and John Wayne was booked up. Ford settled for “two deaf hairpieces!” – James Stewart, Richard Widmark – for a diluted version of his 1955 classic, The Searchers.  He called it. “the worst piece of crap I’ve made in 20 years.”    Said Fonda:  “Ford resented the success Jim had in the  Mann Westerns.  I told Jim not to trust Ford.”  Indeed, Ford immediately tried to stop Stewart wearing  his usual cowboy hat (since 1951) – and made sure he had no hat at all in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,  1962.

  49. Gérard Blain,  Hatari,  1961.     The King agreed to co-star with Duke  in 1960 – if he had $1m, 10% of the gross. And top billing.  No way, said Paramount. Howard Hawks gave the role to  John Wayne (Clark Gable died the very month shooting began). When the director couldn’t get anyone strong enough for  Wayne’s original role,  he divided it  between Hardy Kruger andf Blain…
  50. Hardy Kruger,  Hatari,  1961.    … Hawks called them “the German and the little French guy… Good actors, but Wayne just blew them off the screen. He just took charge; they were just barely there. It changed the storyline and everything.” Hawks tried the same trick, with slightly better results, when splitting the drunk role – between Jorge Rivero and Chris Mitchum – in the third Rio Bravo re-make, Rio Lobo, which proved  The Silver Fox’s final film in 1970.

  51. Peter O’Toole, Lawrence of Arabia, 1961. 
  52. Robert Mitchum, The Longest Day, 1961.    The story goes that Wayne left the role of General Norman Cota to succeed William Holden as Lieutenant-Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort. Not according to the man who should know. Producer Darryl F Zanuck. “Mitchum was the first important star to accept a cameo role. This led to to the rush to get into the act.” And Wayne accepted a cameo “even after he knew the same role had been turned down by another star [Charlton Heston] who considered it insignificant.”
  53. Joel McCrea  Ride The High Country (UK: Guns  in  the Afternoon), 1962.  “All I wanna do is enter my house justified.”  A very John Ford/Duke Wayne line… Dismayed by what happened to the Western after TV spat it out, Gary Cooper kept looking for a good ’un to end on. However, the end came too quickly for Coop.  And Duke was not about to end just yet awhile, pilgrim!  Joel McCrea,  Randolph Scott (with Sam Peckinpah directing his own script) made it a classic. Charlton Heston (who decided to make Sam’s Major Dundee, 1965, because of it) planned a re-make with Clint Eastwood as the two “town tamers.” But hey, Chuck needed Clint more than  vice-versa. 
  54. Slim Pickens, Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, 1964.     Peter Sellers was unable  (unwilling?)  play a fourth role, the Texan Major TJ King Kong.  Producer-director Stanley Kubrick approached Duke, who did not even respond –  and tele-cowpoke Dan Blocker,  who did.  However, Bonanza‘s Hoss disliked the script’s progressive political content.
  55. Robert Mitchum, Mister Moses, 1964.    His agent, future producer Charlie Feldman tried to persuade him in 1962, but no go. The titular snake-oil salesman and diamond smuggler mistaken for a god by a Kenya tribe was far better suited to Mitchum. Anyway, Duke preferred McLintock! as a way to pay off UA for The Alamo loans, get his Batjac library back, plus a goodly cut of between five and ten per cent.
  56. Richard Boone, Rio Conchos, 1964.   No wonder director Gordon Douglas first tried to get Duke for ex-Confederate Major Lassiter’s this violent oater  Lassiter’s    mission, suggested web critic Ian Jane, was “ to shoot and kill as many Apache Indians as he possibly can.”
  57. Robert Mitchum, El Dorado, 1966.      Or:  Rio Bravo II.  Having been the hero of the first, Duke wanted to be sheriff  JP  Hara, “a tin star with a… drunk pinned on it.”  Director Howard Hawks more or less said that Duke could mess around with his image any which way – but not on Hawks’ watch.
  58. James Stewart, The Flight of the Phoenix, 1965.   They split up after a row over The High and the Mighty, now director William Wellman was thinking of stepping out of retirement and asked Duke to ride along… with Joel McCrea. They all agreed when Wild Bill changed his mind about the project. Robert Aldrich later made it with Stewart and Richard Attenborough. Wayne said Wellman was a wonderful somafabitch… with a WW1 metal plate in his head. Wellman saw Duke’s screen image as “a nice guy with a special touch of nastiness.”

  59.  Lee Marvin, The Dirty Dozen, 1966. 
    Finally, a character too tough for even Duke. Major Reisman and his dozen commit atrocities – like incinerating Nazis in a bomb shelter. Officially, he passed because it was shooting in the UK and he didn’t want to miss the birth of his and Pilar’s second daughter, Marisa. Wayne started preparing to helm the laughable Green Berets, 1968. Marvin said he based his Reisman on one of his Marine Corps pals… Great summer that year, watching Marvin, Bronson, Cassavetes, Trini Lopez, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, Clint Walker, etc playing softball in Hyde Park every Sunday morning. Oh, Jim Brown too – wearing two pairs of shorts for some reason. Duke later ran into Marvin and said there was a nice little part for him in an upcoming film.
    Marvin laughed. “I don’t do little parts anymore, Duke.” “Whaddyer mean?” “I’m a big star like you are. I get $1m a picture.” “Ya what?” Yeah, The Dirty Dozen made more money than anything in the last 20 years. I was the lead and that’s what I get now. Duke couldn’t believe it. He then checked how much Marvin had been paid on Batjac’s Seven Men From Now ten years previously. $16,000.

  60. Charlton Heston, Planet  of the Apes, 1968.
  61. Henry Fonda, There Was A Crooked Man, 1969.    For his one and only Western (ex-Hell, Hung Up, The Prison Story), auteur supreme Joseph L Mankiewicz first wanted Duke (of course)  as Sheriff Woodward W Lopeman hunting Kirk Douglas as the con man thief (and escaped convict). He ended up with Fonda chasing Kirk Douglas.
  62. Robert Mitchum, Young Billy Young, 1969.      A Hollywood family Western…  Director Burt Kennedy wrote it for Duke. Mitchum  took it on with son, Chris, as his son. Also cast: Dean Martin’s daughter and the sons of John Carradine and Robert Walker.
  63. Dennis Hopper, The Last Movie, 1969.  Or: The Last Movie or Boo Hoo in Tinseltown! Based on Hopper’s experiences while shooting The Sons of Katie Elder in Mexico (when indigenous natives re-enacted the movie-making), the film won the Critics’ Prize at Venice but The Last Movie was damn nearly The Last Hopper. Well, he shot it in  Peru – coke capital of the world!  He’d got Stewart Stern, a pal since scripting  Rebel Without A Cause,  to write it. They argued, split, but always wanted to work together again. ”He fascinated me,” said Stern, “because he had ideas before anybody else did.” But their stoned, 98 page treatment interested no one. Anf Hopper refused to risk record producer Phil Spector’s offer of $1.2m to film the new, 119-page script.  Hopper just bided his time… He always intended Kansas, his “stunt  man in a lousy Western,” for Montgomery Clift – but he died in 1966. The role needed an older player. Finally, at 34, Hopper explained: “It was easier doing it myself than explain to another actor what I wanted.” He had tested various hopefuls and considered two of John Ford’s family: John Wayne and Ben Johnson, talked to Jack Nicholson, Jason Robards and… Willie Nelson!! My God, Dennis and Willie shooting in Peruthey’d still be there!  Buried, probably.
  64. Richard Widmark, Death of a Gunfighter, 1969.    “It was at one point called Patch,” recalled Don Siegel (sharing the first Allen Smithee director credit with Robert Totten). “Jennings Lang had the bizarre idea that because John Wayne had a son called Patrick, Wayne might accept the picture.”  There was no Patrick in the final version and Duke preferred to die in greater dignity under Siegel’s helm in The Shootist, 1976.
  65. George C Scott, Patton, 1969.
  66. Clint Eastwood, Two Mules For Sister Sara, 1970.     Six years before producer Martin Racklin bought the rights, writer-director Budd Boetticher had intended starring Spanish director Luis Buñuel’s Mexican find, Silvia Pinal,  opposite Duke, who loved Mexican women. (Two of his three wives were Mexican). But Budd wanted  “my  John Wayne, not Jack Ford’s!” 
  67. Lee Marvin, Monte Walsh, 1970.     Howard Hawks was asked to film the Jack Schaefer  end-of-the-Wild-West-era novel  in 1969. Sure,  if Duke would be the old cowpoke – and if they could secure a good partner for him, something they’d failed at for Hatari!   The answer was no on both counts. 
  68. Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry, 1971.
  69. Anthony Quinn, Across 110th Street, 1971.   His famous friends were all doing it, so why not him? So, Quinn was going to sit this one out. And simply produce the blacks v Mafia thriller, bloody enough for Scorsese or Tarantino. Harlem, however, disliked his ideas – Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr, Sidney Poitier, even Wayne, Kirk Douglas or Burton Lancaster as the top cop. Too Hollywood! Not street enough! Quinn switched invites to Paul Benjamin, Antonio Fargas, Yaphet Kotto and took over Captain Mattelli, himself. So much for relaxing.
  70. Ernest Borgnine,  The Trackers, TV, 1971.  The unlikelyh combo of John Wayne and Sammy Davis Jr had longed to make a Western together. Indeed, a letter in Duke’s files had Sammy hoping the Gerald Gaise script could be what they were looking for.  Rancher Wayne forms a posse to rescue his daughter, kidnapped by Apaches. He sends for a US Marshal and his deputy arrives – Sammy as Ezekiel Smith. Borgnine ranched in the tele-film version, still with the glorious Sam.  In that same years, Ernie went from The Trackersto The Revengers.

  71. Gene Wilder, Blazing Saddles, 1973. 
    Say what…?!!!   Meeting in the Warner commissary, Duke asked Mel Brooks and his writers about their Western, where where people said stuff like “blow it out your ass.” “We’d like you to be in it,” said Brooks… thinking about the aged and drunken gunfighter, The Waco Kid.   Wayne took the script home and passed on the following day, having by then discovered the farting scenes and The Kid having killed more men than Cecil B DeMille “I read it and found myself actually laughing out loud. It’s much too rough and raw.  Naw, I could never be in a movie that used the N-word or that had such low-down dirty talk. Naw, I’m sorry I can’t be in your movie. But I promise you, I’ll be the first in line to see it!” said Duke. Who hadn’t [pause] been called Kid [pause] since [pause] Stagecoach in 1938.

  72. Robert Shaw, Der Richter und sein Henker (End of the Game), Germany, 1974.  About 20 years before, John Ford and his Quiet Man producer Michael Killanin, aftempted to make this existential whodunnit from Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s 1950 novella. The Judge and His Hangman, When Austrian star Maximilian Schell writer-directed “Friedrich… Friedrich… you know, Friedrich! What the hell’s his last name?”

  73. Denver Pyle, Welcome to LA, 1976.    Replaced. Because of a nude scene! Although willing to be naked, Geraldine Chaplin’s head was digitally positioned on the body of an ex-Penthouse Pet for a nude scene to avoid embarrassing her (dying) father. This cost so much that  Alan Rudolph and  Robert  Altman  could no longer afford Duke – as Keith Carradine’s father.
  74. Gregory Peck, MacArthur, 1977.  “I shall return,” said, famously, General Douglas MacArthur in WWII. ”I shall not,” said Cary Grant. Retired really meant retired. But nobody believed him! Also on Patton producer Frank McCarthy’s (very) short list were Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston and, of course,  George C Scott (“too close to Patton”).  Plus,. incredibly, John Wayne up for the same role as….  Laurence Olivier!  And having lost Patton, Duke tried hard again… “God-damn, I’m the stuff men are made of!”  The five star General Douglas MacArthur, chief of the US Army in the 30s, “was a magnificent man, one of the few people I really admired. But I don’t  honestly think there’s a story in him. Maybe I’m wrong.  I’ve blown enough films in my time.” He was not wrong. (Three years later, Olivier was MacArthur in  Terence Young’s Inchon, 1979).
  75. Laurence Olivier, The Betsy, 1978.    Duke and Olivier up for the same part again – forsooth,  the mind doeth really boggle!! Harold Robbins refused to adapt his  book (“I get $3m in royalties, so why write scripts?”) and just sold it to Warners in 1972 for Pacino opposite Duke as “#1”, the Godfather of the automobile industry,  Loren Hardeman Sr.
  76. Michael Caine, Beyond The Poseidon Adventure, 1978.     More like beyond the pale… Producer Irwin Allen wanted Burt Reynolds. The Warner suits voted Clint Eastwood – of course. And Allen was staggered by Duke’s interest. That would push the film – about a sunken, upside down cruise liner stuck on an underwater volcano – to a whole other level. Beyond what co-star Angela Cartwright called “a film about water, fire and stunts.”    All the suggested leads fled because… they read the script.   So did Caine and Sally Field, but they admitted they made it for the money.
  77. Robert Stack, 1941, 1979.    Duke was ill – and damned mad with this whippersnapper Steven Spielberg. Told him not to make the movie. “He insulted me and said: How dare you offer me such an anti-Americn film? It’s unpatriotic and a slap in the face to WWII vets.”  (Who had nothing to do with the story!)  Duke did not appreciate the humour.  Nor did anyone  else at the time.  Spielberg next calle Birth year: 1907Death year: 1979Other name: Casting Calls:  82