Sunday, September 15, 2013

Finally, a John Wayne "4-pack" I can get behind

I grew up during the advent of WTBS - the Superstation!  They showed a lot of classic films, and among those classics was a strong helping of John Wayne films.  These were movies my father and I would watch together.  As a result, I became a devoted fan of the Duke, even enrolling in the John Wayne collection of VHS tapes.

Then things shifted, and VHS tapes fell out of favor with DVDs taking precedence.  I became a father - an adult, one would hope - and fiscal priorities shifted (mortgage, children's clothing, comic books) so that my DVD collection is spare (I prefer curated, but it's all semantics).  I've added a couple of John Wayne films I found cheap - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Red River - and I would check out those 4-packs always offered at Target or W**-***t.  But those always included a lesser war film or The Wake of the Red Witch or some of the oaters Wayne did before breaking through to stardom.  So I never bought one.

Until I saw this one a few weeks back.

The Sons of Katie Elder - the first John Wayne film to become my favorite.  I loved this movie, the comedy with the youngest brothers, Dean Martin's charm, and the introduction of Wayne in the opening of the film, along with the standard shoot 'em up.

El Dorado - Wayne and Mitchum together?  I'm in.  I've seen this a number of times, though it has been years (decades, most likely) since I last watched it.  I can't remember much of the plot; I just know I enjoyed it.

The Shootist - an aging gunfighter (John Wayne) comes to town to get a second opinion from a doctor he trusts (Jimmy Stewart) to confirm that he has "a cancer" that will kill him in a painful manner.  So, Wayne's character decides to go out in a hail of gunfire rather than quietly.  With Lauren Bacall, Richard Boone, and Ron Howard.  This was a fitting end to Wayne's career.

The Searchers - regarded as Wayne's best film, with revered director John Ford, and hailed as his best performance, this is a revenge tale that shows Wayne in a darker light, one that was never explored by the star in any of his other films, that I can recall.  Everything that's been said about this film is spot on.  It's a classic that transcends the genre and should be seen by any fan of film, let alone westerns.


No comments: