John Wayne passed away more than four decades ago. But, even today, his legacy is everlasting and his films continue to be a hallmark for movie buffs. More specifically though, John Wayne remains a literal symbol of the Western film drama. Before his death, he gave us iconic movies like True Grit, El Dorado, and The Shootist, among numerous others. Among his massive catalog of Western films though, John Wayne named one in particular as his worst ever, and that’s Cahill U.S. Marshall.
According to Screen Rant, John Wayne believed Cahill U.S. Marshal to be his worst film ever because there was not enough “care” given to its “execution.” In 1975, the tail end of John Wayne’s career, The Duke said that the 1973 film “wasn’t a well-done picture.”
Per the outlet, Cahill U.S. Marshall sees John Wayne in its starring role as a lawman set to bring down a group of bank robbers. Overall, the plot seems pretty simple. However, what Wayne’s character doesn’t know is that his two onscreen sons were also involved in the bank robbery. He further admitted that while the film’s original intention was a good one, it “needed better writing.”
Based on that, Screen Rant claims the narrative provides viewers little to invest in. In addition, Cahill U.S. Marshall was not “in sync” with other Hollywood Westerns debuting at the time.
John Wayne Recalls the First Time He Felt Like a ‘Real Actor’
Even contemporary audiences know that John Wayne is one of the “realest” actors out there. However, while the Duke kicked off his acting career as early as 1926, his real breakthrough came much later.
John Wayne’s first starring role came in The Big Trail in 1930, but the longtime actor believed he didn’t achieve “real actor” status until his film Red River came out in 1948.
At its heart, Red River boasts a simple plot. Its main character, Thomas Dunson, heads out on a cattle drive from Texas to Missouri. That said though, while Dunson is the protagonist in the film, his character, and John Wayne’s conveyance of him was extremely complex. All in all, Dunson was a dislikable, cranky old man who had to come off likable to the film’s viewers. In the end, Wayne received massive praise for his performance.
“I couldn’t have made Red River without John Wayne,” Howard Hawks, the film’s director said of The Duke. In response to that praise, Wayne admitted, “That set me thinking. It was the first time I felt like a real actor, someone who could make a unique contribution to motion pictures.”
Additionally, Red River also caused Wayne to reflect on his morals. In thinking about his character, the American icon was inspired to reevaluate his life actions, especially following two ugly divorces. Later, John Wayne would regularly play a part in films that ultimately promoted positive messages for younger viewers.(Photo by Michel GINFRAY/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)