“Duke on a different kind of horse power than he’s used to!” the John Wayne Estate posts Monday with a laugh. Laughing emoji, that is.
Fans are getting a kick out of the rare photo, too, with fan Scott commenting “Ha…. Great photo!”
Yet as super-fan Luning points out: “That is not the actual motorcycle in the film that Mitchum is seen on.” Which is absolutely true, given that John Wayne and actor Christopher Mitchum are two separate people!
In Big Jake, Mitchum rides a far older Harley Davidson with a Montesa engine, as the Western was set in 1909. It’s a beaut! Below, however, John Wayne is seen on a personal Honda racer behind the scenes courtesy of his Estate’s official Instagram:
According to Hollywood legend, this fantastic BTS photograph of John Wayne was taken in 1970 on the set of Big Jake, a year before its release. The Duke reportedly used the Honda to get around the set and go where he liked. What an icon.
‘Big Jake’ was the End of an Era for John Wayne
In many ways, this rare photo shows The Duke at the end of an era. For starters, Big Jake would be the last film that Wayne and Christopher Mitchum would ever make together.
As per IMDb‘s history of the film, the two actors would fall out over political differences intensely and publicly. More specifically, the two were on a television interview when Mitchum made it known how much he disagreed with John Wayne’s conservative views. After this, the two actors never spoke again.
It is said that Mitchum tried to get in touch with Wayne nearly a decade later in 1979. At the time, the icon was dying of cancer. Mitchum, however, would not receive a response.
In addition, Big Jake would also be the last film John Wayne and beloved co-star Maureen O’Hara would appear in a film together. For two decades, the two would dominate Westerns together. Starting with Rio Grande in 1950 and The Quiet Man in 1952, to The Wings of Eagles in 1957 on to McLintock! in 1963 – few on-screen couples could draw a crowd like Wayne and O’Hara.
The two were as close of friends as any could be. In fact, O’Hara actually named the wing of her home with her husband Gen. Charles Blair “The John Wayne Wing”. Talk about awkward for General Blair!
Yet O’Hara would write in her memoir, Tis Herself, that she “wasn’t crazy” about the small and marginal part that Big Jake offered her. “It was Duke,” however, “so I agreed to do it,” she says within.