John Wayne Estate Posts Glorious Throwback Pic of the Duke Spinning a Winchester on Classic Film’s Set

by Suzanne Halliburton
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The John Wayne estate tossed out a trivia question, Tuesday, asking fans of The Duke to name that movie.

The clue?

“Duke practicing his rifle spinning with a Winchester rifle on set. Do you know which movie he was filming here? #JohnWayneTrivia

Take a look at the photo. John Wayne is wearing some classic attire – tan pants, brown vest and hat, red shirt. As one fan pointed out: “It’s hard to tell (because) he wore that same set of clothes for lots of his movies.”

The John Wayne fans came up with El Dorado, although they guessed other movies, too, like Rio Bravo and Rio Lobo. John Wayne did wear the same outfit in the 1966 movie about a gunfighter named Cole Thornton. Wayne, of course, was Thornton. Other stars in the movie included Robert Mitchum as constantly drunk Sheriff J.P. Harrah and James Caan as Mississippi.

John Wayne Photo Had a Rifleman Feel to It. There’s a Reason for That.

The photo the John Wayne estate posted did give the movie a Rifleman feel. And there was a reason for that. According to IMDB, Wayne cocked a Winchester lever-action rifle with one hand “by twirling it by its lever.” The lever was enlarged to make it easier to do the trick. He used this modified rifle in several movies. Chuck Connors, who starred in The Rifleman TV series used a similar modification. And coincidentally, Johnny Crawford, who appeared in El Dorado as Luke MacDonald, played Connor’s son in The Rifleman.

Wayne also wore a Red River D brand belt buckle in the movie. That was a nod to Howard Hawks, the movie’s director. Wayne first worked with him in Red River, a film from 1948. And Hawks gave him the belt buckle.

El Dorado also helped launch the career of Caan, who was just 25 when he made the movie. Caan, who is listed at either 5-foot-8 or 5-9, said he wore three-inch lifts with his boots to stand alongside John Wayne (6-4) and Robert Mitchum (6-1).

Caan talked about his experiences with John Wayne and El Dorado during a 2013 interview with AVClub.com.

“Here I am, I’m like, 23 (or 25), and I’m with him all day long,” Caan said of John Wayne. “Between him and Robert Mitchum, I immediately went and got three-inch lifts in my cowboy boots so I could stand next to those guys. Yeah, that was quite the experience. But I was always kind of a punk, you know? A real New York guy. John Wayne was always calling me “kid,” and he was a guy who, if he could intimidate you, he would. But I just kept laughing at him. And, thankfully, he respected that.

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