John Wayne: Watch The Duke Explain Why Westerns Were So ‘Popular’ in 1970 Interview

by Joe Rutland
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If anyone could talk about western movies and be looked upon as an expert, then look no further than “The Duke” himself, John Wayne.

Wayne, in a 1970 interview at the Academy Awards, was asked if the western gets the recognition it deserves in Hollywood.

“I think so, I think so,” John Wayne, who died in 1979, said. “They’ve massacred the western, you know. I mean, the horse is the best vehicle of action for our medium. And there’s been more prose and poetry written about the cowboy, I guess, for his 100-year reign as the opener of the west than any other country’s folklore.”

Take a few minutes and listen to John Wayne talk about western movies in this interview.

John Wayne Said When Westerns Have Good Personal Story, People Can Enjoy It

He said motion picture studios know they are going to make money if they make westerns.

“They make a lot of westerns that maybe don’t have the best personal story that was ever written,” Wayne said. “Whenever they do have a good personal story, the fact that you can give them the scenes, give them the scenery, the action, it makes for a picture that more people can enjoy.

“Being folklore, as westerns are, it’s a basic emotion and every country understands every other country’s folklore,” John Wayne said. “That’s why they’re so popular.”

Wayne’s western movie career received a huge boost from director John Ford, who cast him in 1939’s “Stagecoach.” Other westerns starring Wayne include “The Searchers,” “Rio Grande,” “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” and “True Grit.”

Obviously, his movie career included other types of films, too. But when it comes to westerns and “The Duke,” that proved to be a winning combination at the box office.

Wayne’s Last Film ‘The Shootist’ Almost Didn’t Star Him At All

John Wayne fans know that “The Shootist” would be the last film that the man born as Marion Morrison would appear in on the big screen.

Many people, though, might find it hard to believe that Wayne was not the movie producers’ first pick. That’s a bit sacrilegious to his many fans. Yet it’s true.

Who were the ones ahead of “The Duke” for this role? Here’s the fab four themselves: Paul Newman, Charles Bronson, Gene Hackman, and Clint Eastwood. That’s a who’s-who of Hollywood stardom right there. All four of them turned the role down.

Then Wayne got a hold of it and, by golly, made “The Shootist” memorable. Yep, “The Duke” went out in a role of a dying gunslinger looking for one more fight. Sounds like a perfect fit for him.

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