Friday, April 11, 2008

He Was American, and Proud of it

Ahh, to return to the day when people could speak like this on TV without anyone thinking they were crazy. This is a clip from Dean Martin's show featuring John Wayne speaking about how he'll raise his daughter.


We Misfits said...

Sons of Katie Elder. Now that was a movie!

The Duke sounds very patriotic here, but if you read Garry Wills' book, John Wayne's America, it paints a less patriotic picture. Still, I want him on my side when going up against an evil land baron...

Mark Keefer said...

I'd be interested in reading Wills' book. I wonder what he could've written to give an (ultimately) unpatriotic profile/impression of Wayne.

I'm aware that JW didn't pursue enlistment in WWII (though I don't believe he dodged either) - he was 34 when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and Republic Pictures threatened to sue him if he left his contract for duty.

From what I have read, every time JW was renewed or reclassified as a 1-A, Republic would intervene and ask for a 2-A deferment, stating that he was too important to leave for war, as he was in essence fighting it here making patriotic war movies. (He was making them a lot of money is what he was doing, but I am glad for the movies now)

From what I've read/studied about JW over the years, I know he wasn't a perfect guy (at all), but unpatriotic?? As if. He went hard-core patriot later out of guilt that he hadn't left his contract and served in WWII despite the threats from the studio.

I'll definitely have to check out Wills' book though. Thanks for the recommendation. Obviously, I'm a big JW fan, but I also like seeing things from all sides.

As for "Katie Elder", that was a good movie (hilarious fist-fight between the four brothers), but his role as Ethan Edwards in "The Searchers" (his and Ford's best film, BTW) might be the toughest movie character ever. That guy can be on my side anytime...

Richard Gaspard said...

Maybe I'm seeing this with post-20th Century eyes, but doesn't it seem over-the-top staged? As if they're trying to get the point across to someone? Or maybe some sort of damage control? I'm not making accusations, but the whole conversation felt very rehearsed.

I don't mean any disrespect to either Martin or Wayne. They were both great actors, extremely talented men, and both were a part of Old Hollywood, where conservatism still had a foothold, and where men were true gentlemen. It's just that the whole thing seems preachy and insincere, and for me, irrelevantly cheesy.

Perhaps, if you could provide context for this exchange, it might help me see it in a different light.

Mark Keefer said...


I agree with your assessment wholeheartedly. It does seem rehearsed and over the top.

I didn't mean to make this into a "Hey, look how sincere and wonderful these guys are...", but my original intent here was to point out that what is being said just wouldn't fly these days. Not because of the cheesy rehearsed manner it's being communicated, but because of the content itself.

Talking about teaching scripture and being respectful of the troops just doesn't get a lot of airplay on today's TV.

Maybe part of me has seen Wayne through rose-colored glasses because I'm such a fan of his movies, but I was just astonished to hear this conversation (even as rehearsed as it is) on such a mainstream show like Martin's.

Richard Gaspard said...

You're exactly right. What was said was great, especially considering the platform on which it was said. With that implication in mind, it is quite impressive that these statements were made with no backlash whatsoever.

But then again, who's gonna go up against The Duke? He's the kind of guy who'll shoot you, then have you repeat the sinner's prayer right before you die, so that you can at least go to Heaven. Sort of a Bill Gunter, US Marshall sort of thing, except more famous.