Publisher Benjie Lemon and Editor Bob Welch for Efrem Zimbalist III’s Active Interest Media (AIM) have recently produced the Summer 2014 edition of American Cowboy.
As Walter Brennan said in “Rio Bravo,” It’s a good ‘un. (We’ll get to some of John Wayne’s famous quotes in a moment or two.)
Ol’ Stumpy (Brennan) passed away in 1974. I wonder how many film aficionados know that Walter Brennan was the first actor to win three Academy Awards, all for best supporting actor. Not many, I suspect.
The latest edition of American Cowboy is the John Wayne Collector’s Edition. My daughter, Meghan, picked up a copy for me at Kroger.
The cover photo is the Duke at his finest as Ethan Edwards in the 1956 Western classic “The Searchers.”
Yes, Walter Brennan is included, but not until the final page. There, readers will see a photo of acting greats Wayne and Brennan with a youthful Montgomery Clift in the 1948 production of “Red River.” (My father’s favorite John Wayne movie.)
The magazine includes a section on the Duke’s leading ladies (Maureen O’Hara, Ann Margret, Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn, Sophia Loren and even Shirley Temple, who co-starred in “Fort Apache” in 1948.
Angie Dickinson, who co-starred with Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson and Walter Brennan in “Rio Bravo,” didn’t make the cut. Nor did Patricia Neal from “In Harm’s Way.” Too bad on both counts.
In its “Villains” section, American Cowboy includes Lee Marvin, who played none other than Liberty Valance in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”
Marvin has always been among my top dozen or so favorite actors. Prior to attending acting school on the GI Bill, Marvin was a sniper scout with the 4th Marine Division in World War II. He was wounded in the Battle of Saipan and spent more than a year in the hospital. A great actor and a great American.
Most notably among the “villains” is Bruce Dern. From the moment I saw Dern in “The Cowboys” as an 11-year-old at the old Colony Theater in Hillsboro, Ohio, I have despised him. I don’t like his wife, Diane Ladd, or their daughter, Laura Dern, either.
If you are sufficiently un-American to be unfamiliar with “The Cowboys,” I’ll sum it up for you. John Wayne played cattle rancher Wil (with one “l”) Andersen. Dern played the murderous Asa Watts. After Andersen cleans Watts’ clock in a challenge fight, Watts grabs a gun and shoots the unarmed Andersen toward the end of the movie. From the moment I watched that scene, I have found no reason to like Bruce Dern, Laura Dern or even Lorna Doone.
Of course Lucky Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall) is included among the “villains.” Like Lee Marvin, Duvall served his country, fighting with the U.S. Army in the Korean War. Like Marvin, Duvall utilized the GI Bill to study acting in New York. Duvall, the magazine points out, made his big screen debut as Boo Radley in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
One of my favorite Duvall characters is that of Hub McCann in “Secondhand Lions.” As Lucky Ned Pepper, Duvall was a classic villain. And as he told Rooster Cogburn (The Duke), “Rooster, you done shot me full of holes;” but it took a rifle shot from Glen Campbell to finish the job.
In addition to sections on leading ladies, villains and other fun stuff, American Cowboy includes a series of wonderful and thought-provoking essays about such taboo topics as country, courage, the West, and God. (Such audacity!)
Perhaps the best of these essays is written by former Olympics (1952) gold medal sprinter Dean Smith. Smith worked in many movies and is a member of both the Stuntman’s Hall of Fame and the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Mr. Smith’s essay begins with this lead-in quotation from John Wayne: “Courage is being scared to death – and saddling up anyway.”
Mr. Smith not only played John Wayne in several movie scenes as a stuntman, he also played the role of Maureen O’Hara’s character in the Western-comedy “McLintock!” in 1963.
Here’s what Smith has to say about The Duke:
“When we lost John Wayne and others like him, Hollywood quit making the Westerns that teach children the pioneering spirit of our forefathers. John Wayne wouldn’t let his horse see the movies of today. We need men with courage in Hollywood to make good movies – movies we can take our families to; movies that teach courage, morals and respect for our country.
“Standing up for what is right takes courage … We need to lead by example and raise our children to have courage and do what it takes to get out there and saddle up, even though they are scared to death. That’s what John Wayne would do.”
U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi also has a great column in this month’s American Cowboy. For any and all John Wayne fans, here’s an unabashed endorsement: Buy the John Wayne Collector’s Edition of American Cowboy. You’ll be glad you did.
Now, as promised, here are a few of the classic movie quotes from John Wayne – and is it any wonder that more than three decades after his death, he remains in the Top 10 of most favorite actors in 2014?
words to live by
• “I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people and I expect the same from them.” – John Bernard Books (“The Shootist”).
• “Sorry don’t get it done, Dude.” – John T. Chance (“Rio Bravo”).
• “Hurry it up. We’re burnin’ daylight.” – Wil Andersen (“The Cowboys”).
• "Just a good stretch of the legs." – Sean Thornton ("The Quiet Man").
• “Republic. I like the sound of the word.” – Col. David Crockett (“The Alamo”).
• “That’ll be the day.” – Ethan Edwards (“The Searchers”).
• “A lot of guys make mistakes, I guess, but every one we make, a whole stack of chips goes with it. We make a mistake, and some guy don’t walk away – forevermore, he don’t walk away.” – Sergeant John M. Stryker (“Sands of Iwo Jima”).
• “Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.” – Sergeant John M. Stryker (“Sands of Iwo Jima”).
• “All battles are fought by scared men who’d rather be some place else.” – Capt. Rockwell Torrey (“In Harm’s Way”).
• “We brought nothing into this world and it’s certain we can carry nothing out.” – Tom Dunson (“Red River”).
• “I’ve always followed my father’s advice: He told me, first to always keep my word and, second, to never insult anybody unintentionally. If I insult you, you can be damn sure I intend to. And, third, he told me not to go around looking for trouble.” – John Wayne.
Rory Ryan is Senior Editor, North American Desk, at Paperitalo Publications and the owner of The Highland County Press in Hillsboro, Ohio. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.