I was over the moon when I saw John Wayne on this year’s Stars list. My childhood hero. The one who made me fall in love with Westerns from way back when I was a little girl. To this day my absolute favourite genre. And John Wayne still holds a special place in my movie heart.
It isn’t only John Wayne though. No, it is a combination of him and the Super 8 films through which we were introduced. As some of you may know, I never had a television growing up (parents’ choice). But, I did have a whole stack of Super 8s that my parents had rescued from landing on the dump when video cassettes first came out. Amongst those wonderful reels were The War Wagon and Big Jake. Did I love watching those (I know the dialogue by heart – to this day). Had to be a non-school night and some setup was required. Screen. Projector (maybe lightbulb replacing or un-jamming the film before it melted too much). And then the sheer joy of watching.
To mind always that strawberry-pinkish shirt he wore in The War Wagon. And the running leap onto his horse. He made it look so easy, elegant (in as far as cowboy elegance goes) and effortless. Then came Big Jake. I still have a soft spot for this movie and the colourful lines that come out of tough dad Jacob McCandles’ (John Wayne) mouth. My best was/is when son James, played by real-life son Patrick Wayne, calls him “daddy” to which the no-nonsense answer is “You can call me father, you can call me Jacob, you can call me Jake, you can call me a dirty son-of-a-bitch, but if you ever call my daddy again, I’ll finish this fight“.
We also had McQ with a much older John Wayne. For me though…cowboy works better than detective. It was only many years later that The Cowboys came my way. Another perfect role for this man as he takes a group of school boys on as hands for a cattle drive. Naturally The Seachers was next on my radar. Thoroughly enjoyed The Comancheros. Hmm…McLintock was different to what I’m used to. And the list goes on.
All I can say is: John Wayne. Cowboy like no other.