There are a number of great new John Wayne DVD releases in honor of the Duke's 100th birthday -- see The Shelf for a rundown -- but perhaps the release I've most anticipated is RIO BRAVO, one of the greatest Westerns ever made.
The new 2-Disc Special Edition includes a commentary track -- oh noooo, it's Richard Schickel! -- a featurette with Angie Dickinson, and the MEN WHO MADE THE MOVIES episode on Howard Hawks.
You just can't beat this movie, with its marvelous cast, also including Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, and Walter Brennan. Nelson and Martin singing in the jailhouse is movie magic.
Mike Clark had a fun column today in USA TODAY which included a list of Clark's Top 12 favorite Wayne movies. His Top 12 list, in order: THE SEARCHERS, THE QUIET MAN, RED RIVER, THEY WERE EXPENDABLE, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, RIO BRAVO, FORT APACHE, REAP THE WILD WIND, THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY, DONOVAN'S REEF, HATARI! and EL DORADO.
Such lists, of course, can be highly personal -- I too would probably include DONOVAN'S REEF in the list because I associate it with many happy viewing memories, though it's not really a "great" film. I don't think anyone would quibble with THE SEARCHERS and THE QUIET MAN heading the list.
But -- just because movie lists are fun -- I've really got to question some of his inclusions and omissions. (If anyone else wants to play along, please join in on the comments!) FORT APACHE is an excellent movie, but Wayne's role is subordinate to that of Henry Fonda's. On the other hand, the next "cavalry" movie, SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON, contains one of Wayne's greatest performances and without question it would be No. 3 on my Wayne list.
The other two films that would absolutely be on my own list are RIO GRANDE (a beautifully crafted Western which only gets better with time) and ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (ditto). I would pull REAP THE WILD WIND, HATARI!, and RED RIVER or LIBERTY VALANCE off the list to make room for these -- which again shows how personal lists can be. RED RIVER and LIBERTY VALANCE are wonderfully crafted films which have received much critical acclaim, but though I can admire them, I don't warm up to them so much, with their "darker" version of Wayne.
My 15-year-old son, a major Wayne fan who rewatches the Duke's movies on a regular basis, chuckled when he saw REAP THE WILD WIND on the list. Entertaining enough, but Top 10? He immediately wanted to know, what about MCLINTOCK!?