Star of the Month tribute to the legendary John Wayne.
The TCM schedule will be all Wayne, all the time, with 55 Wayne films airing back to back until Saturday morning, April 26th.
Robert Osborne will be joined by Wayne biographer Scott Eyman to introduce the movies. Eyman's new book, JOHN WAYNE: THE LIFE AND LEGEND, has been very well reviewed; two such examples are by Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times and KC at Classic Movies.
I received a review copy of the book just before the start of the TCM Classic Film Festival, and I'll be reading and reviewing it as soon as possible.
100 Reasons to Love John Wayne, on the centennial of the actor's birth. It's a list well worth reviewing this week.
The series kicks off this evening with Raoul Walsh's THE BIG TRAIL (1930) which did not do well at the time but is fascinating from today's vantage point, in terms of both the young Wayne and Walsh's excellent location work, shot with multiple cameras in an early widescreen process. As a teenager I saw the film in widescreen on a memorable birthday trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
THE BIG TRAIL is followed by a number of what my husband jokingly calls Wayne's "Purgatory Westerns," the many "B" movies he appeared in before becoming an "A" leading man again -- permanently -- in the star-making STAGECOACH (1939).
Wayne also appeared in a few pre-Codes being shown this week, such as BABY FACE (1933) and THE LIFE OF JIMMY DOLAN (1933).
STAGECOACH airs in prime time on Tuesday, April 22nd. I just saw it on a big screen for the first time at the TCM Classic Film Fest and will be reviewing it in the near future. I can't recommend it highly enough. Wayne and director John Ford set the gold standard for the classic Western theme of a group of disparate travelers coming under attack.
THE QUIET MAN (1952) on April 23rd; REAP THE WILD WIND (1942) on April 24th; and TALL IN THE SADDLE (1944), WITHOUT RESERVATIONS (1946), ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1947), BIG JIM MCLAIN (1952), and NORTH TO ALASKA (1960) on April 25th.
Of these films I like them all to varying degrees, but particularly recommend the classic THE QUIET MAN, the witty yet lesser-known TALL IN THE SADDLE, and ANGEL AND THE BADMAN, which I recently wrote about on a list of favorite Underrated Westerns.
It's worth noting that Wayne was a fine comedian, and the light romantic comedy WITHOUT RESERVATIONS, costarring Claudette Colbert, works really well despite a pairing that's a bit incongruous at first glance.
filmed at Monument Valley and contains what I think might be Wayne's best performance; RIO GRANDE (1950), an all-time favorite Western with Maureen O'Hara and a fantastic cast, including the Sons of the Pioneers; and the very fine WWII film THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (1945), costarring Robert Montgomery and Donna Reed.
Ford and Wayne's THE SEARCHERS (1956), airing (depending on the time zone) late on the 22nd or early on the 23rd is, simply put, one of the great American works of art.
Howard Hawks' RED RIVER (1948) airs on April 24th, and on April 25th you can't go wrong with one of the very best Westerns ever made, Hawks' RIO BRAVO (1959).
In closing, here's an anecdote from a profile of actress Binnie Barnes in a 2012 issue of "Films of the Golden Age." In a 1985 interview she said that she'd been asked who was the best actor she'd ever worked with -- was it Laurence Olivier? Ralph Richardson? Her answer was "John Wayne."
For more on this month's TCM schedule, please visit TCM in April: Highlights.