“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”
Let’s celebrate 110 years of John Wayne! We at Olive Films know that there’s nothing quite like saddling yourself up to watch one of the Duke’s many great films. And there are plenty to choose from. Did you know that with over 140 leading roles, he starred in more films than any other leading man in Hollywood? We’ve been committed to bringing as many of these treasures to you on DVD and Blu-ray as possible, and with 31 under our belt, we think we’ve made a pretty good start at it.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at what we consider to be some of the highlights from all over his illustrious career.
NEATH THE ARIZONA SKIES (1934)
‘Neath the Arizona Skies is an early John Wayne effort, filmed just a few years after his first leading role. With guns blazing, horses galloping and desperadoes doing what desperadoes do best, ‘Neath the Arizona Skies is the quintessential oater, employing the best of the western genre tropes. This short but sweet western will satisfy your classic Duke craving.
Neath the Arizona Skies is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
KING OF THE PECOS (1936)
Don’t mess with the Duke… especially when he’s out for revenge! John Wayne, a slick gunfighter and lawyer, returns home to avenge the murder of his parents by the local cattle baron (Cy Kendall, Tarzan’s New York Adventure). He first attempts to do so legally, but his efforts are thwarted and he resorts to taking the law into his own hands. Wayne joins a group of wronged landowners to battle the cattle baron and his gang of vicious henchmen. Fast-paced direction by Joseph Kane (Hoodlum Empire) and superior photography by Jack A. Marta (Cat Ballou) are just two of the highlights of this early great western. Muriel Evans (The New Frontier), a frequent early Wayne costar, plays his love interest.
King of the Pecos is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
SANTA FE STAMPEDE (1938)
The Three Mesquiteers was the umbrella title for a series of fifty-one B-westerns released between 1936 and 1943. The films featured the characters Stony Brooke, Tucson Smith and Lullaby Joslin as the threesome, played by many B-western stars of that era. In 1938, John Wayne took over for Robert Livingston as Stony Brooke and starred in eight Mesquiteers films between 1938 and 1939. In Santa Fe Stampede (the third of Wayne’s eight Mesquiteers films), a prospector finds gold and invites his old pals the Mesquiteers to share in his good fortune. But the town’s crooked mayor and his ruthless henchmen have their own ideas. When our heroes arrive, they find their friend murdered, and Stony is charged with the crime.
Santa Fe Stampede is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
DARK COMMAND (1940)
Dark Command is beautifully directed by Raoul Walsh, who was actually the director that gave John Wayne his first leading role (way back in 1930). In this pre-Civil War saga, Confederate renegade William Cantrell (Walter Pidgeon) clashes with the new Kansas City marshal, Bob Seton (Wayne). Their mutual ill towards each other peaks when Cantrell steals Seton’s girl, Marie McCloud (Claire Trevor), manipulating her into marriage to get even with Seton. Marie starts to question her decision when Seton exposes Cantrell and his guerrillas as war profiteers who’ve been raiding both Union and Confederate lines.
Dark Command is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
FLYING TIGERS (1942)
In Flying Tigers, John Wayne brings a true story of heroism to life! Prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a small and daring band of American mercenaries soared into battle against Japan in defense of China’s freedom. The ‘Flying Tigers’ were heroic adventurers and America’s hottest ace pilots. Possessing unmatched skill and bravery, Capt. Jim Gordon (John Wayne), was the Tigers’ leader and top gun. Gordon faces a battle on and off the ground when his good friend and ace pilot, Woody Jason (John Carroll), is suspected of recklessly and selfishly endangering the lives of his fellow pilots. Gordon’s fight to retain his respect for Woody while maintaining the solidarity of his pilots is an explosive battle of courage and heroism that lights up the sky with action.
Flying Tigers is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
THE FIGHTING SEABEES (1944)
Exciting big budget action sequences turned this war and romance saga into a box office bonanza, and now you can experience all the thrills in the comfort of your own home. Director Edward Ludwig (Wake of the Red Witch) and his star John Wayne teamed up for the first time in this sprawling, action-packed saga with Wayne as the head of a construction company building military sites for the Navy during World War II. After suffering the loss of many men after a Japanese attack, Wayne heads to Washington and helps establish the “C.B.s” (Construction Battalions), units of armed builders. The Fighting Seabees offers an entertaining combination of strong supporting performances by Dennis O’Keefe, William Frawley, and ravishing soon-to-be-superstar Susan Hayward.
The Fighting Seabees is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1947)
One of John Wayne’s most beloved classics, co-starring the beautiful Gail Russell, Angel and the Badman is also the first film produced by the legendary star and one of the loveliest westerns ever filmed. Wayne stars as Quirt Evans, a notorious gunfighter who’s wounded and sheltered by a Quaker family. Attracted to the family’s angelic daughter, the hard-bitten Wayne undergoes a slow and subtle character transformation, but is still obsessed with killing Laredo Stevens (Bruce Cabot), the man who murdered his foster father. Harry Carey plays Wistful McClintock, a single-minded sheriff who’s determined to bring Evans and Stevens to justice. Entrusting the direction to screenwriter James Edward Grant (Donovan’s Reef), Wayne bolstered Grant’s debut by tapping veteran Yakima Canutt to handle the hard-riding second unit direction.
Angel and the Badman is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
SANDS OF IWO JIMA (1949)
John Wayne’s portrayal of the battle-hardened leader of a squad of recruits in Allan Dwan’s Sands of Iwo Jima is one of his most iconic roles and earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination. Haunted by his personal demons, Marine Sgt. John Stryker is both hated and feared by his men, who see him as a cold-hearted sadist. But when their boots hit the beaches, they begin to understand the reason for Stryker’s rigid form of discipline, as he leads them into one of the most treacherous battles in the Pacific. Emotionally gripping, punctuated with intense battle scenes, and all bound together by Wayne’s larger-than-life performance, Sands of Iwo Jima is the quintessential WWII film.
Sands of Iwo Jima is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
RIO GRANDE (1950)
This is the first film to feature the iconic pairing of Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne. In the John Ford classic, the two stars are embroiled in an epic battle with the Apaches and each other. Wayne leads his Cavalry troops to the Rio Grande to fight a warring tribe. His toughest battle lies ahead when his unorthodox plan to outwit the elusive Apaches leads to a possible court-martial. Locked in a bloody war, he must fight not only to save his family, but also to redeem his honor. This was the third and final of the John Wayne/John Ford Cavalry films, whose other films were Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. The great supporting cast includes Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr., Victor McLaglen and Chill Wills.
Rio Grande is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
THE QUIET MAN (1952)
The Duke trades the wild west for Ireland and western action for romance in The Quiet Man. This charming film might not be your typical John Wayne performance, but it might just be our favorite of his movies. Sean Thornton (John Wayne), an American boxer with a tragic past, returns to the Irish town of his youth. There, he purchases his childhood home and falls in love with the fiery local lass, Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara). But Kate’s insistence that Sean conduct his courtship in a proper Irish manner with matchmaker Michaleen Oge Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald) along for the ride as chaperone is but one obstacle to their future together; the other is her brother, “Red” Danaher (Victor McLaglen), who spitefully refuses to give his consent to their marriage, or to honor the tradition of paying a dowry to the husband. One of the most beloved films of all time is now available in a beautiful new Olive Signature edition!
The Quiet Man is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
John Wayne’s most popular film of the 60s is a broad, boisterous comedy-western directed by Andrew V. McLaglen and loosely based on William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Wayne in his two-fisted best stars as a George Washington Mclintock, a middle-aged cattle baron (John Wayne) who has his hands full with his estranged wife (Maureen O’Hara) – she walked out on him 2 years ago without a word and has returned to get a divorce in order to move back to the east with their daughter, Becky (Stefanie Powers). Verbal fireworks explode, slapstick pratfalls bloom, and the Wayne-O’Hara “reconciliation” culminates with the biggest mud-hole brawl this side of the Mississippi. Patrick Wayne, Yvonne De Carlo, Chill Wills, Strother Martin and Jerry Van Dyke are among the dazzling supporting cast in this wild, raucous and hilarious western.
McLintock! is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
May 26, 2017