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In Old California (1942)
A Different Kind of Western
This isn't your run-of-the-mill Western of the era. John Wayne's performance is wonderful as a confident, strong, educated Pharmacist! Something totally different! Unfortunately the public of the time didn't give him a chance to explore the depths of his acting abilities. They wanted the big, macho shhoot-em-up guy they'd been seeing in all those B Westerns. What a shame! This is a gem of a film! Great cast and lots of fun. There is plenty of action and gun play but also a hero with a brain! Duke was able to pay tribute to his Dad who was a Pharmacist in this well done film. Give it a view!
North to Alaska (1960)
Entertaining little flick!
Not my favorite JW film but many fun moments. Some rousing moments and some silly fun. If you want to see JW's toupee come off if a fight scene, it totally does in this movie! Very funny moment- hat and hair gone in a second - then it's all back in place! Don't remember another JW movie where he is shown to be jealous- another funny moment- great expressive facial expression! It reminds me a bit of a very early film: The Spoilers, with Marlene Dietrich also set in Nome, Alaska during the gold rush. Stewart Grainger is great as Wayne's love sick partner and Capucine is beautiful as the love interest. I thought Ernie Kovacs was a bit over-the-top as a rather silly villain. It seemed to be a 'thing' to stick a teen-idol (Fabian in this case) in these movies back in the 60s, $$$$ starting to rule the industry more than quality or art. A shame in my opinion. I could have done without those comic bits.... but that's just me. All in all, a fun ride!
The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958)
Serious, thoughtful role for John Wayne
Definitely not the usual role for the Duke. He plays the role of the first diplomat to Japan with great sensitivity and thoughtfulness. His acting is truly worthy of praise. I don't understand why this film is so overlooked. I don't know if the relationship between Harris and Okichi is fact or fiction but that he was there in Shimoda and went to Edo to create a treaty with Japan is historically correct. The backgrounds, costuming, sets and music all add to the beauty of this lovely little film. Much about the life of a geisha of the time is accurate- there are several stories about Okichi and who really knows what is true. Mr Harris never married when he returned to New York. All that aside, I love this movie- it's beautifully filmed, the acting is wonderful and the opportunity to learn a bit of Japan's feudal history is fascinating . Those who say John Wayne couldn't "act" - should watch his performance in The Barbarian and the Geisha! And how often do you see John Wayne lifted off his feet and shaken like a rag doll and then tossed around by a midget?! That scene alone is priceless! I highly recommend this film to anyone who wants to know another side of John Wayne, the man and the actor.
3 Godfathers (1948)
Tender, sweet, uncommon western. Lovely character studies and fine acting. I don't think John Wayne was given enough credit for his abilities- his emotions come through clearly and it's a beautiful thing to see. I expected the whole thing to be sappy (as is the Mildred Natwick scene) but it's not. A lovely Christmas offering.