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John Wayne Movie Legend

LiveAuctionTalk.com:  by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries.

John Wayne worked for more than 10 years to get the movie “The Alamo” made.  His gruff strength and ultra-American, law-and-order stance was a perfect match for the heroic legend of the American West he was selling in Western films.

I won’t be wronged: I won’t be insulted; and I won’t be laid a hand on.  I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same of them. The audience gets a bird’s-eye-view of his personal philosophy.  The film is a solemn farewell to the actor and man.
— John Wayne

Wayne produced, directed and starred in the 1960 film “The Alamo.”  He used it to further the notion that defending the Alamo was actually a heroic act rather than the military madness it ultimately turned out to be.

For the most part, Wayne’s public and private self were one and the same.  The man and the character merged in film and in life--a habit that was hard for fans to differentiate and one that he promoted.  Given his political conservatism it’s no surprise Wayne was attracted to “The Alamo,” one of the most famous events of the brief but bloody Texas Revolution which began in 1835 and ended in 1836. 

“The Alamo” received seven Academy Award nominations including Best Picture.  The trade papers ran advertisements for the film hinting Academy members who didn’t vote for it were un-American.  The picture received one Oscar for sound. 

Wayne was vocal about his old school views and politicians like Richard Nixon liked to talk about him.  Nixon enjoyed Wayne’s 1970 Warner Brothers Western film “Chisum” enough to quote it in a speech.

“The law eventually came, and the law was important from the standpoint of not prosecuting the guilty, but also seeing that those who were guilty had a proper trial,” Nixon said.  The movie is basically about America and the difference between revenge and justice. 

Wayne plays John Simpson Chisum a rancher and one of the biggest landowners in New Mexico.  The film begins and ends with the same scene, a view of Wayne as Chisum sitting on his horse studying his expansive lands. 

The film is a good example of the rugged American Individualism Wayne portrayed.  He seemed to do best in films when he played old men like the one-eyed marshal in “True Grit” (1969) and “Rooster Cogburn” (1976).

“The Shootist” in 1976 was Wayne’s last film.  It showed how John Wayne was pretty much the same character no matter what role he played.

“I won’t be wronged: I won’t be insulted; and I won’t be laid a hand on.  I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same of them,” he says in the film.  The audience gets a bird’s-eye- view of his personal philosophy.  The film is a solemn farewell to the actor and man.

Wayne’s film career lasted five decades and he appeared in more than 175 films.  As a Hollywood box-office legend he particularly stood out in the quintessentially American Western.  He was nominated three times for an Academy Award and won in 1969 for “True Grit.”

“Courage is being scared to death... and saddling up anyway” he said. 

On Oct 6-7, Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas, featured The Personal Property of John Wayne on the block.  Here are some current values.

John Wayne

Decoupage; “Saturday Evening Post” depicting Wayne on the cover; glued to board; lot also includes wood carving; key holder and image of Wayne glued to board; 16 inches by 13 inches and smaller;  $2,629.

Oil on Board; Impressionistic likeness of Wayne in character; signed “Pike,” 49 inches by 39 inches;  $5,228.

Sterling Silver Box; reading John Wayne; 4 inches by 6 inches;  $7,170.

Eye Patch; from movie “True Grit,” black leather; 1969; 25 inches long;  $47,800.

Driver’s License; State of California; May 12, 1977; 2 ¼ inches by 3 ½ inches;  $89,625.

Beret; from “The Green Berets,” 1968; green wool;  $179,250.          


Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller.  For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column.  Her LiveAuctionTalk.com website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles.  Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.

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