Happy Birthday, John Wayne

Tomorrow marks what would have been the Duke’s 100th birthday. In case you’re completely blind, you might have noticed that John Wayne pops up from time to time in the themes of this blog. Just like I mentioned in the Star Wars post, I watched a lot of movies growing up, and not as much TV as other kids.

John Wayne movies were as much a factor to me as the Star Wars trilogy, if not more. Nevermind that he always played the same character, to me, the Duke was larger than life. My grandmother had a collection of his really old movies, films like The Man from Utah, or one of his all time classics, Angel and the Badman. The old black and white John Wayne movies were fantastic – the Duke would ride in, kick hell out of the bad guys, and that was that.

One of the interesting things about the approximately 8,000,000 John Wayne movies are the ones that no one seems to know about. Two personal favorites of mine are The Sea Spoilers, and Donovan’s Reef. The Sea Spoilers because it’s about the Coast Guard, and Donovan’s Reef because it’s a departure from the usual war/western movie. No one ever seems to show those on TV, which is kind of bummer.

John Wayne over the years became a cultural icon. He has become synonymous with an image of the “rugged American individual”, to “John Wayne” something was to go it your own way and stick by your guns.

These days, I still enjoy John Wayne movies – party because of the nostalgic value, and partly because it’s nice to get away. The world is pretty complicated, the simplicity of a John Wayne movie where the good guys are good and the bad guys is often quite appealing.

I still want to be John Wayne when I grow up.