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Celebrating An Icon

Celebrating An Icon

Articles - Cinematography

John Wayne was American movies.

His gritty, gruff demeanor and that this-is-a-man-coming-through swagger defined not only the Western for decades (and in many ways still does), but American manhood in general. Wayne’s roles in Westerns such as Stagecoach, The Searchers, True Grit, Red River and Rio Bravo, along with war movies like The Longest Day, The High and the Mighty and Sands of Iwo Jima, created an image of Man unlike any seen before. Man was action, Man was the leader, Man simply was.

But Wayne was also able to make Man feel, understand and care. Wayne’s Man wasn’t a Superman, all muscle and no heart. No, Wayne’s most important muscle was the heart. See how he cares for his friends (Rio Bravo), for his soldiers (Sands of Iwo Jima) and the female lead (Stagecoach).

Wayne’s characters were action heroes (and sometimes villains), but they were romantic heroes (and sometimes villains). They were uniquely American swashbucklers, minus the swash and heavy on buckles. Errol Flynn swung around the decks of pirate ships making the waters safe; Wayne rode into town with a gun on his side and a score to settle in the name of taming the wild, wild west.

Wayne’s impact on the movies is undeniable. The impressions Wayne left made him more than an actor. He was a star, the Duke, the symbol of America’s true grit exported around the globe. As the film world prepares to honor his centennial, 20-odd years after his death, it’s abundantly clear that he still means something to American movies. The DVDs, retrospectives, celebrations and novelty items listed below are being prepared to honor Wayne and the indelible mark he made not only on the movies, but on the world.

John Wayne Birthday Centennial Celebration

John Wayne was born in Winterset, Iowa, and put the town on the map. The town will celebrate its favorite son with the “John Wayne Birthday Centennial Celebration,” a three-day event, May 25-27. Parades, marketplaces, symposiums and Wild West Revues are part of what you’ll find in Winterset. The centerpiece of the celebration, though, is the groundbreaking ceremony on May 26 for the John Wayne Birthplace Museum and Learning Center. For more information, visit http://www.johnwaynebirthplace.org/centennial/index.html.

Movie Studios Team Up to Release New John Wayne DVDs?

Hollywood can be a place of in-fighting and territorial disputes over rights and the like. Leave it to the Duke to cause two of the largest studios, Warner Bros. and Paramount, to work together. On May 22, the studios will jointly release 48 Wayne films, 34 from Warner Bros. and 14 from Paramount, including six that have never before been released on DVD: Warner’s “John Wayne Film Collection” will include Allegheny Uprising, Reunion in France, Tycoon, Without Reservations, Trouble Along the Way and Big Jim McClain. Additionally, new special editions of a few Wayne classics-Rio Bravo, True Grit and The Cowboys-will be released. For more information, visit http://whv.warnerbros.com/WHVPORTAL/Portal/homepage.jsp and http://www.paramount.com/paramount.php.

?And Smaller Studios Get In On the Act, Too
Not to be outdone by the larger studios, Lionsgate has plans of its own to release a series of John Wayne DVDs in celebration of his 100th birthday. On May 8, a group of double-feature discs and special edition gift sets will hit the street. The films included in these sets are Sands of Iwo Jima, Santa Fe Stampede, The Fighting Kentuckian, Wake of the Red Witch, In Old California, Rio Grande and The Quiet Man. For more information, visit http://www.lionsgate.com/video/.

Light It Up With the Duke

The Zippo lighter is unmistakable, from its distinctive metal casing to that instantly recognizable clink it makes when opened and closed. It only makes sense that the iconic John Wayne should be commemorated by the Zippo Manufacturing Company, itself an icon. The John Wayne 100 Years lighter is a Black Ice Zippo laser and rotary engraved with the Duke’s likeness and the words "100 Years of John Wayne" on the lid. The lighter is limited to 5,000 consecutively numbered units and costs $52.95. For more information, visit http://zippocasemuseum.com/index.aspx?tabindex=0
&tabid=1&productid=694&directoryid=+137&ctrl=productdetails
.

A Retrospective Fit for the Duke

As part of the Newport Beach Film Festival (April 19-29), a series of John Wayne films will be presented. "Ten Decades of the Duke: The Official John Wayne Centennial Celebration" will run April 21-28 and screen nine films, including True Grit, Rio Bravo, The Quiet Man and Stagecoach. The celebration begins with a black-tie gala, where the newly-created John Wayne Courage Award honoring those who have "blazed their own trails" will be presented. Screenings and the gala are only the tip of the iceberg of what’s planned for the centennial celebration. More information can be found by visiting http://www.johnwayne.com.

Ride Off Into the Sunset Like a True Western Hero

Perhaps the most niche item created celebrating John Wayne’s birthday is the John Wayne Commemorative Saddle, made by Circle Y Saddles. The saddle was inspired by Wayne’s own saddle, on display in the National Cowboy & Western Museum in Oklahoma City. Brass rigging, sterling silver Mexican Pesos, custom silver and gold saddle plating and a leather braded riata make up the saddle. If you purchase it, at a suggested retail price of $9,995.99, you’ll receive a plaque for personalization, custom-crafted wood saddle stand and a book detailing Wayne’s film career, among other items. For more information, visit http://www.circley.com/johnwayne_news.shtml.

-Dante A. Ciampaglia

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