7 John Wayne Movies Everyone Should See ...


I would guess that a good number of the younger generation have probably not seen many John Wayne movies and therefore probably have no appreciation of just how great an actor he was. He may only have ever won one Oscar, but he would definitely be high up the list in the “people’s choice” as one of the most beloved and best actors ever. John Wayne movies will never be on the menu for a night in with the girls but if you want drama, action, soldiers, cowboys, roughnecks and rollicking good stories, that’s practically guaranteed.

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True Grit

On iTunes at itunes.apple.com

It’s only right to start with this one. Of the many John Wayne movies, True Grit is undoubtedly the most famous, and it’s the one for which he was awarded his only Oscar. In True Grit, Wayne plays ‘ornery and drunken US Marshall Rooster Cogburn – a man who shoots first and asks questions later. But he “never shot nobody he didn't have to”. Pressed into service by stubborn teenage tomboy Mattie Ross, together they hunt down the killer of Mattie’s father. It’s a wonderful story of the Old West!


The Sons of Katie Elder

On Amazon Instant at amazon.com

This is one of my favorite movies starring John Wayne. Wayne plays the eldest of the four Elder brothers who reunite at the family ranch after long absences and having gone their very separate ways. They find their mother had been swindled out of the ranch and their father hadn’t died but had been murdered. The movie shows how blood bonds people as the brothers unite in their quest for the truth. Dean Martin is a co-star and there are early roles for Dennis Hopper and George Kennedy.


The Alamo

On Amazon Instant at amazon.com

This is more than just a story of a historic battle. It is a study of relationships of men at war. It’s a exploration of what passions and fears a man experiences when facing uncertain odds. It’s about pride and kinship and patriotism. Plus, it’s a thoroughly good story, really well told. John Wayne plays Kentuckian hero Davey Crockett.


The Quiet Man

On iTunes at itunes.apple.com

IMDB lists 181 John Wayne movies in a career that spanned 50 years between 1926 and 1976. He played soldiers and cowboys and tough cops and rough rugged types. Although he was classic leading man material, romance was rarely the lead plot in his movies except in The Quiet Man. This is a movie of drama, comedy and romance set in Ireland. His romantic partner – as it was so often – was Maureen O’Hara. You’ll love the comical fight scene.


The Searchers

On iTunes at itunes.apple.com

It’s undeniable that John Wayne and Director John Ford made a formidable partnership and even if their many movies rarely received accolades likes Oscars, they were a tour de force of entertainment. Despite lack of awards, The Searchers is considered to be the Best Western Ever by the American Film Institute and is positioned at number 12 in its list of Best Movies Ever. Beautifully shot in Utah’s stunning Monument Valley, the setting is worthy of a dramatic story. Wayne sets out to rescue his niece, stolen by Indians after they had killed the rest of his family.


The Horse Soldiers

On iTunes at itunes.apple.com

It wouldn’t be right to have a list of John Wayne movies without including one of his Civil War flicks. Of the ones to choose from, I happen to like this one. There’s a lot of interplay between the main characters – a Union Colonel, a Union Major (Doctor) and a female plantation and slave owner and there is a close up examination of their characters. It’s based on the true story of a mission behind enemy lines undertaken by Col. Benjamin H. Grierson in Spring 1863.

Bonus trivia: You can be forgiven for thinking that John Wayne only ever played Union soldiers. He only ever appeared in a confederate uniform once on screen and that was in fact when he was forced to wear it as a captured Union soldier in Rio Lobo. However, Rooster Cogburn (True Grit) was an ex-confederate soldier as was Ethan Edwards (The Searchers).


Sands of Iwo Jima

On Amazon at amazon.com

Just like I couldn’t leave out a Civil War movie, I couldn’t leave out movies featuring more modern wars. Wayne played characters in various conflicts and a good few in World War II. The Sands of Iwo Jima is the story of the battle for the eponymous Pacific island focusing on a battalion of marines, led by Wayne, from basic training to the fight itself. John Wayne was Oscar nominated for his role but he lost out to Broderick Crawford in All the King’s Men.

How many John Wayne movies have you seen? None? I would recommend any of these for your first taste of a great actor.

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Have watched each of his movies... some several times.

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