Movie star John Wayne developed a strong understanding of what audiences wanted to see from him in the roles that he chose. However, he also kept a finger on the pulse of the type of films that his peers starred in, and he certainly wasn’t afraid to speak his mind about them. Wayne didn’t care for a Gary Cooper movie that he called a “mockery of America’s highest award for valor.”John Wayne prioritized movie morals
Wayne held the belief that the movie industry should be a “family business” of sorts. He detested the notion of a ratings system that allowed adult feature films with extreme violence and sexuality to hit silver screens to rely on human curiosity to make money.The Oscar-winning actor refused to accept notable roles in movies such as High Noon and Blazing Saddles because of their morals. However, Wayne infused his response to a lack of movie morals in evolving storytelling. He made Rio Bravo out of his disdain for High Noon , putting his foot down on films that pushed limits.John Wayne thought ‘They Came to Cordura’ degraded the Medal of HonorHigh Noon wasn’t the only Cooper movie that Wayne had strong negative thoughts on. According to IMDb , the movie star couldn’t believe that his peer signed up for 1959’s They Came to Cordura .Director Robert Rossen directed a screenplay he co-wrote with Ivan Moffat based on Glendon Swarthout’s novel. The story follows U.S. Major Tom Thorn (Cooper) after he’s titled for his cowardice. He goes on a mission to Mexico to transport his fellow servicemen, who are earning high honor for their bravery with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Meanwhile, a woman (Rita Hayworth) charged with conspiring against the United States is along for the journey. Tom soon realizes that she’s actually the most heroic person in the group.“How they got Gary Cooper to do that one!,” Wayne said. “To me, at least, it simply degrades the Medal of Honor. The whole story makes a mockery of America’s highest award for valor. The whole premise of the story was wrong, illogical, because they don’t pick the type of men the movie picked to win the award, and that can be proved by the very history of the award.”
The Medal of Honor is the United States Armed Forces’ highest decoration possible for those who served and had extreme acts of valor.John Wayne posthumously earned the Presidential Medal of FreedomWayne went on to win an honorable medal of his own thanks to the impact of his movie career and his character. He died of stomach cancer in 1979, but he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom soon after in 1980.The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor a civilian can earn in the U.S., which highlights those who make a significant public or private endeavor. President Jimmy Carter gave the award to honor Wayne’s support of the Navy and military over the course of his movie career. Some of his most notable war movies included Sands of Iwo Jima and The Green Berets .