John Wayne also recalled the riot that unfolded after the on-set mishap – My Blog
Actor John Wayne had such a presence that he managed to stop a violent riot from turning lethal. However, it didn’t come without any consequences. Director John Huston’s dislike intensified over the course of filming The Barbarian and the Geisha to a high point. Wayne and Huston once reflected on the riot that broke out and how the actor put it to an end.
Twentieth Century Fox signed Wayne for three pictures for $2 million in total, including The Barbarian and the Geisha. Huston previously won an Oscar for his work behind the camera on 1948’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. He decided to bring Wayne to the project because of his impressive work in movies such as Red River. The actor demonstrated to the world that he was more than just a Hollywood star persona.
he Barbarian and the Geisha is set in 1856, the U.S. government sends Townsend Harris (Wayne) to Shimoda, Japan to act as the consul. However, he encounters the local authorities’ hostility and a romance with a young geisha.
Michael Munn’s John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth explored a violent riot that broke out on The Barbarian and the Geisha. Huston was shooting a scene where Townsend lights a village with cholera on fire and loads the dead bodies on boats to burn them. Somehow, the line attached to the burning barge broke free, and the wind sent it right into local fishing boats in a small cove. As a result, the fuel boats blew up, and local villagers attacked the Japanese crew members. “A lot of people were knocked unconscious and thank God no one was killed,” Huston said.
Wayne also recalled the riot that unfolded after the on-set mishap, but it further soured his relationship with the director.
“When I saw the riot begin, I ran down to the docks and began waving my hands and shouting for everyone to calm down,” Wayne said. “The rioters saw me, and I guess they liked John Wayne enough to stop the riot. I promised all the fishermen that I would make good their losses out of my own pocket if the studio wouldn’t. Well, when Huston saw and heard this, he just walked away and never said a word. He couldn’t bear the fact that he’d goofed badly and that I was the one who handled the situation.”
Munn wrote that after Huston finished filming The Barbarian and the Geisha, he left for Africa to start shooting The Roots of Heaven. As a result, Wayne was angry that he left the feature as a complete mess. The actor saw it necessary to step in and complete the rest of the film, which Huston saw as a back-stabbing attempt to take over.Despite the riot that Wayne helped calm down, he saw the entire picture as “unsalvageable.” He said that he “hated” the movie and called Huston a “greatly overrated” filmmaker who only made a few good films.