John Wayne confessed his three favourite films of his career and only one is a Western
The Duke remains iconic for his leading roles in numerous Hollywood Westerns, including his Oscar-winning turn in 1969’s True Grit.
But when he was asked to name his favourite films from his career, that gritty epic did not make the cut.
Surprising, nor did most of his Westerns except one or, in fact, any of his war films from Sands of Iwo Jima to The Longest Day.
The actor also revealed who was the director who had the biggest impact on his career and it was not, surprisingly, his long-term collaborator John Ford.
In !976, Wayne appeared on a special edition of the Phil Donahue show. After the main interview, the TV host opened it up to the audience, who were invited to ask their own questions. Watch the full audience Q&A below.
Apart from a number of women of various ages all asking the star for a date, there were some revealing queries about his career, and some he refused to answer.
Asked who was his favourite co-star, he said: “Well, I like to see a good-looking woman opposite me… But I’m political enough not to answer that question.”
He was also asked his favourite films and favourite director, and whether he watched his own movies.
Wayne said: “Well, I have seen all the pictures I have made. I think professionally it would be ridiculous for me not to see them. I am most critical but, hell, a lot of them I have enjoyed.”
Asked about directors, he said: “I’ll tell you there are a lot of wonderful directors. Mr Ford who was my mentor… He started me in the business. I’d quit school and was talking a pre-legal course because I’d figured I’d like to be in pictures, not as an actor but as a director. I had such tutelage under him and knew his style so he’s the man who most stands out in my mind.”
However, another Hollywood legend made an even greater impact on his life.
Wayne added (with a sly dig at Ford): “Howard Hawkes probably gave me a greater boost in the business than Mr Ford because he admitted that I was helpful to him and that I could act, which Mr Ford liked to take the credit for…”
And then he was asked about his favourite movies and started: “I love Stagecoach naturally because I stepped on that stagecoach, and it carried me a long ways.”
After scrabbling for roles in the 1930s with little success, the 1939 Western was his breakthrough role and established him as leading man for over three decades.
Wayne added: “I like Hatari! which was a picture we made in Africa because I had a three-month safari free. I mean, rich men don’t get that, you know.”
And finally he mentioned: “The Quiet Man because I got to work with all the Abbey Players and some forebears of my own family.”
The Abbey Players was a collaborative group of Irish artists, actors, playwrights and poets who toured for decades and brought Irish themes and works to Hollywood, including the 1952 romantic comedy The Quiet Man. During filming, Maureen O’Hara shocked Wayne with her ‘forbidden improvisation.’