While John Wayne enjoyed an iconic time in Hollywood, he once described his fears for the film industry, and how he thought writers and directors were running out of ideas to produce
JOHN WAYNE once delivered a bitter rant that Hollywood was over as directors and writers had “run out of imagination”, choosing to show “disgusting” sex scenes to sell tickets, unearthed accounts show.
Nicknamed The Duke, John Wayne is among a select group of stars whose work is continued to be enjoyed by generation after generation of film fans. In total, Wayne appeared in more than 170 films and TV shows, with his career often celebrated by western aficionados. Wayne became a major player in Tinsel Town, breaking through the silent era of film in the Twenties, and right through the American New Wave of cinema that followed.
One biographer labelled Wayne’s legacy as “personifying for millions the US’ frontier heritage”, such was his work on western films.
But while Wayne enjoyed an iconic time in Hollywood, he once described his fears for the film industry, and how he thought writers and directors were running out of ideas to produce.
According to Far Out Magazine earlier this year, Wayne championed how “risqué”, particularly when it came to nudity, but was less certain about the imagination of its producers.
His thoughts on cinema were collected for Carolyn McGivern’s 2001 biography John Wayne: A Giant Shadow, which described the Republican’s thoughts on what modern films were like.
Among his beliefs were ideas such as not having a rating system to guide parents into whether a film was child-friendly, instead demanding films be clean and censor themselves.
He said: “Don’t get me wrong, I’m awfully happy there’s a thing called sex. I see no reason why it shouldn’t be in pictures.
“Healthy, lusty sex is wonderful, but when you get hairy sweaty bodies in the foreground, it becomes distasteful.
I can remember seeing pictures in the Thirties that were wonderfully risqué. They were done with intimation.”
The films he was particularly disgusted with, describing them as “perverted” were hits like Midnight Cowboy and Easy Rider.
Wayne added: “When you think of the wonderful picture fare we’ve had through the years and then realise we’ve come to this s**t, it’s disgusting.
“If they want to continue making these films, fine, but my career will have ended. I feel the business is going to fade out from its own vulgarity.
When the curious go to see gore and violence they make the bankers think that is what the public want.
“They seem to forget the one basic principle of our business … illusion. We’re in the business of magic. Perhaps we have run out of imagination.”
In another interview, just before his death in 1979 as a result of stomach cancer, with Playboy, Wayne outlined his frustration with censorship, noting film executives “know nothing about our business”.
The Oscar winner claimed they were “in it for the buck” and that he “couldn’t stand some of the old-time moguls”.
Wayne continued: “Today’s executives don’t give a damn.
“In their efforts to grab the box office that these sex pictures are attracting, they’re producing garbage. They’re taking advantage of the fact that nobody wants to be called a bluenose.”
And in a blunt remark regarding how suppressed some of the industry had begun, Wayne added: “We’ll have censorship in every state, in every city, and there’ll be no way you can make even a worthwhile picture for adults and have it acceptable for national release.”
Wayne’s last film appearance was in The Shootist, which was released in 1977.
It is among one of the greatest western films ever produced, according to the AFI, with director Quentin Tarantino also marking it out his favourite.
The director added: “There’s nothing in The Shootist you haven’t seen done many times before and done better… but what you haven’t seen before is a dying John Wayne give his last performance.
“And its Wayne’s performance, and the performances of some of the surrounding characters (Howard, Richard Boone, Harry Morgan, and Sheree North) that make The Shootist not the classic it wants to be, but memorable nonetheless.”