Sunday, May 27, 2007

John Wayne is America's hero

100 years ago, a boy was born who would change this country forever. Growing up in a small Iowa town as Marion Robert Morrison, the man we now know as John Wayne had no idea of what he would mean to this country and it's people some day. Much is said of the wonderful influence of his characters and films on the movie going world. He is an insurmountable figure in that industry and I feel that goes without saying. From "the Ringo Kid" to "Rooster Cogburn" his on-screen persona's are spoken of in fond remembrance. As we approached the week of his 100th birthday, I was thinking of his portrayals as well, but in a different light. Sure he has influenced actors and such with his attitude on screen, but what about the influence on America?

Growing up, I saw a lot of John Wayne movies thanks to my mother's father. He would get excited and jab me in the ribs with his elbow saying, "Watch this! Watch this!" with all the excitement of a school boy. (J.C. had his share of those moments as well.) I grew older and understood his excitement, but I also grew to understand something else about Mr. Wayne. As the greatest on-screen hero we've ever seen, the Duke had no super powers. He couldn't fly and he wore no special outfit. He was a man like the rest of us, but there was something special in the characters he portrayed. As a matter of fact, that's what he had: Character. We don't dwell on it too much, but it's his character that has made him a hero to many. When you watch Superman or the Hulk, you don't look at Christopher Reeve of Lou Ferrigno as super-human. They are just seen as actors. When you think of John Elder from 'The Sons of Katie Elder' you think , "He wouldn't have been such a tough character if John Wayne wouldn't have played him." This is the same for all of Mr. Wayne's characters throughout his movie career. John Wayne is the common denominator in the hero value of all of his on-screen persona's. He portrayed the best in all of us. Honesty, integrity, patriotism, toughness and tenacity among other things.

These are things that we as individuals can realistically achieve. I feel that is what draws us to his characters. He has character and we want it. Most of us are honest and patriotic, but in reality do we have all of the admirable traits? John Wayne's characters did and it endears him to us. As a country, we like to think of ourselves as being like him: tough and lasting while commanding respect. He is the greatest example of what we should be. He sets the bar for admirable persona. He inspires us to be strong. He inspires us to be true and he inspires us to be tough. John Wayne the man was just a man, but John Wayne as Ringo Kid or G.W. McLintock was who we want to be. He's true to his word and always fair. I feel that even though there are so many wonderful people in this country, we don't have enough John Wayne. He stands for what's good in this country. He stands for what's good in all of us as well as what we all want to become. That's what makes John Wayne the hero of the American people. We close with this great clip of the Duke havin' fun while singing a duet with the late great Dean Martin.

In America you can go on the air and kid the politicians, and the politicians can go on the air and kid the people.

Please feel free to comment if the need strikes you.

Sorry doesn't cut it, dude.


ed said...

Enjoyed this very much. It's nice to see so much Wayne sentiment and articles out there.I hope will see such next year when its no longer the 100th anniversary.
By the way, the look on Dean Martin's face when John Wayne opens his mouth and Frank Sinatra's voice comes out is hilarious.
Good to see you back Wolf.

Wolf Flywheel said...

Thanks ed. Work has been hectic for me the last month or two. I got promoted which brings more work and I've been out of state a little. The Duke was instilled into me at an early age and as I watch him more and more I see my father and both grandfathers in him. I see his influence in what kind of people they've been. Maybe not directly, but through Wayne's influence on pop culture for so long showing us what a real man was. That Dean Martin clip was priceless! I was looking for something else and stumbled on it. I just had to include it.

dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie, like thanks so much for the great clip from the Dino show. The Duke and the Dude always have such a great time it in a western or singin' a tune together....two great American icons....and while this is the hundredth anniversary of the Duke's birth.....Dino celebrates #90 on June 7th.

Laura said...

That clip is hilarious! Three of my favorite performers, including the Duke's "voice." :)

Loved what you wrote about John Wayne.

Some Wayne trivia: I get a kick that my daughter attends the same university the Duke and Ward Bond attended -- they met playing football for USC. Wayne got into movies while at USC and at one point Ford used the USC team, including Wayne and Bond, for a movie. The Duke didn't graduate -- he had a knee injury -- but he later received an honorary doctorate. When he died they lit the torch at the Coliseum where the Trojans play football -- an honor received by just a handful of people on their deaths, including Presidents and Bing Crosby.

Thanks for all your very enjoyable posts this past week!

Best wishes, Laura

Anonymous said...

I've loved all the John Wayne stuff this week! It's made me go back and hunt down all the flicks I've loved and haven't seen for a while. Looking forward to more good stuff.


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