John Wayne Stumbles Into Overtime

“John Wayne: The Life and Legend” by Scott Eyman. Highly recommended.

“John Wayne: The Life and Legend” by Scott Eyman. Highly recommended.

Scott Eyman’s superb biography of John Wayne presents a multi-dimensional portrait of a good and decent man who went out of his way to help others. But out of intrinsic modesty, Wayne never made his kindness and charity a public calling card.

Before becoming a superstar in Stagecoach (1939), Wayne was working like a dog, churning out awful B Westerns for Republic.

A young, inexperienced actress named Lorna Gray/Adrian Booth (b. Virginia Pound) was paired with Wayne for a dreadful film called Red River Range (1938).

Publicity photo of Lorna Gray and John Wayne for “Red River Range.”

Publicity photo of Lorna Gray and John Wayne for “Red River Range.”

Late on afternoon, Wayne and his leading lady were about to shoot a scene that called for them to walk across a porch and down a couple of steps. Before the director called “Action,” Wayne leaned over to Gray and said, “I’m going to stumble over a nail. Then I’m going to do it a couple more times. Pay no attention.”

Gray explained:

“He stumbled over the nail, and [director] George Sherman reset the camera and he tripped a couple more times, and I wondered why he was doing this—it was a simple scene. And then I realized he was stalling to kill the five minutes it would take for the extras to go into overtime. That’s the kind of man he was—a wonderful man.”

Summer's over, and it's back to school. Maayan Ariel wishes all our friends and relatives a lovely and inspirational Shabbat.

Summer’s over, and it’s back to school. Maayan Ariel wishes all our friends and relatives a lovely and inspirational Shabbat.

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10 Comments

  1. Michael Kennedy
    Posted September 14, 2014 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I’m reading “Dobie” Carey’s book now and it is fun. It’s all about the “John Ford players.”

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  2. Michael Kennedy
    Posted September 13, 2014 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    I thought the book spent too much time on his politics but it was good.

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  3. Bill Brandt
    Posted September 12, 2014 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    It is amazing that in most recent polls on ones favorite movie star, John Wayne still ranks up in the top 5. It’s hard to dislike any John Wayne movie.

    I;m starting to think that Maayan is move star material – she knows how to work that camera!

    How does she walk with that backpack?

    She will either become a movie star, or an Army Ranger.

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  4. Posted September 12, 2014 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Wayne is a fascinating figure to me. I’ve been asked the “Time Traveler Question” — If you could go back in time and talk to 5 people from history, who would you choose? — and I think Wayne would be 1 of my 5 choices. I don’t know that we would be fast friends (I’m not much on chain-smoking, drinking, and cards), but I think I would still find him fascinating after our meeting. 🙂

    Btw, here’s another interesting synopsis of the book: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/06/a-new-biography-shows-that-john-wayne-was-his-own-best-creation.html

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  5. Barry
    Posted September 12, 2014 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Nice — but a lot of those Republic films were far — far — from awful. Especially if directed by George Sherman.

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