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John Wayne's Leading Ladies--An Appreciation

Ella Raines wraps Duke around her little finger in Tall in the Saddle (1944).


Let’s face it: John Wayne has a woman problem. For the most part, his movies are guy movies, with fistfights and horse chases, stampedes and shootouts. But he knows his way around a strong woman—of which he co-starred with many, including Katherine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, and Maureen O’Hara. And as any true Wayne fan will tell you, he didn’t always come out on top in those encounters. In fact, in a TV interview, Duke was once asked about his most dangerous stunt in the movies. His answer? “Talk back to Marlene Dietrich.”

In our upcoming book, John Wayne Speaks: The Ultimate John Wayne Quote Book, we’ve dedicated an entire chapter of movie quotes to Duke’s way with women (“How To Woo A Gal”), even though he was often tongue-tied, clueless, or as simple as butter on a chuckwagon biscuit.

In July 2018, writer Laura Grieve wrote a blog post about Wayne’s leading ladies for the Western Roundup blog on the Classic Movie Hub website. Grieve has a way with words and an eye for intriguing movie situations. Here’s a taste—and we suggest you read the entire blog post!

When film fans think of John Wayne Westerns, his classic films with John Ford and Howard Hawks are often the first which come to mind.
Similarly, when one thinks of Wayne’s leading ladies, the first actress many fans think of is doubtless his five-time costar Maureen O’Hara. The feisty women O’Hara portrayed were a perfect match for Wayne’s strong characters, giving as good as she got in films such as Rio Grande (1950), The Quiet Man (1952), and McLintock! (1962).
Looking beyond Wayne’s best-known films and leading lady, here are my three favorite Wayne Westerns made with directors other than Ford or Hawks. These films are particularly special because in each case there’s an outstanding role for the lead actress. Each of these female characters is unique, but they have in common the possession of an inner strength which makes them the right match for the Duke…

Read the entire post from Laura Grieves.


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