Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Past chats with our guests.

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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Post by Scott_Eyman »


Ford shot Lberty Valance more or less as written, so the credit for this incredibly sad film should probably go to Ford and the writers. Ford's health was beginning to deteriorate at this time, and he simply didn't have the energy for extensive location jaunts anymore. (He tried to pull it off two years later with Cheyenne Autumn, but that film is stillborn) I think he tried to compensate for the limited visuals with a particularly dense narrative - not dense in terms of difficulty, but dense in terms of impact.
A friend of mine shows Liberty Valance in a USC course he teaches on The Law in Movies, and Valance always stuns the students; they're not movie people, so most of them haven't seen it, and it strikes them as amazingly sophisticated in an almost un-American sense, about the way the world really works.
Wayne's attitude tioward the film was slightly uneasy. Except for the confrontation with Lee Marvin in the restaurant, he lurks on the edges of the narrative, and ends up functioning not unlike Clarence the angel in a depressive's version of It's a Wonderful Life. He was uneasy about it, because he preferred to be the motivating force in a movie, and in Liberty Valance he's not. It's really the story of JImmy Stewart's character and, if you care to see it that way, his corruption in acquiescing to a lie.
Wayne never put it on any list of favorites that I'm aware of.
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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Post by Scott_Eyman »


Wayne was cautious about Reap the Wild Wind because he was a Republic contractee working at Paramount. He thought he'd be chewed up and spit out,but DeMille promised that he would take care of him, that he would show off very well in the movie. DeMille was as good as his word, and the two men got along beautifully.
Wayne and Ray Milland became friends, at least until Wayne took Chata, who was Milland's mistress at the time, away from him and later married her. A big mistake, as it turned out.
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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Post by movieman1957 »

In all the discussions about "Valance" I've never come across or thought of it as Wayne being "Clarence the angel in a depressive version of "It's A Wonderful Life." I can see that.

I guess I'll be watching it again soon. What an interesting point.

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."
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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Post by MissGoddess »

Scott_Eyman wrote:Miss Goddess,
He might be talking economics, while I'm talking passion.

To paraphrase Addison DeWitt: Still the movies, after all. :D
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
-- Will Rogers
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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Post by moira finnie »

Hi Scott, I guess these questions got lost in cyberspace:.

Thanks for giving so many great answers to our questions, Scott. Could you please answer a few more of mine? Please take your time. Thanks for any replies and for all the time you have given us. I am so pleased to read that the book is in its 8th printing. I hope this means that your future projects will spark great interest and that many more people will discover all your books!

1.) Your book documents in fairly heartbreaking detail the straits that the Morrison family endured when Wayne and his brother were children. Your depiction of his closeness to his supportive (if flawed) father is quite touching, but his relationships with his very difficult mother and his brother seem to have been more problematical. What were the relations between Wayne and his mother and brother like when he became an adult? How did the hard times affect his attitudes toward his own family life and children later?

2.) Your descriptions of Wayne's work in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and particularly The Searchers are vivid and sensitive, and you mentioned how during The Searchers, the character of Ethan Edwards hung over him "like a blanket" as one witness mentioned. Did Wayne find that character hard to shake off after playing such a haunted man?

3.) Film critic Jack Kroll once wrote that Wayne was “the last movie star to make respect sexy.” As he explained it, the actor had "a friendly eroticism that takes any woman on her own terms.” John Wayne's well-documented rapport with actresses seems to have extended well beyond his best remembered, diverse co-stars such as Maureen O'Hara, Marlene Dietrich, Gail Russell, Claire Trevor, Patricia Neal, Katharine Hepburn and Lauren Bacall. Did you get the impression that this quality was something that extended into his real life with women as well?

4.) One of the qualities I first became aware of about John Wayne in the movies was his gentle, sometimes painful affinity with children on screen. This was particularly evident in one of his lesser movies (but one I am fond of), with Sherry Jackson in Trouble Along the Way (1953). I also find the "tough love" scenes between Wayne and Lee Aaker in Hondo (1953) to be very effective and the casual tenderness in his scenes with Evelyn Rudie and Mimi Gibson (the girls playing his daughters) in The Wings of Eagles (1957) seems quite natural. The moments with the baby in 3 Godfathers (1948) are also endearing, sometimes funny, and fraught with his character's concern for the helpless infant in such dangerous circumstances. What was his attitude toward acting with children?

5.) I found it interesting that you present a nuanced impression of Wayne's political evolution around the time of The Red Scare in Hollywood with the emergence of the Motion Picture Alliance, whose membership consisted of many of the same people Wayne made movies with at the time. Citing comments made by Mary St. John, a reader could infer that the actor may have been motivated to become more publicly ardent about his beliefs due to guilt about his lack of service during WWII. While he later refused to apologize for anything that went on during this period, do you think that as things evolved, Wayne may have been pushed into hardened stances in public by his loyalty to certain individual and circumstances as much as his sincere beliefs? You mention several times that people who disagreed with him were treated with respect, especially if they took the trouble to explain why their POV was different. Was he a more nuanced conservative and even sometimes more liberal in some ways than people expected?

6.) One of the pleasures of reading your biography is the revelation that John Wayne had more refined tastes than his icon status sometimes indicates. In addition to being a man who read voraciously all his life, you mentioned that Wayne longed to play roles such as Sydney Carton at one time, could quote Noel Coward, liked Cary Grant movies, would have loved to make a movie with Doris Day, and was an intriguingly astute student of Asian and Native American art. Were these sides of Wayne's personality a surprise to you when writing this book?

7.) I have just gotten a copy of your second collaboration with Robert Wagner, You Must Remember This: Life and Style in Hollywood's Golden Age. In writing it, did you and Wagner seek out many of the spots in California that are described in the book? What is it like to co-write a book such as these memoirs? Did you enjoy the process?
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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Post by Texas Ross »

Hello Mr Eyman

I have very much enjoyed the questions, comments and your responses during this delightful and rewarding discussion (although the very early morning experience - I am in Melbourne, Australia - has taken its toll!).

Your book is joy to read especially after tackling so many academic and very non-academic works on John Wayne. I recently compiled a bibliography for academics, researchers and students on Wayne for OUP (Oxford Bibliographies). Wayne continues to ride tall in the halls of academia. [Side comment - the biblio includes a article that supports your view and clearly lays out an argument that filming on location for the film The Conqueror was not the cause of Wayne's demise.]

Last year while in Winterset on another Wayne related project I visited the statue of Wayne near his birthplace museum and was intrigued by the steady stream of visitors there to quickly view the monument. I asked them why Wayne was important to them. The responses were individual and varied. Why do you think Wayne has such enduring resonance to so many people across the world - many who will probably not read your book or visit this web site. Why is he still relevant today?
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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Post by rohanaka »

Hi Mr. Eyman,

No questions here.. just wanted to add another word of thanks to you, along with those who have already chimed. It is good of you to take the time to answer everyone so well. It has been a fun read to sort through all the various questions folks have had and to read your answers back to them. Thanks again for taking your time to be here with everyone. :)
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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Post by DavidLanceRoten »

Way late to thread but wanted to say thanks to Mr Eyman, and also the folks who asked the asked the questions. Enjoyed reading all. I was busy and only now got a chance to read the thread. If there's a next time, I hope to participate :D