At the 20-minute mark of Donahue’s show, a shy, gray-haired lady rises to ask The Duke, whom she addresses as “sir,” to name his three favorite movies. Wayne responds with his trademark brevity:
“Well you like different pictures for different reasons. I loved ‘Stagecoach,’ naturally, because I stepped on that stagecoach and it’s carried me a long ways. I liked ‘Hatari!,’ which is a picture we made in Africa because I had a three month safari free. I mean, rich men don’t get that you know? And ‘The Quiet Man’ because I got to work with all of the Abbey Players and some forebears of my own family.”
“Stagecoach” is a no-brainer. Wayne rocketed to stardom as Winchester-wielding The Ringo Kid in John Ford’s groundbreaking Western. But it’s curious that he singles out “Hatari!,” one of his most frivolous efforts with director Howard Hawks over “Red River” and “Rio Bravo.” His portrayal of Ahab-esque rancher Thomas Dunson in “Red River” ranks among his very best. Hawks uses Wayne’s my-way-or-the-highway certitude against Wayne. Montgomery Clift usurps his management of the cattle drive, and is proven right in the end. But I’ve seen “Hatari!,” and while I’m not a fan, it looks like it was a blast to shoot. If that’s what mattered to the Duke, so be it.
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