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All Hail The Duke

Monday, June 18---------He still rides tall in the saddle. John Wayne, known to his friends as Duke, would have turned 100 years old this month. In celebration of the iconic actor's 100th anniversary, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is presenting the John Wayne Centenary, a six-film retrospective of selections from the Museum's film archive. The series begins on Thursday, June 20 and runs through June 30. Films will be screened in the Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters at the Museum.

The series includes such iconic Wayne films as SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949),  THE SEARCHERS (1956) and EL DORADO (1967). The series is also premiering a newly restored version of Wayne's first hit, THE BIG TRAIL (1930), which MoMA has restored to its original Grandeur screening format, a 70mm widescreen version that has been unseen for more than 50 years. Also included is a rarely screened trailer for another early Wayne work THE HURRICANE EXPRESS (1932). Several of the films will be introduced by Kevin Stoehr, a film professor at Boston University and project director at the John Ford Center in Portland, Maine. Stoehr also is the co-editor of the forthcoming anthology John Ford in Focus: Essays on the Filmmaker’s Life and Art. The exhibition is organized by Charles Silver, Associate Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art. The full program and schedule information is available on the MoMA website:

John Wayne (1907–1979) was one of the true icons of the classic years of Hollywood film. Almost more than any other working actor in the movies, Wayne represented the spirit of America, a can-do optimism and stoic persistance that demonstrated American values of hard work, family and patriotism. Starting in the 1930s with such films as THE BIG TRAIL (1930) and STAGECOACH (1939), and continuing for several more decades with a mix of Westerns and war films, Wayne had one of Hollywood's longest careers, working well into his 70s, before he was felled in 1979 by lung cancer (he was an inveterate smoker his entire life). Although his conservative politics put him out of favor with the younger generation of the 1960s and 1970s, he continued to be a major box office draw for their parents.....the personification of the American values of the Great Depression, World War II and the Cold War.  

The SearchersThe SearchersAlthough he made over 100 films in an almost 50 years career, Wayne is most associated with two directors: John Ford and Howard Hawks, with whom he worked many times. Four of his collaborations with Ford are included in the series, including: THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (1945), SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949), THE SEARCHERS (1956) and DONOVAN'S REEF (1963). One of his classic Westerns with Howard Hawks is featured, EL DORADO (1967), an elegaic tribute to Wayne (and Hawks), as an aging gunslinger who remains true to his spirit despite the passage of time. Love him or hate him, that is the legacy of John Wayne.....and let's face it, has there been anyone since his passing to fill his boots or ten gallon hat?

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor


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Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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