Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Worth 1,000 Words: JOHN WAYNE & JACK ELAM, seeking bad guys

By Steve Crum
In a familiar western scene with familiar western stars, JOHN WAYNE (as Cord McNally) is framed in a barn door as he walks the Wayne walk, rifle ready. JACK ELAM (Old Man Philips), McNally’s sidekick, watches both their backs over a dispensed outlaw. This is a scene from 1970’s RIO LOBO, directed by HOWARD HAWKS. If this particular scene looks like a signature JOHN FORD-framed visual from The Searchers (1956), which also stars Wayne, it surely must be coincidence. Ford had his John Wayne-Cavalry Trilogy (Fort Apache, Rio Grande, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon); and Hawks had his John Wayne-The Law Needs Community Support VS Outlaws Trilogy (Rio Bravo, El Dorado, Rio Lobo.) There obviously was a heap o’ plot and camera shot rustlin’ in the Ol’ West.
By this time in their careers, JOHN WAYNE (May 26, 1907-June 11, 1979) and JACK ELAM (Nov. 13, 1920-Oct. 20, 2003) were almost solely identified as cowboy actors, with Duke Wayne THE iconic western star of the genre. Elam had turned his acting life 180 degrees after supporting James Garner in 1969’s comedy-western Support Your Local Sheriff. Until then, he was cast as vicious outlaws and degenerates. After Support, Jack Elam was repeatedly cast as the zany, eccentric cowboy sidekick. This blossomed into three short-lived TV sitcoms starring Elam.
On the reverse of this original press kit photo, titled WAYNE’S IN THE WEST, the caption reads: Big John Wayne, fresh from his Oscar triumph, heads the cast in Cinema Center Films’ action-packed Western, “RIO LOBO,” directed by veteran Howard Hawks. The National General Pictures release stars Wayne as an ex-Civil War officer who frees a Texas town of carpetbaggers and settles an old score with a wartime informer. “RIO LOBO” stars John Wayne, Jorge Ribero and Jennifer O’Neill. Produced and directed by Howard Hawks. A National General Pictures Release in Technicolor. A Cinema Center Films Presentation. [from Steve Crum’s showbiz memorabilia collection]
Pilgrim, enjoy this action clip from RIO LOBO:

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