True Grit

  • Directors: Henry Hathaway
  • Producers: Hal B Wallis
  • Writers: Marguerite Roberts, Charles Portis
  • Genres: Adventure, Western, Drama
  • Actors: John Wayne, Glen Campbell, Kim Darby

After her father is killed, Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) arrives in Fort Smith, Arkansas looking for a marshal or deputy marshal who will help her search for Chaney. She soon learns about a deputy marshal called Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn, and upon hearing about Cogburn’s legendary grit, Ross decides that he may be the man to help her. Unable to meet with Cogburn straight away she goes to the Monarch boardinghouse, where she meets Texas Ranger Le Boeuf.

Le Boeuf has recently come from Mattie’s home in Dardanelle, Arkansas, in Yell County, and advises Mattie that he too is searching for Chaney who killed a Texas Senator on his porch some time past. Mattie refuses Le Boeuf’s assistance.

The following day she meets Cogburn and his roommates; a tiny Chinese man, Chen Lee (H.W. Gim), and the ginger-colored cat, General Sterling Price. Agreeing to a price of $100, Ross and Cogburn set out to capture and return Chaney, who has taken up with a known criminal “Lucky” Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall) (whom Rooster shot in the lip in a gunfight) and his gang. Ross goes to see a local horse dealer (Strother Martin), from whom her father had bought four ponies, uncollected at the time of his death.

Weeks later, Mattie and Cogburn are at Mattie’s home, and Mattie shows him her family plot. She tells Rooster that she wants him to be buried beside her in the family plot, which surprises him, but he accepts, so long as she doesn’t mind if he doesn’t “…try to move in too soon!”. He then rides away, jumping a four-rail fence as the film ends….

They Were Expendable

  • Directors: John Ford
  • Producers: John Ford
  • Writers: William L White, Frank Wead
  • Genres: Drama, War
  • Actors: Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed, Jack Holt, Ward Bond, Marshall Thompson

A demonstration of the capabilities of PT boats is shown in Manila Bay, Philippines in December 1941. Lieutenant (junior grade) ‘Rusty’ Ryan (John Wayne) becomes disgusted when his superiors refuse to see the small boats as viable naval craft and is in the process of writing his request for a transfer to destroyers when news arrives of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Ryan and Lieutenant John Brickley’s (Robert Montgomery) demands for combat assignments for their squadron are frustrated for a time, but they are eventually allowed to show their capabilities. From there on, there are mostly ‘action’ scenes, with the exception of Ryan’s romantic interludes with Army nurse Sandy Davyss (Donna Reed). With the mounting Japanese onslaught against the doomed American garrisons at Bataan and Corregidor, the squadron is sent to evacuate General Douglas MacArthur, his family, and a party of VIPs.

This done, they resume their attacks against the Japanese, who gradually whittle down the squadron. As boats are lost, their crews are sent to fight as infantry. Finally, the last boat is turned over to the Army for messenger duty. Brickley, Ryan and two ensigns are airlifted out on one of the last planes because the PT boats have proved their worth and they are needed stateside to train replacement PT boat officers and crews. The remaining enlisted men, led by Chief Mulcahey, are left behind to continue the fight with remnants of the U.S. Army and Filipino guerillas.

Sands of Iwo Jima

  • Directors: Allan Dwan
  • Producers: Edmund Grainger
  • Writers: Harry Brown, James Edward Grant
  • Genres: Action, Drama, War, Romance
  • Actors: John Wayne, John Agar, Forrest Tucker, Adele Mara

Tough-as-nails career Marine Sergeant John Stryker (John Wayne) is greatly disliked by the men of his squad, particularly the combat replacements, for the rigorous training he puts them through. He is especially despised by Private Peter Conway (John Agar), the arrogant, college-educated son of an officer Stryker served under and admired, and Private Al Thomas (Forrest Tucker), who blames him for his demotion.

When Stryker leads his squad in the invasion of Tarawa, the men begin to appreciate his methods, except Conway, who considers him brutal and unfeeling when he apparently abandons a wounded comrade to the enemy. During the battle, Thomas goofs off when he goes to get ammunition for two comrades, stopping to savor a cup of coffee. As a result, he returns too late – the two Marines, now out of ammunition, are overrun; Hellenpolis is killed, Bass badly wounded. When Stryker discovers the truth, he forces Thomas into a fistfight. This is seen by a passing officer, but Thomas unexpectedly gets Stryker out of trouble for hitting a subordinate by claiming that he was being taught judo. His conscience ravaging him, Thomas breaks down and abjectly apologizes for his dereliction.

Stryker shows his soft side while on leave in Honolulu. He picks up a bargirl and goes to her apartment. He becomes suspicious when he hears somebody in the next room, but when he investigates, all he finds is a hungry baby boy she is supporting the best way she can. He gives the girl (the widow of a marine) all his money and leaves.

Stryker’s squad fights in the battle for Iwo Jima, witnessing the iconic flag raising on Mount Suribachi. (The flag used was the actual one raised on Mount Suribachi after the battle. It was loaned by the US Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia.) Afterwards, while the men are resting during a lull in the fighting, Stryker is killed by a sniper. His men find a letter on him, addressed to his son, saying all the things he wanted to say, but never got around to.

The Green Berets

  • Directors: John Wayne, Ray Kellogg, John Gaddis
  • Producers: Michael Wayne
  • Writers: James Lee Barrett, Robin Moore
  • Genres: Action, Drama, War
  • Actors: John Wayne, David Janssen, Jim Hutton, Aldo Ray, George Takei, Luke Askew, Mike Henry

At Fort Bragg, newspaper reporter George Beckworth (David Janssen) is at a Special Forces briefing about the American military involvement in the war in Vietnam. The briefing (at Gabriel Demonstration Area, named for SGT Jimmy Gabriel, first SF soldier killed in Vietnam) includes a demonstration and explanation of the whys and wherefores of participating in that Asian war.

Skeptical civilians and journalists are told that multinational Communism is what the U.S. will be fighting in Vietnam; proof: weapons and equipment, captured from North Vietnamese soldiers and Viet Cong guerrillas, originating in Communist Russia, Communist Czechoslovakia, and Communist China. Despite that, Beckworth remains skeptical about the value of intervening in Vietnam’s civil war. When asked by Green Beret COL Mike Kirby (John Wayne) if he had ever been to Vietnam, reporter Beckworth replies that he had not, but then accepts the soldier’s challenge, and agrees to go and bear witness.

In South Vietnam, Beckworth arrives at an American Army camp where he witnesses the humanitarian aspect (irrigation ditches, bandages, candy for children) of the Special Forces mission. Still, he remains skeptical of the U.S.’s need to be there. He changes his mind after a ferocious North Vietnamese Army attack upon the SF camp, admitting he probably will be fired from the newspaper for filing a story supporting the American war.

Near the end of the story, Beckworth is briefly seen, carrying his portable typewriter and a duffel bag, joining a troop headed for the front.

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

  • Directors: John Ford
  • Producers: Merian C Cooper, Lowell J Farrell, John Ford
  • Writers: James Warner Bellah, Frank S Nugent, Laurence Stallings
  • Genres: Western
  • Actors: John Wayne, Joanne Dru, John Agar, Victor McLaglen, Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr

On the verge of his retirement at Fort Starke, a one-troop cavalry post, the aging US Cavalry Capt. Nathan Cutting Brittles (John Wayne) is given one last patrol, to take his troop and deal with a breakout from the reservation by the Cheyenne and Arapaho following the defeat of George Armstrong Custer. His task is complicated by being forced at the same time to deliver his commanding officer’s wife and niece, Abby Allshard (Mildred Natwick) and Olivia Dandridge (Joanne Dru)), to an east-bound stage, and by the need to avoid a new Indian war. His troop officers, 1st Lt. Cohill (John Agar) and 2nd Lt. Pennell (Harry Carey, Jr.) meanwhile vie for the affections of Miss Dandridge while uneasily anticipating the retirement of their captain and mentor. Rounding out the cast are Capt. Brittles’ chief scout, Sgt. Tyree (Ben Johnson), a one-time Confederate cavalry officer; his First Sergeant, Quincannon (Victor McLaglen); and Major Allshard (George O’Brien), long-time friend and C.O.

After apparently failing in both missions, Capt. Brittles returns with the troop to Fort Starke to retire. His lieutenants continue the mission in the field, joined by Capt. Brittles after “quitting the post and the Army”. Unwilling to see more lives needlessly taken, Capt. Brittles takes it upon himself to try to make peace with Chief Pony That Walks (Chief John Big Tree). When that too fails, he devises a risky stratagem to avoid a bloody war.

El Dorado

  • Directors: Howard Hawks
  • Producers: Howard Hawks
  • Writers: Harry Brown, Leigh Brackett
  • Genres: Western, Action, Adventure
  • Actors: John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, James Caan, Charlene Holt, Paul Fix

Cole Thornton (John Wayne), an infamous gunslinger, is hired by wealthy rancher Bart Jason (Ed Asner) to help him in a ranch war with the McDonald family. While making a stop at the town of El Dorado, the local sheriff and an old friend, J.P. Harrah (Robert Mitchum), approaches him and gives him more sensitive details about the mission of his which Jason had deliberately left out, including the possibility of having to face Harrah in combat. Unwilling to do this, Thornton agrees to quit, though the possibility of a clash between the two is briefly hinted at with the arrival of saloon owner Maudie (Charlene Holt), who is in love with Thornton (and was for a time also the romantic interest of Harrah’s).

In the meantime, however, the McDonalds learn of Thornton’s presence in town. Fearing that he might come for them, Kevin McDonald (R. G. Armstrong) puts his youngest son, Luke, on guard. When Thornton passes by on his way back from visiting Jason to tell him that he is not going to work for him, Luke (Johnny Crawford), who has fallen asleep, wakes and fires a wild warning shot, whereupon Thornton reflexively shoots him. Luke is still alive when Thornton comes to him, but he refuses treatment upon the belief that a gut-shot man wouldn’t have a chance anyway, and commits suicide when Thornton is not looking. Thornton brings Luke’s body to the McDonald farm and offers an explanation, but the only McDonald daughter, Joey (Michele Carey), impulsively rides off before Thornton can finish and subsequently ambushes him. Her shot is not fatal, but the bullet lodges next to Thornton’s spine and in time begins to trouble him by occasionally pressing against the spinal cord, causing temporary paralysis of his right side each time. The local doctor (Paul Fix) is unable to remove the bullet and, after healing up, Thornton departs El Dorado for a new job.

About half a year later, Thornton runs into another gunslinger for hire named Nelse McLeod (Christopher George) and a young greenhorn nicknamed Mississippi (James Caan), who has come for revenge against one of McLeod’s men. Thornton learns that McLeod has been hired by Jason for the very same job Thornton had turned down months ago, and Harrah has turned into a drunk after an unhappy love affair. Thornton returns to El Dorado, where he, Mississippi, and deputy sheriff Bull (Arthur Hunnicutt) try their best both to protect the McDonalds from Jason’s scheming and restore the drunken Harrah to his old self.

The Shootist

  • Directors: Don Siegel
  • Producers: M J Frankovich, William Self
  • Writers: Glendon Swarthout, Scott Hale, Miles Hood Swarthout
  • Genres: Drama, Western
  • Actors: John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Harry Morgan, Ron Howard, James Stewart

The Shootist tells the story of John Bernard (J.B.) Books (John Wayne) (born January, 29, 1843), an aging gunfighter, the most celebrated “shootist” extant, who is struggling with terminal prostate cancer. The movie begins with a clip montage of some of Wayne’s earlier western movies. Although Books is perceived by some of the characters as an amoral opportunist, he expresses his simple creed when he says, “I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.” Arriving in El Paso, Texas (Carson City, Nevada in the movie) in 1901, Books seeks the second medical opinion of an old friend, Doc E. W. Hostetler (Jimmy Stewart).

Once Hostetler confirms the presence of the cancer, Books rents a room from the widow ‘Bond’ (“that’s a crackerjack of a name for a woman”) Rogers (Lauren Bacall), and her son Gillom Rogers (Ron Howard). Books’ presence in town is soon known to most, and the news spreads by telegraph throughout the country. This results in the arrival of troublemakers to lure Books back to his past. Not only does he have to deal with his inevitable death, but he has to deal with the vultures who come to profit from his infamy. Having never had trouble facing death in other men, Books now struggles with the fact that death is calling on him. On his 58th birthday, January 29, 1901 he confronts the three men, offering to settle an outstanding score, and they meet in an empty saloon, where he kills Mike Sweeney, Jack Pulford and Jay Cobb. Then the bartender shoots Books and in return Gillom shoots him, throws the gun away and walks out of the saloon and down the street.

Red River

  • Directors: Howard Hawks, Arthur Rosson
  • Producers: Howard Hawks
  • Writers: Borden Chase, Charles Schnee
  • Genres: Western, Action, Adventure
  • Actors: John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Walter Brennan

Thomas Dunson (John Wayne) is a stubborn man who wants nothing more than to start up a successful cattle ranch in Texas. Shortly after he begins his journey to Texas with his trail hand, Nadine Groot (Walter Brennan), Dunson learns that his love interest (Coleen Gray), whom he had told to stay behind with the wagon train with the understanding that he would send for her later, was killed in an Indian attack. Despite this tragedy, Dunson and Groot press on, only to chance on an orphaned boy named Matthew Garth (played as an adult by Montgomery Clift), whom Dunson effectively adopts. With only a couple head of cattle, Dunson and the boy enter Texas by crossing the Red River and Dunson proudly proclaims all the land about them as his own. Two Mexican men appear on horseback and inform Dunson that the land already belongs to their boss. Dunson dismisses this inconvenient fact, kills one of the men, and tells the other man to inform his boss that Dunson now owns the land. Dunson names his new spread the Red River D, after his chosen cattle brand for his herd. Fatefully, he promises to add M (for Matt) to the brand, once Matt has earned it.

When Matt reaches Abilene, he finds men there who have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of such a herd to buy it; Matt happily accepts an excellent offer for the cattle. Unknowingly, he has just completed the first cattle drive along what would become the Chisholm Trail. Shortly thereafter, Dunson arrives in Abilene with a posse to follow through with his vow to kill Matt. The two men begin a furious fight, which Tess interrupts by drawing a gun on both men and demanding that they realize the love that they share for each other. Dunson and Matt see the error of their ways and make peace with each other. The film ends with Dunson telling Matt that he will incorporate an M into the brand as he had promised to do years before.


  • Directors: John Ford
  • Producers: Walter Wanger
  • Writers: Ernest Haycox, Dudley Nichols, Ben Hecht
  • Genres: Action, Western, Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Claire Trevor, John Wayne, Thomas Mitchell, John Carradine, Andy Devine, George Bancroft

In Arizona Territory in 1880, a motley group of strangers boards the east-bound stagecoach to Lordsburg, New Mexico Territory. Among them is Dallas (Claire Trevor), a prostitute who is being driven out of town by the members of the “Law and Order League”; an alcoholic doctor, Doc Boone (Thomas Mitchell); Lucy Mallory (Louise Platt), who is traveling to see her cavalry officer husband; and whiskey salesman Samuel Peacock (Donald Meek).

When the stage driver, Buck (Andy Devine), looks for his normal shotgun guard, he is told by Marshal Curly Wilcox (George Bancroft) that he has gone out to look for a fugitive, the Ringo Kid (John Wayne). Buck tells Marshal Wilcox that Luke Plummer (Tom Tyler) is in Lordsburg. Knowing that the Kid has vowed to avenge the deaths of his father and brother at Plummer’s hands, the marshal decides to ride along.

As they start to pull out, U.S. cavalry Lieutenant Blanchard (Tim Holt) informs them that Geronimo and his Apaches are on the warpath, and that they will have no escort until they get to Dry Fork. Gambler and Southern gentleman Hatfield (John Carradine) joins them to provide protection for Mrs. Mallory. At the edge of town, the stage is flagged down by pompous banker Henry Gatewood, (Berton Churchill), who is sneaking away with $50,000 embezzled from his bank.

When the passengers finally arrive in Lordsburg, Gatewood is arrested by the local sheriff, and Lucy is told that her husband’s wound is not serious. Dallas begs Ringo not to go up against the Plummers, but he is determined to settle matters. In the ensuing shootout, the Kid dispatches Luke and his two brothers. He returns to Wilcox, expecting to go back to jail. He asks the lawman to take Dallas to his ranch. However, when Ringo gets on a wagon to say goodbye to her, Curly and Doc laugh and start the horses moving, letting him “escape”.

Rio Bravo

  • Directors: Howard Hawks
  • Producers: Howard Hawks
  • Writers: B H McCampbell, Jules Furthman, Leigh Brackett
  • Genres: Western, Romance, Drama
  • Actors: John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan, Ward Bond, John Russell, Harry Carey Jr 1

In the town of Rio Bravo, Dude (“Borachón”; played by Dean Martin), the town drunk, enters a saloon wanting a drink. Joe Burdette (Claude Akins), seeing Dude eying his glass, throws a silver dollar into a spittoon to mock him. Just as Dude goes for the spittoon, Presidio County, Texas, Sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne) kicks the spittoon away, looking at Dude with pity and disgust. As Chance turns to face Joe Burdette, Dude grabs a small piece of firewood and clubs Chance on the head, knocking him unconscious. Dude then starts toward Burdette, but two of his hired cow punchers grab Dude. Burdette starts to beat Dude with the two men holding him. A bystander grabs Burdette’s arm so he can’t swing on Dude again. Burdette draws his gun and shoots the bystander in the stomach. The close-up of Joe’s revolver discharging is the first close-up in the film. Burdette then leaves the saloon and heads for another one thinking that he can do no wrong.

In the second saloon, after Burdette has another drink, Sheriff Chance enters with his Winchester aimed at Burdette, to arrest him for the murder of the bystander. One of Burdette’s men then draws his Colt revolver on Chance and creates a stalemate. Dude enters behind two of Burdette’s men and then takes the revolver of the man standing in front of him and shoots the gun out of the hand of the Burdette man. Chance then whips Burdette across the face with the rifle, knocking him unconscious. Chance and Dude drag Burdette out of the saloon, headed for the jail.

Joe Burdette is the brother of a powerful rancher, Nathan Burdette (John Russell). The rancher’s men then quarantine the town in preparation to breaking Burdette out of jail. The only help Chance has are his deputies Dude and Stumpy (Walter Brennan), an old cripple. Pat Wheeler (Ward Bond), a wagoneer, enters town with a wagon load of supplies from Fort Worth. Tensions are further strained by the presence of a young gunslinger hired by Wheeler to guard his wagons, Colorado Ryan (Ricky Nelson), and the arrival of a mysterious woman, Feathers (Angie Dickinson), who becomes romantically involved with Chance.