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'They Rode with the Duke'

by Peter Bogdanovich
April 5, 2014 6:59 PM
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My Dear Blogdanovich Readers,

I'm really sorry to have disappeared the last few months but I've been making a new picture. It's called Squirrels to the Nuts. It's a comedy (with that title, it better be). We shot it in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Astoria last summer. It was a lot of fun. We had a terrific cast led by Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston. We're now in the process of finishing the picture and I believe it will be out sometime before the end of the year, or early next.

John Wayne book cover

In the meantime, obviously, I haven't had much time to write. However, The New York Times gave me a very long deadline for a book review so I had a couple of months to write, and did, between shots, so to speak. Last week it appeared in The New York Times Sunday Book Review.

The piece was about an enthralling new biography of John Wayne by Scott Eyman titled John Wayne: The Life and Legend. Having known for some time three of the principal characters in Wayne's story, the book had a peculiar effect on me; because I knew Wayne for 15 years, and John Ford and Howard Hawks, his two great directors, for 10 and 15 years respectively. Therefore it was like reading about friends, mentors, and heroes of mine; but most of all, living and breathing human beings with whom I had the privilege to spend some time. So there was a kind of melancholy as well as an excitement reading about their lives. And the work was very sensitively written by Mr. Eyman.

If you're interested in reading what I wrote about the Duke, Ford and Hawks in the Times, we have supplied the link below.

In another month or two I expect to be back on track with more regular blogs. Thanks for your patience.

Playing John Wayne - New York Times Sunday Book Review.

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  • Philip Wissbeck | April 22, 2014 12:15 AMReply

    You should print out that review of the book about John Wayne for those of us who don't subscribe to the NY Times.

  • PB | April 24, 2014 7:18 PM

    You don't have to be a NY Times subscriber to be able to read the piece I did on Wayne. Just click on the blue link above and it'll come up.

  • Blake Lucas | April 8, 2014 3:58 PMReply

    This seems like an appropriate, indeed ideal, time to say Thank You, Peter, for the intense lobbying you talked about earlier with regard to the preferred Hawks version (Walter Brennan narrating) of RED RIVER. You wrote about this earlier on this blog, and I think I said then that I agree with you that Hawks was right about this being the film in its ideal form. I too knew both versions early on and always preferred it, but it's now been many years since I saw it since the "Book version" seemed to always be the one shown as well on videos and DVDs. As most of us know by now, Criterion is putting it out with both versions on Blu Ray/DVD, and with the Hawks preferred version from a good source and supposed to be beautifully restored. So, this is a must for some of
    this year. Always one of the great Westerns and one of Hawks' best movies, And I hope all arguments are over about John Wayne--he was one of the very greatest of all movie actors. God, how I wish there were any leading man now remotely as good! Thank you, again, Peter, for this.

  • PB | April 24, 2014 7:38 PM

    Thanks for the good vibes, Blake. It turns out that the correct Hawks' version of the final
    confrontation between Wayne & Clift is only in the Book Version. The Voice Version had to be
    re-cut because Hughes was threatening to sue if the original was used because he said it was
    stolen by Hawks from"The Outlaw". Yes, but Hawks had started directing "The Outlaw", and
    stole from himself, as usual. So, anyway, to get to Hawks' desired cut of "Red River", you'd
    have to use the "Voice Version" all the way to the final shoot-out, then switch to the "Book
    Version" for the ending. I suggested doing that to Criterion, but they weren't comfortable with
    creating a new version, even though it would finally get Hawks' vision out there. What a drag this stuff is! Anyway, both versions will be there so an industrious fan can make the switch for themselves.

  • Joe Johnson | April 18, 2014 9:35 AM

    Mr. Lucas and Mr. Bogdanovich, There are some critics of director John Ford who say he ruined his material with laziness and sentimentality and say that his films were poorly cast, with actors too old for their roles. Is this true?

  • Barry Lane | April 7, 2014 7:13 PMReply

    Gee Peter, that is fine and I buy into the book, the review and John Wayne. A friend of mine, Louis Hayward was friendly with him in the fifties and they almost made a film together. Wish they had.

  • No | April 5, 2014 11:07 PMReply

    It'll be interesting to see how the author explains or deals with the issue that John Wayne, the original American Hollywood icon, sat out the Second World War in Tinsel Town making movies while Ford, James Stewart, Mickey Rooney, Tyrone Power, Henry Fonda, and others served.

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