20 September 2013

The Significance of John Wayne

Let’s consider this legend. Remember him? Of course you do!

I had never been a fan of John Wayne, but my husband, the advocate, probably watched every single movie in which The Duke starred. These movies are acceptable for viewing over and over again, yet I’ll be mocked if I watch The Breakfast Club one more time.

I admit, I’ve watched a few of his movies throughout the years - True Grit, Sands of Iwo Jima, El Dorado, and Rio Bravo, to name a few. To me, the man didn’t really act. Nobody had any mad acting skills back in the day, maybe some stilted over-acting, but definitely not award-winning acting. 

However, according to Tim, John Wayne was more than just the name of a famous actor. And so it came that I would watch another of his movies along side my faithful husband.

The Sons of Katie Elder

It occurred during this movie, that moment where I realized the significance of John Wayne. I was ironing clothes on a Saturday morning and Tim lay on the bed, right leg crossed over the left and arms folded behind his head, watching television. Then came the announcement. It must have been the same guy who announced the television series Leave it to Beaver. At least, it sounded like him, “And now, The Sons of Katie Elder….starring, John Wayne…”

I stopped ironing, because of course, I needed to understand what the big deal was when Tim yelled out, “The Duke! Haha!”

I watched for a bit, just long enough to understand four brothers, the oldest being Wayne, had come back into town because their mother had passed away. Apparently, these sons had been gone for some time, according to the tongue lashing they’d received from mother’s long time friend and caretaker.

The elder brother removed his hat in humble acceptance of the scolding he’d received, then bowed his head in shame.

From the look on Tim’s face, I could tell something was awry. It was like an exasperated silence hung in the air and nobody dared say a word, not even me. The television was silent, Tim was silent, and I held my breath.

“You should be ashamed,” the caretaker continued. “The lot of you!”

That’s when Tim turned toward me, tapping his chest with indignity, as if speaking for the man, “Bitch, I’m John Wayne.”

And that’s when I knew that John Wayne would always be bigger than the characters he played. He was, indeed, a legend.

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