Couch & Duke - Their journey together 1938-1973
337 7.8 7.91. Stagecoach (1939)
In many ways one of the most influential films ever made. Not the first western for either director nor it's star but it was the first Ford made after the end of silent era and the one that really started the long-lasting stardom of John Wayne. This was the first of the films Ford photographed in Monument Valley, which has since become a very familiar scenery in Ford's westerns. The film earned John Ford his second Academy Award nomination for Best director (won in 1935 his first with The Informer) and is being praised since by many contemporary directors such as Orson Welles and Akira Kurosawa.
25 7.1 72. The Long Voyage Home (1940)
Ford and Wayne returned to film another movie together year after the success of Stagecoach, though this time the set-up being a war. It is the other defining theme around the careers of both Ford's, who was an Admiral by rank and would be serving in the upcoming World War II, and Wayne's, who's failing to serve his country on WWII is said to have been most painful experience of his life and it made him appear in many war films on his later career. After this one Ford went to film one more feature length picture before the war. How Green was my Valley earned him his third Academy Award for Best Director (second being from Grapes of Wrath, which was made just before The Long Voyage Home), ironically Ford got none Academy recognition from his quintessential westerns, which are widely regarded as his masterpieces today.
48 7.2 7.23. They Were Expendable (1945)
After The Long Voyage there was a 5 years pause with Wayne and Ford mostly due the out brake of the Great War and John Ford's enlisting to naval department of United States. He filmed there couple of propaganda shorts and some documentary material including the Omaha beach on D-Day, while John Wayne, never enlisted, continued his career at home. Still after the war ended they joined again on another war film that would be They were Expendable. This movie is said to contain one of the best performances from Wayne despite the fact that he had second billing on this one. And it's said that Ford was exceptionally hard on Duke while filming this one thinking him as a coward for not enlisting until Montgomery told him not to and that, as it's said, was that.
114 7.6 7.64. Fort Apache (1948)
Three years after They Were Expendable "Couch and Duke" team up again, this time in a western which was to become one of the most defining movies in both men's careers. Fort Apache is a first part on John Ford's famous Cavalry Trilogy, which wasn't actually meant to be one in a first place. This is also only film, in which both of Ford's devoted actors Wayne and Fonda starred together, excluding How the West was Won in which they starred on different segments under different directors.
51 6.9 75. 3 Godfathers (1948)
After John Wayne got off his contract on prevíous company he had quite a long run with John Ford, starting from 1948 with Fort Apache. 3 Godfathers was made the same year with a bit different thematics yet still in western setting. This film being of some interest also for the fact that Wayne did play kinda against his archetype being an bank robber, yet with a heart of gold. Film was dedicated to Harry Carey, one of Ford's earlier actor collaborations, his son Harry Carey Jr. played one of the parts in film
120 7.3 7.36. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)
1948 was a turning point on Wayne's career. He made four films that year and each of em was pretty much defining performances on his career. Howard Hawks' Red River, two previous films with Ford and also Wake of the Red Witch, in which Wayne created a romantic side to his "John Wayne" character what it had been lacking still. So when we come to the early fifties and second installment of the Cavalry Trilogy comes out, people aren't going anymore to see John Ford western, they are going to see John Wayne western and it really was getting to the directors how hard it was to make a successful western movie without Duke.
132 7.4 7.27. Rio Grande (1950)
The ending piece in Ford's magnificent trilogy and in a way end of an era for this will be the last western these two men made together in almost six years before the ultimate masterpiece The Searchers. And ironically this one wasn't even supposed to be made, but studio insisted to make a movie starring both Wayne and Maureen O'Hara for Ford to get a green light for his next picture The Quiet Man. Rio Grande was supposed to cover the "losses" of the next film, which of course pretty much covered those itself.
222 7.7 7.98. The Quiet Man (1952)
Quite a departure for both Ford and Wayne, in a way. Ford at that time was still mostly known of his westerns, not period dramas and for Wayne this was a giant leap to more dramatic roles. Republic Films allowed to do this only after Rio Grande and as soon as it was done John Ford moved to Ireland with his crew to film this movie, what would become his fourth Academy Award winning picture. John Wayne is known to have stated in interviews later that this was one of his favorite films from his own career. Republic Pictures who financed the film were reluctant to allow Ford make film over two hours long, but Ford was indeclinable and showed to producers the, now famous, climatic fist fight between Wayne and McLaghlen and they gave in. So it went to theaters in it's full length, and it was of course a great success to the company earning it's only Oscar nomination for Best Picture, ever.
541 8 89. The Searchers (1956)
After The Quiet Man there was quite a long brake on Ford-Wayne collaborations. Ford made some of his lesser known works with other big names from Hollywood, including Cagney and Gable, while Wayne at the hight of his stardom filmed some of his best known films, including The High and Mighty and Hondo. Yet both men were yearning to find a good story for another western to film together and it appeared in a form of a novel by Alan Le May called The Searchers. Film didn't receive much critical praise on it's time, but is since considered the one great classic in western genre by many scholars. This film was dear to both men in many ways, for they weren't sure at the time how many westerns they would have a chance to make together anymore, if none.
This film marks also the greatest screen performance by Duke par none, and as much as I have tried not to forward any personal "hype" (not sure whether I managed) about these films on this list, there really cannot be enough praise on The Searchers. One film by Ford that everyone should see, western buff or not, and especially by those who consider Wayne a bad actor.
24 6.3 6.610. The Wings of Eagles (1957)
After the success of The Searchers Ford and Wayne returned to film yet another movie together next year, though this time the setting being a war. This is a first war film Ford made with Wayne after They Were Expendable, in which they had quite a heated relationship due the fact that Wayne didn't go to war. That tension cannot be seen on this one anymore. This is a tribute from Ford to naval aviation and his friend Frank Wead who did the screenplay for Expendables. He is played in film by Wayne.
57 7.4 711. The Horse Soldiers (1959)
This film marks the beginning of bigger deals for the stars in Hollywood for both Bill Holden and Duke were given $775000 and 20 per cent of the profits. Film was though a financial failure despite the three big names on the poster. John Ford filmed this mostly in Louisiana yet he closed the set due an fatal accident of a stunt man and he needed to make rest of the shots in California. Shot with that fatal accident remains in the film.
448 7.9 8.112. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
Fords last western with Wayne (I exclude the next movie due the fact that Ford made only a small part), and Ford's last movie in black & white and by many considered the best western Wayne and Ford made together. The turning point of the 50s and 60s was marked by the coming of the television as well as a slow dying of the classic American western as genre in movies. Some of the best films to sum up the feelings and thematics of the Old West was made at that period one being this film and other being Howard Hawks' Rio Bravo and both were starred by John Wayne.
160 6.9 713. How the West Was Won (1962)
Colossal western epic filmed in Cinerama with three directors involved. John Ford made only one segment to this film in which he depicted the American Civil War. John Wayne was at first set to act on one of the segments directed by Henry Hathaway, but Ford insisted to have Wayne on his part and so he did. It's said that this piece of cinema is absolutely beautiful when watched in Cinerama theater, though it's very rarely shown in it's original format nowadays.
33 6.3 6.614. Donovan's Reef (1963)
This film is the last feature John Ford and Duke made together, technically speaking, though John Wayne narrated Ford's biographical documentary of Chesty Puller in 1970 (Film was released only after three years of directors death). This movie has a joyful tune in it and it's a fun film to watch, overall a great departure after 35 years, over 20 features, 3 TV-episodes and thousands and thousands of film meters of a journey together.
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