John Wayne’s World

John Wayne’s World: Transnational Masculinity in the Fifties

Russell Meeuf
Copyright Date: 2013
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/747463
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    John Wayne’s World
    Book Description:

    In a film career that spanned five decades, John Wayne became a U.S. icon of heroic individualism and rugged masculinity. His widespread popularity, however, was not limited to the United States: he was beloved among moviegoers in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe. InJohn Wayne's World, Russell Meeuf considers the actor's global popularity and makes the case that Wayne's depictions of masculinity in his most popular films of the 1950s reflected the turbulent social disruptions of global capitalism and modernization taking place in that decade.

    John Wayne's Worldplaces Wayne at the center of gender- and nation-based ideologies, opening a dialogue between film history, gender studies, political and economic history, and popular culture. Moving chronologically, Meeuf provides new readings ofFort Apache,Red River,Hondo,The Searchers,Rio Bravo, andThe Alamoand connects Wayne's characters with a modern, transnational masculinity being reimagined after World War II. Considering Wayne's international productions, such asLegend of the LostandThe Barbarian and the Geisha, Meeuf shows how they resonated with U.S. ideological positions about Africa and Asia. Meeuf concludes that, in his later films, Wayne's star text shifted to one of grandfatherly nostalgia for the past, as his earlier brand of heroic masculinity became incompatible with the changing world of the 1960s and 1970s. The first academic book-length study of John Wayne in more than twenty years,John Wayne's Worldreveals a frequently overlooked history behind one of Hollywood's most iconic stars.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-74747-0
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: REEXAMINING JOHN WAYNE
    (pp. 1-15)

    Despite some formal similarities, the french and U.S. posters advertising the 1953 classic westernHondooffer radically different visions of John Wayne. In the French version, Wayne stands centered in the poster in “Warnercolor” splendor, rifle in one hand and pistol in the other, amid the empty frontier in a moment of indecision, yet poised for action. Over one shoulder, Indians charge on the warpath, and over the other armed cowboys creep out from behind a craggy outcrop. But in the foreground stands Geraldine Page, hand on hip, beckoning Wayne’s character, Hondo Lane, to a life of domestic and paternal...

  5. CHAPTER ONE The Emergence of “John Wayne”: RED RIVER, GLOBAL MASCULINITY, AND WAYNE’S ROMANTIC ANXIETIES
    (pp. 16-40)

    In a belgian poster advertising howard hawks’sRed River(1948), two visions of John Wayne are displayed in a spectacular colorful image. To the left stands Wayne as Tom Dunson with Fen (Coleen Gray), his love interest, who early in the film is murdered by a band of Indians. Wayne stares deeply and romantically into her eyes as he slips a bracelet onto her wrist. In the film, this is the same bracelet he would later give to his adopted son, Matthew Garth (Montgomery Clift), who in the poster is taking a hard blow to the face from the other...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Exile, Community, and Wandering: INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION AND THE SPATIAL DYNAMICS OF MODERNITY IN JOHN FORD’S CAVALRY TRILOGY
    (pp. 41-72)

    In her revisionist and critical history of the American West, Patricia Limerick notes that Hollywood’s construction of the western frontier glosses over one of the central concerns of the history of the West: parceling, buying, and selling land. Limerick writes: “If Hollywood wanted to capture the emotional center of western history, its movies would be about real estate. John Wayne would have been neither a gun-fighter nor a sheriff, but a surveyor, speculator, or claims lawyer. The showdowns would appear in the land office or the courtroom; weapons would be deeds and lawsuits, not six guns” (Legacy of Conquest, 55)....

  7. CHAPTER THREE John Wayne’s Cold War: MASS TOURISM AND THE ANTICOMMUNIST CRUSADE
    (pp. 73-86)

    The soviet premier joseph stalin, in the final, unstable years of his life, decreed that John Wayne had to die. According to the film historian and celebrity biographer Michael Munn, John Wayne was so associated with anticommunism that several attempts on Wayne’s life were undertaken by different communist organizations, including one supposedly orchestrated by Stalin himself (John Wayne, 125–128). By serving as president of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals from 1949 through 1953 and participating actively in the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigation into communists in Hollywood, Wayne was the public face of...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR John Wayne’s Body: TECHNICOLOR AND 3-D ANXIETIES IN HONDO AND THE SEARCHERS
    (pp. 87-112)

    In the middle ofHondo, Wayne’s character engages in a ritualized knife fight with an Apache warrior on a cliff overlooking the expanses of the southwestern desert. Exploiting the visual pleasures of the film’s 3-D and Warnercolor technologies, the scene displays colorfully costumed bodies rhythmically confronting each other and rolling across the dusty precipice, as well as close-ups of knives thrusting straight toward the camera.¹ In this way, the scene clearly signifies a particular vision of the white male body: able, kinetic, efficient, and ultimately superior to the raced body of its Native American opponent. Using the new technologies of...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE John Wayne’s Africa: EUROPEAN COLONIALISM VERSUS U.S. GLOBAL LEADERSHIP IN LEGEND OF THE LOST
    (pp. 113-130)

    As Wayne’s character inlegend of the Lost, joe January, leads Paul Bonnard (Rossano Brazzi) and a prostitute named Dita (Sophia Loren) through the vast Sahara, the burgeoning love triangle between the three characters produces tensions not only between the travelers but also between the different ways that the two men relate to Dita and the idea of Africa in general. In one scene, the three take a much-needed break along the banks of an oasis after getting caught in a brutal desert sandstorm. Exploiting the internationally popular sex appeal of the young Loren at the time, Dita bathes in...

  10. CHAPTER SIX John Wayne’s Japan: INTERNATIONAL PRODUCTION, GLOBAL TRADE, AND JOHN WAYNE’S DIPLOMACY IN THE BARBARIAN AND THE GEISHA
    (pp. 131-151)

    At the beginning of the 1958 john wayne historical romanceThe Barbarian and the Geisha, Okichi (Eiko Ando)—the geisha of the film’s title, who provides the film’s voice-over narration—insists, “This is my story too,” while the film lyrically captures images of traditional Japanese culture before Western contact. This forceful assertion of narrative centrality and Okichi’s powerful position as narrator challenge many of the masculine and Western privileges normally associated with Hollywood films, particularly those of John Wayne. In Wayne’s cinematic world, he is most often the center of the narrative: his subjectivity dominates the audience’s perspective, privileging his...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Men at Work in Tight Spaces: MASCULINITY, PROFESSIONALISM, AND POLITICS IN RIO BRAVO AND THE ALAMO
    (pp. 152-177)

    As the siege of the local jail rages on in howard Hawks’sRio Bravo(1959), Nathan Burdette (John Russell), a powerful rancher attempting to violently break his brother out of jail, pays the band at the cantina across the street to play a tune over and over again to send a message to the sheriff, played by John Wayne. Proving his intelligence despite his young age, Colorado (Ricky Nelson), a young man who has stayed out of the conflict up to that point, explains that the song is called “El Degüello,” or “The Cutthroat Song.” As Colorado explains it, “The...

  12. Conclusion: THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE AND NOSTALGIA FOR JOHN WAYNE’S WORLD
    (pp. 178-186)

    After fourteen years as an international superstar defined by dynamic body movement, an uncanny skill and speed with a weapon (despite his aging body), and a rugged masculinity capable of enduring hardships and torment, John Wayne’s emergence inThe Man Who Shot Liberty Valance(1962) charted new territory for the star. The first we see of his character, Tom Doniphon, is the simple wooden coffin that contains his dead body. The film opens with Ransom Stoddard (Jimmy Stewart), a former governor, senator, and U.S. ambassador, and his wife, Hallie (Vera Miles), arriving by train in the small western town of...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 187-198)
  14. References
    (pp. 199-206)
  15. Index
    (pp. 207-213)