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John Wayne’s five favourite movies of all time


Considered one of the best actors in American movie history, John Wayne became an icon of the western genre throughout the mid-20th century, from the 1920s through to the 1970s. Appearing in such films as The Searchers, True Grit, Stagecoach and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Wayne quickly became a pillar of the genre with his legacy being equal to that of the likes of Clint Eastwood, Randolph Scott and James Stewart. 

Although his films are still celebrated to this very day, the modern appreciation for Wayne has dwindled somewhat, particularly after his 1971 Playboy interview that exposed many of the actor’s shocking values. “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility,” Wayne disgracefully stated, further adding, “I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from the Indians. Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival”. 

Filmmaker Spike Lee was quick to criticise this in a speech for BAFTA, pointing out the racism of the American actor as well as his frequent collaborator, director John Ford. Speaking at the event, Lee stated, “I’ve never been a fan of John Wayne and John Ford and that cowboy bullshit. I hate them: Native Americans depicted as savages and animals…Fuck John Wayne and John Ford”. 

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Regardless, Wayne still holds an undeniable presence in the history of American cinema, and in 1977 when he was asked by The People’s Almanac to send in his choices for “the best movies of all time” he responded with five of the finest films of the 20th century.

His number one choice goes to the 1966 Fred Zinnemann movie A Man For All Seasons, starring Paul Scofield, Robert Shaw, John Hurt and Orson Welles. Telling the story of Sir Thomas More, who stood up to King Henry VIII when the King rejected the Roman Catholic Church to obtain a divorce and remarry, Wayne’s love of the biographical drama is somewhat surprising, even if the movie is considered a 1960s classic. 

His second choice is a little more predictable, opting for the 1939 cinematic game-changer, Gone with the Wind directed by Victor Fleming and starring Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable and Hattie McDaniel. Winning eight Oscars at the 1940 Academy Awards, including for Best Picture, Gone with the Wind remains one of the highest-grossing films of all time when adjusted for inflation. 

Take a look at the full list of John Wayne’s five favourite movies of all time, below.

John Wayne’s favourite movies:

  1. A Man For All Seasons (Fred Zinnemann, 1966)
  2. Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939)
  3. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Vincente Minnelli, 1962)
  4. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
  5. The Quiet Man (John Ford, 1952)

Third on his top five list is the Vincente Minnelli war romance The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse which follows two daughters, one married to a Frenchman and the other a German, with tensions flaring wildly shortly before the Second World War. With Glenn Ford, Ingrid Thulin and Charles Boyer, the film is considered something of a cult classic thanks to its biblical references and impressive art style.

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