Why John Wayne Still Ranks Among Today’s Most Popular Stars

Several months ago, the Harris Poll released its annual list of our ten most popular movie stars. Notably absent from the list were Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, and Brad Pitt (though Angelina squeaked on for the first time, tied for last place with Morgan Freeman).

Ranked ahead of current box-office draws Tom Hanks and Johnny Depp, and just behind Denzel and Clint at the top of the heap, we find John Wayne. Notably, his is the only name from Hollywood’s Golden Age, and the only name that has appeared on every top ten Harris list over the past fifteen years.

On May 26th, John Wayne would have turned 102. Though he’s been gone thirty years, his movies-and his outsize character- refuse to fade.

Not surprisingly, the Duke is more popular with seniors over sixty, and he plays best in the West, and among Republicans. But still…think of all the great actors from that vibrant period when Wayne was making pictures: Bogart, Grant, Brando, Newman, to name just a few. In their own time, it could be argued that each of these names were hotter than Wayne’s, and yet, they don’t make the list. They seem part of the past, while the Duke stubbornly lives on.

What accounts for this actor’s uncanny endurance? Other better actors played cowboys, like Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart. Other bigger stars like Clark Gable and Gregory Peck played soldiers. But around the world, whenever John Wayne played a cowboy or a soldier, he was America. Wayne’s persona- its bigness, roughness, but also its decency- literally came to define our heritage. And to a surprising degree, it still does.

Wayne himself would never have predicted the longevity of his image, and would be incredulous if he knew about it. During his lifetime, he was no stranger to setbacks and self-doubt. After a failed early shot at stardom in 1930’s “The Big Trail”, the Duke had to toil in “B” western potboilers for nearly ten years before director John Ford gave him another chance at the big time.

And then- even when he’d made it, over the years he was repeatedly told by Ford, his frequent collaborator and mentor, that he simply couldn’t act. He took the abuse stoically. Though his range was limited, he could indeed act, and after Wayne’s memorable performance in “Red River” (1949), even Ford had to admit it, though not to his face.

One might reasonably assume that Wayne’s right-wing politics would also work against the popularity he still enjoys. Although (ironically) he accepted Gary Cooper’s Oscar in 1952, Wayne supported the McCarthy Communist witch hunt, and railed against the classic “High Noon” for being un-American. (Indeed, several years later, Howard Hawks and Wayne would make “Rio Bravo” as a “patriotic” response to the earlier film).

By the time he won his sole Oscar for 1969’s “True Grit”, he was still an outspoken hawk, openly defending the Vietnam War, and to prove it, starring in 1968’s chest-thumping “The Green Berets”.

Predictably, he was distinctly old-fashioned in his views on gender and race as well. But there was an open, bluff quality to Duke Wayne that made people forgive and even respect him. He was principled without being self-important, supported the right of others to differ with him, and mellowed considerably after his first serious brush with cancer in 1964.

He even had a well-concealed sensitive side. His lifelong friend Claire Trevor, who co-starred with him in “Stagecoach”(1939), once showed me a touching poem he’d written on the death of her step-son, with whom he’d been unusually close. The verse was heartfelt and moving, the work of a man capable of deep feeling. I have never forgotten reading it.

For someone who reputedly couldn’t act, John Wayne certainly made a lot of great movies. I’m going to list a few of his lesser-known titles that are personal favorites of mine. Please add your own top Duke picks, along with any thoughts you have on what keeps his star burning so bright.

The Long Voyage Home (1940)- After the success of “Stagecoach”, John Ford was eager to display his new find again. Here, Wayne plays simple Swedish seaman Ole Olsen, who finds himself on a merchant ship at the start of World War 2, surrounded by a nervous crew. The ship is carrying badly needed ammunition to the British, making it a highly desirable target for German U-Boats. There may also be spies aboard.

Boasting stunning cinematography from Gregg Toland, who’d go on to collaborate with Orson Welles on “Citizen Kane”, Ford’s film generates tension mixed with a subtle melancholy. Anchoring this unheralded sea picture is the brilliant Thomas Mitchell as old salt “Drisk” Driscoll, ably supported by character actors Barry Fitzgerald and John Qualen, among others.

They Were Expendable (1945)- Director Ford again delivers a powerful human tale of hope barely sustained during the darkest days of World War 2. This is the story of the PT boats during those tough, early days in the Pacific. Skipper John Brickley (Robert Montgomery) and his right hand man, Rusty Ryan (Wayne), have difficulty convincing the navy brass of the PTs’ value to the war effort.Eventually, these nimble craft play a vital role in turning the tide, allowing General MacArthur to keep his promise to return there.

Montgomery (father of Elizabeth from “Bewitched”, and an actual decorated PT boat skipper) is superb as the embattled but stoic Brickley, with Duke an ideal counterpoint as the rough-around-the-edges Ryan. Donna Reed also makes a bewitching love interest as the nurse who falls for Rusty.

She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1949)- In this second of John Ford’s Cavalry Trilogy, Wayne ages considerably to play Captain Nathan Brittles, a career frontier officer facing imminent retirement, a prospect that fills him with dread, as his only family is the army. However, one last mission confronts him: an Indian uprising is brewing, and with a small team, Brittles must escort his superior’s wife (Mildred Natwick) and niece (Joanne Dru) out of harm’s way.

“Ribbon” still registers, thanks to an emotionally layered performance from Wayne, combined with Victor McLaglen’s comic turn as a tippling top Sergeant, and color cinematography that turns Monument Valley into an animated Remington painting (netting cinematographer Winston Hoch an Oscar). A young Ben Johnson also stands out as Sergeant Tyree, a brave soldier very much in the Brittles mold.

Hondo (1953)- The best John Wayne western not directed by John Ford or Howard Hawks, “Hondo” showcases the Duke in his prime. Hondo Lane (Wayne) is a cavalry rider who encounters Angie (Geraldine Page) and her young son homesteading near Apache territory. Hondo warns her that the Apaches are on the war path, but she refuses to clear out. When Hondo returns, hostilities have started, and he must protect the family, while holding a terrible secret.

Helmed by John Farrow (Mia’s dad), the film is stunningly photographed on location in lustrous technicolor, with a trim story brought to life by a luminous Page in her film debut, and Ward Bond (Duke’s real-life crony) as Hondo’s friend. Also look for James Arness in a pivotal role- he’d soon make his career in Westerns on TV’s long-running “Gunsmoke”- and Wayne himself would introduce the first episode.

Hatari! (1962)- Sean Mercer (Wayne) heads a group of game-hunters in Africa who capture animals for zoos. Sean’s sense of order is upset when his trusted driver (Bruce Cabot) gets hurt, and even more so when chic female photographer Dallas (Elsa Martinelli) arrives to shoot a magazine spread. Will Sean keep Dallas safe till she can take her pictures and go home?

Good-natured Howard Hawks outing was a nice change of pace for Wayne, with its jocular tone and gorgeous on-location shooting. (Don’t miss those thrilling wild animal chases.) “Hatari” boasts deft ensemble playing from Cabot, Red Buttons, and Hardy Kruger, who make up Mercer’s core team. And we can well understand how Martinelli’s Dallas would get under Sean’s thick skin. A catchy Henry Mancini score completes this exuberant, diverting picture, ideal for all ages.

The Shootist (1976)- For his swansong, Wayne teamed with “Dirty Harry” director Don Siegel for this elegiac story of a dying gunman who longs for a noble end, but must contend with vultures intent on feeding off his reputation and gloating over his impending demise. Renowned for his six-shooting prowess and high body count, J.B. Books (Wayne) rolls into Carson City to look up trusted friend Doctor Hostetler (James Stewart), who confirms Books has terminal cancer. Hoping to end his days quietly, Books retreats to a boarding house run by widow Bond Rogers (Lauren Bacall) and son Gillom (Ron Howard). But with Books’s violent past, can this old legend go gently into that good night?

Here the aging star is by turns courtly, stoic, and world-weary playing off Bacall’s rigid but ultimately sympathetic widow. And from that opening montage of old Wayne films, you realize you’re watching a movie not just about the demise of the Old West, but also about the end of one actor’s legendary career.. Thus, “The Shootist” can’t help but be poignant. Predictably, the Duke does it proud…to the very last shoot-out.

Movie Halloween Costumes – What Are the 10 Most Popular for 2010?

When it comes to Halloween, movie themed costumes are constantly some of the hottest choices and this year 2010 will be no different! In the 2010, we have looked at the release of a number of the biggest blockbusters motion picture ever produced, filled with attractive figure so as to can be used as Halloween character ideas for kids, teens as well as adults. And for the dress up alternatives this Halloween, have a look at our selection of the top 10 movie Halloween costumes:

1. Avatar: No one will doubt that the release of the Avatar movie will be noted in film history. With essentially the most spectacular effects seen in a giant blockbuster movie, it also brought to life a whole new race of creatures referred to the Na’vi. Whether or not you choose to wear costume as Jake Sully’s Na’vi body, or Neytiri the Na’vi princess, you’ll be sure to draw attentions in this blue-skinned outfit!

2. Harry Potter: This is among the most popular movie Halloween costume themes! The Harry Potter franchise is HUGE and children will likely be lining up to play their favorite characters from the movies and books. Get yourself dressed with some authentic Hogwarts uniform and that essential wizard wand, and there you are set to go!

3. Toy Story 3: Both kids and adults crowded to theatres to catch up on the third sequel of the adorable toys adventures. Some new figures have been introduced, it remains the previous favourites that are going to sell out this Halloween: Woody the cowboy, Jessie the cowgirl and of course Buzz Lightyear the spaceman.

4. Iron Man 2: Iron Man is the latest superhero big hit, and this year’s movie Halloween costumes based on Iron Man comes with many models to choose from and some of them are the most impressive costume ever!

5. Batman: The Dark Knight in 2008 is the last movie featuring this superhero, however its popularity simply keeps on growing due to the fact that it has steadily generated impressive sales on Halloween costumes until now. You can choose either the heroic Batman or the evil Joker: it is for you to decide!

6. Alice in Wonderland: This contemporary approach on the classic story takes the characters in this movie in a brand new image for wonderful ideas of movie Halloween costumes this year. The most favourite men costume is unquestionably will be Johnny Depp’s portrayal on Mad Hatter, and for women costume is the obsessed Red Queen of Hearts. And the good news is that there are quite enough other character costume choices for all occasions!

7. Shrek: This cute green giant is back again this year in “Shrek – Forever After” episode, so there’s no doubt that his popularity will keep on rising. Costume choices also include beautiful Princess Fiona, the Gingerbread man, the funny sidekick Donkey or grumpy Shrek himself!

8. Twilight: The popularity of this romantic vampire saga is magnificent. Children, teenagers,adults and couples all over the world shall be determined to act as Edward Cullen and Bella Swan characters for the event!

9. Kick Ass: This movie will also likely to be a favourite model this Halloween, with a lot of people even coming up by way of their particular superhero characters and costumes as inspired by the premise of the movie.

10. How to Train Your Dragon: This movie might not be somewhat as well-known as the other, but it surely was a big hit for the kids in 2010. It’s sure to be more bigger coming on October 31 thanks to the fact that there are such a lot of fascinating characters to select from, either Viking or Dragon.

A good Halloween costume is being recognizable. You won’t go wrong choosing one of these movie Halloween costumes – everybody is certain to be familiar with which iconic character you are dressing as. Simply make sure to purchase your costumes effectively upfront, as they will most definitely to sell out quick!

Popular Movie Rentals

It is possible to hire popular movie rentals at a very low price if you know how to do it properly. Your initial payment might not be low, but you can hire an unlimited number of movies for that payment. Let me explain that a bit better, and then you can decide whether or not it is possible.

The first decision you have to make is whether or not to hire your DVD or Blu-ray videos. The alternative is to purchase them, and once purchased and viewed, what do you do with them? Keep them on a shelf and maybe watch them again in a year or two? Sell them on eBay at a tenth of the price you paid? For what? The privilege of watching the movie? One that you might not even like?

So many questions to answer only for making the decision to purchase a video rather than rent it! People think that renting is wasting money, but what wastes more: paying a fortune for a new DVD or Blu-ray disc and watching once, or hiring it and then exchanging for another? Perhaps you can sell your purchase, but for what? Nothing like even a quarter of what you paid for it. Compare the prices you will pay for DVDs against the rental prices and you will be amazed. If you haven’t done that yet, then check it out. I bet you will be astonished at what you can save!

I will not go on at length about the benefits of renting over purchasing, because it is well known that, unless you are a movie aficionado, and want to build a fabulous library of DVDs, it is more economical to rent than buy. Let’s hope your DVD library doesn’t go the same way as my large collection of VHS videos did and became obsolete. Blu-ray is going to take over shortly, with the significantly higher storage that will permit many of the new special effects that are coming on-screen, such as the resurgence of 3-D.

What would you think if you could rent as many videos as you could watch each month for the same price than purchasing one? How about 30 videos for the same price as one? That is the advantage of hiring over buying, and if you can’t see it then you could be wasting a lot of money buying videos that, let’s face it, you are not going to watch more than twice at the most. However, many still prefer to purchase, and there are a few good reasons for doing so. Nevertheless, you can’t make your mind up unless you have experienced both – and I have.

An increasing number of people are settling for popular movie rentals rather than buying the same movies on DVD format, and if you find a newly released DVD a bit highly priced then try a Blu-ray! That requires more expensive modern electronic equipment to produce the master and then duplicate for sale, and it won’t be that long before your standard DVD player is as outdated and obsolete as your old VHS. Remember Betamax? Soon people will be saying the same of DVD.

You have two options at the moment: rent or buy, and the choice is yours. Popular movie rentals offer as many titles as you can purchase online, only you don’t own them – but you can return them in exchange for other videos.

5 Most Popular Hair Styles For 2008

The changes in hair styles have been gradual this year, but they have not come without notice. Apparently, the Paris Hilton long hair, Farah Fasset look is not going to fly in 2008. Shorter hair seems to be what’s in for women these days. It looks like all the predictions at the start of the year turned out to be the false positives of futurist fluff.

There seems to be a complete tug of war between long and short hair for women. Television and Movie Stars, Print Models and Runway Stars, as well as Olympic Athlete gold medalists and news commentators share a common theme, long hair is okay and perfectly fine in 2008 and perhaps even into 2009. However, short hair is also, as long as it is matched by a personality that fits.

For men we see more and more movie stars with lots of hair, wavy, almost bushy. Then we see baldness making a huge move for the rough tough guys. The GQ look survives another year, so the clean cut Clark Kent’s of the World are good to go, if they cannot muster the attitude of the carefree at peace with the society rebels of today.

So what’s hot and what’s not you ask?

Well, for gals its long or short. For guys it is wavy with bulk or bald like the incredible hulk. And for those who can carry a straight face, GQ is still okay. So, those are the 5 Most Popular Hair Styles for today. The trick is to be yourself, smile a lot, and not worry too much what’s hot and what’s not!

The Most Popular Science Fiction Films of All Time

Starting with A Trip to the Moon, science fiction has always been one of the most popular genres of film making. In fact, most of the top grossing films of all time have been science fiction films. In this article, I will discuss the five most popular science fiction films of all time, and comment on what made them great (or in one case, very popular):

#5 Spider-Man (2002): Having its box-office potential ruined for thirty years by the cheesy cartoon of the 1970s didn’t stop Spider-Man from being one of the most popular science fiction films of all time. Director Sam Raimi played with the Spider-Man mythology, taking most of his plot points from the Green Goblin stories of the early 1970s. However, instead of using Gwen Stacey, he used Kirsten Dunst in the role of Mary Jane Watson. This added some tension for the dedicated Spider-Man fan as, in those stories, the girl dies at the end.

#4 Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999): Yes, the movie was terrible (though not quite as terrible as Episode II). However, the movie was so highly anticipated, it shattered many box office records. The story followed a young Anakin Skywalker through his discovery of his powers and his introduction to Padme, the mother of Luke and Leia. Despite poor reviews, the film was fun and light, and only occasionally hinted at the darkness that lay ahead for these characters.

#3 E.T. (1982): On top of being a science fiction film, E.T. was also one of the most beloved family films of all time. The move followed the relationship between lonely boy Elliott and his new friend, an alien from another planet whom he named E.T. The move was alternatively touching and scary, and was a central point of many children’s film lives. It also gave us product placement in cinema, lifting Reese’s Pieces from obscurity to one of the most popular candies.

#2 Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977): At the time, this film was just known as Star Wars, and it completely revolutionized the movie industry. Before this film, no one had ever heard of the “blockbuster.” Afterwards, every summer dozens of movies were made in the hopes of being the film of the summer. Aside from E.T., none of the other films on this list could have existed without Star Wars. It was a also a grand, beautiful vision of a future world, where monks and technology interacted in a battle for the future (or rather, for the past “long, long ago”)

#1 Avatar (2009): For over a decade, no film had been able to dethrone James Cameron’s Titanic as the top-grossing film of all time until James Cameron came along and decided to do it again. Avatar is a fascinating science fiction film, in which computers are used to control other bodies, aliens exist and an entire planet seems to be a single organism. The special effects are absolutely breathtaking, and we find ourselves switching sides as the film goes on.

As you can see, many of the top films of the last thirty years have been science fiction films, most of them made possible by Star Wars and its vision of the science fiction blockbuster.

5 Ways to Use Popular Movies for English Language Teaching

A commonly available resource of authentic English language is movies. Movies, in their entirety or in selected clips, are highly practical for English language teaching. Hardly any learner would complain about having a movie or video clip to watch as part of an English language class. But just how do you go about exploiting films and clips? What are good aspects of using movies for English language teaching? Here are five ways you can use popular movies with your learners for English language practice and acquisition.

1. Varieties of English can be demonstrated

Want to know what British English is like? Australian English? How about the Englishes of India or the West Indies? Then movies are your salvation. Films produced in these regions can give you needed first-hand insight into connected speech elements, Rhotic or Non-rhotic pronunciation, idioms, expressions and other aspects of regional Englishes.

2. Slices of culture can be demonstrated

An essential element of language learning is culture. So why not incorporate both into your language lessons at the same time? While viewing a film in British, American, Australian or West Indian English you can see cultural aspects included in the plot to illustrate social customs from table manners to weddings and funerals, holidays, celebrations and language idiosyncrasies. Don’t forget the use of “Classic” films either, as they can be a marvelous resource for the ELT class room.

3. Historical change can be easily demonstrated

What were conditions, clothing, food and the English language like 100 years ago? During the 1700s or even before? I’ve actually found the pre-tenth-century epic poem-saga “Beowulf” on DVD. Learning about or comparing historical changes can be enhanced by viewing period pieces, that is, films set in specific historical periods and locations. For example; Gone With the Wind, Humphrey Bogart’s stable of classics, in addition to great literature of classic writers which have been converted into screen plays, film documentaries or epic dramas (i.e., Dr. Zhivago, Wuthering Heights, A Tale of Two Cities, War and Peace, Moby Dick, etc.).

4. Using Audio – Visual elements aids learning

As repeatedly demonstrated in research by H. Gardner (1984) and D. Lazear (1992), an audio – visual approach is highly effective in both lowering learner affective filters (Krashen-Terrell, 1984) and in language acquisition and learning. Visual – Spatial, Musical – Rhythmic, Inter-personal, Intra-personal and Verbal – Linguistic intelligence learners receive, process and acquire communicatively-based language elements quite readily from movies. Virtually every type of learning style can benefit from language elements acquired from watching movies, films and videos.

5. Movies are great fun to watch

Finally, no one, not the most dedicated English language learner, not even the teacher, wants a course consisting of only class room rhetoric, typical class room practice, grammar and drills. Movies can offer a welcome respite to “normal” class room activity while still continuing to promote English language skills acquisition and practice. A thoughtfully chosen film (or clip thereof) can breathe new life into a class of the most reluctant learners.
They’re simply great fun to watch. After all, they were produced for entertainment, right?

As progressive professionals in our continual search for additional resources, approaches, techniques and methods for expanding our repertoire of English language teaching tools, movies, clips and videos can offer us an easily accessible, dynamic resource to enrich and expand our English language teaching. The aspects mentioned here contain only a few of the many benefits we and our learners can experience. So, pullout your favorite flick, select a dramatic or emotional scene, plan a few activities around it and watch the learners minds turn on.

A Final Note: In the companion to this article entitled, “5 Reasons to Use Popular Movies for English Language Teaching”, some justifications for the use of movies in English are reviewed.