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Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

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Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Postby moira finnie » May 6th, 2014, 10:55 am

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Good morning, Scott Eyman! Thank you for consenting to visit with us, today, May 8th, & Friday, May 9th.

This thread is now open and questions can be posted here by members. As in the past, please be patient and realize that our guest author will not be online 24/7 during his visit, but will answer the questions asked in due time. If any queries are overlooked, please notify an admin privately by tomorrow night and we will try to assist you. All are welcome to participate in this much-anticipated event.

To get things started, I'd like to ask our guest about some aspects of the John Wayne portrait he created in his most recent book, John Wayne, The Life and Legend (Simon & Schuster):

After writing about such powerful and diverse figures as John Ford, Cecil B. DeMille, Ernst Lubitsch, and Louis B. Mayer, why did you turn to an actor as your subject?

What did you come to like about him?

Is there an aspect of his life that you were puzzled by even after writing this biography?

Growing up in the '60s and '70s, Wayne often seemed to be a polarizing influence due to politics. Since then, much of that furor seems to have fallen away and many more people of varying political stances have come to appreciate his work. Was this a result of time passing or a cultural shift?

Thanks in advance for your answers.
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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Postby Rita Hayworth » May 8th, 2014, 8:40 am

Hi Scott,

Welcome to Silver Screen Oasis and I have been wanting to ask you several questions concerning FORT APACHE of which John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and others starred and it's been a favorite of mine for years. There is a thread devoted to that subject see link below.

http://silverscreenoasis.com/oasis3/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=278

With great screencaps and thoughts about that movie that many of us enjoyed seeing this enduring Western that came out in 1948.

Image


Question #1.
John Ford and Merian Cooper worked this film together and I was wondering what their role in this movie that came out in 1948. How they worked this partnership out?

Question #2.
When, I first saw this film - I was shocked to see Shirley Temple in a female lead in this Western and who was chiefly responsible for her landing the role of Philadelphia Thursday.

Question #3.
Who was responsible for her (Shirley Temple) name of Philadelphia Thursday - Ford and/or Cooper in this western?


I would greatly appreciate of any answers that you can give to me; and thanks for your time here in Silver Screen Oasis.

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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Postby MissGoddess » May 8th, 2014, 8:45 am

What a pleasure to welcome you back to our little fold, Mr. E! Thank you for taking time out for us from what I know is a busy schedule. And my congrats on your JW book being a NYTimes Best Seller. If I'm not mistaken, so is your latest memoir with Wagner---makes two home-runs this year. Pea-green is the color du jour in the film biography community.

I hope you have something extra special planned to relax with your family after all this hullabaloo. Will you be attending/participating in the John Ford Ireland fest this June? A good opportunity for the JW book, I'm sure.

You needn't bother to answer all my questions (boy did I EDIT---I could run on even more, believe me), just whatever suits you.

Was there any aspect of Wayne's life, personality or career that you wanted to cover but for whatever reason did not or could not?

This question is similar but different to one of Moira's. You have written about GIANTS, really "alpha" types---is there a quality about such creatures that draws you to them as subjects? Is it a case of kindred spirit or opposites attract? I know I'm getting a little diggy-down here, but I confess I am curious and like to really know more than the superficial about people, even writers. :)

You (and other biographers) make mention that Ford and Wayne saw a bit less of each other in Ford's later years. Was this due to simply "geographic" inconvenience or was Wayne consumed by his own life/career at that point (kind of like real children who go independent, only to return to the fold later)---or was there something deeper, was Wayne perhaps deliberately distancing himself from the Old Man for other reasons? It must have been hard to see his "Coach" growing weaker, listening to him making plans that would never materialize, counting on Wayne to be a part of them...

What do you think Ford brought out of Wayne on screen that no other filmmaker did?

Ward Bond's relationship to JW/JF was remarkably close; is there anything about Bond we're missing---did he have likeable qualities (seldom mentioned) that makes their closeness more understandable? Is it a guy thing (someone you shared laughs and good times with)? I adore Bond as an actor, I'm not slamming him.

Did Wayne know Will Rogers well and is there anything more you can add about their acquaintance? Plus: would you ever consider writing a biography of Rogers?

Regarding a quote you cited from Wayne about Clark Gable---that he was dumb/stupid. I've read this over and over again yet I haven't read any actual examples of why people thought that about him. Do you know why? He certainly seemed sharp and competent if not intellectual on screen (amazing actor if it was just show).

From your JW book flyleaf: Can you tell us more about your dog from monument valley? He/she is a rescue from there? How is Coop or is he the dog that passed away? If so, I am truly sorry. I like a dog called after my favorite actor.

Finally, perhaps more an opinion than a question---I personally find of all the leading classic males, Wayne had an easy, relaxed on-screen presence with his leading ladies, even those that seemed poor matches (excepting poor Miss Ralston). He invariably puts them at ease and seems to bring out a sparkle, a palpable interest/attraction that projects from these women. Yet he is virtually NEVER thought of as a "romantic leading man". I disagree categorically, though it may be a matter of definition of what is romantic. Maybe the quote you included from Stefanie Powers, I believe, sums it up (paraphrasing from memory): "Wayne had a quality that made a woman fall in love with him, if not want to jump right into bed." This DOES come through on screen and makes him potently attractive---why else would he have so many female fans?

***
End of barrage and reiteration of gratitude for you being here. I have sent my copy of your JW book to Brian Downes, who as a favor to me will kindly pester you for an autograph at his Winterset fest.

Signed,
An unofficial, uninvited "sister" in the Ford Band of Brothers. :)

April Lane (aka MissG/PappysGirl)
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
-- Will Rogers

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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Postby Robert Regan » May 8th, 2014, 9:16 am

At this point, Mr. Eyman, I just want to thank you for your many fine books, but especially the excellent Lubitsch biography. More later, but again thanks.

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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Postby Scott_Eyman » May 8th, 2014, 9:39 am

Hi there.
I haven't written a book about an actor since Mary Pickford. I think I shyed away from actors because they're primarily reactive, whereas directors and producers (usually) are the motivating forces behind the movies that get made. Frankly, if anyone else had written a smashing book about Wayne, I wouldn't have even attempted it. He's a large subject, difficult to get past the hagiographical/character assassination bullshit that's been shoveled over the years.
But I wasn't crazy about the stuff that had been written about him, I thought I had an interesting take on his nature since spending some time with him as a kid, and he was also one of the few actors who could be said to be the dominant creative force in a lot of his work.
Besides all that, he was unquestionably one of the most important male role models of the 20th century - a worthy subject.

I liked his forthrightness, I related to his drive, and I also came to appreciate the delicate aspects of his character - how he dealt with the public, maeuvering past industry shoals, his courtliness, and so forth.

No, he makes sense to me; he's what the shrinks call an integrated personality. Like Lubitsch, he was more or less the man he wanted to be. He was unlike Ford, who had all these warring aspects of his nature. On the one hand, he was a visual poet; on the other, he wanted to be an Irish roughneck keeping everyone else in their place, i.e. below Ford.

Part of the shift in thinking about Wayne is just the passing of time; part of it is the fact that the Ford and Hawks films aren't going away; people keep seeing them and thinking about them, unlike poor Clark Gable who's remembered for two movies: It Happened One Night and Gone With the Wind. But the culture gap isn't over yet; read some of the comments on websites about Wayne and WWII. The polarities still exist.

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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Postby Scott_Eyman » May 8th, 2014, 9:45 am

Hi Rita - I loved you in your pictures with Fred Astaire.

1. Merian Cooper thought Ford was a great director and he felt his job was to facilitate the making of Ford's pictures - find the money, get the actors Ford wanted, and so forth. He wasn't submissive at all, but he didn't intrude on Ford's artistic prerogatives.

2. Ford had directed Shirley Temple in Wee Willie Winkie years earlier and had enjoyed working with her. I'm sure he thought that he could help her make the transition to an adult actress. I'm also sure he thought she would add some box-office allure to what was an expensive picture without the insurance of a conventional, let alone happy, ending.

3. Ford closely supervised the writing of Frank Nugent's script, so I'm sure it was either Ford or Nugent.

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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Postby Scott_Eyman » May 8th, 2014, 10:20 am

Miss Goddess,

Not really. You could write a small book about Wayne's years in the B western wilderness, or a similar book about his activities as a producer with the Batjac organization. My intent was to write the book for one-stop shopping, the big-picture overview of a huge career. Like David Robinson's book on Chaplin. It doesn't preclude smaller books about various aspects of Chaplin's career - the music hall period, for instance - but it negates the need for another doorstop biography.

Oh God. Why do I write the books I write? I've thought about that long and hard. Why do I tend to write about conservatives, for instance? I think it's because my real subject is power and how it was utilized in Hollywood in the studio era, and I think that conservatives are more comfortable wielding power than liberals. Obviously,there are exceptions, but if you look at the immigrant Jews who founded the film industry, they tended to be conservative - Mayer, Zukor. Jack Warner (Harry was liberal)

Part of the distancing between Ford and Wayne was geography, part was because Wayne was increasingly uncomfortable because the only way Ford could set up a picture was to use Wayne's name. He couldn't say no directly to Ford, but he could be busy or out of reach, if you know what I mean. There's a couple of paragraphs about this in Print the Legend.

Warmth. Boldness. Freedom.

Bond was definitely a man's man. So was Ford. Wayne could play in either court, but if he had a choice he would probably choose a night out with the boys.

Wayne knew Rogers as a young actor would know an older star around the lot. Respectful, amiable, but basically two different worlds, although WAyne always gave credit to Rogers for advising him to just keep working - which is indeed valuable advice if you're going to work in the arts....or anyplace else.
I interviewed Jim Rogers at length once, but no, I've never thought about Will Rogers as a subject. I don't think it would be an easy sell for a publisher, actually.

I suspect that what people refer to about Gable was a lack of larger horizon rather than stupidity. He read the paper and the trades; I don't think he read books per se.

My dog's name is Clementine. I got her from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah,where my wife and I were volunteering two years ago. She and her littermates had been found in a cardboard box by the side of the road in the Navajo reservation and brought to Best Friends. I fell in love with her before I knew her history; once I heard her history, I had to have her. She's a great, scruffy dog, "a Disney dog," as her vet says.
Cooper died four years ago, one of the great griefs of my life. Robert Wagner and his wife Jill bought a memorial to him at Best Friends.

That quality you refer to stems from the fact that WAyne genuinely liked women and was comfortable with them, which is actually rather remarkable considering his fraught relationship with his mother and difficulties sustaining a marriage.

Thanks for your interest!

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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Postby Scott_Eyman » May 8th, 2014, 10:23 am

Mr. Regan,

I loved writing the Lubitsch book, I loved researching the Lubitsch book, especially the interviews. And I really loved watching all the Lubitsch movies. That's the great thing about artists - they leave their best selves behind in their work.

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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Postby Lzcutter » May 8th, 2014, 10:52 am

Hey Scott,

Welcome back to the Oasis! I was looking at my bookshelf yesterday and realized that I have quite a number of your books! I am so happy you are able to spend a couple of days with us.

I'm also a big fan of John Wayne's (and John Ford's). I grew up in the 1960s when liking Wayne wasn't popular (I've never agreed with his politics) but I think he is one of the most underrated actors of his generation. Too many people think he was always playing himself. I like to tell them go watch Red River, The Searchers and Liberty Valance.

1). Anyways, I was hoping you could talk a bit about Wayne and Marlene Dietrich. What was the attraction for each of them besides good looks (long running affairs are usually fueled on more than just mutual attraction and the idea that opposites attract) and why did the affair last so long?

2. One of the most written about films here at the Oasis is The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. It is a film I liken to peeling an onion. Each time we watch the film, it's like finding a new layer that when you start peeling it away deepens the story and its characters.
Ford films are often like that -with what seems like small throwaway lines or business that reveals more about the characters, especially on subsequent viewings, but Liberty Valance seems to have more of that than most Ford's films. Was it the screenwriters, Ford or the actors (or a collaboration of all) responsible for that?

3. It is an incredibly sad, elegiac film, very different from Ford's other mythologizing films. I can imagine Wayne having a harder time with this film than previous Ford films because while his character is the center of the story, the focus often is on Jimmy Stewart. How did Wayne react to the script and to the final film?

Thanks again for being here and taking the time to answer our questions!
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Postby Rita Hayworth » May 8th, 2014, 10:58 am

Scott_Eyman wrote:Hi Rita - I loved you in your pictures with Fred Astaire.

1. Merian Cooper thought Ford was a great director and he felt his job was to facilitate the making of Ford's pictures - find the money, get the actors Ford wanted, and so forth. He wasn't submissive at all, but he didn't intrude on Ford's artistic prerogatives.

2. Ford had directed Shirley Temple in Wee Willie Winkie years earlier and had enjoyed working with her. I'm sure he thought that he could help her make the transition to an adult actress. I'm also sure he thought she would add some box-office allure to what was an expensive picture without the insurance of a conventional, let alone happy, ending.

3. Ford closely supervised the writing of Frank Nugent's script, so I'm sure it was either Ford or Nugent.



For #1, I'm so happy to read this and that alone makes this partnership so great and I just wanted to thank you for sharing that with us today.

For #2, I completely forgot about that and I just wanted to thank you for sharing that and I liked the box-office allure that you pointed out here.

For #3, I was curious about this and knowing Ford on my own judgment - I think it was Ford idea all the long ... but I can go either way on this. Again, thanks for your answer Scott and I will try to come up another one later on today.

*************************************

I'm happy that you like my pictures of Fred Astaire ... appreciate the kindness that you share with me today! :)

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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Postby mongoII » May 8th, 2014, 11:05 am

Hi Scott and welcome to the Silver Screen Oasis. It's nice having you here with us.
I have a few questions regarding John Wayne.
Did he actually have a romance with the beautiful Gail Russell?
Did he provide for all his children in his will?
Did he have a favorite role?
I thank you.
Joseph Goodheart

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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Postby MissGoddess » May 8th, 2014, 11:26 am

Clementine. I always liked that name.
Thank you for your thoughtful replies. And that was a kind gesture by Mr. and Mrs. Wagner for Coop.

One of the tangential pleasures of reading your book about Wayne was learning more about Henry Hathaway, who has never emerged clearly as a man to me. His almost Jekyll/Hyde duality whether working or relaxing is fascinating to me because there is a naturalness or "ease" almost (not quite) Hawksian to his films that belies what must have been going on the set. Certainly Wayne is genial and relaxed in his films---though Hathaway got great performances out of the entire cast including and unusually shaded Wayne in THE SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS. He did the same for Fonda in TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE. It's hard to believe the same man who directed PETER IBBETSON, a most lyrical film, later directed TRUE GRIT.

Oh God. Why do I write the books I write? I've thought about that long and hard. Why do I tend to write about conservatives, for instance? I think it's because my real subject is power and how it was utilized in Hollywood in the studio era, and I think that conservatives are more comfortable wielding power than liberals. Obviously,there are exceptions, but if you look at the immigrant Jews who founded the film industry, they tended to be conservative - Mayer, Zukor. Jack Warner (Harry was liberal)


Your reply prompted me to mentally case the joint for "liberals" with power at that time. The only two I could think of besides Harry Warner were Otto Preminger and Frank Sinatra. I'm not sure how you feel about Otto or his films, somehow he doesn't seem warm enough for a pleasing subject. Sinatra, started out very "liberal" but like Ford and many WWII Democrats seemed to lean more "conservative" as he aged. The definitive book on his singing has been written (Will Friedwald's) but about the man or his films, I can't say. Hubris surrounds him as with Wayne. (hint hint)

Which leads me to ask you what drew John Wayne and Frank Sinatra together? I was surprised to learn in your book that they hung out for a while. Was it because both could empathize with having had mean mothers, unhappy last marriages, comparable career heights and fondness for booze? I imagine Frank kept his often brassy mouth in line given the profoundly unfair difference in their sizes.

Your comparison of Wayne's film persona to Sinatra's singing persona was spot on.

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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Postby movieman1957 » May 8th, 2014, 12:32 pm

Thank you so much for coming to visit.

Though westerns may have been the bread and butter of Wayne's career did he feel the need to get out of westerns just as a reminder to the public that there was more to him than being a cowboy?

When you have the good ("Hatari") and the bad ("Circus World") thrown in between westerns was it a job or trying to broaden his work? (And that is not really counting the war films. That is just a different place for being tough.)

Any westerns he was not in that he really admired?

Thanks again for your time.
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Postby Scott_Eyman » May 8th, 2014, 12:52 pm

Miss Goddess,

Sinatra and Wayne were united by being two guys on a very lonely mountain top - there were very few people on the same level they were.So they would have understood each other's pressures and problems in a way nobody else could. And they also would have shared a similar experience of not having been taken seriously as craftsmen for a very long time. Sinatra had to win an Oscar, and Wayne had to make Red River. And even then there was no shortage of scoffers.

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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Postby Scott_Eyman » May 8th, 2014, 12:58 pm

Mongo II,

I suspect nothing happened between Wayne and Russell. Under ordinary circumstances, something would have happened, but Russell was obviously a bird with a broken wing, even though the full extent of the damage would take years to ascertain. I don't think Wayne wanted to make the situation any worse. Also, he had his hands full with Chata at the time, and that was really a full-time job in itself.

The kids were all taken care of, and continue to be. The estate brings in a tidy sum every year from Wayne's profit percentages of most his post 1950 films, as well as occasional licensing deals.


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