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

Past chats with our guests.

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

Postby charlestranberg » May 8th, 2014, 6:09 pm

Hello Mr. Eyman, I've enjoyed your work and I thank you for the fine books you've written.

1) Did John Ford and Henry Fonda ever patch up their relationship after the fall-out on MR. ROBERTS?

2) Did John Wayne make a real effort or half-hearted attempts to join the military during WWII and did his not serving affect Ford's attitude toward's Wayne?

3) Did people really have to get a clean bill of health from Ward Bond to be able to work in films if they were accused of being communist or communist sympathizers? If so, What did Ford and Wayne think of this?

4) Politically Wayne was a rock ribbed Republican but he seemed to be able to get along with and work with people with differing opinions and even, on occasion, bucked the right wing(the most famous being his support of President Carter on the Panama Canal Treaties against such allies as Ronald Reagan)--Was Wayne less an extremist than many thought?

5) Finally, if you could pick your five favorite John Wayne films what would they be?

Thank you!

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

Postby OrcoDev » May 8th, 2014, 7:03 pm

Hello Mr. Eyman,

I don't have a question or comment regarding John Wayne, but since you've written a remarkable series of books on classic cinema and the people involved, I thought you might take interest in this. My father became friends and recorded interviews with many figures from the world of classic cinema, you can listen to excerpts from these interviews here: https://www.youtube.com/user/OrcoDevelopment

And you can learn more about how my father accomplished this here: http://www.orcodevelopment.org/

If you'd ever like to give my dad and I your thoughts on the above, feel free to send us an email that's located on our site. Thanks

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movieman1957
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Re: Welcome to Scott Eyman, Our Guest Author May 8-9

Postby movieman1957 » May 8th, 2014, 10:47 pm

I don't know whether this gets into your history on Wayne but how did he like being a producer with setting up Batjac? Could you shed any light on why "The High and The Mighty" and "Island In The Sky" were hung up with rights issues for so long?
Chris

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

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

Postby Scott_Eyman » May 9th, 2014, 7:43 am

Mr. Tranberg,

1. There was a breach between Ford and Fonda after Ford sucker punched him. Why not? Fonda would talk politely about Ford's great gifts as a director, or get up and say a few nice words at a testimonial, but he was, in modern parlance, over it. He told Charlton Heston at Ford's AFI Award that Ford "Was a mean son of a b****."

2. Wayne applied to the OSS in 1943, went to WAshington to interview with Wild Bill Donovan.Donovan turned him down because he didn't see that WAyne had any applicable gifts for the OSS. Now, Wayne could have downshifted and gone into any other branch of the service, but he didn't. I think he had a romantic idea of serving under Pappy Ford, whose unit was supervised by Donovan, and if he couldn't do that, he didn't want to do anything else.
I think, but I'm not sure. Wayne gave several conflicting explanations over the years. It's also possible that career considerations came into play.

3. Bond served as a sort of unofficial vetter of loyalty for HUAC. Incomprehensible, but true.

4. Wayne was generally for the most conservative candidate. In 1952, he wanted Robert Taft to get the Republican nomination, but it went to Eisenhower, who he grudgingly supported. He loved Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, although he held conservatives to the same standards as he held liberals. There's a funny letter in the book where he calls Reagan a "goddamn liar." He was always perfectly willlng to suspend his political beliefs if he really liked you - Orson Welles, for instance, who was a hard core New Deal liberal. Welles and Wayne liked each other a great deal.

5. Red River, The Searchers, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Shootist, Fort Apache. That's this morning's list. It might be different this afternoon.

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

Postby Scott_Eyman » May 9th, 2014, 7:49 am

Movieman,

Wayne wanted to be a compleat movie man. He set up Wayne-Fellows, later Batjac, as a complete mini studio. They had their own casting director, their own story editor, their own art director and so forth. He liked it a great deal, although Warners, the master of double entry bookkeeping, undoubtedly shafted the company on money. Still, it was a profitable operation until The Alamo, and it was a profitable operation after The Alamo. And they made some good films without Wayne, like Seven Men from Now.
Later, in the 60s and 70s, Batjac became a service operation to make the bread and butter John Wayne pictures because it was just too hard to make money with movies starring other people. (Batjac had lost a lot of money on a couple of Victor Mature pictures...) But he was very proud of the company, and their reputation in the business for being financially responsible.

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

Postby Scott_Eyman » May 9th, 2014, 7:52 am

Movieman,

Oh, the rights issues. Batjac's deal with Warners was that films that hit a certain level of profit would revert back to BAtjac after 7 years of release, which is why The High and the Mighty and Island in the Sky and Seven Men from Now and Hondo among others, were off the market for so long - Batjac owned them and held onto them to increase their re-issue value. Other Batjac pictures like Blood Alley were owned by Warners because they hadn't made enough money, and Warners simply kept them in permanent circulation.

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

Postby Scott_Eyman » May 9th, 2014, 8:07 am

Miss Goddess,

Wayne and Cooper were friendly - Wayne always referred to him as "Coop" - but I don't think they hung around together. Cooper was very social around Beverly Hills and Holmby Hills, and Wayne was in Encino, then Newport Beach.

Ford was close-mouthed about other directors.There's a letter to Bill Wellman in the Ford papers where he makes slighting remarks about the new directors of the 40s like "Piss-ton Sturges" and such, but I can't recall any private comments about Welles. It's possible that he was like Chaplin and had a lordly indifference to what other directors were doing. I know he liked Wellman's pictures and Hawks' pictures; he might have had a generational bias. Probably did, now that I think of it.

I enjoy the DVD commentaries although they're a lot of work. But there aren't a lot of them being done anymore, really, except for Criterion, and sometimes not even them. It's a question of diminishing opportunities. A year or two ago I was asked to do a commentary for Fort Apache with about a week's notice. I said No.

Re Robert Montgomery: I had a dear friend in Palm Beach named Herbert Swope Jr., who directed years of Robert Montgomery Presents on TV in the '50s. He respected Montgomery a great deal, but he didn't like him much because he affected the manner of a chilly patrician. Ironic, because although Montgomery usually played upper class characters, he was actually middle class. A couple ofHollywood people basically told me the same thing about Montgomery that Swope did.

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

Postby Scott_Eyman » May 9th, 2014, 8:16 am

LZCutter,

I think the Wayne /Dietrich thing was based largely on sex. He'd never been involved with a woman with her level of erotic experience, and I'm sure it turned him every which way but loose. On her end, he was entirely different from the men she was usually entangled with - Sternberg, Remarque, etc. Far more intellectually based, and far more insular than Wayne.
And she had the considerable advantage of being married with no intention of ever getting a divorce, so Wayne didn't have to worry about her falling in love with him.

feaito

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

Postby feaito » May 9th, 2014, 8:34 am

Scott,

Welcome to the Oasis.

I have been reading very avidly all the interesting questions of our members and your straight-to-the-point-answers and I have reveled in it. So, thank you very much for all the information you have shared with us.

I especially wanted to thank you for sheding some light about the WWII controversy. I did not have any idea about all that until I read some very tough exchanges during this week, on a Fbook Pre-Code Site I belong, where one of the members posted a picture of Wayne in "The Big Trail" which brought many replies and exchanges, and one of the lines of discussion went to that direction, ending with the guy who vehemently criticized and attacked Wayne's lack of participation during WWII,being banned from the group. I was amazed at the hatred and rancor which he displayed.

John Wayne has starred in my two currently favorite Westerns: "The Searchers" (1956), which has been a favorite since a was a kid and Walsh's "The Big Trail" (1930), a film I discovered during the last decade and whose merits and qualities I think have been vastly overlooked. The Grandeur version is amazing and it must be one of the most realistic pictures depicting events related to the emigration of people towards the West that I have ever seen. Besides John Wayne and Marguerite Churchill make one of the most appealing couples I have seen on film.

I want to congratulate you for your excellent Bio on Louis B. Mayer and also for the SUPERB "The Speed of Sound", one of my favorite books. Your book on Lubitsch and on Wayne are both on my Wish List.

I have a rather superficial question about Wayne. From what I have read about his love life and wives, do you know why he had a tendency to marry women of Spanish descent? I live in Chile, South America and being mainly of Spanish descent I am curious about that.

Thank you.

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

Postby Scott_Eyman » May 9th, 2014, 9:17 am

Hi Feito,

Wayne's idea of heaven was a trip to Mexico or South America. He liked the food, the language - which he spoke quite well - the tequila and the culture. I imagine he simply transferred his affection for the area to its women - a simple case of affinities. Unfortunately, the marriages all failed, so the affinities weren't so simple after all.

And thank you very much for your generous words about my other books.

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

Postby MissGoddess » May 9th, 2014, 10:15 am

Mr. E,
Regarding James E. Grant, would you conclude he had contributed more to Wayne's career than he gleaned from the association? His name pops up quite a bit in Wayne's life story but I wonder if in hindsight his "career" was less that of a writer than a coat-tail rider.

His verbal style is recognizable, at least when Wayne is speaking his dialogue but what else? Was he good at structure, plot---in short as one writer opining about another, was he any good? I was surprised Ford brought him in on any of his movies---was that purely to appease Wayne?

I don't know what to think myself because I genuinely like Angel and the Bad Man and Hondo. :D

****
I'm very impressed at Wayne's public handling of his cancer(s). He may not have "served" in any public war but he did go to battle twice with a foe that is a heck of a lot more insidious and potentially dignity-robbing than any man-to-man combat. Thank you for how you wrote about this part of his life---showing his dignity. You made no mention of The Conqueror speculations...is that because you regard it all as mostly unsupported speculation?


I also appreciate your oft noted remarks on Wayne's touching absence of awareness of his own powerful screen presence. John Wayne filmed with his back turned to the camera could express more than a hundred other actors emoting all of the Stanislavsky exercises.

****
About you: Since you are such a voracious reader in the course of your role as book reviewer---do you ever hanker to write about something completely unrelated to movies or entertainment? Can you now, like Ford, do a "personal project" after having put out some block busters? Or does the literary field not work like that? :D Perhaps they are all personal projects; I guess with a good writer they ought to be. Thanks for being with us. Hope it won't be the last time, and may the road be kind to you!
"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 CineMaven » May 9th, 2014, 10:21 am

Welcome to the Oasis Mr. Eyman. As usual, many of my cronies here at the Oasis have been so eloquent in their questions to you, it reminds me how much I enjoy and miss their writing. I’ve been evolving in my feelings for John Wayne as an actor and film presence. ( Slow, I know but I’m a Capricorn and we old goats move up the mountain slow and steady...but we get there. )

Something really clicked for me when I finally saw “THE QUIET MAN” at TCM’s Film Festival last month. I skeptically, dutifully and as a favor to a friend, went to see it. I pretty much came out the screening transfixed and transformed at the world Ford created. I also came out thinking how romantic a figure John Wayne was in this movie.

My question ( ha! finally :roll: ): would you speak just a little about Wayne’s feelings for Maureen O’Hara? ( I saw her at the festival as well. ) See, I’m going through my mental Rolodex of John Wayne opposite Ella Raines and Donna Reed and Coleen Gray and ( the poignant ) Gail Russell, and Claire Trevor; I’m thinking as I seriously start to explore his movies, I want to focus more on his romantic portrayals opposite these leading ladies and others. Yes Gable and Cooper and Grant and McCrea are a piece of cake to picture romantically. But John Wayne's got something too! I was very struck and emotional seeing “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” a couple of years ago, and his giving up Vera Miles. Or him dropping to his knees at the burned cabin in “The Searchers.” I’m also remembering how great he was opposite Paulette Goddard in “Reap the Wild Wind.”

Yes he’s a big strong man and will be a caveman if that’s a lady’s preference. But I see he can be crushed by a woman as well. If you have a moment, would you speak briefly of your take on his Romantic Side in films...and anything you might wish to add specifically re: his feelings for Maureen O’Hara. Thanxx so much.
"You build my gallows high, baby."

http://www.megramsey.com

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

Postby Scott_Eyman » May 9th, 2014, 12:25 pm

Hi Cinemaven,

Welcome to the large roster of fans of The Quiet Man.
Wayne adored O"Hara, plain and simple. They shared a clear view of life and of acting - get up and get on with it. Or, as the Brits say, keep calm and carry on.
I think Wayne is a very romantic actor, more in his early and middle phases than later on, when he became increasingly embarassed about a man his age playing love scenes. (That same embarassment drove Cary Grant right out of the movie business.) The right woman brings out a gentle quality; even his voice changes. I think Angie Dickinson put it best when she told me, "He was not a man you fell into bed with. He was a man you fell in love with."
Of course, Dietrich would have disagreed with her...
Check out Without Reservations with Claudette Colbert, and I think you'll see what I mean.

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

Postby Scott_Eyman » May 9th, 2014, 12:38 pm

Miss Goddess,

I think Jimmy Grant was a good writer who probably could have been a better writer if he hadn't spent so much of his life drunk, not to mention tied to Wayne's apron strings. For instance, his last script was for the James Garner "Support Your Local Sheriff" which is a low-key delight.
But he went for the sure thing and became an in-house rewrite man for Wayne. Which is not unusual; many movie stars have writers they depend on to polish their scripts.For years, Sean Connery kept John Milius employed for uncredited rewrites.
I think Hondo is an excellent script, and an excellent movie, except for the ending, which isn't really there because Grant was too drunk to write it. The Alamo...well, let's just say that it's not Grant's finest work and let it go at that.

Regarding The Conqueror...who knows. Wayne smoked four packs a day of unfiltered Camels for nearly 40 years, which seems to me to be more likely to be the cause of his cancer than a few weeks spent in Utah shooting locations for a movie. But its one of those urban legends of the movies that won't die - like John Gilbert's high-pitched voice - largely spread by people who don't know anything about the movies.

Funny you should ask. My agent keeps nudging me to write something besides movies. "You're too good to limit yourself that way," he says. He's even suggested a few topics. I don't know. He might be talking economics, while I'm talking passion.
Stay tuned.

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

Postby kingrat » May 9th, 2014, 1:24 pm

Scott,

Thanks so much for chatting with us. This has been so informative and so much fun.

What did John Wayne think about Reap the Wild Wind, and did he enjoy working with Paulette Goddard and Ray Milland? I enjoy this variation of GWTW quite a bit.

In his new book Five Came Back, Mark Harris mentions that Wayne was classified 3-A when the war began because he had several dependents. Apparently Wayne was later reclassified 1-A.

You mentioned Herbert Swope Jr. I always enjoyed the work of his daughter, Tracy Brooks Swope, when she was on a soap in the early 70s and thought she was going to be a big star. (Well, she should have been!)

Thanks,

David


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