An Overview Of John Wayne Black And White Movies

John Wayne is one of the most representative actors of the wild west genre of movies, and with good reason. Born Marion Robert Morrison on May 26, 1907 in Winterset, Iowa, John Wayne is one of the most emblematic actors of the 20th century, and played some of the most important roles in the story of Western movies. While most of his movies were fiction, he also did some roles based on true stories and played a wide variety of roles ranging from cowboys to soldiers.

The first movie commonly attributed to John Wayne, even if he appears on the credits as Duke Morrison, another one of his acting names, is Words and Music, shot in 1929. This one was actually a musical romantic comedy with plenty of singing and dancing, and the first where he is actually credited for his role. Nothing could be more far away from the wild west movies he is better known for!

Moving on, in 1930 he was cast on his first starring role in The Big Trail, by director Raoul Walsh. This was also the first time his screen name John Wayne (based on the name of a revolutionary war general called “Mad Anthony” Wayne) was used. This wasn’t a very successful film, which means he was relegated to low profile roles for almost a decade until he got his breakthrough with “Stagecoach” in 1939. In 1933 he had one of the first singing cowboy roles, playing as Singin’ Sandy Saunders on the film Riders of Destiny.

Stagecoach, released in 1939, was Wayne’s breakthrough as a famous star on the film industry, specially relevant after his time doing low budget westerns. It was not an easy task: The film was rejected by all major studios, until John Ford managed to strike a deal with Walter Wanger, an independent producer, and got Claire Trevor to act as lead actress. She would work with Wayne many more times later on, on some of the most well remembered performances including The High and the Mighty which got her an Oscar nomination. Despite those initial problems, the film was a success among the critics and the public, and John Wayne became a movie star.

But the era of black and white was coming to an end, and colour films were becoming popular. In 1941 Wayne starred his first colour film, Shepherd of the Hills, alongside Harry Carey, the first of a long career that spanned over 150 films and almost half a century.

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