"John Wayne Finds Football Training Big Help in Films."
Source: The Laredo Times, March 26, 1933.
The most interesting thing about this unsigned feature is timing. Mostly consisting of optimistic quotes from Wayne, John Wayne is a failure at the time this article was published. In fact, his failure is the centerpiece of the article with Wayne referring to "getting over the disappointment of The Big Trail," and, almost hilariously in retrospect, going on about his big successful comeback in what we think of today as the B movie wasteland portion of his career.
This is John Wayne even before those curious brief bits in mainstream pre-Code classics such as The Life of Jimmy Dolan or Baby Face (both 1933). The comeback Wayne is celebrating comes with the release of Haunted Gold (1932), his fourth in a series of Leon Schlesinger produced "Four Star Westerns" for Warner Brothers.
With rosy tone Wayne is quoted as saying, "I did a couple of serials. Then an offer from Columbia came along for a feature, and that looked good. Then I was lucky enough to get a break with George Bancroft in Lady and Gent. And finally Leon Schlesinger decided I was a likely candidate for the number-one spot in his new series."
The Columbia feature references Men Are Like That, better known today as Arizona (1931), which was recently included on TCM's Columbia Picture Pre-Code Collection. Lady and Gent (1932) featured Wayne as a rival boxer to star Bancroft. (Incidentally, Bancroft is later Curley in Stagecoach, the Marshall trying to bring Duke's Ringo Kid to justice.) The work in the Warner Brothers Westerns for Schlesinger complemented Poverty Row work for Mascot and at least earned John Wayne a living.
After referring to the failure of The Big Trail Wayne said he got used to hearing himself described as a flash in the pan and from there "made up my mind that what was true of football was true of pictures, so I started 'playing football.'"
Wayne's idea of playing football was based upon the idea that "No matter how much you may seem to be losing ground, no matter how often you lose the ball, you play just as hard--maybe harder--than if you were making first down with every play. And every time you get the ball into your hands, there's a chance you may break through for a length-of-the-field run--and a touchdown."
It'd take a few more years but there can be no doubt that not only did John Wayne score, he built a career that resembles a sports dynasty. Enjoy the movies.
[…] Cliff from Immortal Ephemera on John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939): https://immortalephemera.com/21125/stagecoach-1939-john-ford/#https://immortalephemera.com/21125/stagecoach-1939-john-ford/ and an interesting press clipping from early in The Duke’s career https://immortalephemera.com/21187/august-1-john-wayne-tcm-summer-under-the-stars/ […]
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