John Wayne made his reputation personifying the American cowboy. But his range extended far beyond the Western, to war pictures (The Longest Day), fisticuff-filled love stories (The Quiet Man), biblical epics (The Greatest Story Ever Told), and the extremely under-populated genre of circus adventures (Circus World).
Because of Wayne’s reputation as a tough, stoic guy, it’s easy to
forget that he had — and displayed — a gift for comedy in movies such
as Without Reservations and Hatari!. Stewart Granger, Wayne’s co-star in North to Alaska, remembered having trouble with director Henry Hathaway and being encouraged by Wayne to stand up for himself.
“So I took Duke’s advice. I finally said to Hathaway…’I think
you’re a lousy director, and I think that picture you made in the
desert with Sophia Loren was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever–’”
Then Granger remembered that Wayne had also been in the film: Legend of the Lost.
Whoops! Wayne called on Granger to finish his sentence, and Granger
nervously admitted that he was about to say the film was the most
ridiculous movie he’d ever seen.
“Duke jabbed me again and said ‘That is exactly what that film was.’” Disaster averted, laughter all around.