The John Wayne Film Collection
Allegheny Uprising (1939) - is an average action adventure drama which foretells the kind of conflicts that would lead to the Revolutionary War some years later. Set in 1759 Pennsylvania, James Smith (John Wayne) leads a band of rebels from the Conococheague Valley to stop some enterprising businessmen (Brian Donlevy and Ian Wolfe) from trading with the Indians. But the traders are smart, they manipulate the British Captain (George Sanders), who's assigned to protect the citizens, in order to sneak their goods through the valley. They're caught by Smith and his men - dressed up as Indians - who destroy the cargo. Later, Smith leads a siege on Fort Loudoun to prove to the stubborn Captain that the traders under his protection have illegal contraband, but the action only serves to infuriate the British officer. When Smith is captured and charged with the murder of his best friend (Moroni Olsen) by the trader (Donlevy) who did the killing, Captain Swanson (Sanders) is apt to convict him. Though adequately defended by the local magistrate (Robert Barrat), Smith's trial is interrupted by General Gage (Olaf Hytten), who arrives to arrest the traders after receiving evidence of the illegal cargo in Philadelphia (transported by Chill Wills's character). William A. Seiter directed the screenplay written by producer P.J. Wolfson, from a story by Neil H. Swanson. Claire Trevor plays the love struck (by Smith) daughter of Smith's rebel yelling Irish innkeeper friend (Wilfrid Lawson), providing comic relief. John F. Hamilton plays The Professor. Charles Middleton appears uncredited as the surgeon who helps Smith recover from a bullet wound (after he's shot in the back).
Reunion in France (1942) - not really a John Wayne movie, this Joan Crawford wartime romance drama opens in Paris just prior to Nazi Germany's invasion of France. After easily crossing the Maginot Line, the Nazis conquered and then occupied the country. Crawford plays a wealthy Parisian beauty whose fiancé is a well-connected, highly successful industrialist played by Philip Dorn. The invasion takes place while Michelle (Crawford) is vacationing unawares and largely unconcerned, at least initially, on a beach in the South of France. But she grows up fast during her return to Paris and is shocked to learn that Robert (Dorn) is an opportunist; he's been helping the Nazis by designing warplanes, and the trucks that have been used to loot the Louvre of their country's art treasures. She all but breaks their engagement by refusing to accept a place in the city's new high society, which includes the wives of German officers (including Natalie Schafer from TV's Gilligan's Island fame) who are ravenous about its fashions, and instead accepts a job working for a famous designer (Odette Myrtil). After leaving work one evening, she comes across an injured American bomber pilot (Wayne) who'd been flying with the British RAF; this begins a complicated subplot involving Gestapo agents (Howard Da Silva then Reginald Owen) who tail her, hoping to capture the flier while she tries to facilitate his escape. Joseph L. Mankiewicz (The Philadelphia Story (1940)) produced and Jules Dassin directed the screenplay written by Jan Lustig, Marvin Borowsky, and Marc Connelly (Captains Courageous (1937)) from a story by Ladislas Bus-Fekete aka Leslie Bush-Fekete. Albert Bassermann, John Carradine, and Henry Daniell also appear.
Tycoon (1947) - there's a reason why RKO's biggest budget ($3+ million) movie was a colossal bust (it lost more than a million dollars), actually there were several: the storyline is just plain stupid, the characters are barely one dimensional, the casting was terrible & the acting is worse, it's too long, and it has to be the ugliest Technicolor production I've ever seen. Other than that, it's a romance adventure drama with John Wayne, Laraine Day, Cedric Hardwicke, Judith Anderson, James Gleason, and Anthony Quinn (among others). Directed by Richard Wallace, it features a screenplay by Borden Chase and John Twist that was based on a C.E. Scoggins novel. Wayne plays Johnny Munroe, an engineer from Brooklyn that's hired to blast a tunnel through the Andes Mountains for a railroad by a South American tycoon named Alexander (Hardwicke!). Munroe's partner Pop (Gleason, naturally) has just about secured permission for some additional funding to build a concrete liner to keep the mountain from collapsing on the workers (& future trains) when Johnny makes the mistake of courting the tycoon's daughter Maura (Day!). With encouragement from her longtime nanny (Anderson), Maura decides to defy her father by going to see Johnny. Cliché alert - his car runs out of gas, then the two lovebirds get lost in the woods; when Alexander catches up with them, after the sun had gone down, a shotgun wedding is the only solution (per custom). The tycoon then deliberately slows the shipment of needed supplies to the tunnel builders and it doesn't take long before his daughter learns what a hot-headed self-centered workaholic she's married. After Maura returns to her father and one of his coworker friends is killed in a tunnel collapse, Munroe blows up the rest of it and becomes a maniacal slavedriver bent on building an inadequate substitute bridge in record time by cutting corners. Quinn plays a local engineer whose professional opinion is tied to his emotional center.
Big Jim McLain (1952) - a curio if there ever was one, a flag waving propaganda film starring John Wayne, who co-produced it with Robert Fellows, that's a curious mix of drama, humor, and romance. The story is about a couple of House Un-American Activities Committee agents who go to Hawaii in hopes of uncovering a communist cell located there. Wayne (in the title role) and James Arness play the agents, and Nancy Olson plays a love interest for Wayne. Alan Napier plays the chief villain. Veda Ann Borg and Hans Conried provide comic relief: she as a working class gal that runs a boarding house where one of the suspects used to live - she likes her drink, and Wayne whom she dubs 76 (per his inches in height) - and he as an eccentric mental patient who's too harmless for the Honolulu Chief of Police (Dan Liu as himself) to lock up. See uncommercialized Hawaiian locales like the sunken U.S.S. Arizona before it had the Memorial building placed upon it. See John Wayne punch the commie bad guys, and then be frustrated when they take their Fifth Amendment right to avoid answering the question - "Are you, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?". Directed by Edward Ludwig, it was written by James Edward Grant, Richard English, and Eric Taylor. Wayne (and someone who sounds a lot like Harry Morgan) also narrates.
Trouble Along the Way (1953) - John Wayne in a romantic comedy? Not really, even though the DVD case seems to bill this one that way. Michael Curtiz directed this sports comedy drama about a Catholic college that's $170,000 in the hole and in danger of being closed such that its venerable Father Burke (Charles Coburn) decides to hire formerly big time football coach Steve Williams (Wayne) to turn its football program into a revenue generating enterprise. Based on a story by Robert Hardy Andrews and Douglas Morrow (The Stratton Story (1949)), the screenplay was written by Jack Rose and the film's producer Melville Shavelson. The Father learns first hand why Steve is available - he'd been banned by two major conferences - when St. Anthony's "freshman" team whips Santa Clara in their very first game. Donna Reed gives the movie its romantic angle. She plays children's court officer Alice Singleton, an "old" maid who's concerned about the welfare of divorced dad Steve's daughter Carole (Sherry Jackson), an eleven year old whom he's raised by himself since she was six years old. Carole is a streetwise youngster who knows her way around a pool hall. Alice comes to learn that the complaint for visitation filed by Anne (Marie Windsor), Carole's mother/Steve's first wife who'd remarried Harold McCormick (Tom Helmore), is just her way to get back at her former husband, and that her interest in Carole is minimal. Several recognizable faces appear in supporting roles: Tom Tully, Leif Erickson, Douglas Spencer, Lester Matthews (as members of the clergy) and Chuck Connors as an assistant football coach. Frank Ferguson appears uncredited as a store proprietor.