John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth

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Overview

"John Wayne's popularity with audiences has confounded film critics for decades. Even years after his death, he has been ranked by the public among the top ten stars in Hollywood. Unable to dispute his box office success, detractors have focused on his right-wing politics and the fact that - despite starring in gung-ho war films - he didn't sign up for military service in World War II." "Now, in John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth, Michael Munn takes on the critics. Drawing on time spent with Wayne on the set of Brannigan - and almost one hundred ...
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John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth

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Overview

"John Wayne's popularity with audiences has confounded film critics for decades. Even years after his death, he has been ranked by the public among the top ten stars in Hollywood. Unable to dispute his box office success, detractors have focused on his right-wing politics and the fact that - despite starring in gung-ho war films - he didn't sign up for military service in World War II." "Now, in John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth, Michael Munn takes on the critics. Drawing on time spent with Wayne on the set of Brannigan - and almost one hundred interviews with those who knew him - he provides a rare look at the actor's film roles through unforgettable, behind-the-scenes anecdotes that will delight admirers and fascinate a new generation of fans. Munn sets the record straight on director John Ford's contribution to Wayne's career, reveals the truth about why the actor was unable to enlist, and debunks other myths surrounding a life that needs no embellishment. He details the megastar's highs and lows, three failed marriages - and two desperate battles with cancer." But the most stunning revelation is the first-ever public disclosure of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin's plot to have Wayne assassinated because of his aggressive - and potentially influential - anti-Communist views. In these pages, Munn proves that - while facing attempts on his life that were kept secret even from his family - the man he calls "the absolute all-time movie star" was as much a hero in real life as he ever was on-screen.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
According to this congenial biography by film journalist Munn, movie legend Wayne (1907-1979) was a hard worker who held tight to his beliefs and what he thought he should show on screen. Wayne's career did have its share of controversy (although he starred in cutthroat war films, Wayne didn't sign up for military service in WWII; he rejected communism, which made him the object of Stalinist threats; and the actor's given name is still debated), and Munn deftly addresses those hullabaloos while providing an overview of the actor's accomplishments. After playing football at USC, Wayne worked as a studio prop man, coming into early contact with director John Ford, who would direct Wayne in some of his most memorable performances, including 1952's The Quiet Man. Throughout their association, Ford treated Wayne erratically, disparaging his talents and lashing out at him for accepting a lead role from rival director Raoul Walsh (The Big Trail, 1930). Yet Ford and Wayne collaborated on 1939's Stagecoach, which gave birth to the serious western and the Ford-Wayne movie subgenre. Other highlights include Wayne's emergence as a heavy in 1948's Red River and his ferocious performance in 1956's The Searchers. Munn portrays the actor in his personal life as a man's man, who sustained friendships with tough cohorts like stuntman Yakima Canutt but failed in romance. Although the book takes an odd turn toward the end, when Munn links Wayne's patriotism and heroic persona to the heroic actions after September 11, overall, it's a fine tribute. (Mar. 2) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Twenty-five years after his death, John Wayne still holds the public's attention. Many continue to see him as a man's man, as staunch an American patriot as he portrayed in many films (e.g., Sand of Iwo Jima; The Alamo). Other biographies of Wayne have been published recently (e.g., Ronald Davis's Duke), but Munn claims that his stands out owing to his friendship with Wayne in the 1970s, which gave him access to many of Wayne's friends and colleagues. Munn, a British writer with 18 books under his belt, including biographies of Charlton Heston and Frank Sinatra, here outlines Wayne's life and career, but the book's raison d'Etre is to "put the record straight in response to attempts to blight [Wayne's] reputation" as an aggressive anti-Communist. Munn's big revelation is that Russian agents attempted to assassinate Wayne. Though this is an entertaining read, with many seemingly new details, the book suffers from Munn's having interviewed all his sources in the 1970s; now, many of them are dead, and there is no one to corroborate some of his claims, especially the dialog that embellishes the stories. Much of it seems far-fetched, but who knows? Truth is often stranger than fiction. Recommended for public libraries that serve celebrity gossip-heads.-Rosellen Brewer, Monterey Cty. Free Libs., Salinas, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451212443
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/2/2004
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Munn has written 18 previous books, including biographies of Frank Sinatra, Charlton Heston, Gregory Peck, Gene Hackman, and Sharon Stone.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 22 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 21, 2014

    An Honest Portrayal

    I have loved John Wayne movies since I started watching them with my Dad (now 87) as a little girl. This book gave me an honest and thorough portrayal of this amazing man. I loved the behind the scenes information about my favorite movies. At the same time the author pulled no punches as he described Mr. Wayne's personality and the reasons behind The Duke's decisions. It is a fascinating look at the era the Duke's life spanned. If you love John Wayne like I do, this is a must read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2014

    Highly recommended

    I enjoyed this book very much. And learned new things about John Wayne I never knew before.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2013

    Rachel

    *leaves*

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2013

    Nightwing

    Types on the computer

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2012

    Im 13 and i love jw

    Well jw s real name is michle roburt morrison

    0 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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