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Scott Eyman interviewed Wayne, as well as many family members, and he has drawn on previously unpublished reminiscences from friends and associates of the Duke in this biography, as well as documents from his production company that shed light on Wayne's business affairs. He traces Wayne from his childhood to his stardom in "Stagecoach" and dozens of films after that. Eyman perceptively analyzes Wayne's relationship with John Ford, the director with whom he's most associated and who made some of Wayne's greatest films, among them "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," "The Quiet Man," and "The Searchers." His evaluation of Wayne himself is shrewd: a skilled actor who was reluctant to step outside his comfort zone. Wayne was self-aware; he once said, "I've played the kind of man I'd like to have been." It's that man and the real John Wayne who are brilliantly profiled in Scott Eyman's insightful biography of a true American legend.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-02-10
- Reviewer: Staff
Still larger than life years after his death, John Wayne elevated the western to a new level and created a legendary screen persona defined by honesty, courage, and character. Drawing deeply on interviews with family and friends, acclaimed biographer Eyman (Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford) colorfully chronicles Wayne’s life and work from his birth in Winterset, Iowa—where Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison in 1907—and his childhood and youth in Glendale, Calif., to his college days at USC, where he was a football standout until an injury sidelined him, and his slow rise to stardom, his marriages, and his enduring screen presence. According to Eyman, Wayne’s role in Ford’s Stagecoach launched his career, for though he had already appeared in 80 movies, Wayne “leaps off the screen” and Ford is telling us that “this man warrants our attention in a way that transcends the immediate narrative of the movie.” In this compulsively readable biography, Eyman examines closely Wayne’s major films, from The Searchers and The Shootist to Sands of Iwo Jima and True Grit to depict the actor who “came to symbolize the American man throughout the world, whether he was wearing a soldier suit or a cowboy hat.” (Apr.)