Tag Archives: Carter Country

John Wayne’s Worst

3 Mar

The other day, there was an interesting comment on one of my posts. Andrew Petcher, who has a great blog, asked my opinion about John Wayne movies. Simply, which is the best, and which is the worst? I have given this question some thought and come to a conclusion

It is easier to pick the worst because there are a bunch of great ones. With that in mind, this post is about the movie that I think is John Wayne’s worst.

Of course, there have to be some rules. First, I must have seen the movie. After all, I have not seen all of the Duke’s films, and there must be some clunkers that I have missed (stuff like B Movies and The Conqueror). Second, John Wayne needs to make more than a cameo appearance (stuff like How the West Was Won and The Greatest Story Ever Told).

Now that the rules have been established, I am going to get to the point. In my opinion, the worst to star John Wayne is Rio Lobo, which was released in 1970. This could be your favorite movie, and you might be asking why. Well, the reasons are as follows.Rio Lobo

1. It is like one person wanted to make a Civil War movie and another person wanted to make a Western. Instead of making a decision, they decided to mash both together.

As a historian of the American West, I know that people went westward after the Civil War. However, this movie jars the viewer with a sudden transition. In one scene, John Wayne is a cavalry officer. In the next, he is his old gunslinging self.

2. It is the third time this script is filmed, and it is the worst of the bunch. There is no way that it compares to Rio Bravo and El Dorado. The third time is not the charm when you are telling the same story. Oh yeah, the story. It goes like this.

The bad guy is trying to control all of the land around the town.

The bad guy, or someone related to the bad guy, gets arrested.

The good guys realize that they have to barricade themselves in the jail until help arrives.

One of the good guys gets captured.

There is a prisoner swap, which will give the bad guy freedom to do what he wants.

During the final showdown, something surprising happens to give the good guys the advantage.

There is a sidekick who provides comic relief.

The is also a drunk on the side of the good guys.

On the side of the good guys is a young man with a cool name. In Rio Bravo and El Dorado, they are, respectively, Colorado and Mississippi. In Rio Lobo, they skip the states and go with Tuscarora.

I could go on, but you get the point.

3. The supporting cast leaves a lot to be desired. Although, I am probably being unfair in this point because the actors took later roles that hinder my judgement.

The big bad guy is played by Victor French. Honestly, I cannot get out of my mind that he is Chief Roy Mobey on Carter Country. “Handle it! Handle it!”Carter Country

The crooked sheriff is played by Mike Henry, who would go on to play Junior in Smokey and the Bandit. “Put the evidence in the car!”Junior

Heck, Jack Elam, who played the crazy old drunk guy, was not even a good choice. He was ten years younger than John Wayne.

Luckily, this is not a movie where John Wayne, like in the first two, ends up with a girl who is too young for him. Instead of falling in love with him, they tell him that he is comfortable. However, there is an interesting story about one of the young actresses in Rio Lobo.

Sherry Lansing plays Amelita, who has her face slashed by the sheriff. In the final scene, she kills him. Yep, she shot Junior.Amelita

However, that is not the interesting part. In later years, she became the first woman to head a Hollywood Studio.

Anyway, these are a few of the reasons why I think Rio Lobo is John Wayne’s worst movie. Now, I have a question for all of the fans of the Duke. What do you think is his worst movie? Of course, you might be such a fan that you do not think any of them are bad.

Hilton Head – Driving Down the Musical Highway

23 Oct

We got a late start on our trip to Hilton Head because I had a midday meeting. This meant that we would be driving through the late afternoon and into the night. On top of that, we had to hit five different interstates to get there.

Whenever I am on a long drive, my mind starts to entertain itself. This means that useless trivia moves from the back of my brain and dominates my mind. It is a good way to stay awake and a good way to go crazy. On this drive, music was the category of choice, and it all started as we made our way over Monteagle.

For those who do not know, Monteagle is a ridge that has to be crossed just north of Chattanooga. The grade is steep and trucks have a hard time making their way up one side and down the other. Each time I drive over Monteagle, I think about the opening song of Smokey and the Bandit and start singing it under my breath.

In case you do not remember the opening to one of the greatest movies in cinema history, the song recounts how the Bandit became famous in the truck driving world. I wrote an entire post about it, but, simply, it talks about how he lost control of his rig on Monteagle. With heroic driving skills, he was able to make it to the bottom.

(Brief Interlude: While writing that post, I looked up the lyrics of the song. All of the sites had him crossing something called Montvale. It is not Montvale. One of my life’s goals is to get those lyrics corrected and give Monteagle is rightful place in Smokey and the Bandit history.)

Of course, driving through Chattanooga brought to mind “Chattanooga Choo Choo”, but the route through north Georgia made my mind go musically dead. Atlanta played a big role in that. It does not matter what time you drive through Atlanta. The traffic is always bad, and your focus needs to be on the road. However, I still heard Ronnie Van Zant telling Billy Powell to “play it pretty for Atlanta.”

Eventually, we made our way to Macon and hit a desolate stretch of road toward Savannah. It was getting later. It was getting darker. That is when I saw a sign for Statesboro, Georgia, the subject of “Statesboro Blues” by the Allman Brothers. That meant that the next several miles were filled with an internal soundtrack of their tunes.

After several days in Hilton Head, which I will write about in the next post, we retraced our journey. This time, the excitement of a vacation was behind us, and we were making that long, tired drive toward home. That does not mean that the musical journey was over. As the miles passed, I tried to think of songs that have Georgia in their titles.Georgia

I ended up with the following.

“Sweet Georgia Brown” (I can see Curly Neal dribbling around Meadowlark Lemon.)

“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (Charlie D. lives not too far down the road.)

“The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” (Yep, Vicki Lawrence can sing, too.)

“Midnight Train to Georgia” (The Pips make this song stand out.)

“Rainy Night in Georgia” (The Tony Joe White version is the best.)

“Georgia on My Mind” (It is hard to beat Ray Charles.)

“Marching Through Georgia” (I only know this one because it was mentioned in a John Wayne movie.)

“Walkin’ Back to Georgia” (One of Jim Croce’s lesser known songs.)

Before I knew it, we were back at Monteagle, but it was not before I thought of something else. Does anyone remember a television show called Carter Country?