You can’t please everyone, even demanding Hollywood stars. John Wayne was a true moneymaker in Tinseltown, and getting him on board almost certainly guaranteed success for a picture. On one occasion, though, when producers met his demands, he purportedly left them high and dry.
John Wayne was in many of the best Westerns in the first half of the 1900s. He made dozens of them, and a few are candidates for the best movies ever made. There was another film he was close to, The Dirty Dozen, that didn’t work out, but that was more on Wayne than anyone else.
In the book John Wayne: American, James S Olson and Randy Roberts outline a tepid negotiation. According to the book, Wayne was offered the role of Major Reisman in the picture by MGM and Ken Hyman. Not liking that the man was adulterous, Wayne requested that part of the script be altered. Producers met his demands, then Wayne declined outright. Ooft.
According to the book, Wayne decided to make a new movie abut the Vietnam War instead. That likely turned out to be The Green Berets, released one year after The Dirty Dozen, in 1968.
For all intents and purposes, The Green Berets went down as one of the worst movies of the decade, putting a simplistic lens over the Vietnam War and America’s presence. Ouch. Meanwhile, The Dirty Dozen is known as one of the best war movies ever, following a group of convicts who’re sent on a difficult mission ahead of the Normandy landings.
Lee Marvin took the character intended for Wayne, flanked by the likes of Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, and a young Donald Sutherland. Directed by Robert Aldrich, we can only imagine what the film would’ve looked like with Wayne, but it almost certainly couldn’t have been better.
If you like filmmaking that harkens back to another era, our guide to Yellowstone season 5 part 2 has plenty to offer. We have lists of the best thriller movies and best action movies too, if this has you in the mood for something more explosive.