Turner Classic Movies shines its Star of the Month spotlight on John Wayne for the month of April, with more than 50 movies starring Wayne featured in the month's programming. The special schedule begins on Monday, April 21, 2014, and continues through Friday, April 25, 2014, offering Duke fans a full five days of Wayne features.
Before he became a screen legend, Wayne was born Marion Morrison in Winterset, Iowa, in 1907. He made his first film appearances during the silent era and worked regularly throughout the 1930s, but he didn't become a major star until he played the Ringo Kid in John Ford's "Stagecoach" in 1939. Wayne starred mostly in Westerns and World War II action pictures, although he also had memorable roles in "Without Reservations" (1946), "The Quiet Man" (1952), and "Trouble Along the Way" (1953). Wayne earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for "Sands of Iwo Jima" (1949), but he would not win the award until he starred in "True Grit" (1969). By the time he died in 1979, he had more than 150 acting credits behind him, and he had become one of Hollywood's most beloved and enduring icons.
The five day schedule of John Wayne movies allows hardcore fans and newcomers alike to appreciate the actor at every stage of his long career. Here are some highlights of the programming for the April event.
On Monday, April 21, TCM opens the Wayne celebration with "The Big Trail" (1930) at 8 pm Eastern. While other early Westerns dominate the evening, Pre-Code fans can also catch Wayne in a small role in "Baby Face" (1933), which stars Barbara Stanwyck as a social climber who ruthlessly sleeps her way to the top.
More of Wayne's early Westerns fill the early hours on Tuesday, April 22, but TCM shifts into Wayne's heyday with "Stagecoach" (1939) airing at 8 pm. "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence" (1962) begins at 10 pm, followed by "Fort Apache" (1948) at 12:15 am and "The Searchers" (1956) at 2:30 am.
On Wednesday, April 23, fans can start the day with "3 Godfathers" (1948) at 6:45 am, followed by "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" (1949) at 8:45 am and "Rio Grande" (1950) at 10:45 am. The romantic classic, "The Quiet Man" (1952) airs at 12:30. The prime time hours take Wayne into the war zone with "They Were Expendable" (1945) at 8 pm and "Operation Pacific" (1951) at 10:45 pm.
The war theme continues through the morning of Thursday, April 24, including "The Flying Leathernecks" (1951) at 11:15 am and "The Sea Chase" (1955) at 1:15 pm. The action returns to Western territory in the evening with "Red River" (1948) at 8 pm and "The Spoilers" (1942) at 3:15 am.
The morning of Friday, April 25, brings a mix of Westerns, comedies, and adventures with "Tall in the Saddle" (1944) opening the day at 6:15 am. "Without Reservations" (1946) airs at 7:45 am, and "Trouble Along the Way" (1953) begins at 1:45 pm. The daytime hours wrap up with fan favorite, "Rio Bravo" (1959), at 5:15 pm. The final evening of the programming offers later Wayne films like "McLintock!" (1963) at 10:15 pm and "The Shootist" (1976) at 12:45 am.
For a full listing of the John Wayne films featured in the April lineup, visit the official TCM website. Other highlights of the month's schedule include a tribute to Alec Guinness on April 2, special programming for the TCM Classic Film Festival, and an evening of Marilyn Monroe movies on April 12.
You can learn more about John Wayne by watching the video at the top of this article, which features Scott Eyman, author of the new biography, "John Wayne: The Life and Legend." Eyman will be introducing the TCM features along with regular host Robert Osborne.
Jennifer Garlen writes as the Huntsville and National Classic Movies Examiner. Her book, "Beyond Casablanca: 100 Classic Movies Worth Watching," is available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.