"Well son, since you haven't learned to respect your elders, it's time you learned to respect your betters."
It just doesn't get better than that. Duke would have turned 100 this weekend. That and the fact that it's nearly thirty years since he died is just wild. It just doesn't seem possible does it?
I'm not sure at what age I became a John Wayne fan, but surely it had to be when I was just a wee one. I grew up with the Duke, thanks to dad of course. In fact, "pilgrim" is still an integral part of my vocabulary. Every time I think of John Wayne's walk, I don't actually think of John Wayne, I think of Robin Williams attempting to imitate John Wayne's walk to show Nathan Lane how to "walk like a man" in the movie "The Birdcage". I think the Duke would have loved that part of the movie, don't you?
In my family, mom, dad and I have this uncanny ability to recite the lines of certain movies, verbatim, as if we rehearsed them ourselves, as if we starred in the picture. And when I think of that, no John Wayne movie comes to mind more than "El Dorado" which I do believe I have seen more than one hundred times in my life. And every time I watch it, I still laugh and I still sit there and recite the lines in certain great scenes. In fact I'm quite sure that dad and I could play out several of the John Wayne-James Caan scenes if we tried. We're just that good. And then of course there's Big Jake, Rooster Cogburn, and True Grit just to name a few.
And oh MY there's his appearances on "I love Lucy" which have to be hands-down among the best Lucy episodes EVER, even perhaps among the best episodes of TV comedy ever. I know mom is reading this--perhaps she can remind me how many times in that one episode they had to go back and get the Duke's footprints! Every time we'd see that episode we'd laugh so hard tears would come out of our eyes. I saw that episode a couple of years ago and I thought of mom, and sure enough I called her to tell her it was on and she was already watching it!
John Wayne wasn't perfect, but his image was good, clean and it was tough, it was solid. He represented a time when men were men and boys could play outside and fall down and get dirty...yeah those were the good old days weren't they?