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READERS FORUM - Happy birthday to 'The Duke,' a real American

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:46 PM

Are you a movie buff? If so, can you believe that John Wayne would be 100 years old this year? Doesn't seem possible does it? I still love John Wayne movies. Call them simplistic or him only an average actor, but one thing you knew, in his movies the "good guy" was going to win.

Can you even imagine "The Duke" trying to "get in touch" with his feelings ala Tom Cruise? Say what you will but John Wayne confidently portrayed someone who knew exactly who he was and took both the credit and the lumps for that. And isn't that what a "man of action" is supposed to do? No wonder he is known as the "quintessential American."

I'm not sure Wayne would make it today in Hollywood. No doubt, he'd be labeled a "chauvinist pig" because he had a bad habit of protecting the "ladies" didn't curse in front of them, opened doors for them and he didn't walk around with his pants half down so everyone could see his underwear.

I'm not saying Wayne was perfect. Many of his movies did glorify war and offer extremely simple solutions. But perhaps, we'd all be better off if 'simple solutions' were used more often. Take for example my favorite Wayne movie, "The man who shot Liberty Valence."

In this movie, of course, John shoots Liberty, who was a drunken, murdering cruel man. Now, "The Duke" didn't ask Liberty about his childhood or try and get him into counseling or rehab. He knew that the drunken, cruel murderer was going to kill, so John simply executed Liberty. Of course, we can't have vigilantes, but as a rule, would we be better off if we saw criminals for what they are and responded accordingly? Of course, Liberty was going to shoot John's rival in a romance triangle, so by saving his rival's life John demonstrated loves most valuable component: Unselfishness.

Through his movies, John Wayne sent a message about not playing it safe, about living confidently and reminding us that the good guy can win. No wonder, he's the "quintessential American."

Cliff Cannon


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