The holidays are just around the corner, and holidays are all about indulgence—in big meals, big beers, in sitting on a sofa doing nothing but digesting meals. Few gifts for the occasion this year will be as expansive and engrossing as John Wayne: The Epic Collection, released by Warner Bros. and Paramount for Father’s Day but appropriate for any time. The set collects 40 of Wayne’s films across 38 discs, and represents the a great opportunity to put all that couch-grazing to use catching up with an American icon.
Wayne was a classic actor, and a classic man at that. He was a blue-collar worker, finding jobs on film sets as a bit player and prop boy before, as the story goes, director Raoul Walsh saw him moving furniture on set and decided to cast him as the lead in 1930’s The Big Trail. The Epic Collection follows Wayne throughout the rest of his career. There are his legendary films with John Ford, including box set highlight The Searchers from 1956, and 1948’s Fort Apache, where he starred alongside Henry Fonda and Shirley Temple; also, the tense and simmering Howard Hawks-helmed Rio Bravo; and his swan song The Shootist, where Wayne plays an aging gunslinger not long for this world.
If anything, The Epic Collection shows us that Wayne was a diverse actor, not just the swaggering cowboy we know him as. He played many complex characters and brought equal parts charisma and vulnerability to each role. There are few better ways this year to celebrate the stoicism and integrity of dads everywhere than with the films of the man in Hollywood who embodied such characteristics so fully.
Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, INC
Photos by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, INC