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Author Topic: John Wayne as Frank?  (Read 21687 times)
Groggy
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« on: June 12, 2005, 04:26:03 PM »

Quite often during my rounds on the IMDB boards, I come across some ignoramus who spouts off the rumor that John Wayne was Sergio Leone's first choice for the role of Frank.  One moron even went so far as to say that Leone's original plan was Wayne for Frank, Fonda was Harmonica (!), and (get this) Bronson as Cheyenne Shocked speaking as if they were some sort of knowledgable person who knows something about the film in question.

As most of you know, I have read both Frayling's biography of Leoneand "Spaghetti Westerns" many times, along with much other material, along with Michael Munn's biography of John Wayne ("The Man Behind the Myth"), and other source material concerning the Duke.  I have not even heard that Leone had a second choice should Fonda turn the part down.  I have heard no evidence that Wayne was even considered, let alone approached, for the part.  There's no credible evidence for this rumor, so I have no idea how it even got started

So why is it that, every other day on the IMDB, I come across some "genius" spouting off this story?  I don't even know what the basis of it is, and it almost certainly isn't true.  Anyone have any thoughts on this perplexing matter?

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grandpa_chum
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« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2005, 06:34:21 PM »

I've heard bronson was considered for cheyenne, and it doesn't seem that out of the ordinary, i don't see why he would because it seems to me he was the first choice for harmonica, but who knows... john wayne doesn't sound beyond belief that leone might want to work with him, but wayne would never have worked with leone, nor would he ever have played a ruthless baddie... it just wouldn't happen.

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Frank: Just a man.
Harmonica: An ancient race...
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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2005, 12:06:45 PM »

I agree grandpa. I very much doubt that Wayne would have taken the chance. I am so glad that Leone got Fonda, as he is a great actor. Fantastic in his other films like The Ox-Bow Incident and My Darling Clementine.

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« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2005, 01:13:59 PM »

However he has such a friendly voice and appearance like in the Longest Day and other war movies as the good guy. It's card to see him in a cruel heartless bad guy role. Cheyanne also has a friendly smile, my dad says he was in AA (Alcoholics Anonamos) "a great actor, but a bad drunk" Such a friendly smile.

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Egdor
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« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2005, 04:55:37 PM »

I think Wayne would have made an excellent Frank, but like has been said, hed never have done it. Fonda is in any case pretty perfect seeing as the role was written for him.

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Groggy
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« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2005, 05:06:06 PM »

I guess I can understand why the idea of John Wayne as Frank has appeal, but my point is there's no real evidence that even Leone ever thought about the idea.  With the exception of Harmonica Leone had a good idea about who was going to play all of the leads (including Cheyenne) right off the bat.  Seeing John Wayne in a Sergio Leone movie would be pure surrealism.

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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2005, 05:15:56 PM »

Not just about the role of Frank, Groggy. Is there evidence that Leone EVER thought of Wayne for ANY part in one of his movies. I'm guessing "no."

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Groggy
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« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2005, 05:21:53 PM »

Not just about the role of Frank, Groggy. Is there evidence that Leone EVER thought of Wayne for ANY part in one of his movies. I'm guessing "no."

No, but I was addressing this specific RUMOR.  Wayne hated Leone's films, though to his credit he did at least (apparently) SEE the Dollars Trilogy, so he just wasn't making an assumption that they would be bad based on the fact that they were Italian (unlike a number of critics of Spaghetti Westerns).  I'm glad that Henry Fonda enjoyed those films and agreed to be in it, and remember, he always said Frank was his favorite character ever to play . . .

Wayne as Frank definitely would've been interesting though.  As we've said, he's always at his best when he plays darker-than-usual characters ("Red River", "The Searchers", "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance", "The Shootist"), so I think that theoretically he could've pulled it off, though certainly not as well as Hank.

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« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2005, 05:44:16 PM »

The rumour is just a rumour. Wed all have heard it by now if Leone ever approached Wayne for a role.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2005, 01:44:10 AM »

No, but I was addressing this specific RUMOR. Wayne hated Leone's films...
This is what I was trying to get at. The specific rumor loses all credibility when we consider the entire background of the Duke's career. For the rumor to have any substance at all we would need compelling evidence for its support, evidence sufficient to produce a paradigm shift in our current understanding of both Wayne and Leone. Absent such evidence.....it's just another rumor.

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« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2005, 09:43:34 AM »

I don't believe leone considered for a second having wayne playing frank, he always was a fonda fan, as all of us here know, and wanted him since FOD. And I really can't imagine Wayne playing sidekick to anybody, i wouldn't have believed it for a moment. he probably would have come off even stronger than Fonda in the kid and harmonica's brother killing, but the rest of the movie, no. he wouldn't have fit.

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« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2005, 10:43:13 AM »

I've read Frayling as well, and I believe I remember that Fonda was the first choice (and Eli Wallach talked him into doing it). But one of the problems is, as Groggy says, that some people put rumours as facts on imdb. It is very frustrating, as many of the anecdotes quoted there are funny and interesting.

When we know that several of them are either lies, or at least very improbable rumours, some of the fun disappears.

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« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2005, 11:58:41 AM »

I agree that because of personal politics and the fact that John Wayne would never play a villain, he would refuse, nor would he be in a movie that wasn't wholesome and all-american, but that doesnt mean that leone would NEVER EVEN THINK of working with him, being such a fan of fords westerns and loving the man who shot liberty valance and the searchers and all that he must have had some inkling of thought of working with the duke, sure it would never happen, but i don't think that means he didn't think about it.

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Frank: Just a man.
Harmonica: An ancient race...
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« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2005, 04:28:01 PM »

Wayne would have been interesting in the role, perhaps more so than Fonda (who was imo a good actor at a nuts-and-bolts level but incredibly BORING to watch, and only got more BORING the longer Leone trained his camera on him),

How DARE you slur Henry Fonda, one of the greatest actors who ever lived.  Tongue  Tongue   Tongue j/k, though I certainly disagree with you on this score.

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and Wayne was in general good in darkish roles, but pretty much stopped playing dark after Liberty Valance.

"The Shootist", anyone?  I rewatched "True Grit", BTW, a few weeks back and I retract my previous comments on that film; Wayne did indeed deserve his Oscar for that film.

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I don't know that we can know if Leone ever thought of him for the part. Even Leone's memory could be faulty at times-he could get turned around on historical details, like describing an incident that happened to Bat Masterson and saying it happened to Wyatt Earp.

That actually happened to Wild Bill Hickock.  Tongue

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And Eli Wallach has apparently denied ever having been approached to play Tuco in Once.

I'm willing to believe Leone had this idea in his head, but given his constant embellishment of the facts, I wouldn't be surprised if Eastwood/Van Cleef/Wallach weren't approached.

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If I were casting Once, I think I would've aged Clint up a bit and made him Frank-that would have really shocked filmgoers who thought they knew what to expect from a Leone film-and maybe cast LVC as either Morton or Cheyenne

Don't think that would've worked personally, but you're certainly entitled to your opinion.

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« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2005, 06:15:51 PM »

someone mentioned LVC as possibly morton... I hate to say this but the ONLY absolutely irreplacable performance in this movie IMO was ferzetti's... all the others had satisfying fantasy replacements... no one could ever do morton better or even close.

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Harmonica: So, you're not a businessman after all.
Frank: Just a man.
Harmonica: An ancient race...
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