The Barbarian and the Geisha, 1958
When the film was wrapped the director and the star were not on speaking terms. Duke exercised his considrable influence with the studio by cutting scenes and reshooting and adding others. The director was furious when he was notified that the studio had changed the title from The Townsend Harris Story to The Barbarian and the Geisha , a change that implied a fast-moving commercial movie. ’ John Wayne apparently took over postproduction after I left [to work on his next film]….A number of scenes had been reshot, at Wayne’s insistence, simply because he didn’t like the way he looked in the original version….it was a complete mess….I would have taken legal steps to have my name removed from the picture, but learned that Adler [ head of production at Fox] was terminally hill with a brain tumor. Bringing suit under such circumstances was untinkable.’ John Huston
The Barbarian and the Geisha, 1958.
Huston had himself chosen Duke to play Townsend Harris : ’ I want to send Duke’s gigantic form into the exotic world that was the Japanese empire in the 1880s. Imagine !-this massive figure, with his bluff innocence and naiveté, with his edges rough, moving among these minute people. Who better to symbolise the big, awkward United States of one hudred years ago?’ John Huston
'Duke was renowed for his bad driving , He pointed his car in the direction He wanted to go and put his foot flat down to the floor.' Pilar Wayne
'When Wayne went to Japan with John Huston to make The Barbarian and the Geisha, he and Huston bought a lot of Japanese art. Wayne bought out the original woodcut blocks from a Buddhist temple. The prints of his wallpaper were made from these woodblocks.' Sam Shaw
'He was a collector of art objects-his own things wherever he went. But on the set, for the press, he played a guy rolling in the mud.' Sam Shaw, photographer.
The Searchers, 1956
It was named the Greatest American Western of all time by the American Film Institute in 2008, and it placed 12th on the American Film Institute’s 2007 list of the 100 greatest American movies of all time. The British Film Institute ‘s Sight & Sound magazine ranked it as the seventh best movie of all time in a 2012 survey.
'Ordinarily he is one of the kindest and most level-headed of men. But when crossed, and particularly when double-crossed, he can make an underground nuclear explosion seem like a baby's sigh' . Melville Shavelson in his book 'How to Make a Jewish Movie' . Shavelson co-wrote and produced Trouble Along the Way, 1953
photo portrait from the 1940s
The Conqueror (1956)
As he had done with Jet Pilot, Howard Hughes didn’t give The Conqueror a quick release. He toyed with the film editing and reediting with almost manic compulsiveness, and RKO released the movie in 1956
On the set of The Conqueror , summer of 1954, with Susan Hayward and director Dick Powell.
'At first I was completely surprised.Wayne as the barbarous Genghis Khan ? I asked him if he was serious and he said he was…We discussed the matter thoroughly and the more we talked the more the idea intrigued me. Besides, who am I to turn down John Wayne ?' Dick Powell
The Conqueror, 1956
‘I decided to write it in stylized, slightly archaic English.Mindful of the fact that my story was nothing more than a tarted-up Western, I thought this would give it a certain cachet and I left no lily unpainted. It was a mistake I never repeated.’ Oscar Millard, the script writer.
Filmed in Utah in the summer of 1954, it’s the story of the early victories of Genghis Kahn and the Mongol horde over the Tartars . Oscar Millard wrote the screenplay thinking Marlon Brando would play the lead, but Fox refused to loan him out to RKO.