Angel and the Badman is from 1947, stars John Wayne and Gail Russell, and features Harry Carey and Bruce Cabot & Lee Dixon. This was the film ever produced by John Wayne.
John Wayne (born Marion Robert Morrison) was the son of a pharmacist and the family moved to Glendale, California, where Marion delivered medicines for his father and sold newspapers.
As a child he had an Airedale dog named "Duke", which was where he got his nickname.
He went to USC on a football scholarship from 1925-1927 and, in exchange for football tickets, Tom Mix, the cowboy movie star, got him a summer job as a prop man.
On the set, he became friends with director John Ford and began getting bit parts. His first role was in 1926 as a Yale football player. In 1929, he appeared in a film under the name Duke Morrison, the one & only time that happened.
When he was cast in Fox's The Big Trail in 1930, the studio decided his name had to be changed. Studio head Raoul Walsh said he was reading a biography on Revolutionary War General Anthony Wayne and suggested that name.
The studio liked the last name but not the first and decided on John Wayne. He appeared in more than 70 early low-budget westerns and adventures, but Wayne's career was stuck in a rut until director Ford cast him in Stagecoach (1939), the movie that made him a star.
A die-hard republican, his staunch conservative political views were reflected in 2 of his biggest movies, The Alamo and The Green Berets, both of which he produced, directed and starred in.
In his 50-year career, he was in 250 films, was nominated for 3 Oscars and won an Academy Award in 1969 for True Grit. It was widely seen as more of a lifetime achievement award, since his performance had been criticized as over-the-top and hammy.
Over his career, Wayne endured a lot of health problems. In 1964, he had a cancerous left lung removed; he suffered a stroke in 1974, which is why he is seen talking out the side of his mouth in Brannigan (1975) and Rooster Cogburn (1975), in 1978 there was heart valve replacement surgery; and in 1979 his stomach was removed.
Wayne was also a heavy smoker and, after he died of lung cancer, his son made a point not to license footage of him smoking cigarettes. An exception was made for a scene in Thank You For Smoking, a satire of the tobacco industry.
His famous yacht, The Wild Goose, is now a tour boat offering dinner cruises in southern California. Wayne died in 1979 and, because of his right wing political status, he was buried in secret and the grave left unmarked, in case Vietnam War protesters tried to desecrate the site. Finally, in 1999, twenty years after his death, he received a headstone.
Gail Russell, the love interest tonight, attended high school in Santa Monica, CA, where she was spotted by a Paramount talent scout and she was signed to a contract immediately after she graduated.
She was given a lot of coaching and appeared in a number of Paramount films. However, she suffered from intense, almost crippling, stage fright and to calm her nerves, she began to drink.
Her stage fright was so bad that after finishing one movie, she suffered a nervous breakdown. Her career sputtered and run ins with the law, particularly for drunk driving, damaged her reputation and her star began to dim.
Befriended by John Wayne, with whom she was later unjustly accused of having an adulterous affair, she played a few roles in films he produced. But she never got over her stage fright and her drinking began to affect not only her work but also her personal life.
She had married actor Guy Madison, from the Wild Bill Hickok TV show, in 1949, but he divorced her in 1954 because of her drinking. In 1961, at the age of 36, she was found dead in her small studio apartment in LA, surrounded by empty liquor bottles. Death was attributed to an alcohol-induced heart attack.
Randy McCall, Wayne’s partner tonight, is played by Lee Dixon, another tragic story out of Hollywood. Dixon was a promising actor in 1930s and 1940s, and he appeared in a handful of Hollywood musicals and other films, as well as on the Broadway stage.
In the summer of1942, Dixon created the role of the Scarecrow, at The Muni Opera of St. Louis, in the first ever stage production of The Wizard of Oz to use the songs from the MGM film. But he was an alcoholic, whose career, and life was cut short by alcohol. Angel and The Badman was his last film and he died in 1953 at age 39.
The film’s writer, James Edward Grant, was a close friend of Wayne’s and wrote a number of the Duke’s movies, including Sands of Iwo Jima, Big Jim McLain, The Alamo and McClintock. He was nominated for an Oscar in 1959 for The Sheepman, starring Glenn Ford & Shirley McLaine.
Harry Carey, playing Wistful McClintock, was one of the first big Western movie stars, from the nickleodeon & silent film era in the early 1900s, on into the 1940s. He appeared along with other famous cowboys stars Hoot Gibson and Tom Mix and he worked with director John Ford on almost 30 films.
Bruce Cabot, playing Laredo, was born Etienne Pelissier Jacques de Bujac in New Maxico. He is most famous for rescuing Fay Wray from the giant ape in the original King Kong in 1933.
Despite the success of King Kong, Cabot never quite made the leap to stardom, but he was a regular in John Wayne’s movies, appearing in eleven of his films. He was one of Wayne’s favorite drinking buddies.
Tonight we see a familiar face in the telegraph office, Olin Howland. You may remember him from one of our classics last fall, The Blob, where he discovers the blob and becomes its first victim. Tonight, he plays Bradley, the town telegraph operator.
Howland had a career stretching from the silent era into the 1950s. He was a pilot and actually learned to fly from Wilbur & Orville Wright.
And look for Paul Fix as Mouse Marr. Fix was one of the busiest character actors in Hollywood and appeared in over 300 films. In the 1920s, Fix became an acting coach to a very young John Wayne. Later, after Wayne became a star, he repaid Fix by giving him roles in 26 of his films.
And Fix, who had a stutter off-screen, supposedly taught Wayne his famous rolling walk. When Wayne was just starting out he wanted something to set him apart, so Fix suggested the rolling gait that became Wayne’s trademark.
But Fix will probably be best remembered as Micah Torrance, the easy-going but tough marshal in the Chuck Connors TV series The Rifleman (1958).
One of the stuntmen tonight is Richard Farnsworth, who we talked about back in January, when we showed The Outlaw. Farnsworth worked as a stuntman for almost 40 years before moving into acting and then was nominated for two Oscars.
And, at 79, he is the oldest person ever nominated for a Best Actor Award, for The Straight Story, the movie where he rides a lawn mower across the state to see his ailing brother.
And, finally, the film’s second unit director is Yakima Canutt, another stuntman who progressed from stuntman to actor, then director, then producer and worked on more than 400 films, from the 1920s to the 1970s.
So get ready for a nostalgia-inducing, old fashioned cowboy movie that uses drama, romance, humor and action to create a great Western classic.
To quote the opening line of another famous western, “Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear” with Angel & The Badman.