American Titan: Searching for John Wayne

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9780062269003: American Titan: Searching for John Wayne

From the veteran New York Times bestselling biographer comes a major, in-depth look at one of the most enduring American icons of all time, “the Duke,” John Wayne.

As he did in his bestselling biographies of Jimmy Stewart and Clint Eastwood, acclaimed Hollywood biographer Marc Eliot digs deep beneath the myth in this revealing look at the most legendary Western film hero of all time; the man with the distinctive voice, walk, and demeanor who was an inspiration to many and a symbol of American masculinity, power, and patriotism.

Eliot pays tribute to the man and the myth, identifying and analyzing the many interesting contradictions that made John Wayne who he was: an Academy Award-winning actor associated with cowboys and soldiers who didn’t like horses and never served in a war; a Republican icon who voted for Democrats Roosevelt and Truman; a white man often accused of racism who married three Mexican wives. Here are stories of the movies he made famous as well as numerous friends and legendary colleagues such as John Ford, Maureen O’Hara, Natalie Wood, and Dean Martin.

A top box-office draw for more than three decades—starring in 142 films from Stagecoach and True Grit, for which he won the Oscar to The Quiet Man and The Green Berets—John Wayne’s life and career paralleled nearly the entire twentieth century, from the Depression through World War II to the upheavals of the 1960s. Setting his life within the sweeping political and social transformations that defined the nation, Eliot’s masterful portrait of the man they called Duke is a remarkable in depth look at a life and the “American Century” itself.

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As he did in his bestselling biographies of Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and Clint Eastwood, Marc Eliot offers an exciting, groundbreaking new take on an American icon—the most legendary Western film hero of all time, John Wayne

An audience favorite and top box-office draw for decades, John Wayne symbolized masculinity, power, and patriotism, and inspired millions of Americans. Yet despite his popularity and success, he was unfairly dismissed as a "B" movie actor lacking elegance, creativity, range, and depth. American Titan challenges conventional wisdom and reevaluates Wayne's life and vital cinematic legacy, ultimately placing the man known as "Duke" among a select and brilliant pantheon of "actor auteurs"—artists whose consistency of style in their work reflects their personal creative vision.

In American Titan, Eliot demonstrates that Wayne possessed a distinct and remarkable vision rooted in his unique Midwestern and West Coast childhood that would become manifest in one of the most enduring screen personalities of all time: the elusive, stoic frontier loner. Wayne's heroic outsider also influenced a new generation of actors and filmmakers who would borrow from it to use in their own movies.

Drawing on his deep, extensive knowledge of Hollywood and film, Eliot contends that the primary driving force behind Wayne's extraordinary career and body of work was the result of his own ambitions and his collaborations with directors John Ford and Howard Hawks. Eliot offers as evidence the distinct personality that runs through Wayne's staggering 169 films, from Stage Coach and The Searchers to The Quiet Man and The Green Berets.

Setting Wayne's life within the sweeping political and social transformations that defined the nation, Eliot's masterly revisionist portrait is a remarkable in-depth look at a life that embodied the spirit of the twentieth century. What emerges is nothing less than a powerful understanding of and appreciation for a true American titan.

Marc Eliot is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books on popular culture, among them the highly acclaimed Cary Grant, the award-winning Walt Disney: Hollywood's Dark Prince, and American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood. He writes for a number of publications and frequently speaks about film at universities and to film groups, and on radio and television. He lives in New York City and Woodstock, New York.

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About the Author:

Marc Eliot is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books on popular culture, among them the highly acclaimed Cary Grant, the award-winning Walt Disney: Hollywood's Dark Prince, and American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood. He writes for a number of publications and frequently speaks about film at universities and to film groups, and on radio and television. He lives in New York City and Woodstock, New York.

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