Exploring the feud between John Huston and John Wayne – Old western

John Huston, the director of unforgettable masterpieces such as The Maltese Falcon and The Treasure of Sierra Madre, has often been called Hollywood’s renaissance man and rightly so. One of the greatest pioneers of American cinema, Huston worked with the biggest icons of the industry – ranging from Humphrey Bogart to John Wayne.
While Huston’s collaborations with Bogart are now remembered as some of the most mesmerising American masterpieces of all time, the same can’t be said for his work with Wayne. In fact, Huston had such a terrible experience with the American star that he regretted his decision to cast Wayne.]

Huston and Wayne worked together on the 1958 adventure drama The Barbarian and the Geisha. Probably one of the least interesting additions to Huston’s filmography, the film stars Wayne as the first Consul General to Japan, who navigates the hostility of the local residents while slowly earning their trust.
In Michael Munn’s John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth, the writer noted that Huston had doubts from the beginning. When talking about the casting choice, Huston said: “I felt that Wayne was the right actor to play Townsend. He had proved he could act in Red River and The Searchers, and I wanted to tap into that talent.”
During his conversation with Munn, Huston explained his thought process behind the symbolism of John Wayne. The director elaborated: “I thought, ‘Who better to symbolise the big and awkward country that was the United States back then?’ I was sure Wayne was the right choice. I made a terrible mistake.”

Over the course of his career, Wayne had a lot of feuds with many notable figures in the industry. His disagreement with Huston ultimately came down to his “vanity”. According to the filmmaker, Wayne had unfeasible demands, which made him the centre of attention and ultimately compromised the production.
Huston admitted: “I had no idea that Wayne would have any kind of vanity… But he kept saying, ‘My best profile is on the right,’ so I shot his left profile whenever I could. A film should be a partnership between director and actor. But we were at odds almost from the beginning.”

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