Actor John Wayne once lost his temper at co-star Ella Raines while shooting Tall in the Saddle. He was tired of repeatedly shooting the same scene because she couldn’t control the horse that she had to ride for a specific scene. As a result, Wayne started to lose his patience and finally blew up at her, leaving an “embarrassed” co-star standing there in disbelief.
John Wayne played Rocklin in ‘Tall in the Saddle’
L-R: Ella Raines as Arly and John Wayne as Rocklin | Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
Tall in the Saddle tells the story of a cowboy named Rocklin (Wayne), who rolls through a Western town. He was promised work on a ranch in the area, but he discovers that his employer was shot. As a result, he must find some much-needed work elsewhere.
Rocklin demonstrates a negative perception of women in general, but everything changes when he meets and charms Arly (Raines) and gets a job working at her family’s ranch. However, things take a sudden turn when he finds out that Judge Garvey (Ward Bond) actually had a hand in his previous employer’s violent confrontation in an attempt to steal his land.
John Wayne blew up at ‘Tall in the Saddle’ co-star Ella Raines over an uncontrollable horse
According to Ronald L. Davis’ Duke: The Life and Image of John Wayne, Tall in the Saddle found the actor losing his temper at Raines. They filmed a scene where they had to ride their horses behind the camera, where they would share dialogue while maintaining a specific speed in alignment with that of the camera.
The rehearsals went smoothly, but the scene didn’t go so well when it was time to actually commit it to film. The camera bell rang to indicate that the operator started rolling the film, which resulted in Raines’ horse, Blackie, running off.
“I was so embarrassed,” Raines said. “I had gone out to the trainer’s ranch and had ridden Blackie. We’d become good friends.”
Wayne was an experienced horserider and initially thought it was funny. The set had to restart the scene to do another take, but the same thing happened once again. Blackie got so excited that Raines thought she was “going to die” and her co-star was getting increasingly angry. Wayne finally spat out, “I thought you told me you could ride … I’ll ride that damn horse, and you take mine.”
However, Wayne had the same issue with Blackie on the next take, which further angered him. The production crew didn’t know what to do until the horse trainer arrived who previously forgot to tell them that the horse was a former racehorse. The bell kept setting Blackie off, so they had to film the scene without the noise.
The film was successful at the box office
Tall in the Saddle generally earned positive reviews at the time, but they became increasingly mixed over the years. The Rotten Tomatoes Tomato-meter doesn’t have enough critic reviews to generate a rating at the time of writing, but it has a 73% audience score.
Nevertheless, Tall in the Saddle was another box-office success for Wayne. The film cost $565,000 to make, but it earned $2 million in rentals. The actor earned praise for his ability to fight his way through so many hurdles over the course of the narrative.