"I want to play a real man in all my films, and I define manhood simply:
men should be tough, fair, and courageous, never petty,
never looking for a fight, but never backing down from one either."
Say what you want about his rabid right-wing political beliefs - John Wayne was one of the most hard-nosed, meanest, most badass motherfuckers in American film history and the ultimate tough guy for his generation. He was the consummate Western hero, creating and defining a role as a hard-drinking, hard-fighting ass-kicking gunslinger who would punch his own mother in the face just for looking at him funny. Just listen to this Wayne quote and tell me this man was not as hard as a fucking railroad spike:
"I made up my mind that I was going to play a real man to the best of my ability. I felt many of the Western stars of the twenties and thirties were too goddamn perfect. They never drank or smoked. They never wanted to go to bed with a beautiful girl. They never had a fight. A heavy might throw a chair at them, and they just looked surprised and didn't fight in this spirit. They were too goddamn sweet and pure to be dirty fighters. Well, I wanted to be a dirty fighter if that was the only way to fight back. If someone throws a chair at you, hell, you pick up a chair and belt him right back. I was trying to play a man who gets dirty, who sweats sometimes, who enjoys kissing a gal he likes, who gets angry, who fights clean whenever possible but will fight dirty if he has to. You could say I made the Western hero a roughneck."
Wayne's specialty lied primarily in Westerns and War movies, and his penchant for being a tough ass bastard who was not to be fucked around with catapulted him into an iconic status, defining what many men though a badass American should be. He didn't let himself get jerked around, he could beat the shit out of anybody who faced him, and he didn't hesitate when it was time to pull his weapon and start laying down a hail of gunfire. He also had a righteous code of honor; He wouldn't shoot you in the back or kill an unarmed man, but he wasn't a chump about it either. He wasn't going to let somebody get the jump on him, and he knew that if it came down to him or the other guy, he was going to make damn sure he was the one who walked away from the fight. Fuck, I think the guy even punched a goddamned horse in the face once. He was the original movie badass, paving the way for future Western tough guy heroes like Clint Eastwood and inspiring a generation of American soldiers to kick asses for their country. His legendary feats of movie badassery not only got his face on a fucking postage stamp, but the President actually issued him a motherfucking Congressional Medal of Honor. It read:
John Wayne: American
"I would like to be remembered, well... the Mexicans have a phrase, 'Feo fuerte y formal'.
Which means; he was ugly, strong and had dignity."
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