John Wayne remains, without a doubt, a legend of the silver screen and one of Hollywood's most talented and versatile leading men of all time. See "The Duke," with his rugged good looks and undeniable charm, take command o... more »f the screen in the amazing collection of five unique films from his long and illustrious film career. This must-own set confirms John Wayne's status as a true American icon!« less
Offbeat Collection of Wayne Curios at a Great Price...
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 07/03/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
""John Wayne - An American Icon Collection" may be the most mismatched collection of the Duke's most offbeat starring roles available on DVD, but each film has some merits (even "The Conqueror"), and if you only know Wayne from westerns or war movies, you are in for a surprise!
"Seven Sinners" (1940), offers Duke's first teaming with the legendary Marlene Dietrich, with whom he'd have a brief but torrid off-screen affair. An atmospheric drama set at the 'Seven Sinners' bar on an exotic Pacific island, Dietrich is, as usual, a sultry chanteuse, loved and lusted after by every man who meets her, especially 'bad boy' Antro (played with finesse by screen veteran Oskar Homolka). When the Fleet arrives, however, and 'Golden Boy' officer Wayne sets eyes on her, she falls hard, and he is willing to sacrifice his career for her. Of course, the 'Higher Good' prevails, but not before audiences get a healthy dose of romance!
Co-starring Broderick Crawford, Anna Lee, and a surprisingly sympathetic Albert Dekker, the Dietrich-Wayne chemistry would prove so potent that they would make two more films together.
"Pittsburgh" (1942), the third and last Dietrich-Wayne pairing (following the Alaskan epic, "The Spoilers"), does a flip-flop in the characterizations from the Gold Rush tale, making Randolph Scott the 'good guy', and Wayne an opportunistic heel, willing to 'walk over' anybody, even his love, Dietrich, to get rich in the steel industry (although he'd redeem himself, by the finale). Playing a victim was uncharacteristic of the tough actress, however, and, while Wayne would eventually prove an excellent 'anti-hero', audiences wouldn't accept Wayne so 'out-of-character' at this point in his career. The film would not do well at the box office, ending the Dietrich-Wayne pairings...but has gained a devoted following, over the years!
"The Shepherd of the Hills" (1941), Wayne's first teaming with director Henry Hathaway (who would direct Duke to his only Oscar, 28 years later, in "True Grit"), was also the first color film in Wayne's career. A tale of life in the Ozark Mountains, Betty Field, as moonshiner Wayne's love interest, 'steals' the film, but it does offer the novelty of screen legend (and Wayne friend) Harry Carey playing Duke's long-absent father. Occasionally involving, but the Duke seems a bit out-of-place in the proceedings!
"Jet Pilot" (filmed in 1950, released in 1957), marked Wayne's first film for producer Howard Hughes (yes, THAT Howard Hughes), in a cartoonish anti-Communist 'epic', as Air Force officer Duke converts Soviet pilot Janet Leigh to the joys of America (while she 'lures' him to defect, leading to a Wayne sojourn to Russia, and his easily stealing Red technology for the West). This film is truly awful (which was why it was 'shelved' for seven years), with Hughes' signature emphasis on long, lingering views of Leigh's top-heavy figure (while Josef von Sternberg is credited as the director, Hughes was clearly in charge). "Jet Pilot" is better known as the film where the legendary Chuck Yeager (who first broke the sound barrier, in 1947), was nearly killed performing the aerial stunts (while on 'loan' from the USAF). The aerial footage is, certainly, the most impressive aspect of the film.
"Jet Pilot" could have been the worst film of Duke's career, but Hughes had bigger plans, and topped even this epic with...
"The Conqueror" (1956), the infamous showcase of John Wayne as Asian warrior Temujin (who would eventually be known as GENGHIS KHAN). This film is so summarily awful, and has so many legends associated with the production (shot in the radiation-drenched sands of the Atomic test range in Utah...with many of the cast and crew eventually dying of cancer), that by notoriety, alone, it should be an 'essential' for any Wayne fan collection!
Directed (with a straight face) by the usually reliable Dick Powell, between the flowery dialog, the clunky costumes, and Susan Hayward as the least desirable red-headed princess you'll ever find, enjoy the campier moments, like Mexican Pedro Armendariz and short, roly-poly William ("Cannon") Conrad as Wayne's BROTHERS; veteran actor Thomas Gomez as 'Wang Khan' (that really IS his character's name); and the climactic moment when the Duke, surrounded by enemies, hisses the immortal words, "Come and TAKE me, mongrels - if you DARE! While I have fingers to grasp a sword, and eyes to see your cowardly faces, your treacherous heads will not be safe on your shoulders. For I am Temujin, the Conqueror! No prison can hold me, no army defeat me!" (Seriously, LAURENCE OLIVIER couldn't deliver those lines believably...maybe Sylvester Stallone could...)
Whether you're a John Wayne fan, or not, this collection offers plenty to talk about, at a very reasonable price! I promise, you'll never get a better opportunity to see the Duke as you've NEVER seen him before!
Some of the lesser known movies
Daniel Lee Taylor | GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas United States | 06/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Want to see John Wayne a little differently, buy this set. This is a collection that I would guess most people, other than die hard Duke fans, have not seen. Pittsburgh is a great movie with a great supporting cast. Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott and even an appearance by Shemp Howard of Three Stooges fame. If you expect Duke to take all, be surprised. Seven Sinners is another romance with Dietrich. Jet Pilot is famous for some really great aerial shots. Chuck Yaeger of sound barrier fame did some of the stunt flying here. Shepherd of the Hills is a beautifully shot movie with Wayne living with a curse. No barroom brawls here nor gunfights from horseback, just good dramatic story telling. The Conqueror is probably the most famous of the movies in this collection. John Wayne is Genghis Khan. You have to see this one to believe it. If you like John Wayne or don't know him that well, buy this collection to see something different from the Duke."
Three excellent movies in this collection
John Malanga | Pacifica, CA United States | 06/12/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I don't know who some of these critics are who have reviewed the films in this John Wayne Collection from Universal, but they need to take another look. Everyone seems to put Shepard Of The Hills at the top of the list, but for me, Seven Sinners is by far the most entertaining. The problem for John Wayne fans may be that this terrific film is more of a vehicle for Marlene Dietrich than Wayne, but John Wayne gets to strut his stuff and holds his own. Pittsburgh is a good movie as well, although Wayne plays the bad guy for most of the film, but redeems himself in the end. Lighten up guys and give them a chance - you might enjoy yourselves."
A Great Collection for John Wayne fans
M. Franklin | Prattville, AL USA | 06/03/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have been waiting for these titles to come along for a long time. Well, most of them anyway. I have 4 of the 5 movies on VHS, so adding Shepherd of the Hills was a big plus for me. I have never seen this movie.
I happen to like Pittsburgh. This is the first time I am able to see it on DVD, and enjoy the quality of the movie. I am not a fan of The Conqueror or Jet Pilot, but having them from Universal gives me the assurance that the quality of the movies will be superior. As for Seven Sinners well, it's a Duke movie with Marlene Dietrich.
I have not heard from any person reviewing this collection on the quality of sound and picture. Frankly, I am not interested in thier opinion of these movies since I have seen almost all of them. These movies are great in the quality of the picture. They come from a great production company; Universal. If you've seen Jet Pilot and The Conqueror from past DVD copies, then you must agree that this is much better in quality.
If you are a big John Wayne fan then these movies will complement your collection. They are great in sound & picture quality. As for the movies themselves, well that is for you to decide. I don't rank them as my top John Wayne movies, that will come out next week (June 6). But as a collector of his movies (I have over 80 of his movies to date in both VHS and DVD) I am glad to have these in my collection. If you are not a Duke fan, I would NOT recommend purchasing this collection. There are better Duke movies out there."
fourmeows | USA | 07/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD collection is an all time high perfect collection. The DVD was clear, beautiful color, sound was perfect as well. I highly recommend this collection to any John Wayne fan."