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This movie has an online cover John Wayne Century Collection, The (2007)
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Last Reviewed:2008.06.08

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If you want a refresher course in John Wayne's career, then pick up that "Century Collection". With 14 movies in 8 thinpack cases, the collection is broad, won't take too much space on your shelves, and at $50 or so around the web, it won't break the bank either. In there, you'll find Hondo (1953), Island In The Sky (1953), High And The Mighty, The (1954), Hatari! (1962), Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The (1962), McLintock (1963), Donovan's Reef (1963), Sons Of Katie Elder, The (1965), In Harm's Way (1965), El Dorado (1967), True Grit (1969), Rio Lobo (1970), Big Jake (1971), Shootist, The (1976). Spanning the 50's, 60's and the 70's, this is a wonderful collection that spans the key decades of the duke. Along with last year's special editions of Rio Bravo (1959), Searchers, The (1956) and Stagecoach (1939), we now have on DVD most of John Wayne's best movies.

I hadn't seen most of those movies before, and i must admit they brought a lot of pleasure into our home. The kids liked most of those movies, and i loved every one of them. We watched those 14 movies over the past 6 months or so and Even the lesser ones such as Donovan's Reef or McLintock are still a lot of fun to watch. And of course, the great classics such as Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Island In The Sky, True Grit or El Dorado haven't lost an ounce of their coolness.

One of the things that is readily apparent is how John Wayne's stardom rested on his strong collaboration with his team and guest stars. In The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance for instance, he is a supporting role, and Lee Marvin and James Stewart run a fantastic show. Similarly, in El Dorado, the chemistry between John Wayne and Robert Mitchum and James Caan take the film to a whole other dimension. This is a pattern that you'll notice in most of the better movies. In Hatari!, an old school 2h30mn African adventure that seems right out of Hollywood's early 30's craze with Africa, the entire cast is fantastic and puts up a great romantic comedy show. And take True Grit and the great performance from Robert Duvall and Mattie Ross without whom the movie simply wouldn't have been the same. In Island In The Sky, one of my personal favorites, you get an incredibly tight story, a great ensemble cast, and fantastic suspense.

On the technical side, there are also some really cool things, in terms of stories and film techniques. For example, Hatari! was actually very surprising to me as you can recognize its influence in terms of the themes it anchors its romantic comedy on, and the way the action scenes are filmed for the safari sequences. Just for the fun of it, watch that and then watch Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park 2, The Lost World right afterwards. The influence is clear.

This is a highly recommended collection for anyone who wants to own the better John Wayne films. The price and packaging make this an easy pick. The films all look fantastic and the collection even includes a few of them in special edition, with great documentaries and commentaries. And even if you never fancied yourself as a John Wayne fan (i didn't), the films still represent landmarks in Hollywood with one of its biggest star of all time. As such, it's a must own for any serious film fan.

- Laurent Hasson