John Wayne’s ‘forced’ machismo ‘repelled’ Montgomery Clift on set
In 1946, John Wayne filmed the first of several Westerns with director Howard Hawks. Red River was a fictional account of the first cattle drive from Texas to Kansas. The story followed a growing feud between Duke’s Texas rancher, Thomas, and his adopted adult son, Matt, played by Montgomery Clift in his film debut. It turns out that in real life the two Hollywood stars did not get along either.
Burt Lancaster had originally been considered for the role of Matt in Red River, which is on ITV4 this weekend. However, Clift was offered $60,000 for the film, but had to be talked into doing it because he was concerned about a climactic fight between the ever taller Wayne.
There was also concern that the two stars would get into a fight on set, as they both spoke politically from opposing points of view. It is rumored that the two agreed not to talk about such matters so that the filming would go smoothly.
Regardless, Duke and co-star Walter Brennan didn’t get along with “arrogant little bastard” Clift, and thus kept their distance when they weren’t filming together. The young actor would later turn down the role of Dean Martin in Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo more than a decade later to avoid the two actors.
She also didn’t get along with the principal, whom she remembered having poker games every night with Wayne.
The 26-year-old later said of the two Conservative politicians: “They laughed, drank, told dirty jokes and patted each other on the back. They tried to lure me into their circle, but I couldn’t humor them. The machismo repelled me because it seemed very forced and unnecessary.
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In fact, Clift ended up impressing Wayne who, while he personally didn’t like his co-star, thought he was very effective in Red River in the end. However, Matt’s actor was disappointed with the end result when he saw a preview of the picture before its delayed release in 1948.
The rising star thought the ending was ridiculous “because Joanne Dru sorts it out and turns me and John Wayne into a sham.”
Despite finding his own performance in the film lackluster, he later said, “I saw myself in Red River and I knew I was going to be famous, so I decided I was going to get drunk anonymously one last time.”
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