Christopher Lawson's Reviews > American Titan: Searching for John Wayne

American Titan by Marc Eliot
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AMERICAN TITAN provides an extensive discussion of the life of John Wayne, with special focus on each of his films. The book begins with his family background, then soon branches into the early life of Marion Morrison. As a young gangly boy with an odd name, Marion was endlessly ridiculed by his schoolmates, until he learned how to fight and punch. After he decked one of his bigger tormentors, that put a stop to the teasing.

Most of AMERICAN TITAN is spent on the films. There is much detail--the actors, producer, director, etc. A lot of time is spent on Wayne's friendships with the directors and producers. The extensive notes and details on each film gets a little old after a while, but readers who are avid film buffs will find that part more interesting.

It was interesting to see how Wayne slowly got his start in Hollywood, and how poor an actor he was at first. When asked if he could ask, he replied, "Don't be silly, I can't act."

For me, the highlight of the book was near the end of the book, where Wayne is (barely) able to make it to the 1979 Academy Awards. The backstage workers honored him with an ovation, and Wayne quipped, "Hell, I'd have gotten sick before if I knew I'd get this kind of treatment." After his introduction by Johnny Carson, the frail actor ambles onto the stage, where he presents the award for Best Picture.

All in all, AMERICAN TITAN is an interesting read, albeit a little slow at times. It was heart wrenching to read about Wayne's last days, and his terrible end due to stomach cancer.

I have seen the bigger than life status of John Wayne many times at Orange County Airport, and it was good to finally get to know more about this great actor. Eliot provides an extensive Bibliography and Resource Notes at the end of the book.

Review copy courtesy of NetGalley
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Finished Reading
October 10, 2014 – Shelved

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