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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous installment, my history with the Duke goes back almost as far as I do. Dear Old Dad is probably John Wayne’s biggest fan; so big he’s even seen The Conqueror, a movie so bad it literally killed John Wayne. (Seriously. They shot it in an irradiated location and The Duke got cancer from it. When I use the word “literally” it is not merely hyperbolic posturing. I use the words that mean what they say.) Back when I was still waking up several times a night to eat, my father would soothe me with John Wayne Presents the War Movie on late night TV.

I was quite literally raised on The Duke. He was as big a part of my childhood as anything. As such, I learned some valuable life lessons that have served me well. And since this is my blog, I’ll pass them on so that future generations can google them more simply.

1) Never take more oaths than you can keep. (The Searchers)

2) If someone’s out of line, tell them. Then warn them. Then belt them. (North to Alaska)

3) Always do what’s right, and if you can’t do it legal and honest, do it illegal and dishonest. (The Comancheros)

4) Despite your best efforts, your kids will probably grow up to be just like you. (Hellfighters)

5) There is such a thing as too much gun, but no such thing as too many. (True Grit)

6) Don’t let anybody tell you how to take care of your family. (Trouble Along the Way)

7) You may catch more flies with honey, but you make better Marines with a frequent boot to the arse. (The Sands of Iwo Jima)

8) Don’t court women half your age. It’s unseemly. (Rio Lobo)

9) When the chips are down, don’t underestimate the power of an old cripple. (Rio Bravo)

10) If you can’t sing, hire someone younger and better looking than you to do it in your movies. Your fans will thank you. (Rio Bravo, North to Alaska)

11) Maureen O’Hara is awesome. (Big Jake, The Quiet Man, McLintock!)

12) A man can only stand so much needling at the hands of a woman. (The Quiet Man, McLintock!)

13) Money is a miserable thing to fight over. (The Quiet Man)

14) Coddling someone will just make him fall apart in small pieces. (Rio Bravo)

15) Let your reputation precede you. It may save you some trouble later on (El Dorado)

16) If you can’t shoot, just admit it and buy a shotgun. (El Dorado)

17) Never underestimate the power of a withering look. (Rio Bravo)

18) Don’t wear clothes fancier than you can work in. (The Comancheros.)

19) Outcasts deserve common courtesy too. (Stagecoach)

20) Being a nuisance to people with high opinions of themselves is always fun.(Stagecoach, McLintock!, The Comancheros, North to Alaska)

21) Put in a fair day’s work; earn a fair day’s wage. (McLintock!)

22) Love makes a man funny. In more ways than one. (North to Alaska)

23) If you don’t know what else to do, tell the truth. (McLintock!)

24) Understand your enemy’s rules and use them to your advantage. You’ll be a more formidable opponent. (The Searchers)

25) Accept that there are things you can’t do and times you can’t do them—even when the consequences are dire. (The Comancheros, The Searchers)

26) People will only push you as far as they think you’ll move. Don’t move. (Cahill Texas Ranger)

27) Always remember two things: Windage and Elevation. (The Undefeated)

28) Go after what you want, and make it your own. (The Quiet Man)

29) A gun that’s unloaded and cocked isn’t of much use to anyone. (True Grit)

30) Don’t be wronged, insulted or laid a hand on. Don’t do these things to other people and expect the same of them. (The Shootist)

31) Sorry doesn’t get it done. (Rio Bravo)

That’s not all, by a long shot. But that’s all I can point a finger to and connect with a specific movie. There are overarching lessons that span the Duke’s whole film career. Lessons about duty, honor, sacrifice and the manly virtues that I just can’t envision Shia Lebouf encapsulating.

Well, that’s all for this week. Tune in next time when I’ll have a post that probably has nothing to do with this one.