Classic John Wayne movies and a celebration of country music artists are among this week’s highlights.
With so many options available now on cable, streaming platforms, digital networks, and broadcast television, you might spend more time searching for something to watch than actually watching anything. So we’re offering a weekly guide to some programming of special interest to C&I readers. Here are a few highlights for Nov. 6-12. Happy viewing.
Pick of the Week: CMA Awards on ABC
One more time: Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning (pictured above) are back Wednesday to host the 2023 CMA Awards from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. In addition to hosting the show, Bryan will also perform a medley of his hits, including “One Margarita,” “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day,” “Play It Again,” “That’s My Kind of Night” and “Country Girl (Shake It For Me).” Other performers slated to take the stage during the show include Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Combs, Jelly Roll, Kenny Chesney, Little Big Town, Megan Moroney, Old Dominion, Carly Pearce, Chris Stapleton, Tanya Tucker, Alan Jackson, Cody Johnson, Post Malone, and Lainey Wilson.
But wait, there’s more. There will be a passel of musical collaborations during the program: Jelly Roll will perform “Love Can Build a Bridge” with K. Michelle; Tanya Tucker will perform her classic “Delta Dawn” with Little Big Town; and Old Dominion and Megan Moroney will perform their song “Can’t Break Up Now.” Carly Pearce will also perform her new song “We Don't Fight Anymore” with Chris Stapleton. A special tribute performance honoring the late Jimmy Buffett — a past CMA Award winner — will include Kenny Chesney, Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band member Mac McAnally, Alan Jackson and Zac Brown Band. You can find a full list of this year’s CMA Awards nominations here.
Nov. 8 at 8 pm ET on ABC, available the next day on Hulu.
Nov. 7 at 10 pm ET on ABC
Tall in the Saddle (1944) — During the years immediately following his 1939 career breakthrough in John Ford’s Stagecoach, John Wayne was cast in so many Westerns that, according to biographer Maurice Zolotow, he at one point complained to a wire service reporter that he wanted nothing more to do with the genre. (No, seriously.) But he obviously changed his mind by the time he saddled up for this sagebrush saga, in which he plays a tough but fair-minded cowhand who defends a young woman against varmints who aim to grab her murdered father’s land. While on location in Lake Sherwood, California, he was interviewed with New York Times correspondent Frank Daugherty, who later wrote: “Mr. Wayne likes Westerns and feels he can do better work in the kind of pictures he likes than in run-of-the-mill program pictures. He says now that he will stick with the Westerns until he gets the ones he wants.” Luckily for us.
8 pm Nov. 10 on Grit
Rio Lobo (1970) — Howard Hawks’ swan song as a director showcases John Wayne as Cord McNally, a Civil War veteran who joins forces with two former Confederate enemies (Jorge Rivero, Christopher Mitchum) to battle land-grabbing varmints in the Texas town of Rio Lobo. If the plot of Rio Lobo seems a tad familiar, well, that’s because it is. As critic Roger Ebert noted: “We go to a classic John Wayne western not to see anything new, but to see the old done again, done well, so that we can sink into the genre and feel confident we won't be betrayed. To some degree Wayne movies are rituals, and so it is fitting that they resemble each other. El Dorado was a remake of Hawks’ Rio Bravo (1958), and Rio Lobo draws from both of them. (It is said that when Hawks called Wayne and offered to send over the script, Wayne replied, ‘Why bother? I've already made the movie twice.’)” Co-stars include Jack Elam, Jennifer O’Neill — and Sherry Lansing, who would later become the first woman ever to head a major Hollywood studio (20th Century Fox).
12 noon ET Nov. 11 on INSP.
There are scads of Westerns available for free viewing on the Tubi streaming service, including quite a few featuring John Wayne. Here are four titles. (We did mention that the service is free, right?)
Stagecoach (1939) — Director John Ford’s must-see masterwork arguably is the first significant Western of the talking-pictures era, the paradigm that cast the mold, set the rules, and firmly established the archetypes and conventions for all later movies of its kind. Indeed, it single-handedly revived the genre in 1939 after a long period of box-office doldrums, elevating the Western to a new level of critical and popular acceptance. And, not incidentally, it made John Wayne a full-fledged movie star in the lead role of Johnny Ringo, the square-jawed, slow-talking gunfighter who’s willing to hang up his shootin’ irons — who’s even agreeable to mending his ways and settling down on a small farm with a good woman — but not before he settles some unfinished business with the villains who terminated his loved ones.
McLintock! (1963) — Aptly described by film critic and historian Leonard Maltin as a “slapstick variation of The Taming of the Shrew set in the Old West,” director Andrew V. McLaglen’s 1963 comedy-drama showcases Wayne as G.W. McLintock, a swaggering man’s man who’s rich enough to accurately claim he owns “everything in this county from here to there,” and ill-behaved enough to drive his well-bred wife, Katherine (Maureen O’Hara), to establish residency back East. Two years after his wife’s departure — she suspected her husband of infidelity, and he never really denied it — Katherine returns to the territory, and to McClintock’s opulent home, to claim their Eastern-educated daughter, Becky (Stefanie Powers), and to start divorce proceedings. But Becky is in no hurry to leave after she discovers her father’s new ranch hand (Patrick Wayne, The Duke’s son) is appreciably more attractive than her Harvard-educated fiancé (Jerry Van Dyke). And Katherine reconsiders her options after falling in love with “G.W.” all over again — after he chases her through town during the movie’s climactic sequence, and none-too-playfully spanks her.
Big Jake (1971) — When we asked Ethan Wayne back in 2007 to name his favorite among his famous father’s movies, he didn’t hesitate: “For me,” he said, “it’s Big Jake, just because I was in it, my brother [Patrick Wayne] was in it, my other brother [Michael Wayne] produced it — and it gave me a chance to work with my dad.” Ethan played The Duke’s kidnapped grandson in the western drama, a gritty action flick directed by George Sherman that also featured Maureen O’Hara, Wayne’s longtime friend and frequent co-star, in a supporting role. “The crew that was on that movie, from the stuntmen and the caterers, they were all guys I grew up with,” Ethan Wayne recalled. “They were like my uncles. And the best thing about it was, I wasn’t there for just three weeks out of the filming — I was there for the entire filming. And it was the most fun a kid could have.”
Cahill U.S. Marshal (1973) — John Wayne reunited with director Andrew V. McLaglen (The Undefeated, McLintock!) to play a widowed lawman whose impressionable sons (Gary Grimes, Clay O’Brien) fall under the influence of a notorious outlaw (George Kennedy). Truth to tell, this isn’t one of Wayne’s very best westerns — even The Duke conceded, in a 1975 interview by Tony Macklin for Film Heritage, that it “needed better writing” and “a little more care in the making” — but for more than a few fans, it remains a sentimental favorite.
Switching Channels: H&I
Each week, we showcase a different free-to-watch digital channel available through streaming and/or cable. This week: H&I (Heroes & Icons), which currently offers reruns of such TV Western fan favorites as Maverick, Wanted Dead or Alive, Have Gun — Will Travel, Lawman, The Restless Gun, Rawhide, Cheyenne, The High Chaparral, and Walker, Texas Ranger. For up-to-date schedules and access information, check out the H&I website.