John Wayne starring as Colonel Davy Crockett in the 1960 western The Alamo
Movies - TV
John Wayne Hid A Heartbreaking Message Into The Searchers' Final Scene
Known for his iconic tough-guy image, John Wayne — the Duke — is a film icon and a hero to many who grew up during Hollywood's classical film period.
However, Wayne himself had a hero growing up and later paid homage to his childhood idol in an unscripted gesture in the final moments of John Ford's 1956 film "The Searchers."
The film's final shot has Wayne standing in a doorway by himself before turning to ride off alone. Before turning to leave, Wayne made a familiar yet unscripted gesture.
Scott Allen Nollen's book "Three Bad Men: John Ford, John Wayne, Ward Bond" describes Wayne's unscripted gesture and its connection to early Western star Harry Carey.
He writes, "Duke raised his left hand, reached across his chest, and grabbed his right arm at the elbow. Harry Carey did that a lot in the movies when Duke was a kid."
Filmmaker Ford had learned much about the industry with Carey as his tutor. During these early days of the Western, Carey developed his iconic arm pose.
After Carey died in 1947, Ford continued to cast his family members, including widow Olive in "The Searchers." Nollen notes a comment Joseph McBride made about Wayne's pose.
McBride said it was "one of the most resonant gestures in the entire body of Ford's work, a gesture movingly encapsulating whole lifetimes of shared tradition.'"