Marion Mitchell Morrison, or John Wayne as he is more famously known, acted, directed and produced some of the most iconic western films of all time. His name is synonymous with gunfights, horses and the trademark bow-legged cowboy walk.
Wayne died in 1979 but his legacy lives on, himself having starred in more than 170 movies. 21 of these movies have been lovingly hosted on the Internet Archive and YouTube, where they can be downloaded, streamed and enjoyed by a new generation of wannabe cowboys.
Whether you’re a fan of The Duke, old motion pictures or entirely new to the Western genre, these films might just be worth a look – and they’re free.
Considered by some to be the best of John Wayne’s Lone Star Productions films, Blue Steel sees Wayne in the role of a US Marshall pursuing the Polka Dot Bandit. For a film shot in 1934, the locations chosen for the shoots are considered outstanding. The opening scene is also of note, with many reviewers commenting that it’s really not clear what exactly is going on.
For a slightly lighter twist on the cowboy theme try McLintock, a 1963 comedy western about a rich cattle baron and the women in his life. Wayne takes on the film’s namesake, one George Washington McLintock who is tasked with keeping the peace between crooked characters and his family. The film is an interesting mix of comedy and politics, with a stellar cast.
Another early Wayne film for Lone Star Productions, Rainbow Valley is a 1935 black and white tale about an undercover government agent. The story is centred around Rainbow Valley’s new road, and newcomer John Martin (that’s Wayne’s character) who agrees to build it. When Martin’s former cellmate manages to free the leader of a gang, he trusts that Martin will help. Martin has other ideas, however.
Taking the Western genre in yet another direction, Angel and the Badman is a romantic tale of outlaws and sweethearts. Wayne takes on the role of Quirt Evens, described as an “all round bad guy” by IMDb who is nursed back to health by a quaker girl. Eventually the girl falls for him and as the film’s tagline reminds us “he has to choose between love and the gun”.
More early Wayne, Randy Rides Alone is a typical western story about a man who has been wrongly imprisoned. Wayne is Randy Bowers, a man locked up for murders he did not commit. Bowers manages to escape prison against the odds and ends up stumbling across the den being used by the real murderers.
Noted for its epic stagecoach chase scene, Sagebrush Trail is shares many nuances with the aforementioned Randy Rides Alone. Jailed for a murder he did not commit John Brant (Wayne) escapes and joins a gang of outlaws. When Brant meets the man responsible for the crime he was falsely imprisoned for, he decides to forgive and forget but the bandits soon become suspicious of him and his so-called life of crime.
In addition to these six there are a further 15 John Wayne pictures out there for the taking. In alphabetical order, they are:
- Frontier Horizon (1939)
- Helltown (1937)
- ‘Neath the Arizona Skies (1934)
- Paradise Canyon (1935)
- Riders of Destiny (1933)
- Texas Terror (1935)
- The Dawn Rider (1935)
- The Desert Trail (1935)
- The Lawless Frontier (1934)
- The Lucky Texan (1934)
- The Man From Utah (1934)
- The Star Packer (1934)
- The Trail Beyond (1934)
- War of the Wildcats (1943)
- West of the Divide (1934)
Are you a fan of John Wayne and western films? Don’t forget to list your favourites and any other comments you might have below this post.