Here's a passage from a Roger Ebert review of RIO LOBO, a Howard Hawks film starring John Wayne:
Both "El Dorado" and "Rio Lobo" deliberately avoided any innovations in the basic Wayne role, as it was invented and shaped since the 1930s by John Ford, Henry Hathaway, Hawks himself, and minor directors who copied them. Hawks apparently felt that he'd already had his day an an inventor of archetypes, and now that he was in his '70s (and Wayne was in his '60s), it was time to mine the vast deposits of memories, conventions and nostalgia from all those earlier Wayne films.
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In this case, the story itself doesn't matter much. 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.")
Just what was that "John Wayne role" --or perhaps we could even say "John Wayne archetype"-- and what is there that should be said about it, both in terms of what's worthy about that John Wayne heroic figure, and what is wrong or problematic about it?
I note that Ebert says "betrayed," meaning that we in the audience have some of our hopes tied into the enactment of the John Wayne archetype. Yet there are also such limitations, so many human qualities that are sacrificed to create the archetype.
(Please note that the invitation here is to do BOTH-- to appreciate what is admirable and to criticize what is amiss. Part of the core problem in America today is the polarization between right and left that the Bushites have fostered and exploited as a political strategy, and part of the healing process is the work of attempting to bridge that widening gulf. This can be one small effort in that process.)
Here are several responses this invitation elicited when I issued it on my own website: