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100 best John Wayne movies

  • #60. The Life of Jimmy Dolan

    - Director: Archie Mayo
    - IMDb user rating: 6.7
    - Runtime: 88 min

    In “The Life of Jimmy Dolan,” a prizefighter goes on the lam after possibly killing a reporter. Released in 1933, the film features Wayne in a supporting role and stars Mickey Rooney as a disabled child. It was later remade as “They Made Me a Criminal.”

  • #59. A Lady Takes a Chance

    - Director: William A. Seiter
    - IMDb user rating: 6.7
    - Runtime: 86 min

    Blending the comedy, romance, and Western genres to somewhat mediocre effect is 1943’s “A Lady Takes a Chance,” in which a city girl falls for a handsome cowboy. Naturally, Wayne plays the cowboy whose name happens to be Duke.

  • #58. Pittsburgh

    - Director: Lewis Seiler
    - IMDb user rating: 6.7
    - Runtime: 92 min

    In 1942’s “Pittsburgh,” a steel magnate named Charles “Pittsburgh” Markham sacrifices friends and loved ones in his ruthless pursuit for success, only to discover it’s lonely at the top. The film reunites Wayne with Marlene Dietrich and Randolph Scott—the three had just starred together in 1942’s “The Spoilers.”

  • #57. Wake of the Red Witch

    - Director: Edward Ludwig
    - IMDb user rating: 6.7
    - Runtime: 106 min

    1948’s “Wake of the Red Witch” follows the manly Captain Ralls (John Wayne), skipper of the Red Witch, as he embarks on a series of South Pacific adventures in the 1860s. Based on a novel by Garland Roark, the film has Ralls crossing paths with a ruthless rival captain, a horde of savage natives, and a giant octopus.

  • #56. Operation Pacific

    - Director: George Waggner
    - IMDb user rating: 6.7
    - Runtime: 111 min

    In “Operation Pacific,” John Wayne plays a submarine officer who tries to win a war under the sea while also trying to win back his ex-wife on shore. The film saw Wayne re-teaming with director George Waggner for the fifth time. In spite of their history, the director and actor frequently butted heads during the shoot, according to co-star Patricia Neal.

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  • #55. Back to Bataan

    - Director: Edward Dmytryk
    - IMDb user rating: 6.7
    - Runtime: 95 min

    In this World War II-based film, Wayne’s character, Col. Joseph Madden, helps lead Filipino guerrilla fighters against Japanese invaders. Wayne would later express regret over making the film, referring to the director as a “Communist” who duped him into the role.

  • #54. The Undefeated

    - Director: Andrew V. McLaglen
    - IMDb user rating: 6.7
    - Runtime: 119 min

    Starring Wayne alongside fellow A-lister Rock Hudson, “The Undefeated” takes place in Mexico right after the Civil War. In the 1969 film, an ex-Confederate colonel and ex-Union colonel must team up in a fight against Mexican revolutionaries. Wayne fractured two ribs and dislocated his shoulder during shooting, neither of which stopped him from finishing the job.

  • #53. The Spoilers

    - Director: Ray Enright
    - IMDb user rating: 6.8
    - Runtime: 87 min

    Set during the Nome Gold Rush in 1898 Alaska, 1942’s “The Spoilers” pits two miners against a greedy commissioner over the rights to a claim. This film was a remake of three previous versions and was remade again in 1955.

  • #52. Reap the Wild Wind

    - Director: Cecil B. DeMille
    - IMDb user rating: 6.8
    - Runtime: 123 min

    The same year he made “The Spoilers,” Wayne starred in “Reap the Wild Wind” from director Cecil B. DeMille. Based on a serialized story from the Saturday Evening Post, the film centers on an ill-fated love triangle between a female ship salvager and two rival sea captains. Making things even more dangerous is a vicious hurricane and a deadly 50-foot squid. Wayne was initially reluctant to work for DeMille, but the two men reportedly became good friends after their rocky start.

  • #51. Flying Tigers

    - Director: David Miller
    - IMDb user rating: 6.8
    - Runtime: 102 min

    “Flying Tigers” features Wayne playing the role of one Capt. Jim Gordon, who commands a mercenary outfit of fighter pilots. After an arrogant hot-shot joins the team, Gordon finds himself amid two battles: one for his country and the other for his integrity. This World War II propaganda film from 1942 was nominated for three Academy Awards, including best special effects.

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