It's 11:59pm as I begin this blog entry...the final minute of May 26, 2019...and the birthday of a celebrated movie icon, John Wayne. There was a number of on-line celebrations surrounding the birthday but I think the bigger remembrance will happen next month on June 11th. That's the day, in 1979, that he passed away...so it'll mark the 40th anniversary of his passing next month.
Today being Memorial Day it ties into John Wayne's film career as he starred in several films that focused on military conflicts and epic battles. Reportedly the bulk of his films were Westerns set in all time periods but he starred in his fair share of military films. A number of the films and the characters he portrayed are referred to in Ray's "Marion Michael Morrison" recording. "The Fighting Seabees" (1944) gets a mention in the song as does 1942's "The Flying Tigers" (cited as his first war movie), "Back to Bataan" (1945), "The Sands of Iwo Jima" (1949), "The Wings of Eagles" (1957), "The Longest Day" (1962), and "The Green Berets" (1968).
There is a reference to a character named Big Jim McLain in the song. The character is from the 1952 film of the same name in which he plays a member of HUAC, an acronym from the past, which stood for House Un-American Activities Committee. It was devised to investigate anyone in America that came across dis-loyal, subversive, or expressed feelings of fascism and communism. It reached it zenith during the Truman and, later, Eisenhower Administrations as relations between Russia and the United States during that period of time were antagonistic (not unlike today). This period in time is historically referred to as the beginning of The Cold War which led to a Red Scare and the McCarthyism witch hunts.
In addition to the songs/characters mentioned in "Marion Michael Morrison" there were other war/military films starring John Wayne that weren't mentioned in the song: "They Were Expendable" (1945), "The Flying Leathernecks" (1951), "Operation Pacific" (1951), "The Sea Chase" (1955), and "In Harm's Way" (1965) just to name a few. Something to keep in mind is I'm referencing the John Wayne films that feature branches of the military that utilized mechanized warfare or modern warfare. This doesn't include the number of films in which he played soldiers and leaders of a horse mounted Calvary, for example, nor does it include some of his other Cold War-inspired films such as "Blood Alley" (1955) and "Jet Pilot" (released in 1957 but shot years earlier!) nor a Civil War film from 1969 that he starred in titled "The Undefeated".
I came across an internet article focusing on John Wayne's appearances in television commercials. I think they're entertaining and you can see a lot of things in the physical performances and the vocal cadences that impersonators and impressionists picked up on and exaggerated for comical effect. If you listen to the commercials with your eyes closed and just listen to him speak you'll realize how uncanny Ray's vocal impression of him happens to be. I've featured articles by writer, Jeremy Roberts, in the past and I'll continue to do so and this is one of those times I've chosen to do so...you can read about John Wayne and the Datril 500 pills, the reaction he received for doing so-called 'lowly' commercial work, and watch commercials for not only for Datril 500 but for those that aired only in California for Great Western Bank. You can read and watch all of that and more in the article by clicking HERE. Off to the left hand side of that page there's a hand clap symbol. If you liked what you've read click that symbol to show that you liked it...it's a sort of thumbs up approval rating but in hand clap form. You can also add comments...and there's also links to other articles he's published that focus on John Wayne's life and career.