“Journey” Teaser #2: What movie did John Wayne call “the most un-American thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life”?

For a full answer to this and other questions, see Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam

“High Noon” (1952), #27 on the American Film Institute‘s 2007 list of great films, presented the classic dilemma faced by the man of conscience: back down or stand up to face almost certain destruction. The appeal of High Noon’s theme is universal as everyone at one time or another has had to confront this kind of choice. Gary Cooper played the lead as Marshall Will Kane, a man who alone must fight four gunmen who are sworn to kill him. Kane eventually triumphs but expresses his disgust at the moral cowardice of the town by throwing the marshal’s star in the dirt and leaving town. The symbolism of the star lying in the dust is as powerful to American sensibilities as the burning of the stars and stripes. The director, writer and producer of the film were Jewish and perhaps had the lack of sympathy in mind that the world showed to the Jews just a decade earlier during the horrors of the Holocaust as they made the film.

The US Government immediately launched an investigation into High Noon.  Screenwriter Carl Foreman, a former member of the Communist Party, was called before the HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee). Facing unrelenting pressure, Foreman fled the country and was blacklisted.

John Wayne, for his part, loathed High Noon with a primeval passion, calling it “the most un-American thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life”.  His friend Howard Hawks, who had directed him in many famous cowboy films, was also offended by High Noon. They saw the film as an attack on their beloved America and responded in characteristic fashion with red-blooded patriotism. In 1959, they made “Rio Bravo” in which John Wayne plays the sheriff. This time round, the sheriff exudes manly courage, wry humor, is loved by an admiring community, and is more than a match for the villains.

Order Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam.

Next: How did the Grand Mufti of Rwanda end up at a run down mosque in South Dallas?


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