I have a soft spot for John Wayne because I was named after a John Wayne movie (Donovan’s Reef) and he really reminds me of my grandfather that I am also named after (my middle name is his, Arch). It’s interesting to add that my other grandfather, Earnest, reminded me of Henry Fonda, because of his resemblance to his character in the movie, Mr. Roberts. Anyway, that’s for another post.
I especially liked it when John Wayne did his non-war movies, and comedies on top of that. An especially under-rated gem is the movie, “Trouble Along The Way” (1953) with Sherry Jackson, Charles Coburn and Donna Reed. He plays a University football Coach that tries to retain custody of his daughter after his divorce. It doesn’t sound like a comedy, but it has some very witty lines at times.
Donna Reed is very good in it too, five years before she takes on her own show in the Donna Reed Show, which, my brother and I would watch in reruns after school when we were in high school. We were very fond of them and we also liked her a lot in “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
As an added benefit, there is a great supporting role for the character actor Charles Coburn, which I really enjoyed in the movies, “The Lady Eve”, “The More the Merrier” and “Heaven Can Wait”. He was a favorite of my mothers, as well.
If you get a chance to see this little gem on Turner Classic Movies, do so, it’s very engaging and the plot keeps you interested. It also doesn’t tie things up in nice little bow in the end and keeps things a little open ended, which I can appreciate by not making things so perfect. My favorite scenes are the courtroom scenes and I laughed out loud today when Donna Reed was asked on the stand if she was in love with John Wayne and he shouts out, “Remind her that she is under oath!”.
Under context, I understand that the film was made around the time of John Wayne’s second divorce with wife Chata, and the plot follows along with her real-life accusations that he was violent with her. Just as in the movie, the ex-wife turns out to be throwing accusations just to hurt him and they turn out to be untrue. Watching the film, I wonder if any of this was just a coincidence or if the studio decided to protect it’s star and create a vehicle to prop up his image as an honest, strong and upright coach and father. Regardless, the film as seen today is delightful and full of great moments. Well worth the time spent watching it for the whole family.
Sherry Jackson, the little girl in this film, turned into a fine actress and was later seen in “Star Trek”, “Twilight Zone”, “Make Room For Daddy”, “Rockford Files”, “Perry Mason” as well as a slew of others. She was even recently at our very own Phoenix Comicon signing autographs! She has a fantastic website at: www.sherryjackson.net
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