Tag Archives: John Wayne

John Wayne’s Movie, Circus World, Has The Most Amazing Live Stunts!


Actors & Stunt Team, Circus World:  Most people have seen the moment in the movie Titanic, where the boat slowly slides into the water, and the people on the ship sliding and grappling to find handholds to try and stay on the sinking ship.  It’s not a surprise to find out most of that was done with CGI and Special Effects.  Quite a stunt to find out that someone did it 33 years before, with no special effects, live and in Cinerama.  Granted the ship is somewhat smaller, not the behemoth that Titanic was, but it’s still no small feat.  Watch the scene for yourself and you’ll know what I mean.Circus World Ship

The shocking thing about this incredible staged stunt is the fact that it’s not the only one in the film.  They have another equally impressive stunt when the circus tent catches fire. Both of these stunts are elaborate, elegantly staged and dangerous as hell. Richard Talmadge, our nod for Best Movie Stunts for 1925 is for the stunt coordinator and second unit director on Circus World and he definitely had his hands full.

The credit doesn’t all go to the stunt coordinator and the stunt performers in this movie as the actors are also  front and center as you can see in the clip.  John Wayne is clear as day, leading the charge in both of the dangerous scenes and this is all the more incredible if you know that he’s also at the peak of fighting lung cancer when he did this movie.  He has a lung removed just a year after this film was released.Circus World John Wayne

Circus World was directed by Henry Hathaway for Samuel Bronston Productions.

Things to look up (click on item to go to IMDB page or Website):

John Wayne

Circus World

Henry Hathaway

Richard Talmadge

Samuel Bronston Productions

History of film companies as defined by Wikipedia: Samuel Bronston Productions was an independent American film production company, founded by Samuel Bronston in 1943.

The company produced several epic films, the most notable of which are, John Paul Jones (1959), King of Kings (1961), El Cid (1961), 55 Days at Peking (1963) and The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964).

The films were made in Spain in the company’s newly-created studios in Las Rozas, near Madrid.  Due to financial difficulties, the company ceased its business activities in 1964.

Film Terms as described by Wikipedia: Cinerama is the trademarked name for a widescreen process which works by simultaneously projecting images from three synchronized 35 mm projectors onto a huge, deeply-curved screen, subtending 146° of arc. It is also the trademarked name for the corporation which was formed to market it. It was the first of a number of novel processes introduced during the 1950s, when the movie industry was reacting to competition from television. Cinerama was presented to the public as a theatrical event, with reserved seating and printed programs, and audience members often dressed in best attire for the evening.

The Cinerama projection screen, rather than being a continuous surface like most screens, is made of hundreds of individual vertical strips of standard perforated screen material, each about 7/8 inch (~22 mm) wide, with each strip angled to face the audience, so as to prevent light scattered from one end of the deeply-curved screen from reflecting across the screen and washing out the image on the opposite end. The display is accompanied by a high-quality, seven-track discrete directional surround sound system.

The original system involved shooting with three synchronized cameras sharing a single shutter. This was later abandoned in favor of a system using a single camera and 70mm prints. This latter system lost the 146° field of view of the original three-strip system and the resolution was markedly lower. Three-strip Cinerama did not use anamorphic lenses, although two of the systems used to produce the 70mm prints (Ultra Panavision 70 and Super Technirama 70) did employ anamorphics. Later, 35mm anamorphic reduction prints were produced for exhibition in theatres with anamorphic Cinemascope-compatible projection lenses.

Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!

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John Wayne and Trouble Along The Way


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.Sherry Jackson John Wayne

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”.Charles Coburn John Wayne

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!”.

Donna Reed John Wayne Sherry Jackson
TROUBLE ALONG THE WAY, from left: John Wayne, Donna Reed, Sherry Jackson, 1953

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.

Chuck Connors John Wayne Sherry Jackson
TROUBLE ALONG THE WAY, second, third and fourth from left: Sherry Jackson, John Wayne, Chuck Connors, 1953

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

Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!

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