...Suddenly, here before me, were 35mm prints of an awful lot of John Wayne movies: mostly brand-new-looking cases, boldly marked “RED RIVER,” “THE QUIET MAN,” “SANDS OF IWO JIMA,” “RIO BRAVO,” “SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON,” etc. For a movie buff, it was a heady moment. I said something like, “Jesus Christ, Duke, do you have 35mm prints of all your pictures!?” He said, “No, but just about. It’s been part of my regular deal for a long time—the studio’s gotta give me a print off the original negative.” A light went on in my head. I looked around and saw quite near me a canister marked “STAGECOACH.” Knowing the original negative of that classic film—-the one which turned Wayne into a major star—-had been lost or destroyed, I got excited: “Is that print of Stagecoach from the original negative?”
Veteran filmmaker and film historian Peter Bogdanovich recently started a blog at IndieWire, and in this installment he talks about one of my all-time favorite Westerns - and certainly one of my favorite movies - Stagecoach, and how an interview with its star, John Wayne, led to the film being kept in print. I first saw Stagecoach on video during my video store job in the late 90s, and was immediately taken by it. My father had always loved Westerns, though as a kid I thought they were cheesy, the way all kids scorn the stuff their parents like. This was one of the first films that made me really appreciate the genre.