The Romantic John Wayne

It’s hard to think of John Wayne and romance at the same time. The image of one and the image of the other don’t rest well side by side; one seems to negate the other.

Hondo Lane and Angie Lowe (John Wayne and Geraldine Page).

Never one to be accused of political correctness, John Wayne’s films involving love often co-starred Maureen O’Hara, feisty but ultimately submissive.

Yet Wayne was in quite a few romantic movies and often they were very good.

In many, however, the romance wasn’t quite what we would consider our kind of romance.

Some just seem plain wrong. (See, for example, 1963’s McLintock!)

Many of these co-starred a feisty Maureen O’Hara in a contentious relationship that ended in slapstick battling, O’Hara coming out on the short end as the submissive woman.

The best of those is The Quiet Man, John Ford’s gem from 1952. It’s one of those movies you watch thinking, “That’s all wrong,” yet you love the film despite its questionable portrayal of relationships.

However, of all the John Wayne movies that were romances or involved romance as a major element, I think Hondo from 1953 is the clear winner because it is the most realistic, the most understated and most true.

The likely reason, in part, is because in the short list I made below it is the only one that is a drama, not a comedy. Of course, it’s also because it’s a very good movie.

The list below is off the top of my head.

John Wayne and romance:

Which ones have I missed? Let me know in the comments. Thanks! :)


  1. Can’t say as I’ve seen all John Wayne movies. But I am just now watching “The Quiet Man,” a huge fave of mine because of both the Duke and Maureen O’Hara (and, of course, Ireland!), and I have to say that’s a real romantic story. The disagreements and bull-headedness combined with the magnetic attraction makes it such a great story!

  2. Yes, they do. I may have to watch it again this weekend too.

  3. Your list is wonderful! I also enjoyed the writings of the different movies. That being said, you missed one. Hatari, it’s one of my favorites. It co-stars Red Buttons who is fabulous in it. The movie takes place in Africa where John is a big game trapper for shipping to various zoos. It also contains the famous song “Baby Elephant Walk” composed by the late great Henry Mancini.

  4. “In Harm’s Way” should be on your list. Duke and Patricia Neal are realistic and properly mature together while still generating some middle-age heat. Preminger handled their scenes very well.Then again, he did a great job all around with a strong cast.

  5. “The Angel and the Badman” should also be included in your list–very romantic.

  6. I am watching the fighting kentuckian (1949). Very good!

  7. How about The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance? He sacrificed everything to give the woman he loved the life that she deserved, even though it meant giving her to another man.

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