Rio Lobo – John Wayne “Totally Exhausted” and Director “Punch Me”

John Wayne had the 1959 Rio Bravo remake, a film about a mayor defending his office from outlaws, in the 1966 El Dorado. However, Howard Hawks, who directed both films, wanted to make the film for the third time in 1970’s Rio Lobo. When the director first approached Duke about the idea, the Hollywood star replied, “Can I play the drunk this time?”

Originally slated to be filmed in Durango, Mexico for $5 million, Rio Lobo was filmed for an additional $1 million in Old Tucson, Arizona, since 1971 Lauman was already shooting south of the border.

The Hawks wanted El Dorado star Robert Mitchum to reprise his drunken sheriff, but retired. However, he was visiting the set since his son Christopher had a role that the director had to battle with the studio to be included. At this point in his career, the 62-year-old Wayne was in poor health after having a cancerous lung removed just a few years ago.

The star, who was 13 years older than Jack Elam’s old man character, struggled to get up and down his horse and was still recovering from a torn shoulder ligament when The Undefeated was released in 1969.

Wayne’s fight scene with Victor French had to be filmed very carefully, as most of the footage that was used was with his two wives. Lots of junk fell off the camera, with only the sounds of squabbling heard.

Rio Lobo star Jennifer O’Neill remembered how Duke struggled to carry her down the stairs. In an interview in the video below, she said, “He got so exhausted, he really struggled through it.”

However, despite his struggles, the 21-year-old remembered that Wayne was “the kindest man in the world”, who did his best to help young actors trying to improve their performance. However, she couldn’t say the same to director Hawks.

Read more: “You can’t kill John Wayne!” The death of the legend was written outside the text

O’Neill said Hawkes’ punch hurt her after the director hit her on purpose. The actress also claimed that he said he would make her a star if she signed up for three films, even though Rio Lobo would be his last.

Since she refused, the director’s feelings for her have changed and he treated her poorly. She even claimed that Hawks said it would ruin her career.

During filming, the 21-year-old felt that the director’s mental faculties weren’t quite working, which may explain some of his bad behavior. O’Neill shot one scene wearing a fake mustache as a joke, which Hawkes totally missed even after the scream was cut.

Speaking of dressing up in the position of a muzzle, that’s exactly what the cast and crew did to celebrate Wayne’s Oscar win.

During a break from filming in Rio Lobo, Wayne returned to Hollywood to receive his first and only Academy Award for Best Actor after starring as Roster Cogburn in the 1969 movie True Grit.

According to John Wayne of Randy Roberts: American: “[Duke] He walked out, laughing boisterously at first, then settled down with a teary-eyed smile. Everyone, including the horses, wore an eye patch, and the audience applauded and whistled congratulations to the best actor in the world.”

No doubt, this was a special moment for the star who, apart from his health issues, lost his mother during filming and then brother Robert E. Morrison just a month after the movie ended.


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