LOGAN – Once again, the Utah Theatre will observe the anniversary of legendary screen star John Wayne’s birthday with a month-long film festival of the Duke’s movies.

If you caught the Utah’s salute to Wayne in May of 2023, don’t worry about seeing the same films over again. The organizers of this event have nearly 180 movies that the star appeared in to choose from, so the chance of repeats is pretty slim.

Over a period of more than three decades, Wayne was one of Hollywood’s most dependable box office draws. Best known for an unbeatable string of hit Westerns, he also starred in contemporary dramas, historical romances, adventure films and even comedies.

The film fest will lead off with Blood Alley, a rousing Cold War adventure co-starring the lovely Lauren Bacall on Wednesday, May 1.

Directed by William Wellman, Wayne appears as an American sea captain who must guide the people of an entire village escaping from Red China down the Formosa Strait to Hong Kong in a flat-bottomed riverboat in the early 1950s.

On May 2, the Utah will feature one of the few John Wayne movies that was universally panned by critics when it was released in 1956.

The Duke was badly miscast as mongol emperor Genghis Khan in The Conqueror, an historical epic directed by Dick Powell and produced by Howard Hughes. Despite its lavish scope, critics hated the movie, but it was still the 11th highest grossing film at the box office in 1956.

The Conqueror, which was filmed in St. George, co-stars Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead and Pedro Armendariz.

After a weeklong hiatus for local productions, the film fest ramps up again on Monday, May 13 with Donovan’s Reef.

The 1963 film is one of those rare Wayne comedies, directed John Ford, with a serious undercurrent dealing with racial prejudice and moral hypocrisy.

Donovan’s Reef features one of the best barroom brawls in Hollywood history between the Duke and co-star Lee Marvin, but it’s all in good fun.

The film is a sentimental favorite of many Wayne fans, because it marks the last time that the Duke and Ford worked together.

The supporting cast of Donovan’s Reef includes Elizabeth Allen, Jack Warden, Cesar Romero, Dick Foran and Dorothy Lamour.

What John Wayne film fest would be complete without Rio Bravo, one of the best of the Duke’s westerns?

In one of the few repeats from 2023, the Utah Theatre will screen the film from director Howard Hawks on Wednesday, May 15.

In Rio Bravo, Wayne plays a small-town Western sheriff with his back against the wall fighting a wealthy and powerful local rancher.

The 1959 film teams Wayne at the top of his game with Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Ward Bond, Angie Dickinson and Walter Brennan.

In another repeat, the local film festival will continue with a film that was reportedly the Duke’s favorite of all his movies, the gritty 1956 Western epic The Searchers.

In a critically acclaimed role, Wayne plays a middle-aged Civil War veteran who spends years looking for his abducted niece.

The movie is also considered one of director John Ford’s masterpieces. It co-stars Natalie Wood, Jeffery Hunter, Vera Miles and Ward Bond.

The Utah Theatre will screen The Searchers on Friday, May 17 and again on Saturday, May 18.

Next up on the schedule will be North to Alaska, a romantic comedy, on Monday, May 20.

Wanye stars as a prospector during the Alaska gold rush who gets hopelessly entangled with his partner’s fiancé.

Directed by Henry Hathaway, the cast of North to Alaska includes Stewart Granger, Ernie Kovacs and the lovely French actress Capucine.

On May 22, the Utah Theatre will offer the movie that started Wayne on the road to stardom, the 1939 John Ford epic Stagecoach.

In his breakout role, the Duke stars as the Ringo Kid, a wanted man who finds himself obliged to shepherd a group of diverse strangers through dangerous Apache territory.

In 1995, the film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation by National Film Registry.

Stagecoach co-stars Claire Trevor, Andy Devine, John Carradine and Thomas Mitchell.

Another classic, but of a different kind, is next on the schedule at the Utah Theatre.

The tense 1962 thriller The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance will be shown on Friday, May 24 and Saturday, May 25.

Also directed by John Ford, the movie was artistically filmed in black and white.

Wayne shares the screen with James Stewart as two very different men who love the same woman set against the backdrop of a western territory striving for statehood.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance co-stars Lee Marvin — as one of the best villains ever – as well as Vera Miles, Edmund O’Brien, Andy Devine and John Carradine.

On the occasion of Wayne’s birthday, the Utah Theatre will offer a free screening of Red River   on Monday, May 27.

In this critically acclaimed film, Wayne stars as a hard-bitten rancher who desperately pioneers a cattle drive from Texas to a railhead in Kansas in the post Civil War era. The Howard Hawks movie also propelled an incredibly young-looking Montgomery Clift to stardom.

The cast of Red River also includes Walter Brennan, Harry Carey, John Ireland and typically spunky Howard Hawks’ heroines Joanne Dru and Colleen Gray.

On Wednesday, April 29, the Utah Theatre will present John Wayne’s last movie, The Shootist.

Playing an aging gunfighter who wants to go out in blaze of glory, the Don Siegel film reunites the Duke with his co-star from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, James Stewart.

The cast of The Shootist also includes several faces familiar to audiences of Western films, including Richard Boone, John Carradine, Harry Morgan and Hugh O’Brian.

Finally, the John Wayne film fest will conclude with another movie by John Ford, the Civil War epic The Horse Soldiers.

Loosely based on the real events of the Col. Benjamin Grierson’s 1963 raid into Mississippi, the Duke plays a Union cavalry officer at odds with his own surgeon during an expedition deep into Confederate territory.

The 1959 film, co-starring William Holden and Constance Towers, will be shown on May 31 and June 1.

All curtain times at the Utah Theatre in the month of May will be 7 p.m.

The Utah Theatre is located at 18 West Center Street in downtown Logan.



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