John Wayne & Duke (The Wonder Horse)

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    & DUKE
    (The Wonder Horse)


    When Warner Bros., absorbed First National in the late 1920's
    it acquired an impressive silent film list that included Ken Maynard's
    well produced westerns.

    Sidney Rogell, a former First National executive insisted
    that Maynard's films still had value and aproached Warner's
    produced Leon Schlesinger with a novel plan.

    Ken Maynard

    Ken Maynard

    Although Maynard's career was moving downhill in an alcholic fog,
    although he had never been much of an actor,he was a great stunt rider
    having once been the leading attraction in the
    Kit Carson Show and Ringling Brothers Circus.
    He could stand on a horse, swing under a horse, perform trick roping,
    and his horse Tarzan was the best in the business.

    For more, please see:-
    Ken Maynard

    Rogell believed it was a shame to allow Maynard's First National
    work to waste away in storage.

    Leon Schlesinger

    Leon Schlesinger

    For more, please see:-
    Leon Schlesinger

    He had a simple plan. Recycle the best part of the films.
    Schlesinger liked the idea and he and Rogell convinced Jack Warner
    to make a series of low budget westerns including the Ken Maynard
    stunt sequences.
    Budgeted at $28'000 each, the westerns were designed
    for Warner's rural markets and as the bottom half of double features.
    All they needed was sound effects and another actor who looked something like
    Ken Maynard for dialogue and close-ups.

    Duke had the same wiry build as Maynard and
    looked enough like him to pull off the trick

    Rogell and Schlesinger hired him for $825 a picture on 6 picture contact.

    In the year between mid-1932 and mid-1933
    Duke and Duke the Wonder Horse'
    who looked like Maynard's 'Tarzan. made:-

    Haunted Gold (1932)
    Ride Him Cowboy (1932)
    The Big Stampede (1932)
    The Telegraph Trail (1933)
    Somewhere in Sonora (1933)
    The Man from Montery (1933)

    (Please click on movies above
    for individual profiles and reviews)

    Four of the films are direct remakes of Maynard pictures
    and the other two use footage from them.
    In each, Duke played a character who's first name was always 'John'
    and the films combined Maynard's stunts, with humour and romance.

    Standard material but as the Motion Picture Herald commented about one of the films,
    "John Wayne's drawl and deliberate style of movement
    are fitted to effect a likeable picture"

    They were modest productions and none of them attracted much attention
    at Warner's, a studio that viewed westerns as a social disease.
    However they returned excellent profits and received enthusiastic reviews

    Desperate to move on to, hopefully better things
    Duke after a three fill in movies for Warner Bros.
    The Life of Jimmy Dolan (1933) Baby Face (1933) & College Coach (1933)
    was approached by Director
    Robert North Bradbury for the Poverty Row studio
    Monogram Pictures
    to star in a series of westerns
    under the title of
    Lone Star Productions

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 16 times, last by ethanedwards ().