Home Entertainment The Hollywood classic John Wayne condemned as 'Marxist propaganda'

The Hollywood classic John Wayne condemned as 'Marxist propaganda'


Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus couldn’t have been more controversial upon its release in 1960.

Title star Kirk Douglas took a massive risk in allowing blacklisted communist screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, one of the Hollywood Ten, to pen the Oscar-winning Roman epic without having to use a friend’s name in place of his own.

The scribe had previously taken a clandestine approach to his work following his ostracisation from the film industry years earlier.

Nevertheless, Trumbo still managed to win two Academy Awards under other names for Roman Holiday and The Brave One.

As a result, John Wayne and the right-wing National Legion of Decency condemned the movie as “Marxist propaganda” and picketed the blockbuster upon its release.

It was only when John F Kennedy went to see Spartacus and called it “good” did this blacklisting really end. Despite this political loss, Wayne ended up working with Douglas on Cast a Giant Shadow and In Harm’s Way, before making 1967’s The War Wagon.

During the latter’s production, Douglas was late to set as he had been shooting a commercial to endorse Edmund G Brown, a Democrat, as Governor of California. This enraged Wayne, a life-long conservative, who was late himself the next day as he’d been filming an advert to endorse the Republican candidate, fellow actor and future US President Ronald Reagan.

Although the two Hollywood stars had their political differences they did eventually become friends and had a mutual respect for each other. Douglas later said in a 1971 interview: “We get along well, we never discuss politics. But he’s the first guy on the set, the hardest worker I’ve ever worked with, and I think he’s quite a character.”

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