It was 12:30 a.m. in Cannes, Tuesday when Gretchen Wayne, President of Batjac returned my phone call. She and her associate Sue Jameson had just screened John Wayne’s “Hondo”– in 3-D at the Bunuel theater.
“It received a standing ovation,” she exclaimed happily. “It was more than we could have imagined. They had to turn away many who wanted to see it.”
On Tuesday, she will tell a press conference how the 1953 film, originally made for 3-D, was restored — recreated — for Cannes.” We showed that it can be done (digitally) and that it should be re-released theatrically once again in 3-D.” She participates Tuesday afternoon in a press conference explaining how it was accomplished and then returns to L.A. to participate Thursday in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ “Centennial Salute to John Wayne” featuring a screening — in CinemaScope — the also digitally-restored — 1954 Wayne starrer, “The High And The Mighty” directed by William Wellman.
Yours truly will host a panel with alumni of Wayne films: Angie Dickinson (“Rio Bravo,” 1959), Nancy Olson (“Big Jim McLain,” 1952), Karen Sharpe Kramer,(“The High And The Mighty,” 1954), William Wellman, Jr. (“The Horse Soldiers,” (1959), “How The West Was Won,” (1962)), and the recently-retured-from Cannes, Gretchen Wayne. Acad President Sid Ganis will welcome the audience. He too worked with Wayne and knows the Acad’s pride in participating in “The Duke’s Centennial Celebration.”
Meanwhile, the John Wayne Centennial Celebration will be held this weekend in Wayne’s birthplace, Winterset, Iowa with 34 members of Wayne’s family on hand. They had appeared earlier this month at the Newport Beach film festival tribute to Wayne. And, over the past weekend, son Patrick left for Tanzania where he will follow the same safari taken by his father for the making of “Hatari” in 1961. The following year, with the memorable “Baby Elephant Walk” theme by Henry Mancini wafting over Wilshire Blvd., I m.c’d the “Hatari” premiere attended by a highly-celebrating John Wayne.
Ah, but that’s another memory of a happy life in the wilds of Hollywood with the one-and-only John Wayne.