Can You Identify These John Wayne Movies From Just One Shot?

Olivia Cantor

Image: Republic Pictures (I)

About This Quiz

"You better start packin' a handgun" if you wanna ace this quiz! If you know where that John Wayne quote came from, then you certainly will know many of his classic films.

John Wayne is the quintessential American movie hero. He rose to prominence by appearing in many western films, during specific eras when America was looking for a hero, and a role model for inspiration. As he gained fame during the 1940s up to the 1970s, John Wayne was literally at the forefront of American pop culture that somehow gave some inspiration and hope to viewers embroiled in various social issues of those eras.

To be a movie star during the time of World War II is something else, and he was able to pull it off. Of course, he paid his dues, too, having premature fame but wasn't able to sustain it. Patience and perseverance pushed him to become a star, and this real life ethos of his also showed in almost all of his films. No wonder audiences loved him -- viewers of all ages, of all sexes and various races. 

If you're a true fan, grit your teeth -- and self -- and take this screenshot test. Try to see if you can name the film based on some clues and a scene from it. Ready? Fire!

Which film is this, which won Wayne an Academy Award?

John Wayne first essayed the role of US Marshal Rooster Cogburn in 1969’s "True Grit," and again in the 1975 sequel entitled "Rooster Cogburn. "He won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Lead Role, the only Academy Award he has ever won in his entire career.

John Wayne made a name for himself in western films like this one. What’s the title?

"Rio Bravo" was released in 1959 under the direction of Howard Hawks. This star-studded film also starred Angie Dickinson, Dean Martin, Walter Brennan and Ricky Nelson.

John Ford directed this one. What’s the title?

"Stagecoach" was John Wayne’s breakthrough film, which earned him his early stature as a western film hero. It was directed by John Ford, who was friends with Wayne even before he became a huge star.

James Stewart co-starred with John Wayne in this one. What’s the title?

"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" is an exciting black and white film that featured Hollywood legends John Wayne and James Stewart. It is thus appropriate that this classic film quote came from this film: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

This is one of the quintessential John Wayne war films. What’s the title?

The 1949 film "Sands of Iwo Jima" earned John Wayne an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Lead Role. The film also got nominated for Best Editing and Best Story, too.

A big hit among western movie lovers, this is one of their often-cited favorite westerns. What’s the title?

"Rio Grande" is part of the “cavalry trilogy” of westerns, cited as some of the best films that John Wayne starred in during the late 1940s and early ‘50s. This was the third film in the trilogy, released in 1950 and directed by John Ford.

This is another World War II-set film for John Wayne. What’s the title?

"The Longest Day" is indeed a long film for 1962, which clocks in at almost three hours long, depicting the D-Day events in Normandy. It also had a very long list of impressive cast members, including Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Robert Mitchum, Paul Anka, Rod Steiger and Henry Fonda, to name a few.

What's the title of this Howard Hawks-directed western?

"El Dorado" has one of the most memorable western theme songs, voted as a favorite of the association called Western Writers of America. The 1966 film saw John Wayne and Robert Mitchum co-starring again, with a great support cast that included James Caan, Ed Asner and Charlene Holt.

This one is always hailed as the best western movie ever made by the John Ford and John Wayne tandem. What’s the title?

"The Searchers" is a 1956 film that co-starred Natalie Wood, playing the niece character of John Wayne’s Civil War veteran character – the actual subject of the search going on in the film. It was also reported that director Ford requested the very first behind-the-scenes documentary filming for this film, a practice that wasn’t commonly done by major films during those years but very common these days.

Would you believe that this is a rom-com? What’s the title?

Yes, John Wayne also did romantic comedies, with a touch of drama, of course, as evident in this film called "The Quiet Man." It was also directed by western film director John Ford, even though the story is not a western by any stretch, as it was also set in Ireland.

What’s the title of this famous battle film?

This 1960 film called "The Alamo" was produced and also directed by its star, released by United Artists. Of course John Wayne had to play the titular hero of the Battle of the Alamo, Davy Crockett, while teen idol Frankie Avalon played the young Tennessean named Smitty.

John Wayne also played non-western and non-war hero characters, such as in this film. What's the title?

The 1954 film "The High and the Mighty" belongs in the airplane disaster drama sub-genre, under the direction of William Wellman, where you put a bunch of characters with their respective problems and shake them up in a contained space that reeks of danger. Of course, Wayne still had to portray a heroic character here amid the inflight chaos, so he's the traumatized former pilot captain here who somehow manages to save the day.

This was John Wayne’s very last film, but one of his greatest, too. What’s the title?

The 1976 film "The Shootist" reunites John Wayne with his Liberty Valance co-star James Stewart. Some of the notable co-stars include Lauren Bacall, John Carradine, and actor-filmmaker-producer Ron Howard, under the direction of Don Siegel.

Mia Farrow's dad directed this one. What's the title?

Hondo is the first name of John Wayne's character in this 1953 film. Reports say that the shooting schedule went overtime for this one, so Mia Farrow's director dad, John Farrow, left before it was completed. John Wayne apparently called on old western director pal John Ford to finish the last sequences, but he was reportedly uncredited for this job.

This film was John Wayne's first leading role ever. What's the title?

John Ford earned his early Hollywood stripes by working with director John Ford as a stuntman or an extra and bit player. The 1930 film "The Big Trail" was his big break, as he was suggested for the lead role.

This is part of the so-called cavalry trilogy. What’s the title?

"Fort Apache" starred a younger Henry Fonda opposite John Wayne in this 1948 film. It also starred an older Shirley Temple, who was 20 years old when she appeared here.

John Wayne also started producing films, and this was his first producer credit. What's the title?

The 1947 film "Angel and the Badman" was a different kind of western for John Wayne during the height of his shoot-'em-up western hero portrayals. This one is more about the romance between a gunslinging western hero and a quiet Quaker girl -- an opposites attract narrative.

This was one of the 5 films John Wayne made with director Howard Hawks. What’s the title?

"Red River" starred a dapper John Wayne who had to be aged a bit to play the lead role of a Texas rancher. He co-starred with Hollywood hunk Montgomery Clift, playing the role of the rancher’s adopted son.

This film was set in the Pacific, but it was shot in Florida. What's the title?

The 1945 film "They Were Expendable" is about the World War II battle set in the Southeast Asian nation of the Philippines, and involved storylines with Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the US Navy. While working on this film, it was reported that director John Ford badgered John Wayne for not serving in the military, ever, to fight during World War II, unlike him, the screenwriter Frank Wead, and his co-star Robert Montgomery, who all served as a US Navy or US Navy Reserve soldier.

This is the second film in the cavalry trilogy. What’s the title?

"She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" was released in 1949 in full color. The title of this western is from a US military marching song frequently recited to help soldiers march in cadence.

John Wayne also appeared in Vietnam War-era set films such as this one. What’s the title?

"The Green Berets" was released in 1968 during the time that America was involved heavily in the Vietnam War. The story, as well as the film’s intention, generally went against the grain of the anti-war sentiments of the counterculture during that era, earning some criticism for John Wayne as a result of the politics he showcased in the film.

This western is actually a comedy! What's the title?

If you see the theatrical poster of the 1963 film "McLintock!," you'll notice John Wayne in a spanking pose, while co-star Maureen O'Hara is hunched over his lap, about to get spanked. While this image may not fare well with today's audiences, the posing depicts a clue as to what the film is about -- a love story that shares a similar plot pattern with Shakespeare's comedic play "Taming of the Shrew."

What’s the title of this World War II film?

Who could be a good cinematic hero to play a soldier hero during wartime? That could only be John Wayne, starring in 1942’s "Flying Tigers", an obvious propaganda film to boost the American morale shortly after the country joined World War II in 1941, after the Pearl Harbor bombing.

This is one of John Wayne’s popular films during the 1940s. What’s the title?

Although John Wayne was identifiable for his western hero roles, he was also a seafaring hero in some of his films. This is one of them, 1948’s "Wake of the Red Witch," about a story set in the 1860s, where he played the sea captain protagonist.

John Wayne was also a hero in many World War II-set films. Which one is this?

"The Fighting Seabees" is about how the US Naval Construction Battalions came about during World War II, and their nickname was the “Seabees.” The war film was released in 1944, and co-starred Susan Hayward as John Wayne’s love interest.

This was western film director George Sherman's last film. What is it?

"Big Jake" is the 1971 film that featured John Wayne and Richard Boone. Maureen O'Hara is also in here, as well as John's son, Patrick Wayne, and his often co-star Robert Mitchum's son, Christopher Mitchum.

This one was director Howard Hawks' last film. What's the title?

"Rio Lobo" is the 1970 western that echoes Howard Hawks' earlier films that shared the same plot pattern, namely "Rio Bravo" and "El Dorado." Of course, both films also starred John Wayne, but this is their last collaboration.

Hollywood's Golden Age director Michael Curtiz directed this one. What's the title?

Casablanca director Michael Curtiz was directing the 1961 western "The Comancheros" when he fell ill due to his cancer, so John Wayne apparently took over the directorial duty to finish the film. But he didn't want to be credited for it, especially since Curtiz died after this film was released, making it the last film he directed in his career.

This is John Wayne' second film with Kirk Douglas. What's the title?

"The War Wagon" is a 1967 film adaptation of Clair Huffaker's western novel, and he also wrote the screenplay adaptation. John Wayne plays a bad guy here named Taw Jackson, so it's not his usual heroic good guy in front and center.

This interesting "male bonding" film that might predate "Young Guns," somewhat. What's the title?

The 1965 film "The Sons of Katie Elder" is an interesting "coming home" narrative set as a western, this time the four adult sons of a dying elderly woman come home to attend her funeral. It's part family drama, ones that we often see on television these days, and part gunslinging western where people take revenge and shoot even their relatives to cover their evil deeds.

Would you believe John Wayne also played Genghis Khan? It's in this film, which is called what?

Not everything that John Wayne touches turns to cinematic gold, as evident in this huge flop called "The Conqueror." This 1956 film was criticized for many things, notably Wayne being miscast as Genghis Khan even though it was him who wanted the role so much; these days, we call this "miscast" as "yellowface."

This biopic was John Ford's tribute to screenwriter Spig Wead. What's the title?

The 1957 film "The Wings of Eagles" was a biopic, where John Wayne played Commander Frank Wead, also known as Spig. His life was depicted from the time he was part of the creation of the US naval aviation to when he retired and became a playwright and later a screenwriter.

This submarine story popularly floated at the box office. What's the title?

The 1951 film "Operation Pacific" finds John Wayne and longtime co-star Ward Bond in their 12th film together. If the musical score for the action sequences sounds familiar to early Hollywood film buffs, that's because Max Steiner paralleled his scoring here with his dramatic music score in the 1933 film "King Kong."

Of course John Wayne had to be in the ensemble cast of a grand MGM epic western film. What's the title of this one?

The 1962 grand western epic "How The West Was Won" told the story of a family through four generations, which explains the epic casting. Along with John Wayne, the film featured other Hollywood bigwigs like Gregory Peck, Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Karl Malden, Debbie Reynolds, and George Peppard, to name a few.

John Wayne also had a brief role in a Biblical epic film. What's the title of this one?

John Wayne actually only had a brief cameo in the 1965 epic film "The Greatest Story Ever Told," but his appearance somewhat distracted audiences since they still saw him as a huge swashbuckling western or war film hero -- an unlikely figure to do a small cameo. He played a Roman centurion who somehow had a change of heart about the events during the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

This one is noted as John Wayne’s last film to be shot in black and white. What’s the war film’s title?

The 1965 film "In Harm’s Way" is another World War II epic film with an impressive cast list, including Kirk Douglas, Burgess Meredith, Paula Prentiss, and Henry Fonda, to name a few. It was directed and produced by notable filmmaker Otto Preminger.

This safari adventure film is actually a rom-com. What's the title?

The 1962 film "Hatari!" is directed by Howard Hawks, but this time, John Wayne doesn't face gunslinging western bad guys or foreign enemies as a soldier, but rather animals of the jungle. He plays a hunter who catches wild animals in Africa, with the objective of selling them to different zoos worldwide.

While the title might be a bit cringeworthy by today's standards, it's notable because John Huston directed this one. What's the title?

The 1958 film "The Barbarian and the Geisha" was directed by John Huston, and is actually a biopic. It's about the first US Consul General that the USA sent to Japan during 1856, and John Wayne plays this consul named Townsend Harris.

This is from another 1940s western, said to be John Wayne’s finest era for that genre. What’s the title?

This is from the film called "3 Godfathers," directed by John Ford. It was based on a 1918 novelette called "The Three Godfathers" penned by Peter B. Kyne.

Legendary film director Cecil B. DeMille directed this one. What’s the title?

"Reap the Wild Wind" was a novel serialized in the Saturday Evening Post during the 1940s, picked up by DeMille to produce and direct as a film. But the setting of the story was during the 1840s, and it co-starred Paulette Goddard.

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