It’s not easy to make a choice among the innumerable John Wayne box sets and single editions commemorating his 100th birthday. The market is flooded with product and some of it is redundant—there’s some very odd marketing going on out there—but there are also some handsome editions of Wayne’s classics.
The best of the new packages is Paramount’s John Wayne Century Collection, which contains 14 movies on 15 discs and runs from Hondo (1953) through his final movie, The Shootist (1976).
Most of the films that came out of Wayne’s Batjac production company—Hondo, The High and the Mighty (1954), McLintock (1963), Big Jake (1971) and Island in the Sky (1953)—are in the collection, and are presented in collector’s editions with loads of extras.
But it also offers the indispensable The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), The Sons of Katie Elder, the brand new edition of True Grit (1969, with commentary by our own Bob Boze Bell) and El Dorado (1966). The box is listed at just shy of $100, but Amazon and other retailers offer it for around $73, which breaks down to less than $6 per movie—a great deal.
Warner’s new double disc Rio Bravo (1959) is another high point of the birthday blitz, and it sits comfortably alongside Warner’s release of last year’s magnificent John Wayne/John Ford Film Collection.
Finally, for those who would rather see the Duke lobbing grenades or wrasslin’ redheads, Republic’s John Wayne Collection, Vol. 1 offers WWII favorite The Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) and the special edition of The Quiet Man (1952).