Curtiz Hands the Reins to Wayne


Michael Curtiz was a top Hollywood director, helming classics like Casablanca, White Christmas, and The Adventures of Robin Hood. In 1960, he was hired to do the Western The Comancheros.

But Curtiz—74 at the time—was dying of cancer, so sick that he couldn’t come to the set on most days. So star John Wayne took over the director duties, seeing the film through to the end. Wayne insisted that Curtiz’ name alone appear in the credits as director. That situation repeated itself with Wayne and director George Sherman in 1971’s Big Jake.