Just Another Madcap John Wayne Kollege Komedy
Did anyone have a tougher climb to stardom than John Wayne? After several years of crew and extra work, he’s "discovered" by director Raoul Walsh, and cast in Fox’s The Big Trail, but that one’s a disaster with a million dollar loss, and part of the blame is laid at the fledgling actor’s doorstep. We remember an interesting Wayne interview where he talked about having to go on publicity tour for The Big Trail, and how they made him dress out in his buckskin costume for the press gatherings. He never forgot everyone making fun of him, and how it felt to walk through a hotel lobby in such a rig. As it turned out, his humiliation was just beginning, since the failure of The Big Trail would leave him rudderless at Fox, like spoiled meat left too long on the butcher’s counter. His next one was a "hey-hey" college romance called Girls Demand Excitement, which we at the Greenbriar would dearly love to see, but does it even exist? We’ve not heard of any screenings, but hope springs eternal, and in the meantime, we did run across these neat stills and ads to whet our appetites over the prospect of John Wayne as "a Master of Arts in osculation". Exhibitors of the day were encouraged to construct a cardboard devise which would "measure the fervor of a kiss". Patrons were discouraged, however, from demonstrating its effectiveness in the lobby. As to "the four-letter word that makes the world go 'round" as referenced in this vintage ad, there might well be a lively modern debate as to what that word might be! Wayne’s co-star was Virginia Cherrill, and her forthcoming appearance with Charlie Chaplin in City Lights was a big part of the publicity build-up for her debut effort here. She would be wed to Cary Grant around this time. Marguerite Churchill was another refugee from The Big Trail --- she’d co-starred with Wayne in that. For the rest of his life, Wayne would cite Girls Demand Excitement as perhaps the worst film of his entire career, but without having seen this "breezy and frothy comedy", we can't help but wonder ... can it be any worse than The Barbarian and The Geisha? No, we won’t pass such harsh sentence until we’ve looked at the evidence, so the ball’s in your court, Fox! Start digging in those vaults, and let us have a peek at John Wayne as a "frivolous, frolicking, freshman fraternity boy".