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Monogram was one of the companies that was merged to form the new Republic Pictures organization in 1935, and Wayne, Trem Carr, Paul Malvern and the Lone Star production unit came in the deal. Under the Republic logo, Wayne did eight westerns which had slightly higher budgets and production values over the previous sixteen westerns. KING OF THE PECOS (Republic, 1936) is a good adventure with meaty roles for rotund baddie Cy Kendall and his nasty helper Jack Clifford. WESTWARD HO (Republic, 1935) is another good one, with Wayne searching for his lost brother (played by Frank McGlynn Jr.) and also leading the vigilante "Singing Riders" on their white steeds. Last - and arguably best of the group of eight - is WINDS OF THE WASTELAND (Republic, 1936). In WINDS, Lane Chandler is Wayne's buddy, and the film is a fast-paced tale about a stageline and concludes with an exciting and lengthy stagecoach race.

At the same time as these Waynes were being churned out, Republic brought forth another cinema range rider. Released in September, 1935, TUMBLING TUMBLEWEEDS (Republic, 1935) was the first B western starring role for Gene Autry. And in 1936, Republic introduced the Three Mesquiteers.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above is the title lobby card for THE NEW FRONTIER (Republic, 1935), one of eight that Wayne did at the new Republic Pictures company.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above from left to right are John Wayne, Muriel Evans, Murdock MacQuarrie and Mary MacLaren in Wayne's THE NEW FRONTIER (Republic, 1935).

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Bob Kortman on the stage wheel converses with Douglas Cosgrove, and a young John Wayne has the drop on both in WINDS OF THE WASTELAND (Republic, 1936), one of the best of the eight Wayne westerns that were filmed soon after the formation of Republic. This film includes an outstanding stagecoach race.

Trem Carr had become a Vice President at Republic Pictures, but was disgruntled with the new company. He and Paul Malvern went over to Universal Pictures and Wayne followed along as he was offered some better low-budget films, none of them westerns. March 21, 1936 Universal Weekly trade publication had an announcement - excerpts:

"Universal has signed a contract with Trem Carr as the producer of a series of adventure melodramas starring John Wayne ..." ; " None of them will be western pictures ..."

However, the half dozen Universals for Carr and Malvern were not successful, nor did they elevate Wayne to higher status.

Then came his solo starring role in the excellent BORN TO THE WEST (Paramount, 1937; alternate title: HELL TOWN), a Zane Grey adventure which featured Johnny Mack Brown and Marsha Hunt. From the August 25, 1937 issue of Variety:

"Hollywood, Aug. 24 (1937). John Wayne goes to Paramount on a loanout deal with Trem Carr and will be featured in 'Born to the West' ..." ; "Part of the deal, it is understood, was to hand Paramount an option on future pictures with Wayne."

But Wayne did no additional films under that option arrangement with Paramount.

Republic's Three Mesquiteers trio series began in 1936 and was a box office success. The Republic brass liked Mesquiteers member Bob Livingston and decided to try him in some other type films. So they hired Wayne to replace Livingston as 'Stony Brooke' in the Mesquiteers' adventures. Wayne appeared in eight films released during 1938-1939, and all were typical Republic action and quality. During that period, he was loaned out for STAGECOACH (United Artists, 1939).

While doing the trio series, Wayne was (briefly) under consideration to star in a Lone Ranger feature film. But that didn't happen. The July 20, 1938 issue of Variety had news:

Headline: "WAYNE AS LONE RANGER" Article excerpt: "Hollywood, July 19 (1938). John Wayne gets top role in Republic's 'The Lone Ranger Returns,' to be produced by Armand Schaefer starting next week. Film will be feature length, although studio has already made a 15 chapter cliffhanger around character. Title is designed to capitalize on Lone Ranger's radio popularity." (The feature was never made - instead, Bob Livingston starred in the second Lone Ranger cliffhanger, THE LONE RANGER RIDES AGAIN (Republic, 1939)).

With his success in STAGECOACH, Wayne was promoted to higher grade cinema adventures. He worked long and hard to get to that position, and we're thankful that most of his 1930s westerns, non-westerns and cliffhangers are available to view and enjoy. A great many wonderful and memorable films lay ahead for Wayne. And he would become one of Hollywood's most beloved stars. But that's another story.


(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above right is an April, 1938 trade paper announcement about Wayne signing for the Three Mesquiteers and Bob Livingston getting promoted to bigger roles. The article mentions Wayne for three films - he wound up doing eight Mesquiteer adventures for the 1938-39 release season after signing a multi-year contract with Republic. On the left is a poster image from THREE TEXAS STEERS. Based on the size of the lettering, Wayne was definitely the star. The pretty gal next to Wayne is Carole Landis (1919-1948).

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above from left to right are Three Mesquiteers members Max Terhune, John Wayne and Ray Corrigan. Note Wayne's gunbelt and plain shirt, buttoned at the collar.

(From Old Corral collection)

On the left is Wayne as 'the Ringo Kid' in STAGECOACH (United Artists, 1939) which was filmed in November-December, 1938, and released in February, 1939.

At the time, Wayne was under a Republic contract and doing the Three Mesquiteers series. In the middle of those trio adventures, he was loaned out to producer Walter Wanger and director John Ford to do STAGECOACH.

Most of the info on the Old Corral about the contracts and salaries at Republic Pictures has been gleaned from Jack Mathis' excellent Republic Confidential, Volume 2, The Players (Jack Mathis Advertising, 1992) and Republic Confidential, Volume 1, The Studio (Jack Mathis Advertising, 1999), and I've given Jack credit in the Acknowledgements & Thanks page. In Republic Confidential, Volume 1, The Studio, Jack devotes a full chapter on Wayne and his Republic agreements (on pages 418 - 433), and there's tidbits and details on salaries, quantities of films, loan-out arrangements, many letters between Wayne and Republic prexy Herbert J. Yates, etc. Salary figures for Wayne's six 1936-1937 non-westerns at Universal are documented in Fred Landesman's The John Wayne Filmography (McFarland and Company, 2004).

Following is a summary of Wayne's (complex) Republic and Universal agreements:

• Recall John Wayne's sixteen 1933-1935 Lone Star oaters. They were churned out by producer Paul Malvern's production unit which reported to W. Ray Johnston and Trem Carr, the bosses at Monogram Pictures. Wayne signed a contract with Trem Carr Pictures on April 19, 1935, and the agreement called for him to star in eight more films during the period from June 1, 1935 through May 31, 1936. Republic Pictures was formed in 1935 and Trem Carr, producer Malvern and Wayne became part of the new company. Wayne was paid $14,000.00 ($1750.00 per film) for those eight westerns which were released under the Republic brand.

• Trem Carr had become a Vice President at the new Republic Pictures, but after a brief period, he opted to leave. Circa late Summer, 1936, Carr, Malvern and Wayne moved to Universal. Over a one+ year period, Wayne starred in six non-westerns, the first of which was SEA SPOILERS (Universal, 1936). His pay for the half dozen was $36,000.00 ($6000.00 per film). His only other film during this time was BORN TO THE WEST (Paramount, 1937; re-issued as HELL TOWN).

• Wayne returned to Republic with a contract signed May 7, 1938 that covered the period from June 1, 1938 through May 31, 1939 (relates to the tradepaper announcement shown above). In addition to the initial one year arrangement, there were four annual renewal options with yearly pay increases that tied him to the studio through 1943. Wayne could do westerns or non-westerns, but no serials, and loan-outs were OK, but in westerns only. His salary for the eight Three Mesquiteers films amounted to $24,000.00 ($3000.00 per film), and it was during this Mesquiteers period that he was loaned out to Walter Wanger and John Ford for STAGECOACH.

• Wayne continued working for Republic under those annual renewal options. However, the final year option was superceded by a completely new contract which was signed in May, 1943, and continued through October, 1945. Under this, Wayne made films such as THE FIGHTING SEABEES (Republic, 1943) with a $25,000 payday, and DAKOTA (Republic, 1945) in which he was paid $45,000.00. Loan-outs were OK, with any salary overages equally split between Wayne and Republic.

• Wayne's last (final) contract with Republic was a seven picture deal that ran from October, 1945 and expired on January 14, 1952. His salary was $100,000.00 per film vs. 10% of the gross. During this six plus year period, he starred in ANGEL AND THE BADMAN, SANDS OF IWO JIMA, more. Wayne could also determine if he should be listed as producer. Since this was a seven picture arrangement, there was no loan-out clause (and that allowed Wayne to work other places for whatever salary he could negotiate).

Mathis included some interesting notes on the contract add-ons and exclusions. Example: under the 1943-1945 agreement, Wayne's buddy Paul Fix was to be employed on each film as dialogue director and paid $200.00/weekly; and Wayne had full commercial/publicity rights for any product or company endorsements.

The Motion Picture Herald and Boxoffice polls were conducted from about the mid 1930s through the mid 1950s.  With a few exceptions, the annual results would list the 'Top Ten' (or 'Top Five') cowboy film stars.  In most cases, the winners were what you would expect - Autry, Rogers, Holt, Starrett, Hoppy, etc.  Wayne and the Three Mesquiteers (while Wayne was a member) were ranked in both polls.

Popularity Rankings of John Wayne as a solo hero,
and as a member of the Three Mesquiteers
Year Motion Picture Herald
Poll Ranking
Poll Ranking
1936 Wayne ranked 7th .
1938 Mesquiteers ranked 5th Mesquiteers ranked 10th
1939 Wayne ranked 9th
Mesquiteers ranked 6th
Wayne ranked 6th
1940 . Wayne ranked 2nd (behind Gene Autry)

The Quigley Publishing Annual Top Ten MoneyMakers Poll was published in the Motion Picture Almanac, and Gene Autry and Roy Rogers were on the list in the 1940s. Wayne's initial appearance on this poll occurred in 1949. Over the next next several decades, he was a consistent box office champion, often garnering the number one or number two spot. You'll find a link to the Quigley Publishing Annual Top Ten MoneyMakers Poll from 1932-1970 on a later Wayne webpage.

John Wayne
Starring/Primary Roles - the 1930s

First starring film:
THE BIG TRAIL (Fox, 1930)

In Buck Jones and Tim McCoy oaters at Columbia Pictures:
RANGE FEUD (Columbia, 1931) Buck Jones
TEXAS CYCLONE (Columbia, 1932) Tim McCoy
TWO-FISTED LAW (Columbia, 1932) Tim McCoy

In 3 non-western cliffhangers for Nat Levine and Mascot:

At Warners for his first starring western series:
RIDE HIM, COWBOY (Warners, 1932)
THE BIG STAMPEDE (Warners, 1932)
HAUNTED GOLD (Warners, 1932)

16 Lone Star westerns for producer Paul Malvern (released by Monogram):
RIDERS OF DESTINY (Lone Star/Monogram, 1933) (Wayne sings; singing voice is dubbed)
SAGEBRUSH TRAIL (Lone Star/Monogram, 1933)
THE LUCKY TEXAN (Lone Star/Monogram, 1933)
WEST OF THE DIVIDE (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934)
BLUE STEEL (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934)
THE MAN FROM UTAH (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934) (Wayne sings; singing voice is dubbed)
RANDY RIDES ALONE (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934)
THE STAR PACKER (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934)
THE TRAIL BEYOND (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934)
THE LAWLESS FRONTIER (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934)
'NEATH ARIZONA SKIES (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934)
TEXAS TERROR (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935)
RAINBOW VALLEY (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935)
THE DESERT TRAIL (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935)
THE DAWN RIDER (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935)
PARADISE CANYON (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935)

8 more westerns for producer Paul Malvern at the new Republic Pictures company:
WESTWARD HO (Republic, 1935) (Wayne sings; singing voice is dubbed)
THE NEW FRONTIER (Republic, 1935)
THE LAWLESS RANGE (Republic, 1935) (Wayne sings; singing voice is dubbed)
THE OREGON TRAIL (Republic, 1936)
KING OF THE PECOS (Republic, 1936)
THE LONELY TRAIL (Republic, 1936)

At Universal for 6 non-westerns:
THE SEA SPOILERS (Universal, 1936)
CONFLICT (Universal, 1936)
I COVER THE WAR (Universal, 1937)
IDOL OF THE CROWDS (Universal, 1937)
ADVENTURE'S END (Universal, 1937)

A solo western for Paramount with Johnny Mack Brown:
BORN TO THE WEST (Paramount, 1937) (alternate title: HELL TOWN)

As "Stony Brooke" of Republic's Three Mesquiteers:
PALS OF THE SADDLE (Republic, 1938) (with Corrigan & Terhune)
OVERLAND STAGE RAIDERS (Republic, 1938) (with Corrigan & Terhune)
SANTA FE STAMPEDE (Republic, 1938) (with Corrigan & Terhune)
RED RIVER RANGE (Republic, 1938) (with Corrigan & Terhune)
THE NIGHT RIDERS (Republic, 1939) (with Corrigan & Terhune)
THREE TEXAS STEERS (Republic, 1939) (with Corrigan & Terhune)
WYOMING OUTLAW (Republic, 1939) (with Corrigan & Hatton)
NEW FRONTIER (Republic, 1939) (with Corrigan & Hatton)
(NEW FRONTIER was retitled FRONTIER HORIZON for TV release to avoid
confusion with Wayne's earlier film, THE NEW FRONTIER (Republic, 1935))

For Director John Ford:
STAGECOACH (Walter Wanger/United Artists, 1939)

Note: the above filmography represents Wayne starring films and western film supporting roles, and does NOT include roles and bit parts in some 1920s silents and early 1930s non-westerns.  However, I did include the McCoy and Jones oaters at Columbia, the three Mascot serials, and six Universal non-westerns for reference purposes.

(From Old Corral collection)

(From Old Corral collection)

No question that Wayne was clearly the star and lead in Republic's Three Mesquiteers - note the size of the lettering for his name vs. Corrigan, Terhune and Hatton in the above two title lobby cards.

Wayne's Best from the 1930s

If I had to select some 1930s Wayne favorites, I would choose:

THE BIG TRAIL (Fox, 1930)
HAUNTED GOLD (Warners, 1932)
RIDERS OF DESTINY (Lone Star/Monogram, 1933)
THE TRAIL BEYOND (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934)
BLUE STEEL (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934)
RANDY RIDES ALONE (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934)
THE DAWN RIDER (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935)
KING OF THE PECOS (Republic, 1936)
BORN TO THE WEST (Paramount, 1937; re-issued as HELL TOWN)
OVERLAND STAGE RAIDERS (Republic, 1938, Three Mesquiteers series)
WYOMING OUTLAW (Republic, 1939, Three Mesquiteers series)
STAGECOACH (United Artists, 1939)

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