100+ Classic John Wayne Quotes

John Wayne Quotes

John Wayne (real name: Marion Robert Morrison), also known by his nickname Duke, was born on May 26, 1907 in Winterset, Iowa, U.S. He was an actor and filmmaker who stared mostly in war movies and Westerns. In this article, we are sharing with you some of the most classic and unforgettable John Wayne quotes.

John Wayne was a very successful actor and his career flourished. He appeared in no less than 179 movies and TV productions. He has won many awards during his career and in 1970 finally grabbed the most prestigious award, when he won the Academy Award for Best Actor in Leading Role for the 1969 movie – True Grit.

On June 11, 1979, John Wayne died of stomach cancer. After his death, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is considered as the highest civilian honor of the United States. In 1999, he was selected as one of the greatest male stars of classic American cinema by the American Film Institute.

Here is a sneak peek at the quotes in this article:

Famous John Wayne Quotes

Courage is being completely paralyzed with fear and taking the first step anyway. Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway.


Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.


A man deserves a second chance, but keep an eye on him.


I’d like to know why well-educated idiots keep apologizing for lazy and complaining people who think the world owes them a living.


My hope and prayer is that everyone know and love our country for what she really is and what she stands for.


Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say too much.


I’ve always followed my father’s advice: he told me, first to always keep my word and, second, to never insult anybody unintentionally. If I insult you, you can be goddamn sure I intend to. And, third, he told me not to go around looking for trouble.


A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.


Thanking people is dangerous business. A name always slips your mind.


If you’ve got them by the balls their hearts and minds will follow.


It’s getting to be ri-goddamn-diculous.


I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.


I would think somebody like Jane Fonda and her idiot husband would be terribly ashamed and saddened that they were a part of causing us to stop helping the South Vietnamese. Now look what’s happening. They’re getting killed by the millions. Murdered by the millions. How the hell can she and her husband sleep at night?


I would like to be remembered, well…the Mexicans have a phrase, “Feo fuerte y formal”. Which means he was ugly, strong and had dignity.


When you come against trouble, it’s never half as bad if you face up to it.


Just one more question, Pilgrim. How far up your ass do you want my boot?


The hyphenated American is ridiculous. But that’s what we have to put up with. I think that any person that’s in the United States is better off here than they would be where they came from.


The worst part of it has been, I think, the adverse effect on family life. It kills off family conversation. And it’s harder to get your children to read books. I became a confirmed reader when I was growing up in Glendale. I’ve loved reading all my life. Now I’ve got this daughter, Aissa, a very bright young lady, but it is a hard job to get her to read. Television’s just too easy.


Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.


A man’s got to have a code, a creed to live by.


All the screen cowboys behaved like real gentlemen. They didn’t drink, they didn’t smoke. When they knocked the bad guy down, they always stood with their fists up, waiting for the heavy to get back on his feet. I decided I was going to drag the bad guy to his feet and keep hitting him.


There’s right and there’s wrong. You gotta do one or the other. Do the other and you may be walking around, but you’re dead as a beaver hat.


A man ought to do what he thinks is best.


Drop that or I’ll blow ya straight to Jesus.


As we live in an insane world major, maybe it’s time we gave insane solutions a chance.


A goal, a love and a dream give you total control over your body and your life.


Fear is just one of the many words I don’t know the meaning of.


I haven’t had a fight since I was 11. I only won that because she had an asthma attack.


Don’t hit your posset with a stick mister, it tends to make you cough.


If everything isn’t black and white I say why the hell not.


When you side with a man you stay with him, and if you can’t do that you’re like some animal. You’re finished.


Fire can be our friend. Whether it’s toasting marshmallows or raining down on Charlie.


You have to be a man before you can be a gentleman.


My name is John Wayne. When I was a kid I had ring worm. Hell, I was more worm than boy for a couple of years.


Are you going to believe what you see or what I tell you?


About the worst thing an honest man can do is make an honest mistake.


I’m responsible only for what I say, not what you understand.


I have tried to live my life so that my family would love me and my friends respect me. The others can do whatever the hell they please.


When you stop fighting, that’s death


I’m the stuff men are made of.


I define manhood simply: men should be tough, fair, and courageous, never petty, never looking for a fight, but never backing down from one either.


What’s the secret of success? Right decisions. How do you make right decisions? Experience. How do you get experience? Wrong decisions.


Everybody that I was in school with had an uncle or father in the law, and I started to realize that I was going to end up writing briefs for about ten years for these fellows who I thought I was smarter than. And I was kind of losing my feeling for that.


I’m not the sort to back away from a fight. I don’t believe in shrinking from anything. It’s not my speed. I’m a guy who meets adversities head on.


Real art is basic emotion. If a scene is handled with simplicity, and I don’t mean simple, it’ll be good, and the public will know it.


I suppose my best attribute, if you want to call it that, is sincerity. I can sell sincerity because that’s the way I am.


I was sure I’d set the world on fire, and it was hard for a young feller like me to realize the truth – that I hadn’t set the world on fire, and I was totally unprepared to handle the consequences if ‘The Big Trail’ had been a success and launched me as a star.


In Westerns, you meet a hardy bunch of characters. There is no jealousy on such pictures.


All I’m for is the liberty of the individual.


I’d read up on the history of our country and I’d become fascinated with the story of the Alamo. To me it represented the fight for freedom, not just in America, but in all countries.


Nobody should come to the movies unless he believes in heroes.


I never have really become accustomed to the ‘John.’ Nobody ever really calls me John…I’ve always been Duke or Marion or John Wayne. It’s a name that goes well together, and it’s like one word – John Wayne.


Nothing is so discouraging to an actor than to have to work for long hours upon hours in brightly lighted interior sets.


When you come to see a picture of mine, I want you to know that I’m not going to do anything that will make you uncomfortable. I want you to know that you won’t be disappointed in me.


I was ashamed to admit I was hipped to the idea of acting. That’s why I started in with the props.


In my acting, I have to identify with something in the character. The big tough boy on the side of right — that’s me.


Sure I wave the American flag. Do you know a better flag to wave? Sure I love my country with all her faults. I’m not ashamed of that, never have been, never will be.


I am a demonstrative man, a baby picker-upper, a hugger and a kisser, that’s my nature.


I’m an American actor. I work with my clothes on. I have to. Riding a horse can be pretty tough on your legs and elsewheres.


I stick to simple themes. Love. Hate. No nuances. I stay away from psychoanalyst’s couch scenes. Couches are good for one thing.


I never trust a man that doesn’t drink.


True grit is making a decision and standing by it, doing what must be done.


Give the American people a good cause, and there’s nothing they can’t lick.


Life is getting up one more time than you’ve been knocked down.


I play John Wayne in every part regardless of the character, and I’ve been doing okay, haven’t I?


I’ve had three wives, six children and six grandchildren and I still don’t understand women.


Nobody ever saw a cowboy on the psychiatrist’s couch.


When the road looks rough ahead, remember the ‘Man upstairs’ and the word HOPE. Hang onto both and ‘tough it out’.


Out here a man settles his own problems.


Every country in the world loved the folklore of the West–the music, the dress, the excitement, everything that was associated with the opening of a new territory. It took everybody out of their own little world. The cowboy lasted a hundred years, created more songs and prose and poetry than any other folk figure. The closest thing was the Japanese samurai. Now, I wonder who’ll continue it.


Get off your horse and drink your milk.


When I was a sophomore at USC, I was a socialist, pretty much to the left. But not when I left the university. I quickly got wise. I’d read about what had happened to Russia in 1917 when the Communists took over.


Get off your butt and join the Marines!


My folks always let me go to the movies every Saturday. We were really motion-picture goers.


John Wayne Quotes from Movies

The bigger the man, the deeper the imprint. And when he’s in love, he suffers knowing it’s a dead end.

The Shepperd of the Hills, 1941


You take chances, my friend.

Rio Bravo, 1959


Looking back is a bad habit.

True Grit, 1969


I won’t be wronged. I won’t be insulted. I won’t be laid a-hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.

The Shootist, 1976


It takes a good fire to burn down the weeds…to let the flowers grow.

Dark Command, 1940


You’re short on ears and long on mouth.

Big Jake, 1971


Never apologize, mister, it’s a sign of weakness.

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, 1949


Ya don’t get lard less’n you boil a hog!

The Alamo, 1960


A human rides a horse until it dies, then he goes on afoot. A Comanche comes along, gets that horse up, rides him 20 more miles…and then he eats him.

The Searchers, 1956


Big mouth don’t make a big man.

The Cowboys, 1972


I always try to be ready.

True Grit, 1969


Well, whatever I need I’ll get.

The Cowboys, 1972


Figure a man’s only good for one oath at a time. I took mine to the Confederate States of America.

The Searchers, 1956


Friend, you better get another line of work. This one sure don’t fit your pistol.

The Shootist, 1976


Well if I had a big horse pistol like that I wouldn’t be scared of no “boogerman”.

True Grit, 1969


Well, it’s not how you’re buried, it’s how you’re remembered.

The Cowboys, 1972


Sorry don’t get it done, Dude.

Rio Bravo, 1959


Don’t try to win this war all by yourself.

Flying Tigers, 1942


The Sioux once raided into Apache territory. Old-timers told me you can follow the line of their retreat by the bones of their dead.

Fort Apache, 1948


Slap some bacon on a biscuit and let’s go! We’re burnin’ daylight!

The Cowboys, 1972


Baby sister, I was born game and I intend to go out that way.

True Grit, 1969


Well, I guess you can’t break out of prison and into society in the same week.

Stagecoach, 1939


I’m a dying man, scared of the dark.

The Shootist, 1976


Half the people in the world are women. Why does it have to be you that stirs me?

McLintock!, 1963


You can’t serve papers on a rat, baby sister. You gotta kill him or let him be.

True Grit, 1969


Well, there are some things a man just can’t run away from.

Stagecoach, 1939


Friend, there’s nobody up there shooting back at you. It isn’t always being fast or even accurate that counts. It’s being willing. I found out early that most men, regardless of cause or need, aren’t willing. They blink an eye or draw a breath before they pull the trigger. I won’t.

The Shootist, 1976


Now I don’t hold jail against you, but I hate a liar.

The Cowboys, 1972


know, I know. I’m gonna use good judgement. I haven’t lost my temper in forty years, but pilgrim you caused a lot of trouble this morning, might have got somebody killed…and somebody oughta belt you in the mouth. But I won’t, I won’t….

McLintock!, 1963


I don’t know much about the law. Ain’t had much book learning. But the good Lord gave me a nose for smelling a horse thief a mile off. And what you need in these parts is a marshal that’s better at smelling than spelling.

McLintock!, 1963


I don’t believe I ever killed a man that didn’t deserve it.

The Shootist, 1976


Get down off them horses. I don’t favor looking up to the likes of you.

Red River, 1948


Young fella, if you’re looking for trouble, I’ll accommodate you. Otherwise, leave it alone.

True Grit, 1969


LaBoeuf, you get cross ways of me and you’ll think a thousand of brick have fell on you!

True Grit, 1969


Any man that doesn’t wanna’ co-operate, I’ll make him wish he hadn’t been born.

Sands of Iwo Jima, 1949


You can’t give the enemy a break. Send him to hell.

The Longest Day, 1962


I’m proud of ya…all of ya. Every man wants his children to be better than he was. You are.

The Cowboys, 1972


You’re the guy we’re fighting this war for

Back to Bataan, 1945


Death can come for ya any place, any time. It’s never welcomed. But if you’ve done all you can do, and it’s your best, in a way I guess you’re ready for it.

The Cowboys, 1972


Well, you look just how I remembered the Sweeneys – mean and ugly.

The Shootist, 1976


Come on Wildcats, make us proud today.

The Flying Leathernecks, 1951


You may need me and this Winchester, Curly

Stagecoach, 1939


Is this an invite to a necktie party, Reverend?

The Searchers, 1956


For that dumbass amateur. There’s always some six-fingered bustard that couldn’t hit a cow in the tit with a tin cup. That’s the one who usually does you in. But Masterson always was full of…sheep-dip.

The Shootist, 1976


Monsewer, words are what men live by.

The Comancheros, 1961


I seen better fights than this at a prayer meeting.

The Gunfighter, 1950


If you say “three”, mister, you’ll never hear the man count ten.

The Quiet Man, 1952


Did anyone ever tell you that you’re beautiful when you’re angry?

The Sea Chase, 1955


All battles are fought by scared men who’d rather be someplace else.

In Harm’s Way, 1965


Out here, due process is a bullet.

The Green Berets (1968)


Interesting Facts about John Wayne

After we read some famous and iconic quotes from Wayne’s classic movies, it’s time to get to know him even better, with some interesting facts about John Wayne. So, here it goes…

  1. John Wayne Wasn’t Supposed to be an Actor at all – John Wayne used to play football in University of Southern California, but due to a surfing injury where he wrecked his shoulder, he had lost his athletic scholarship. At that point, Wayne had no choice but to leave school and find a new job, where he would work on different movie sets, and later becoming an actor himself.
  2. Saddling Furniture – Prior to Wayne saddling horses, he used to saddle furniture as a prop guy. That was back in 1927 at Fox Studios, a job he did after finishing school.
  3. Wayne Loved to Play Chess – John Wayne was a chess enthusiast and along the famous people who were his rivals to the game are: Robert Mitchum, Marlene Dietrich, Rock Hudson and others.
  4. Wayne’s First Movie Break – Director Raoul Walsh saw John Wayne one day who was a handsome young man at the time, moving furniture on a set of another movie, being a prop boy that time. He decided to cast him as the lead role in his 1930 movie, The Big Trail, which was Wayne’s first big movie break.
  5. Missing what Might Have Been an Oscar Winning Role – John Wayne rejected the leading role in the 1949 movie, All the King’s Men, because he thought that the script was… how to say it, un-American. So, instead of Wayne, it was Broderick Crawford who got the leading role, winning with that role the 1949 Academy Award for Best Actor. But even though Wayne lost the award, he was also nominated for it in that same year for the role in Sands of Iwo Jima.
  6. Not Being Nominated as much as You Think – Although John Wayne had a great and distinguished career, he was nominated for Best Actor only twice during all this time. Once for his 1949 movie, Sands of Iwo Jima, and another time in for his 1969 movie True Grit, where he also won the prestigious award.
  7. Fluent in Spanish – John Wayne knew Spanish fluently. This may have been due to the fact that all of his wives were of Latin or Hispanic descent.
  8. Getting Hate Mail – When John Wayne decided to support with the Democrats and then President Jimmy Carter over the Panama Canal issue, he started receiving hate mail for the first time in his life. Josephine, who was John Wayne’s first wife, was a native of Panama, and Wayne himself was good friends with Omar Torrijos Herrera, the late Panamanian leader.
  9. The Writing on the Grave – Wayne’s grave was unmarked for 20 years, but today you can find a quotation on it. This quotation says: “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”
  10. More Leads Than Any Other Actor – John Wayne starred in the leading role more than any other movie star and actor. Overall, he starred in no less than 175 movies, playing the leading role in 142 out of the 175 movies he made!
  11. Being Superstitious – It seems that John Wayne was extremely superstitious. How superstitious? He didn’t like people passing salt to him or leaving a hat on the bed. According to him, if you left a hat on the bed, you’re probably a psychopath.
  12. Being Paid with Bourbon – In 1967, John Wayne requested that he would be paid “a fifth of bourbon” to make a cameo appearance in The Beverly Hillbillies.
  13. A Very Famous Fan – Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, was a huge fan of John Wayne. I guess even though they did not share the same opinions and points of view on life, Stalin knew to appreciate Wayne’s acting talent.
  14. Rejecting Clint Eastwood’s Offer – Clint Eastwood send John Wayne a letter, where he suggested that the two would star together in a Western movie. However, Wayne who was not a fan of Eastwood (to say the least) rejected his offer and even sent him an angry letter back.

For more exciting quotes from famous movie stars, please see our posts dedicated to Pulp Fiction quotes and Scarface quotes.

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