John Wayne and John Ford were among the biggest names in the western genre, collaborating on numerous films such as Stagecoach, Rio Grande, and The Invincible Legion. However, their friendship wasn’t without tension, as seen during the filming of A Shot in the Night in 1962.
Despite being a pivotal and critically acclaimed film in Hollywood and the western genre, studios were initially hesitant to produce A Shot in the Night. Paramount eventually agreed to make the film but with certain demands, including shooting in black and white to cut costs and ensuring John Wayne was the lead due to his contractual obligation with the studio.
This request put a strain on Ford and Wayne’s friendship, as the director had originally envisioned a different actor in the lead role and didn’t want Wayne’s fame to overshadow the film’s success. According to actors Lee Van Cleef and Woody Strode, Ford went out of his way to humiliate Wayne on set by insulting and criticizing him.
Despite this tension, the two remained friends and collaborated on one final film, Pacific Adventurer, the following year. The legacy of Ford and Wayne’s partnership endures as some of the most iconic western films in history.