Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Animal House - Josey Wales Connection

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It's actor John Vernon who played Dean Wormer in Animal House (1978) and Fletcher in The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976).  Two very different characters; Dean Wormer, the fierce and dictatorial college president at war with Delta House in the smash comedy hit and Fletcher, the soulful moral center of Clint Eastwood's much praised and very violent Western epic.  One thing both characters had in common was that unmistakable voice full of somber or pompous gravitas, depending upon the movie in question.

John Vernon (1932-2005) was a Canadian actor who began appearing in stage and TV roles in the late 1950s.  THC wishes he'd kept his real name: Adolphus Raymondus Vernon Agopsowicz.  Clint Eastwood got to know him when he played the Mayor of San Francisco in Dirty Harry (19171).  Vernon later went on to do a lot of voice work in animated films.

From Animal House; "The time has come for someone to put their foot down, and that foot is me."

And, of course, we cannot forget "No more fun, of any kind!"

In Josey Wales, Vernon plays a Union man tasked with helping a cavalry detachment hunt down the renegade Confederate, Josey Wales, after the Civil War has ended.  The twist is that the Union cavalry commander led a massacre of Wales' fellow soldiers after they surrendered and Fletcher, Vernon's character, is conflicted about what he's been asked to do.

This is the movie's closing scene with Vernon and Eastwood.  Keep in mind as you watch it that Fletcher knows very well what Josey Wales looks like.

And look!  THC found a Josey Wales - Animal House mashup on YouTube.

Josey Wales is full of set-piece classic scenes.  Here is one where Eastwood meets with the Comanche chief, Ten Bears, played by Will Sampson, a Creek Indian who also starred in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.Another Indian with a bigger role was the great Chief Dan George, a chief of the Tsleil-Waututh nation of British Columbia.  George didn't begin acting until he was 60 years old and a decade later received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 1971 film, Little Big Man, starring Dustin Hoffman.

In Josey Wales, Chief George plays a Cherokee chief, Lone Watie, which illustrates the complexity of Civil War allegiances.  Some Cherokees owned African slaves and during the first two years of the war, most of the tribe aligned itself with the Confederacy.  The Principle Chief of the Cherokee Nation during the war was Stand Watie who attained the rank of Brigadier General in the Confederate States Army and led an Indian cavalry brigade.  Here's a clip of George and Eastwood.And this brings us to the final twist in Josey Wales.  The movie was based on a 1972 novel by Forrest Carter.  It was only later revealed to be an alias and the real author as Asa Earl Carter, a former KKK leader and a contributor to George Wallace speeches, who later broke with Wallace, running against him for Governor of Alabama in 1970 on a white supremacist platform (he received only 1.5% of the vote).  Not least of all, he led a campaign in the late 1950s to ban rock n roll from jukeboxes because of what he saw as its immoral Negro influence.

1 comment:

  1. Great clips, insightful commentary. dm

    ReplyDelete