Wise Words from The Duke


Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)

Words are what men live by...words they say and mean.

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

There's a lot of things great about life. But I think tomorrow is the most important thing. Comes in to us at midnight very clean, ya know. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.

Sure I wave the American flag. Do you know a better one?

All battles are fought by scared men who'd rather be some place else.

[At Harvard in 1974, on being asked whether then-President Richard Nixon ever advised him on the making of his films] No, they've all been successful.

[On America] I can tell you why I love her. I have a lust for her dignity. I look at her wonderfully classic face, and I see hidden in it a sense of humor that I love. I think of wonderful, exciting, decent things when I look at her ...

Courage is being scared to death -- and saddling up anyway.

I have found a certain type calls himself a liberal ... Now I always thought I was a liberal. I came up terribly surprised one time when I found out that I was a right-wing conservative extremist, when I listened to everybody's point of view that I ever met, and then decided how I should feel. But this so-called new liberal group... they never listen to your point of view...

There's been a lot of stories about how I got to be called Duke. One was that I played the part of a duke in a school play--which I never did. Sometimes, they even said I was descended from royalty! It was all a lot of rubbish. Hell, the truth is that I was named after a dog!

We must always look to the future. Tomorrow -- the time that gives a man just one more chance -- is one of the many things that I feel are wonderful in life. So's a good horse under you. Or the only campfire for miles around. Or a quiet night and a nice soft hunk of ground to sleep on. A mother meeting her first-born. The sound of a kid calling you dad for the first time. There's a lot of things great about life. But I think tomorrow is the most important thing. Comes in to 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.

I want to play a real man in all my films, and 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.

I am an old-fashioned, honest-to-goodness, flag-waving patriot.

I think that the loud roar of irresponsible liberalism ... is being quieted down by a reasoning public. I think the pendulum is swinging back. We're remembering that the past can't be so bad. We built a nation on it. We have to look to tomorrow.

Very few of the so-called liberals are open-minded ... they shout you down and won't let you speak if you disagree with them.

I'm quite sure that the concept of a government-run reservation would have an ill effect on anyone. But that seems to be what the socialists are working for now -- to have everyone cared for from cradle to grave.

I'm not going to give you those I-was-a-poor-boy-and-I-pulled-myself-up-by-my-bootstraps-stories, but I've gone without a meal or two in my lifetime, and I still don't expect the government to turn over any of its territory to me. Hard times aren't something I can blame my fellow citizens for. Years ago, I didn't have all the opportunities, either. But you can't whine and bellyache 'cause somebody else got a good break and you didn't... We'll all be on a reservation soon if the socialists keep subsidizing groups like them with our tax money.

If it hadn't been for football and the fact I got my leg broke and had to go into the movies to eat, why, who knows, I might have turned out to be a liberal Democrat.

[On why he never wrote an autobiography] Those who like me already know me, and those who don't like me wouldn't want to read about me anyway.

I was 32nd in the box office polls when I accepted the presidency of the Alliance. When I left office eight years later, somehow the folks who buy the tickets had made me number one. [The group of actors who reported Communists in Hollywood.]

Just think of it. At the Alamo there was a band of only 185 men of many nationalities and religions, all joined in a common cause for freedom. Those 185 men killed 1000 of Santa Anna's men before they died. But they knew they spent their lives for the precious time Sam Houston needed.

I've known Jane Fonda since she was a little girl. I've never agreed with a word she's said, but would give my life defending her right to say it.

I read someplace that I used to make B-pictures. Hell, they were a lot farther down the alphabet than that ... but not as far down as R and X. I think any man who makes an X-rated picture ought to be made to take his own daughter to see it.

Screw ambiguity. Perversion and corruption masquerade as ambiguity. I don't trust ambiguity.

Not that I had thoughts of becoming a song and dance man, but, like most young actors, I did want to play a variety of roles. I remember walking down the street one day, mumbling to myself about the way my career was going, when suddenly I bumped into Will Rogers. What's the matter, Duke? he asked, and I said things weren't going so well. You working? he asked, and I said, Yep. Keep working, Duke, he said and smiled and walked away.

Watergate is a sad and tragic incident in our history. They were wrong, dead wrong, those men at Watergate. Men abused power, but the system still works. Men abused money, but the system still works. Men lied and perjured themselves, but the system still works.

It's kind of a sad thing when a normal love of country makes you a super patriot. I do think we have a pretty wonderful country, and I thank God that He chose me to live here.

John Ford was like a father to me, like a big brother. I got word that he wanted to see me at his home in Palm Springs, and when I got there, he said, Hi Duke, down for the deathwatch? Hell no, I said, you'll bury us all. But he looked so weak. We used to be a triumvirate -- Ford and me and a guy named Ward Bond. The day I went to Palm Springs, Ford said, Duke, do you ever think of Ward? All the time, I said. Well, let's have a drink to Ward, he said. So I got out the brandy, gave him a sip and took one for myself. All right, Duke, he said finally, I think I'll rest for a while. I went home, and that was Pappy Ford's last day.

[On The Alamo] This picture is America. I hope that seeing the battle of the Alamo will remind Americans that liberty and freedom don't come cheap. This picture, well, I guess making it has made me feel useful to my country.

We've made mistakes along the way, but that's no reason to start tearing up the best flag God ever gave to any country.

There's a lot of yella bastards in the country who would like to call patriotism old-fashioned. With all that leftist activity, I was quite obviously on the other side. I was invited at first to a coupla cell meetings, and I played the lamb to listen to 'em for a while. The only guy that ever fooled me was the director Edward Dmytryk. I made a picture with him called Back to Bataan. He started talking about the masses, and as soon as he started using that word -- which is from their book, not ours -- I knew he was a Commie.

I think those blacklisted people should have been sent over to Russia. They'd have been taken care of over there, and if the Commies ever won over here, why hell, those guys would be the first ones they'd take care of -- after me.

The Green Berets made $7,000,000 in the first three months of its release. This so-called intellectual group aren't in touch with the American people, regardless of [J. William Fulbright's] blatting, and Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern and Ted Kennedy. In spite of them the American people do not feel that way. Instead of taking a census, they ought to count the tickets that were sold to that picture. [Pretty good for 1967.]

I'm glad I won't be around much longer to see what they do with it. The men who control the big studios today are stock manipulators and bankers. They know nothing about our business. They're in it for the buck. The only thing they can do is say, Jeez, that picture with what's-her-name running around the park naked made money, so let's make another one. If that's what they want, let's give it to them. Some of these guys remind me of high-class whores. Look at 20th Century-Fox, where they're making movies like Myra Breckinridge. Why doesn't that son of a b*tch Darryl F. Zanuck get himself a striped silk shirt and learn how to play the piano? Then he could work in any room in the house. As much as I couldn't stand some of the old-time moguls -- especially Harry Cohn -- these men took an interest in the future of their business. They had integrity. There was a stretch when they realized that they'd made a hero out of the godd*mn gangster heavy in crime movies, that they were doing a discredit to our country. So the moguls voluntarily took it upon themselves to stop making gangster pictures. No censorship from the outside. They were responsible to the public. But today's executives don't give a d*mn. In their efforts to grab the box office that these sex pictures are attracting, they're producing garbage. They're taking advantage of the fact that nobody wants to be called a bluenose. But they're going to reach the point where the American people will say, The hell with this! And once they do, we'll have censorship in every state, in every city, and there'll be no way you can make even a worthwhile picture for adults and have it acceptable for national release.

Entertainers like Steve Allen and his cronies who went up to Northern California and held placards to save the life of that guy Caryl Chessman. I just don't understand these things. I can't understand why our national leadership isn't willing to take the responsibility of leadership instead of checking polls and listening to the few that scream. Why are we allowing ourselves to become a mobocracy instead of a democracy? When you allow unlawful acts to go unpunished, you're moving toward a government of men rather than a government of law; you're moving toward anarchy. And that's exactly what we're doing. We allow dirty loudmouths to publicly call policemen pigs; we let a fella like William Kunstler make a speech to the Black Panthers saying that the ghetto is theirs, and that if police come into it, they have a right to shoot them. Why is that dirty, no-good son of a b*tch allowed to practice law?

I don't think a fella should be able to sit on his backside and receive welfare. I'd like to know why well-educated idiots keep apologizing for lazy and complaining people who think the world owes them a living. I'd like to know why they make excuses for cowards who spit in the faces of the police and then run behind the judicial sob sisters. I can't understand these people who carry placards to save the life of some criminal, yet have no thought for the innocent victim.

I do not want the government to take away my human dignity and insure me anything more than a normal security. I don't want handouts.

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

Well, when I went to USC, if anybody had gone into the president's office and sh*t in his wastepaper basket and used the dirt to write vulgar words on the wall, not only the football team but the average kid on campus would have gone to work on the guy. There doesn't seem to be respect for authority anymore; these student dissenters act like children who have to have their own way on everything. They're immature and living in a little world all their own. Just like hippie dropouts, they're afraid to face the real competitive world.

Winston Churchill's the most terrific fella of our century. If I had to make a speech on the subject of Communism, I could think of nobody that had a better insight or that said things concerning the future that have proven out so well. Let me read to you from a book of his quotes. While Roosevelt was giving the world Communism, Churchill said, I tell you -- it's no use arguing with a Communist. It's no good trying to convert a Communist, or persuade him. You can only deal with them on the following basis ... you can only do it by having superior force on your side on the matter in question -- and they must also be convinced that you will use -- you will not hesitate to use these forces if necessary, in the most ruthless manner. You have not only to convince the Soviet government that you have superior force -- but that you are not restrained by any moral consideration if the case arose from using that force with complete material ruthlessness. And that is the greatest chance of peace, the surest road to peace. Churchill was unparalleled. Above all, he took a nearly beaten nation and kept their dignity for them.

And, lastly...

When I started, I knew I was no actor and I went to work on this Wayne thing. It was as deliberate a projection as you'll ever see. I figured I needed a gimmick, so I dreamed up the drawl, the squint and a way of moving meant to suggest that I wasn't looking for trouble but would just as soon throw a bottle at your head as not. I practiced in front of a mirror.

Pro Deo et Constitutione -- Libertas aut Mors
Semper Fortis Vigilate Paratus et Fidelis

Mark Alexander
Publisher, PatriotPost.US