My Top 10 John Wayne Movies

Below are my ten favorite John Wayne movies. These are not necessarily John Wayne’s ten best critically acclaimed movies; they are simply my personal favorites. There are other John Wayne movies that I enjoy, but I tried to narrow it down as much as I could. You’ll notice that I didn’t include the only film for which Wayne won an Oscar–True Grit. I enjoy the movie, but it’s just not one of my favorites. Many feel that Wayne should also have been nominated for an Oscar for The Searchers, which did make my list.

According to Wikipedia, John Wayne starred in 169 feature length films. The best I can tell I’ve seen about 52 of these movies.

John Wayne is one of the most beloved and well-known movie stars in history. You’ve likely seen many of his movies as well, but if you haven’t I encourage you to start with these below:

10. Donovan’s Reef

This 1963 John Ford directed comedy is set in French Polynesia and stars Lee Marvin alongside the Duke. I like it for two reasons. One, I have a very distinct memory of when I watched it the first time. I was housesitting for someone, and I watched a mini-marathon of John Wayne movies and saw this one along with In Harm’s Way at the same time. Two, the tropical setting combined with a memorable Christmas scene make it somewhat unique within the John Wayne filmography. The movie is light-hearted and provides a nearly two hour escape with the chance to see John Wayne in a non-Western role.

9. McQ

Set in Seattle, McQ is one of Wayne’s two police thrillers (the other one being the London based Brannigan). Both movies provide an opportunity to see Wayne in a different kind of role and setting. If you’re a Trekkie or a Magnum fan, you might enjoy seeing Diana Muldaur and Roger E. Mosley in this film. There is a famous car chase scene on the beach at the end of the movie. The appeal of McQ for me is the Emerald City setting as well as seeing Wayne play a police officer in a modern day urban environment. If I remember correctly, I first saw this movie, as well as Brannigan, on Turner Classic Movies.

8. McLintock!

This is a classic John Wayne comedy with the usual group fight scenes, this time in the mud. Maureen O’Hara, Wayne’s son, Patrick, and Stefanie Powers co-star. The film is based on The Taming of the Shrew. The chemistry between O’Hara and Wayne help make the movie a hit. The first time I saw this movie I didn’t really like it, but the more I saw it the more it grew on me. I remember seeing the VHS tape of McLintock! at my Grandparents’ house growing up, and that piqued my interest in the movie.

7. Hatari!

This 1962 Howard Hawks adventure/romantic comedy is a charming and delightful movie. Set in Africa, it follows a group of big game hunters as they chase rhinos and other animals. Hilarious antics are interspersed throughout the film as well. Again, the setting adds a lot to this film. It’s a little odd to see John Wayne in this role, but somehow it works. I was talking with a friend about my fondness for John Wayne movies, and she asked me if I had seen Hatari! I hadn’t, so I checked it out; I wasn’t disappointed. This film is a fun ride.

6. Sons of Katie Elder

Dean Martin, George Kennedy, and a young Dennis Hopper star alongside Wayne in this western about four brothers who reunite after their saintly mother’s funeral. The brothers soon realize something is amiss when a gunsmith claims ownership of their family’s ranch. Look for a shootout between the Elders and the bad guys under a bridge. This is your typical John Wayne western. If you haven’t seen many John Wayne movies, this one might be a good place to start.

5. The Comancheros

Wayne plays a Texas Ranger in this film in which he has to transport and extradite a gambler (Stuart Whitman) who killed someone in a duel. But he soon finds himself joining forces with him to face a common enemy–the Comancheros, a criminal gang that is supplying the Comanches with guns. Directed by Michael Curtiz of Casablanca fame, this film is an enjoyable adventure. Look for a memorable appearance by Lee Marvin as well as a quote from Whitman at a poker table about enjoying the game for its own rewards.

4. The Undefeated

This movie was on television the other night, and I was reminded of what a delightful movie it is. In our day of division, this film is a heartwarming story of how two Union and Confederate officers learn to overcome their differences to fight common enemies in Mexico after the United States Civil War. Rock Hudson co-stars as the Confederate colonel. If you like horses, there are also plenty of equine scenes to enjoy. The Mexican setting adds to the allure and beauty of the film. The revolutionary politics of the era also add an interesting backstory to the film. I still remember the Sunday afternoon that I made spaghetti and watched this film for the first time.

3. North to Alaska

This film is a pleasant departure from Wayne’s typical western roles. Stewart Granger co-stars along with Ernie Kovacs, Fabian, and the attractive French actress Capucine. The film takes place during the Nome Gold Rush. Some of the movie is also set in Seattle. This movie has romance, comedy, and adventure. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when John Wayne speed climbs a tree during a lumberjack competition at a picnic. One of the great things about John Wayne movies is that there are usually random scenes that you don’t expect which make the movies memorable. You truly feel like you’re on a ride, and you don’t know where it’s taking you.

2. The Searchers

This is one of my favorites, and I’m not alone in that assessment. This is considered a classic and one of Wayne’s best films. As mentioned above, he should have won an Oscar for it. This John Ford directed film was named the greatest American Western by the American Film Institute. It was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation for the National Film Registry.

Wayne plays Ethan Edwards, a Civil War veteran who fought on the side of the Confederacy. The story begins in Texas as Ethan arrives at his brother’s house. Comanches attack the homestead while Ethan is away, and his brother and family are killed with the exception of his niece Debbie. Ethan and his adopted nephew set out on a long search for Debbie, hence the name of the film.

The cast includes Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Ward Bond, and Natalie Wood. The cinematography is stunning. Look for the beautifully framed bookend shots at the beginning and end of the movie as well as a hilarious wedding fight scene. This is a movie that gets even better on successive viewings.

1. El Dorado

John Wayne afficionados are familiar with the fact that El Dorado is basically a remake of Rio Bravo with the same plot but with different actors around Wayne. You can also include Rio Lobo in this Howard Hawks trilogy, but the last installment was an inferior film to the other two.

El Dorado is my favorite of the three because it’s the most fun, but Rio Bravo is the one loved by the critics. Basically, El Dorado has everything you would want from a John Wayne movie–the Western setting, adventure, comedy, romance, zany antics, lots of gunfights, crazy characters, and memorable lines. Look for the scene where the Duke and Mississippi, played by a young James Caan, mix up a concoction to sober up the sheriff, played by a pitch-perfect Robert Mitchum. The cast also includes the sultry Charlene Holt as Wayne’s love interest, a young Ed Asner as the villain Bart Jason, Paul Fix as Dr. Miller, a hilarious Arthur Hunnicutt as Bull with a bugle, a spry Michele Carey, and Christopher George as the professional gunfighter, Nelse McLeod.

All three movies revolve around a sheriff and his deputies defending a town against outlaws. The good guys are holed up in the jail as they hold one of the bad guys as a prisoner. You know where the plot is headed, but it sure is entertaining getting there. I’ve watched this movie countless times, and I still enjoy it almost as much as the first time I saw it. I saw it in my last year of college during a difficult semester. It was a refreshing escape.

There are a lot of great lines in the film like when Wayne’s character, Cole Thornton, finds the sheriff, J.P. Harrah, drunk in bed. J.P. asks Thornton what he’s doing there, and Wayne delivers a line as only he can, “I’m looking at a tin star with a….drunk pinned on it.” In my opinion, this movie is John Wayne at his best.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this top ten list. If you haven’t seen these movies, you should check them out. Or maybe you disagree with my picks and have a different list that you’d like to share in the comments. Regardless, watching John Wayne movies can turn into a hobby in and of itself. After all, I’ve been watching them for 20 years, and I still haven’t seen 70% of them. I better get some popcorn and start tackling those other 117 films. Because….

“Sorry don’t get it done, Dude.” –Rio Bravo

Sources: IMDB and Wikipedia

Jesus is Lord, Not Just Leader

Recently, I’ve heard multiple people talk about receiving Jesus as “leader” of their life. It is imperative that we use Biblical language, especially when we talk about Jesus. And the Bible clearly calls Jesus, Lord.

You may think I’m splitting hairs, but Paul saw this word, Lord, as a central part of salvation in Romans 10:9: “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” And Philippians 2:11 says: “and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The word lord means:

“a person who has authority, control, or power over others; a master, chief, or ruler”

Dictionary app

The word leader, on the other hand, suggests someone with influence, whom people may or may not decide to follow.

If we tell people to receive Jesus as their leader, aren’t we in essence telling them that it’s optional to follow Him?

Nowhere in the NT can I find the apostles referring to Jesus as a mere leader.  In fact, if you look up lord and leader in a concordance, you’ll find lord hundreds of times, whereas leader only appears once in the NT in plural form, where Jesus uses it to refer to the Pharisees. 

Interestingly, Judas never called Jesus Lord. He referred to him as rabbi. Yet, Peter clearly calls Jesus Lord in multiple places, such as in the story of Jesus calling Peter out of the boat and onto the water in Matthew 14:30, “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Thus, the use of the word Lord differentiated Jesus’ true disciples from the false one, Judas. That is how important this is. 

The greek word used most of the time in the NT is kyrios (or kurios) and means supreme in authority, controller, or master. Roman Christians had to decide whether they would worship Caesar or Christ. Faithful Christians would say, Christos Kyrios

Calling Jesus Lord is central to salvation as well as understanding His claim on our lives. To call Him a mere leader is to dilute the Word of God and will likely give people the wrong idea about whom He is.

My 25 Favorite Films

Below is a list of my 25 favorite movies. It was difficult to narrow it down to just a few. As in my blog post about my favorite John Wayne movies, this is not a film critic’s list of the best movies ever made. It is simply a list of my favorite films that I most enjoy watching.

You may notice that several directors and actors appear multiple times on the list such as Alfred Hitchcock, David Lean, Harrison Ford, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Alec Guinness, and Audrey Hepburn. Films from the 1960’s are also represented well on this list. You’ll notice several Christmas movies on the list, too. I’m always up for a good Christmas movie, in season of course. And you’ll find several classics on my list that also made AFI’s 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time list.

In junior high, I took a class entitled, The History of Great Movie Classics. I can probably trace my love of classic movies to two things–that class and Turner Classic Movies. There were several more classics that I wanted to squeeze on here, but there are only so many spots available.

25. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

I first saw this film in my high-school Psychology class, and in the last few years I try to watch it every Christmas season (the cable channel AMC has shown it often). I also like the 1994 remake, but I think the original is better. The movie was filmed in black and white, but there is also a 1985 colorized version. I know a lot of people hate the colorized version, but on this movie I actually prefer it to the black and white.

This is a heartwarming classic about a department store Santa Claus who tries to help a single mother and her daughter believe in Santa, only to find himself on trial defending his sanity, with his lawyer friend trying to convince the judge that Kris Kringle is who he says he is.

The film stars Maureen O’Hara as the skeptical mother, John Payne as the attorney, Edmund Gwenn as Santa Claus, Gene Lockhart as the judge and Natalie Wood as the daughter who helps her mom believe in Santa again. George Seaton directed and wrote the screenplay. The film won three Academy Awards and was nominated for Best Picture. It was also selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. If you want a feel-good movie to get you in the mood for Christmas, this is a great place to start.

24. The Birds (1963)

I saw this Hitchcock classic in junior high, and I’ve loved it ever since. Starring Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Jessica Tandy, and Suzanne Pleshette, this thriller/horror film is about a seaside town in California which is plagued by mysterious bird attacks. Hitchcock does a good job of slowly building the tension as the viewer gets introduced to the various characters. You’ll never look at a flock of birds the same way after seeing this movie. This film was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.

23. Vertigo (1958)

Another Hitchcock classic, this psychological thriller has been underrated for years, until recently. My first time to see it was on TCM. This is a movie that I enjoyed more on the second and third viewings. The film is a little long at 128 minutes, but it builds to a climactic conclusion. Set in beautiful San Francisco, the film stars Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak, and Barbara Bel Geddes. It is considered by critics to be among the best films ever made, and it is listed at 9th on AFI’s 100 Greatest American Films of All Time. The memorable score by Bernard Herrmann sets the mood for the film.

22. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

What can I say? Audrey Hepburn is exquisite in this film. Simply no one else could have played the role of Holly Golightly like her. Her charm and beauty are unmatched. From the opening credits when the song “Moon River” plays and Hepburn gets out of the taxi in that iconic dress, you know you’re in for a treat. The film also stars George Peppard, Patricia Neal, Mickey Rooney (in a controversial performance), and Buddy Ebsen. This romantic comedy has a unique appeal. It’s really unlike any other movie I’ve seen and is in a class of its own. The story is adapted from a Truman Capote novella. That may explain the eccentric nature of the film.

21. White Christmas (1954)

It just doesn’t feel like Christmas until I’ve watched this annual favorite. Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen star in this Christmas classic with Michael Curtiz directing. It was filmed in beautiful Technicolor and the first to be released using the Vista Vision widescreen process. The famous song, “White Christmas” was originally introduced in the film, Holiday Inn. This movie is a light, feel good movie that promises to be a fun ride and get you in the mood for the holiday season. The music and dance numbers are exceptionally well-done. I was a latecomer to this one as I saw it for the first time in my thirties. I don’t know how I missed it.

20. Charade (1963)

Hepburn shows up again on the list, this time with the suave Cary Grant in a Stanley Donen directed romantic comedy/suspense thriller from the sixties. The cast also includes Walter Matthau, James Coburn, and George Kennedy. It was filmed on location in Paris and has been called “the best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made.” It has a complicated plot that includes the CIA, missing gold, and valuable stamps. I think I first discovered this one on TCM.

19. North by Northwest (1959)

You knew Cary Grant would have more than one movie on here. No one else on the big screen makes it look easier or more natural. This spy thriller is another Hitchcock classic; besides Grant, it also stars Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, and Martin Landau. It involves a case of mistaken identity, kidnapping, international intrigue, a chase scene including a crop duster (as seen in the above picture), and a climax scene at Mount Rushmore. This is a fun ride that you can enjoy again and again.

18. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

I grew up watching the Indiana Jones trilogy (the fourth movie came later). Obviously, the first one is a classic. The second installment was disturbing and disappointing. The third one is my favorite. The addition of Sean Connery as Indiana’s father was a genius move. The chemistry between Harrison Ford and Connery really came alive on the big screen. The film was directed by Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas had a hand in the story. River Phoenix even appears as a young Indiana Jones. The plot involves a race between the Jones’ and the Nazis to find the Holy Grail. The culmination of the film at Al-Khazneh in Petra is some of the most mesmerizing moments in cinematic history.

17. Inception (2010)

If you like movies that make you think, this film is for you. Christopher Nolan directed this brilliant sci-fi/action thriller. It has a great lineup: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Tom Hardy, Tom Berenger, Marion Cotillard, Elliot Page, Ken Watanabe, and Cillian Murphy. Inception displays some awesome, otherworldly visuals. The special effects are superb, but the strength of the movie is the exploration of the concept of implanting ideas into someone’s subconscious using dreams. The film concludes with an unforgettable on-the-edge-of-your-seat final 45 minute ending. I don’t think I have ever been so engrossed in a movie like I have with the final third of this movie. This is a film that will be rolling around in your head long after you watch it.

16. Braveheart (1995)

This is one of those landmark movies that became a cultural phenomenon. Whenever someone shouts, “Freedom!”, this film comes to mind. At 178 minutes, it is the epic story of the famous Scottish warrior and national hero, William Wallace. Mel Gibson directed and starred in the movie alongside Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, Catherine McCormack, and Brendan Gleeson. The viewer will be treated to beautiful scenery and intense battle sequences in this historical drama and action film. While Braveheart contains plenty of historical inaccuracies, it still remains an inspirational film that captures the pathos of the struggle for Scottish independence against the English.

15. Crocodile Dundee (1986)

This very entertaining movie has it all–adventure, comedy, and romance. It has a great premise, likable characters and beautiful locations (the Australian Outback and New York City). In short, it’s a lot of fun. It stars Paul Hogan and Linda Kozlowski, who eventually married in real life and later divorced. The movie was based upon the experiences of Rod Ansell. This is one of the signature movies of the Eighties. The sequel is also worth seeing. It reverses the order of locations in the first movie by starting out in New York City and ending up in Australia.

14. Chariots of Fire (1981)

My dad showed us this movie when we were younger. As a child, I found it a little slow, but as an adult I really grew to appreciate it. It’s the true story of two British Olympians, Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, who both ran in the 1924 Olympics. It’s a story of faith, principle, and purpose. The iconic opening and closing scenes with the athletes running on the beach are set to the beautiful and memorable score by Vangelis. This British film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture. The film stars Ian Charleson as Liddell, Ben Cross as Abrahams, as well as Nigel Havers, Nicholas Farrell, Ian Holm, and Alice Krige. There is a wonderful line in the film, spoken as Liddell competes in the Olympics, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

13. Star Wars: Episode IV-A New Hope (1977)

Obviously, this one is a classic. The franchise became so much more than just a movie. It changed cinematic history and became part of the culture. There are not many people who haven’t heard of Star Wars. I grew up watching the original trilogy (Episodes 4, 5, and 6). In my mind, these original movies are far superior to the later ones. The making of Star Wars is a story in itself. George Lucas wrote and directed the film, and he faced all kinds of obstacles during filming. Others couldn’t see his vision, and many didn’t take the film seriously before it was released. But that would soon change.

Star Wars is a space opera, which stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness. Containing adventure, comedy, romance, action, and drama, this film is extremely entertaining. The lovable characters make the movie as much as the plot and action do. The special effects were groundbreaking at the time. And the score by John Williams is one of the most recognized pieces of music ever. It is number one on AFI’s List of Best Film Scores. And, yes, I had many of the action figures and toys from the movie. In fact, my kids now play with them.

12. The Fugitive (1993)

I really love this movie. I saw it in the theater when it came out, and I’ve enjoyed it almost as much on subsequent viewings. I’m a Harrison Ford fan, so that probably has a lot to do with it. I also enjoy the Chicago setting, especially the Saint Patrick’s parade scene. This action thriller starts out fast and rarely slows down until the ending. Tommy Lee Jones, as Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard, is a great counterpart to Ford’s character of Dr. Richard Kimble. I think what makes this movie great, besides the suspense of the chase, is that even though you find yourself rooting for Dr. Kimble, you also sympathize with Gerard at the same time. This film was based upon a television series of the same name.

11. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

This is a movie that grew on me each time I watched it. When I saw it in the theater, it was my first exposure to J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy adventure. I had not read the novel, so I came to it completely fresh. Upon my first viewing, I found it long and slow, but I didn’t really appreciate what it was all about. As I watched it on repeated viewings, I really grew to love the film. A thought-provoking morality tale is created around a central theme–the dangers of absolute power.

Directed by Peter Jackson and filmed in New Zealand, The Fellowship’s ensemble cast includes Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean, Ian Holm, Dominic Monaghan, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, and Andy Serkis. Fellowship is the first installment in this film trilogy.

The scenery is awe-inspiring. One of the highlights of the film is the scene where the Fellowship travels through the Mines of Moria. It is one of the most unique and exciting sequences that I’ve ever seen in a movie. The score adds a lot of poignancy to the film. The movie is well cast; it is difficult to imagine anyone other than Elijah Wood as Frodo.

10. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) (TV version)

This popular movie is loved by many. It is based upon a Stephen King novella. It is the story of the friendship between two prisoners, Andy Dufresne and Red, and Dufresne’s journey to freedom after being falsely accused of the murder of his wife and her lover. Red serves as the narrator in the film. The story is uplifting and speaks to the common humanity of us all. The main theme of the movie is hope. One of the most memorable lines of the film is spoken by Andy Dufresne, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, and Bob Gunton star in the film. The chemistry of the friendship between Red and Dufresne make the film. The warmth of their friendship contrasts with the bleak atmosphere of the gray prison walls.

This movie gets shown a lot on cable television, and that is where I mostly remember seeing it. I watched the DVD version one time, and I was shocked by the amount of foul language in the film, so much so that I feel it detracted from the beauty of the story. That is why I recommended the “TV version” of the film.

9. El Dorado (1966)

John Wayne afficionados are familiar with the fact that El Dorado is basically a remake of Rio Bravo with the same plot but with different actors around Wayne. You can also include Rio Lobo in this Howard Hawks trilogy, but the last installment was an inferior film to the other two.

El Dorado is my favorite of the three because it’s the most fun, but Rio Bravo is the one loved by the critics. Basically, El Dorado has everything you would want from a John Wayne movie–the Western setting, adventure, comedy, romance, zany antics, lots of gunfights, crazy characters, and memorable lines. Look for the scene where the Duke and Mississippi, played by a young James Caan, mix up a concoction to sober up the sheriff, played by Robert Mitchum. The cast also includes the sultry Charlene Holt as Wayne’s love interest, a young Ed Asner as the villain Bart Jason, Paul Fix as Dr. Miller, a hilarious Arthur Hunnicutt as Bull with a bugle, a spry Michele Carey, and Christopher George as the professional gunfighter, Nelse McLeod.

All three movies revolve around a sheriff and his deputies defending a town against outlaws. The good guys are holed up in the jail as they hold one of the bad guys as a prisoner. You know where the plot is headed, but it sure is entertaining getting there. I’ve watched this movie countless times, and I still enjoy it almost as much as the first time I saw it. I saw it in my last year of college during a difficult semester. It was a refreshing escape.

There are a lot of great lines in the film like when Wayne’s character, Cole Thornton, finds the sheriff, J.P. Harrah, drunk in bed. J.P. asks Thornton what he’s doing there, and Wayne delivers a line as only he can, “I’m looking at a tin star with a….drunk pinned on it.” In my opinion, this movie is John Wayne at his best.

(The above passage about El Dorado was taken from one of my previous blog posts entitled, “My Top 10 John Wayne Movies.”: https://wesleyprovine.com/2021/07/19/my-top-10-john-wayne-movies/)

8. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

David Lean, known for his epic historical dramas, directed this classic. It is based upon the life of T.E. Lawrence, an officer in the British Army in World War I. The plot centers around Lawrence’s efforts in the Arab Revolt to unite the various tribes and recruit them to fight against the Ottoman Turks.

Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif, Anthony Quayle, and Claude Rains star in this winner of 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. The cinematography and musical score are excellent. There are many widescreen shots of the desert that really immerse the viewer in the Middle Eastern world.

It will help if you enjoy history when watching this film. A knowledge of Britain’s role in the Middle East during and after WWI will be helpful as well. But even if you aren’t a history buff, you can still enjoy the beautiful panoramas. This film has been selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

7. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

This is the quintessential Christmas movie. I watch it every Christmas Eve. I remember the first time I watched it on Christmas Eve on a local PBS station. I knew I had stumbled upon a treasure. This Frank Capra film is classic Americana, and it makes one nostalgic for more innocent times. Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchel, Henry Travers, and Ward Bond star in this film, which is based upon a short story, The Greatest Gift, which is loosely based upon Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

At 131 minutes, the film is long, but the length is necessary to develop the characters and backstory. Everyone should see this film at least once. It has become part of the fabric of our culture. Interestingly, it was not always so popular. Due to a lapse in the copyright, the film was shown often on television in the 70’s and 80’s, which spurred its rise to classic status. The film has been selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

6. Doctor Zhivago (1965)

Another David Lean film, Doctor Zhivago is an epic historical romantic drama which begins before the Russian Revolution and ends during the Stalinist era. The film is based upon the Boris Pasternak novel of the same name. The revolution and civil war serve as the backdrop to a tragic romance. Omar Sharif, Geraldine Chaplin, Julie Christie, Tom Courtenay, Alec Guinness, and Rod Steiger, and Ralph Richardson star in this classic.

I think I first saw the film on TCM after I took a class on the Russian Revolution. I always thought the film did a good job of showing the miseries of communism and Bolshevism. But the film is not all politics. Besides the obvious love story, it is really about how the various characters deal with the crises inflicted upon them by the revolution. It is a story about humanity and suffering.

The film won five Oscars, including Best Original Score and Best Cinematography, and was nominated for five more. The music is very memorable in the film, especially “Lara’s Theme.” The ice palace scene is not to be missed.

5. The Patriot (2000)

A great movie to watch on Independence Day, The Patriot may not be historically accurate in every detail, but it will remind you of why you love America. I get a tear in my eye whenever I watch the scene where Benjamin rides off to the last battle of the film while holding the flag. Also, if it doesn’t get you pumped when Benjamin screams, “No retreat. Hold the line!”, in the midst of the battle, I don’t know what will.

The film stars Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs, and Joely Richardson. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and Best Sound. Set in the Revolutionary War, the film’s protagonist is Benjamin Martin, a colonist in South Carolina, who reluctantly fights in the war. The Martin character is based upon four historical figures.

4. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Another Frank Capra classic, this political drama made quite a splash when it was released. It’s a story about a political novice who goes to Washington as a newly appointed Senator and finds out the hard way that D.C. is more corrupt than he could have imagined. He is further disillusioned when his bill for a boys’ camp in his home state comes into conflict with the plans of his political hero, who is not what he appears to be.

Jimmy Stewart, Jean Arthur, and Claude Rains star in this whistleblower film. Being a Jimmy Stewart fan and a student of history and politics, I always loved this film. It’s a classic David versus Goliath underdog story. It reminds us all of the principles that made our country great–honesty, hard work, and concern for our fellow man.

3. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

This movie is really underrated. You don’t hear much about it, but it is very solid. It’s based, of course, upon the classic Alexandre Dumas novel. This film was directed by Kevin Reynolds and stars Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Richard Harris, James Frain, Dagmara Dominczyk, and Luis Guzmán. The story is a classic tale of love, betrayal, revenge, and forgiveness. And it’s a really fun ride. I recently watched the 1975 TV movie version, and I found this 2002 version far superior. Jim Caviezel is wonderful as Edmond Dantès.

I wrote a previous blog post about this movie. You can find it here: https://wesleyprovine.com/2018/03/18/justice-or-mercy/

2. Casablanca (1942)

I love classic movies, and Casablanca is the best of the best. Directed by Michael Curtiz, the film stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre. Although the film had a solid release, few if any expected it to turn into the classic it has become.

Casablanca is the WWII-era story of a cynical but romantic nightclub owner who is confronted with his former love and a choice about whether to serve himself or the Allied cause. The movie is full of famous lines like, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” “We’ll always have Paris,” and “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Interestingly, “Play it again, Sam” is often misquoted. The actual line is, “Play it, Sam.” The song that Rick is referring to is the beautiful, “As Time Goes By.”

The film won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It was also one of the first films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. Even those who have not seen the movie have likely heard of it since the film has become such a part of our culture. Casablanca may be the best picture to ever appear on the Silver Screen.

1. The Natural (1984)

This is so much more than a baseball movie. It has mythology, history, nostalgia, romance, humor, and inspiration. Based upon the novel by Bernard Malamud, the film differs in tone from the book. While Malamud’s version presents a cynical take on Roy Hobbs, the movie is much more forgiving and strikes an optimistic note.

Directed by Barry Levinson, the film has an all-star cast which includes Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Wilford Brimley, Barbara Hershey, Richard Farnsworth, Robert Prosky, Joe Don Baker, Darren McGavin, and Michael Madsen. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards.

The Natural borrows elements from the legend of King Arthur as well as Homer’s Odyssey. The true story of the shooting of baseball player Eddie Waitkus also influenced the film. This is a story of redemption and second chances.

I saw this movie in the theater as a kid with my mother and have loved it ever since. My brother and I even carved “Wonderboy” into a wooden bat that we used to play with in the backyard. This movie is my favorite because I never get tired of watching it, and it does more than entertain. It speaks to the heart and the human condition. The themes and lessons of the film give it a timeless quality.

I wrote an earlier blog post about the mythology in The Natural. You can find it here: https://wesleyprovine.com/2019/04/08/symbolism-and-second-chances-in-the-film-the-natural/

Not all the movies that I like made the list. So here are my Honorable Mentions:

Back to Future III

The Best Years of Our Lives

The Big Sleep

The Bourne Supremacy

City Lights

Dark Passage

Indecent Proposal

Dr. Strangelove

Emma

Entrapment

First Knight

Gladiator

High Noon

I, Robot

Legends of the Fall

The Mask of Zorro

National Treasure

A Perfect Murder

Rocky IV

Shattered

Singing in the Rain

Troy

Ten Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

1. ToddCast—Todd Starnes

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/toddcast-podcast-with-todd-starnes/id1482510236

Todd Starnes, who used to work at Fox News, has a daily radio show about politics and culture. He mixes comedy with his political commentary for a fun, informative show. Todd is a conservative, and he’s not afraid to stand for conservative principles and Biblical truth. Todd’s podcast offers a great alternative to the mainstream media’s liberal lies.

2. The Rebellion—Dr. Everett Piper

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-rebellion/id1515575741

Dr. Everett Piper served as President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University and wrote Not a Daycare: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth. In his podcast, he offers conservative commentary on issues in our culture from a Christian perspective. He emphasizes the importance of truth and the impact that ideas have on our society.

3. Sandy Rios in the Morning

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sandy-rios-in-the-morning/id400516424

Sandy Rios hosts a conservative, Christian radio show on American Family Radio every morning in which she discusses political and cultural news. She stays on top of national as well as state races. She is a fighter, and she believes in speaking the truth boldly and clearly.

4. New Discourses—James Lindsay

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/new-discourses/id1499880546

James Lindsay exposes the woke, marxist infiltration of our schools, churches, and society. He does deep dives into works from marxists like Paulo Freire and Herbert Marcuse. This is a very informative podcast that will open your eyes to what is happening, especially in academia.

5. Newt’s World

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/newts-world/id1452065072

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, was co-author of the Contract with America. He was instrumental in the 1994 Republican takeover of the House of Representatives. Newt talks politics and usually has a guest on each episode. You’ll get insider information and expert analysis in this podcast.

6. Conversations that Matter—Jon Harris

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/conversations-that-matter/id1446645865

Author and speaker Jon Harris talks about how CRT and social justice have infiltrated the Southern Baptist Convention and other denominations. If you are a Christian who is concerned about the state of the church in America, there’s no better podcast than this one. It’s one of my favorites.

7. The Victor Davis Hanson Show

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-victor-davis-hanson-show/id1570380458

Victor Davis Hanson is a classics professor at California State University Fresno and visiting professor at Hillsdale College, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Two different people, Jack Fowler and Sami Winc, alternate hosting episodes to ask him questions, which gives him the opportunity to share his down-to-earth, common sense, conservative commentary on current affairs as well as his deep knowledge of history, especially of Ancient Greece. Highlights of the podcasts include Victor’s assessment of the state of California, his experiences in farming, his appreciation for blue-collar workers, and his disdain of academic and media elites.

8. The Federalist

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/federalist-radio-hour/id983782306

The Federalist is a conservative website and podcast that discusses political and cultural issues from a conservative perspective. Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky interviews guests in an in-depth discussion on a certain topic. Other hosts also appear on the podcast. This podcast reflects the perspective of the younger generation of conservatives.

9. Love Worth Finding with Adrian Rogers

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/love-worth-finding-on-oneplace-com/id288159649

Adrian Rogers was the pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis as well as President of the Southern Baptist Convention. He was also instrumental in the conservative resurgence in the denomination. He had a television and radio ministry called Love Worth Finding. Each episode in this podcast consists of one of Adrian Rogers’ sermons (or part of one). He was a powerful and dynamic preacher, and his sermons still speak to people today.

10. Through the Psalms—Wesley Provine

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/through-the-psalms/id1497350990

Nothing like a shameless plug. How could I provide a list of recommended podcasts and not include my own? Through the Psalms is exactly what it sounds like—a journey through the Book of Psalms. Each episode covers a different psalm. I introduce the psalm, read it, and then exegete it.

Vicksburg, Destin, and Battleship Memorial Park: Road Trip Summer 2021

My family and I recently took a road trip to Destin, Florida. On the way down there, we stopped at the Civil War battlefield of Vicksburg.

The Siege of Vicksburg (May 18-July 4, 1863), in which Major General Ulysses S. Grant forced Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton to surrender, was a turning point for the Union in the Civil War. Notice the Fourth of July date as the end of the siege. The town did not celebrate Independence Day for many years after the battle as a result. The siege also ended just a day after the failed Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg.

This was only my second visit to a Civil War battlefield and my first trip to the site of a major battle. The nice thing about visiting Vicksburg is that you can see quite a bit in a short period of time. We only had about an hour to spend there, but I feel like we saw most of the park. There is a drive-through tour, and you can go at your own pace. It didn’t cost us any admission fees to get in.

We saw several cannon and memorial markers. We also went inside the Illinois State Memorial, which was modeled after the Roman Pantheon. The stairs and base are made of granite, while the columns and dome are made of marble.

The highlight of the visit was getting to see the ironclad ship, the USS Cairo. We got to go onto the boat and get up-close views. That alone was worth the trip. I took pictures of the ship, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone who hasn’t seen it.

After Vicksburg, we got back on the road and headed toward Destin. We stayed in a condo within walking distance to the beach. The beach that we went to had a more family-friendly atmosphere than say Miami Beach, but not entirely so. The sand was very white, and the water was a greenish blue, thus the name, Emerald Coast. My favorite part of the ocean is just sitting in the sand and listening to the waves roll in. Few things are more relaxing than that sound.

U.S. Route 98 is the main thoroughfare for the beaches in and around Destin. Traffic is very congested, especially in the evenings. There is plenty to do along that strip including: other beaches, adventure parks, water parks, restaurants, and shopping centers. There are also pirate and dolphin cruises, as well as parasailing and other activities. The Buccaneer Pirate Cruise is terrific if you have kids. This was one of the highlights of the trip. The Baytowne Wharf area is also worth checking out.

It’s a good idea to bring your own chairs and umbrella for the beach or you will have to rent them. I’d also recommend taking an inter-tube, body board, and snorkeling mask if you plan to spend a lot of time in the ocean.

There are multiple stores along U.S. 98 where you can buy beach supplies. If you have kids with you, it’s a good idea to take shovels, pails, and other beach toys so they can play in the sand. We also took snacks and drinks as well. I saw some people with pop-up tents and canopies even though there was a sign which said that they weren’t allowed. Obviously, you’ll need plenty of sunscreen. And don’t forget life jackets if you have young kids.

At night, we went crab hunting on the beach. There were several other people that did the same. Be sure to take flashlights and a bucket. We also had headlamps for the kids. This is a unique experience.

On our way back, we stopped at Mobile, Alabama, to go to Battleship Memorial Park, where we toured a WWII battleship, the USS Alabama, and a WWII submarine, the USS Drum. In addition, the park had planes and helicopters on display, including an SR-71 Blackbird. Pictured below is an F-4 above the sign at the entrance of the park.

This stop was another highlight of the trip. If you enjoy history or military things, I’d highly recommend it. There are admission fees unless you are active duty military or 5 years old or under.

We spent about two hours here. We toured both the battleship and the submarine. Re-enactors in uniform answered questions that we had. We went below deck and saw the galley, the sleeping quarters, the ship store, as well as many other things.

If you get hungry or feel the need to buy a souvenir, the park also has a snack bar and a gift shop.

This was a fun vacation, and I think I enjoyed the unexpected stops along the way as much as I did the beach. That’s the great thing about road trips. You can stop and see whatever interests you along the way.

Singles: The Movie that Defined a Generation

If there is one movie that defines Generation X, it would have to be the 1992 grunge classic Singles (its 1994 counterpart, Reality Bites, was a much inferior film in my opinion). Directed by Cameron Crowe, Singles is a quirky, romantic comedy, which stars Bridget Fonda, Campbell Scott, Kyra Sedgwick, and Matt Dillion. The film is set in Seattle and features well-known grunge bands and musicians like Soundgarden and members of Pearl Jam. The plot centers around two couples who are trying to navigate the dating world of Seattle in the nineties.

I remember seeing it with my brother and cousin in Tulsa. I hadn’t heard much about it beforehand, so I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised, and it definitely facilitated my journey into the world of Seattle grunge bands and alternative music.

If you are unfamiliar with this movie and the Seattle music scene in the nineties, it might help you to understand that the Singles soundtrack, which was released three months prior to the film, became as much of a sensation as the movie, maybe more so. It was a kind of who’s who of popular Seattle bands at the time.

Whenever I see the iconic pictures from the movie poster or soundtrack, or hear the Chris Cornell song, “Seasons,” I get nostalgic for the grunge era. I still remember the youthful excitement surrounding the movie and its music. It brings back sweet memories of friends, adolescence, and simpler times.

I actually got to go to Seattle a few years ago (well before CHAZ) with my wife to visit her cousin and family. She took us by one of the locations from the film (Linda’s apartment). It was kind of surreal seeing something in person from a film that made such a profound impact on me in my youth. I loved visiting Seattle. The Pacific Northwest was stunningly beautiful. I’m also a Frasier fan, so that was another draw to Seattle for me.

It’s been 29 years since Singles came out. It was much more than just a movie. It was a cultural phenomenon. One could argue that it helped nationalize the Seattle music scene and spur the grunge movement. It seems like a moment frozen in time. Things are much different now. That was before we had cell phones and the internet. So maybe part of my nostalgia for the movie stems from the fact that in our free time back then, instead of getting on our cell phones or streaming a movie on our smart TV’s, we’d simply pop in our favorite CD, like Pearl Jam’s Ten, and listen to some good music.

The Badlands Are My Happy Place

I was blessed this summer to visit the Badlands for the second time in five years. I enjoyed it probably even more the second time because my wife and I were able to share the experience with our kids.

I love the Badlands because of the otherworldly feeling it stirs in me. It might be compared to walking on a moonscape. It is one of the most unique places I’ve ever experienced. The Badlands are also quiet and lonely. If you want to be by yourself in near total silence, the Badlands are the place to go. And the optimal time of the day to go in my mind is in the evening at sunset. You will enjoy incredible, panoramic views in a photographer’s dreamscape.

“…I was totally unprepared for that revelation called the Dakota Bad Lands….what I saw gave me an indescribable sense of mysterious elsewhere…” Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935

I’m a fan of the original series of Star Trek from the 1960’s. If you’ve seen it, you probably remember the strange colored skies when the crew beams down to various planets. The Badlands sort of remind me of those sets. You’ll see colors and hues that you’re not used to seeing everyday. It’s an eerie experience, but in a good way.

There is an intangible quality about the Badlands that touches you in a special way. We prayed as a family in the park, thanking God for the beauty of His creation. When we left the park this time, my wife played some Christian hymns in the car over the radio. I felt a peace and perspective that wasn’t there before.

So if you haven’t been to the Badlands, I encourage you to go. The first time we went, we made the mistake of trying to go in from the south, and we ended up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. You probably don’t want to take that route because it’s not where the heart of the park lay. If you’re near Rapid City, you’ll want to take I-90 East and get off at exit 110 at Wall (if you have time, you can visit Wall Drug Store, a pretty unique place as well). Then go South on the 240 Badlands Loop Road until you get to the Pinnacles Entrance. If you’re coming in on I-90 West, then you can take exit 131, and head south for the 240 Badlands Loop Road, using the Northeast Entrance (there is a Minuteman Missile National Historic Site nearby that we didn’t get to visit). There is a fee to get into the Badlands that is based upon how many passengers are in your car. We paid $30 to get in.

You can drive through the park fairly quickly. Along the road, there are scenic overlooks where you can get out of your car and enjoy spectacular views. There are also some walking trails. You should reserve at least two hours for the park. But you’ll probably need more time if you really want to explore the park in depth. You could easily spend a whole day there if you wanted. If you have little kids, be careful at the Pinnacles Overlook. There is steep, sharp terrain, and it is important to watch your step when you get out of the car.

The first time we went we ran out of daylight near the end of the Badlands Loop Road, but there was a cafe in the park that we ate at. I remember the food being pretty tasty, and there was also a nice gift shop where you can get some souvenirs and t-shirts. There is also a Visitor Center nearby.

Don’t miss the Notch, Door, and Window Trails near the Northeast Entrance. This is one of the best views in the park, especially at sunset. If you enter at the Pinnacles Entrance, this will be near the end of the loop before you exit. We actually missed it the first time we went because it was dark when we drove by it. We almost missed it this time as well, but my wife mentioned it as we drove by, and we got out to look at it. I’m so glad we did. The picture above is from the Notch overlook.

The Badlands are probably one of the most underrated National Parks. Many people haven’t even heard of it. But it is definitely worth a trip to South Dakota to check it out. And there are plenty of other things to see in southwest South Dakota as well–like a place you may have heard of, Mount Rushmore.

Historic Win for the Unborn at Supreme Court in Dobbs Case

Praise the Lord! This is a day that we’ve prayed for, fought for, voted for, and hoped for—for many years. The Lord has answered our prayers.

The Supreme Court released its decision this morning in the Dobbs v. Jackson case concerning a Mississippi law that banned abortion after 15 weeks. The Court upheld the Mississippi law in a 6-3 decision, with Chief Justice Roberts joining the conservative justices. In a 5-4 vote (with Roberts joining the three liberal justices), the Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, and return the issue to the states. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Chief Justice John Roberts, who has been wobbly on a lot of cases in the past, thought overturning Roe and Casey went too far.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

—Excerpt from Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in the Dobbs case

The decision was not much of a surprise, considering the fact that Alito’s opinion had been leaked on May 2. The question was whether the conservative justices would stand their ground under immense pressure from the Left. Much drama unfolded in the intervening weeks, including protests at the justices’ houses and an assassination attempt of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

It is quite instructive to look at how all of this unfolded in the past few years. President Trump was able to place three of the five justices (Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett) on the Court who voted to overturn Roe in the Dobbs case. Trump followed through on his campaign promise to appoint pro-life justices to the Court. This ruling helps cement President Trump’s legacy as one of the most pro-life presidents in history. Even Ronald Reagan, adored by conservatives, wasn’t able to perform this feat. Conservatives were often disappointed by Reagan’s and both Bushes’ picks to the Court.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14

The only disappointing thing about the day was the silence and tepid reaction by some Big Eva types. They seemed to want to tamp down the enthusiasm of pro-life Christians out of fear of upsetting those who may be on the other side of the issue. But we shouldn’t let these evangelical elites diminish our enthusiasm. This is a day to rejoice!

We praise the Lord again for this wonderful victory. This is the result of years of prayer and hard work by pro-life activists. We should learn from this to never give up! Let us give thanks to the Lord, and we give all glory to God!

“O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.” 1 Chron 16:34

A Little More Perspective Needed in Little League

I’m glad my sons are on good baseball teams, where the coaches and parents keep things in perspective. They do a good job in remembering that in Little League, the focus should be on learning the game, having fun, and making friends. But we’ve been on teams in the past, where the coaches and parents had a mindset that winning was all that mattered, even if that meant sacrificing what was best for the kids. This brief article will discuss that hideous underbelly of sports I got to see in past years.

I witnessed coaches and parents using foul language to berate umpires who were just trying to do their best; six-year olds with walk-up songs; and tournaments nearly every weekend, including Sundays. Three-hundred dollar bats; one-thousand dollars per player fundraisers; two-hour a day workouts in the offseason; and players playing on multiple teams because 79 games in a 6U Spring Season wasn’t enough. This is the sad state of affairs in Little League baseball these days. One has to wonder if the kids are even having fun anymore, or is it all about the adults?

You’d think we were talking about the major leagues here, but sadly we’re not. Parents and coaches have lost all perspective when it comes to sports. Baseball is supposed to be enjoyable. In Little League, kids should be learning how to play the game and having fun. Instead, they are playing so much baseball under such intense pressure, they are often burned out by the time they get to high school.

Who is looking out for the kids? Sadly, it’s not the parents or coaches. We are failing them. What example are we setting when coaches treat the umpires with such disrespect? When music is blasted containing vulgar lyrics? When we can’t go to church because we have to go to the ball field? When we spend hundreds of dollars on a bat for t-ball? What exactly are we teaching our kids?

We should remember that it’s just Little League. It’s just a ball game. It’s not worth humiliating the umpire, missing church, going in debt, or ruining a kid’s love of the game because he didn’t make the team or get to play.

Parents and coaches, you should ask yourself these questions: Is my kid having fun? Are we taking this too seriously? What example are we setting for these kids? Are they going to be burned out by the time they get older? Are we doing all this for us or the kids?

A little perspective is sorely needed. We need to quit trying to keep up with everyone else. Let’s take a step back and think about what really matters. Little league should not take over your life. As much as I love baseball, it shouldn’t get this serious this soon. It should be fun. If it’s not, then let’s go home.

Top Gun: Maverick— A Great, Non-Woke, Pro-American Movie

Warning: This review may contain spoilers.

It was with great anticipation that we went to see the new movie, Top Gun: Maverick, which is the sequel to the original that came out in 1986. Maverick was supposed to be released in 2019, but it was delayed twice—once for technical reasons and again because of the COVID pandemic. Let me just say that it was well worth the wait. It is a very entertaining film. It has the potential to single-handedly revitalize the struggling movie industry. The word of mouth on this movie is off-the-charts.

In this latest film, Tom Cruise’s character, Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, again finds himself on the outs with Navy leadership after a disastrous stint as a test pilot . But his old friend, Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, Commander of the Pacific Fleet, played by Val Kilmer, asks him to come to Top Gun to teach a new crop of students and prepare them for a special mission. The catch is that one of the young pilots is Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, the son of Goose, Maverick’s former wingman, who was killed in an accident in the first film while flying with Maverick.

One of the great things about this movie is that it works on all levels—story, action, special effects, acting, writing, etc. Not only is the movie extremely entertaining, it is full of great lines and moments that suggest a non-woke and pro-American perspective.

First of all, there is no LGBT or social justice agenda in the film (and that is refreshing)—just an old-fashioned heterosexual love story between Tom Cruise and Jennifer Connelly’s characters. When Maverick goes sailing with his new love interest (Kelly McGillis wasn’t asked to return for the sequel), there is also a large American flag on the boat.

Tom Cruise’s character by nature is non-woke. His name, Maverick, means an independent, non-conformist person who dissents or rebels against the conventional way of doing things. This is a very non-woke idea since being woke is all about conformity. When Maverick stands before the young pilots on his first day of teaching, the first thing he does is throw out the tech manual to the F/A-18. He knows that the real world is a lot different than the one the intellectuals imagine it to be.

At one point in the movie, Cruise justifies his tough treatment of the young pilots whom he’s training by telling Vice Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson that they have been told their whole lives that they are the best, and he suggests that they need a reality check for this mission. I see this line as an attack on the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality so prevalent in our current culture.

After Maverick is relieved of his duties by the above mentioned vice admiral, Maverick jumps in his F/A-18 and shows them that the mission can be done. This goes along with his “Do, don’t think” advice that he gives to Rooster. This is another example of non-wokism since the woke left is always lecturing people about something they themselves won’t do.

A man versus technology theme also runs throughout the film. The issue of why Americans were having to go up against an enemy with fifth-generation fighters was subtly raised. America has fifth-generation fighters like the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning, but in this film the Americans are flying fourth-gens. This could be a commentary on how China is beginning to surpass the USA in military technology, but it could also serve to reinforce another piece of advice from Maverick—that it’s not the plane, but the pilot inside, that makes the difference.

The woke have a disdain for the older generation, but in this film, it’s the younger generation who get shown up by the older Maverick. When the young pilots make a deal with Maverick that whoever gets shot down in training has to do push ups, it’s not the instructor who is out sweating on the tarmac.

When Maverick tells Cyclone that completing the mission isn’t enough—that he also wants the pilots to come home afterwards, I thought of the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. Now the film was made before that event. But this line could be seen as a criticism of the callousness of political elites, who no longer show the same concern that they once did for the men and women in uniform making sacrifices for freedom.

One of the most touching scenes is when Maverick goes to see Iceman, who has throat cancer. This plot line reflected reality as the actor Val Kilmer also had cancer. Iceman tells Maverick that he chose him to teach these pilots because the Navy needs people like him. I especially liked this line considering the woke infiltration of our military in recent years. Iceman also encourages Maverick to let go of the past so he can help Rooster and teach him what he needs to learn. It was great to see these two veteran actors together in this emotional scene.

Some interesting trivia about the film: the P-51 Mustang in the film was Tom Cruise’s own plane; also, according to PopSugar.com, the actors had to go through several hours of actual flight training, including experiencing 8 G’s. In addition, there was a Taiwanese flag on the back of Maverick’s leather jacket that was taken out for the trailer but later put back in. When it was put back in, China became upset. A Chinese investor in the film also pulled out when relations between the United States and China soured.

The film does a good job of combining elements from the first movie with new characters and plot lines. Maverick brings nostalgia and excitement at the same time. It touches your heart, but it’s also an adrenaline rush that packs plenty of action into 2 hours and 10 minutes. Who knows? You may even get to see an F-14 Tomcat make an appearance. That was the icing on the cake for me.

Top Gun: Maverick is a movie that you don’t want to miss, especially if you’re a fan of the first film. This new film will entertain you, but it will also make you proud to be an American. And that is something that is rare these days in Hollywood. The film is rated PG-13 for language.