John Wayne - who was born 109 years ago today - will always be best remembered as the rugged, drawling cowboy in hit westerns like Rio Bravo (1959) and True Grit (1969). But he also starred as a detective trying to bust marijuana smugglers. And you probably haven't seen that movie unless you live in Europe.
As the title character in "Big Jim McLain" (1952), The Duke played a detective working for the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee - i.e. the group of congressmen assembled to weed out communists from America.
The movie follows Wayne as he's dispatched to break up a nest of communist dissidents operating in Hawaii. As Turner Classic Movies notes, the film is part of a trend in Hollywood during the early Cold War era, when "numerous pictures of the 1950s took pleasure in depicting, exposing, and condemning [communism]."
But producers apparently didn't think the film's anti-communist angle would go over well in Europe. So in markets like Italy, the film was re-dubbed so that Wayne was chasing marijuana smugglers instead of communists. And they didn't stop at changing dialogue. They also renamed the film "Marijuana."
That the red-scare can be translated so easily into reefer-madness rhetoric probably says something about political hysteria in America.
We couldn't find a clip of the redubbed film, but you can buy a poster of the rebranded film on Amazon.
h/t New York Post
banner image: wikipedia.org