The best of John Wayne on DVD -- ''El Dorado,'' ''True Grit,'' and ''Donovan's Reef'' are included in the Duke's 14-disc ''Century Collection''

By Gregory Kirschling
Updated May 25, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

The best of John Wayne on DVD

John Wayne would’ve turned 100 on May 26. Is the Duke still one of Hollywood’s great stars? Mull it over with the celebratory 14-film Century Collection. These are a few highlights, pilgrim.

One of Wayne’s richest Westerns with director John Ford sets the actor’s brawn and James Stewart’s brains against Lee Marvin’s memorable villain. The trick ending feels outlandish and highly theatrical, but oddly stirring and ahead of its time.

Not a fan of Westerns? Look to the collection’s aviation drama The High and the Mighty (one of the first disaster films). Or check out Reef, an M&M-colored, South Pacific-set action comedy that boasts a couple of good bar brawls and, again, a feisty Lee Marvin.

EL DORADO (1966)
In this unofficial rehash of Rio Bravo (probably Wayne’s best ”John Wayne” movie, but not included in this set), the Duke pairs with Robert Mitchum in a Western that milks a lot of comedy — some intentional, some not — out of Wayne’s character getting shot by a woman.

TRUE GRIT (1969)
Of course they gave Wayne the Best Actor Oscar for playing fat, one-eyed deputy marshal Rooster Cogburn. Deconstructing his cowboy persona in the end-of-old-Hollywood era, he takes the reins in his teeth and charges through with a rollicking star turn.

Directed by Dirty Harry‘s Don Siegel, Wayne’s bloody final film features the actor as a tough SOB dying of cancer, but not quietly. Since Wayne and (arguably) Westerns would both be dead by the end of the ’70s, the movie is almost eerily poignant.