John Wayne filmed five films on the islands and honeymooned two of his wives there. In this scene with Nancy Olson in Big Jim McLain...
...the couple enjoys the view at Hanauma Bay, seen here from the same spot. The natural pool formed in a volcanic crater on the southern end of Oahu became famous when Elvis led his Beach Boys there in Blue Hawaii.
Big Jim McLain was allowed to shoot scenes at the actual Honolulu Police Station. Wayne posed for this publicity shot at the entrance...
...even though the historic precingt at 842 Kukui Street is never shown from the outside. This is a picture of the same corner today.
Wayne rides an outrigger boat at Waikiki Beach, with Diamond Head providing the background. The Outrigger Canoe Club had turned over its grounds to Wayne's production company.
John Wayne choose the Royal Hawaiian Hotel for a location because he knew it well. After marrying Chata on January 17, 1946, the couple honeymooned at Waikiki Beach, occupying the Presidential Suite at the Royal Hawaiian. In Big Jim McLain, Wayne escorts...
...actress Veda Ann Borg the full length of the elegant lobby. The hotel's oceanfront Mai Tai Bar is said to have been one of Wayne's favorite waterholes.
One sequence shows the investigator at Honolulu's Shingon Mission, located at 915 Sheridan Street...
...which is one of the most elaborate displays of Japanese Buddhist temple architecture in Hawaii.
John Wayne had made a private pilgrimage to the wrecks of the "Arizona" and "Utah" battleships before. He got special permission to shoot a scene for Big Jim McLain...
...where the investigators (shown here with Jim Arness) witness the wreck of the USS Arizona at the Pearl Harbor base. The footage stands out as a contemporary document because it captured the memorial just one decade after the attack. The memorial as it is known today was only built in 1962.
Big Jim McLain finally brings his suspects to justice at the Aliiolani Hale at 417 King Street, currently the home of Hawaii State Supreme Court.
Location shooting for The Sea Chase (seen here in a posed publicity shot with Lana Turner) started near Kona on Big Island on September 24 and lasted until October 30, 1954. Wayne lived in William H. Hill's home, one of Hawaii's first senators. He married his third wife, Pilar, in the garden of the estate on November 1, 1954. The oceanfront estate called "Hale Kai" is nestled in the shores of Keahou Bay and was auctioned off in 2013.
The main filming site was Kealakekua Bay, twelve miles south of Kailua-Kona. The historical sites include the spot where Captain James Cook was killed.
The photograph above shows Hanamaulu Bay, the next major bay north of Kalapaki. The still unspoiled beach is where John Ford put the village of the fictious village Haleokaloa in Donovan's Reef (1963). The production put 31 grass shacks on the beach.
On the right side of Hanamaulu Bay, Ford used the signal tower of the old Ahukini Pier for the scene when Wayne and Marvin use Morse code to warn the doctor.
Waimea Canyon was one of the visual highlights of Donovan's Reef. Ford even edited a closer shot of the Waipoo Falls in (seen in the background of this photo) which in reality are further away.
The WWII monument was a prop erected on the sandy hills of the Waimea lookout, on Kokee Road.
The speedboat scenes were filmed at Smith's Boat Landing at the Wailua River in Kapaa. The Wailua is the only navigable river in all of Hawaii and...
...the fake rock Elizabeth Allen jumps on waterskis was set in the middle of the river. That's where the Grotto tour nowadays starts.
Cast and crew of Donovan's Reef were housed at the Kauai Inn, located at the small boat harbor at Hulemalu Road in Lihue. Wayne was reportedly in room 301, pictured here.
The Allerton Estate at 4425 Lawai Rd in Koloa stood in as the home of the French island governor, portrayed by Cesar Romero. The white beach house was the former residence of Hawaiian Queen Emma and is now a part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden where Ford also shot the coronation scene.
Nawiliwili Harbor today: this is the white-sand beach at Kalapaki, now a resort strand fronting several hotels. In Donovan's Reef, Elizabeth Allen arrives (on Ford's yacht, the Araner) in the harbor only to be dropped in the center of Nawiliwili Harbor.
That's the street, a bit outside of Lihue, that Wayne races down in his jeep after he hears that Lee Marvin landed on the island.
In Harm's Way was Wayne's last Hawaii film. Director Otto Preminger shot the interiors in actual bungalows, the homes of military personell on Ford Island, Pearl Harbor.
Wayne filmed his scenes aboard the Navy ship on the USS Kearsarge antisubmarine naval vessel. During the filming he lived at the newly opened Ilikai Hotel on Waikiki Beach.
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All pictures posted on this website are from the collection of the author, unless otherwise noted