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A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do

Posted by Marcus Webb on April 20, 2010 at 08:27

What is the original source of the line, "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do"?

John Wayne is often credited with saying this in "Stagecoach" but what he actually said (I checked the screenplay) is "Well, there's some things a man just can't run away from."

Wayne is also reported to have said this line in "Hondo" . Nope, his line there is: "A man ought'a do what he thinks is best."

Many people think the line came from "Shane" . Wrong again. In that film Joe Starrett (Van Heflin) said:"I couldn't do what I gotta do if I hadn't always knowed that I could trust ya" and later, Shane (Alan Ladd) says: "A man has to be what he is."

Charlton Heston is also claimed by some to have uttered the famous line in the 1956 movie "Three Violent People." Close but no cigar. What Heston says is: "A man must do what he must do." He says it twice in the same scene, word for word the same way.

Several websites say a variation of the line appeared that same year in the book (not the film version) of THE GRAPES OF WRATH: chapter 18 of Steinbeck's novel reportedly has the line "I know this man -- a man got to do what he got to do."

Reportedly by 1962 the line was already a cliche and was used mockingly in an episode of "The Jetsons." George Jetson says: "Ha, 'a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do'. I should've won three space Oscar awards."