John Ford - S/D

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This spurred by viewing My Darling Clementine, which stunned me. That dance scene, in the church to-be, with that beautiful backdrop was wonderful. I went on to see How green was my Valley, which I didn't like as much but still found very good. I'll admit to having shed a tear or two during that movie though.

Anyhow, it seems that no thread solely devoted to John Ford exists (that, or I suck at searches), so go ahead and tell me what I should see next.

Jibé (Jibé), Monday, 10 April 2006 11:36 (thirteen years ago) link

Search: almost everything, but particularly The Iron Horse, 3 Bad Men (silent), Judge Priest, Stagecoach, Young Mr. Lincoln, The Grapes of Wrath, My Darling Clementine, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Wagon Master, The Quiet Man, The Sun Shines Bright, The Searchers, Sergeant Rutledge and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (as it's a sort of valedictory for his career and his major themes, see it last).

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Monday, 10 April 2006 12:35 (thirteen years ago) link

OK, I've seen Grapes of Wrath yesterday, it is indeed great. Then again, I was bound to like it, as I have yet to read a Steinbeck novel I dislike. I'm about to go see Steamboat round the bend. Young Mr. Lincoln will be tomorrow's fare.

Jibé (Jibé), Wednesday, 12 April 2006 09:37 (thirteen years ago) link

My only serious John Ford quibble: fist-fights aren't that funny, dude.

Dogfight Giggle (noodle vague), Wednesday, 12 April 2006 09:43 (thirteen years ago) link

I own the cavalry triology on DVD (FNAC box set):

"Fort Apache"- Henry Fonda as a cruel and obsessed military man trying to regain his honour by going to war with the Cochise. John Wayne is the cool-headed, warm-hearted officer trying to stop this; Shirley Temple is rowr (and legal, before anyone asks.)

"She Wore A Yellow Ribbon"- John Wayne is about to retire from service when indian attacks prompt much fear and suspicion. Big love interest subplot, in fact you could probably say it's the main plot actually.

Haven't seen "Rio Grande" yet, but those two come highly reccomended.

Anyway, Ford's movies tend to leave me...exhausted. They always feel much longer than any other movies of that time, even tho they aren't.

Question: Is his portrayal of indians ahead or behind the times for Hollywood of that era? From what I've seen, there's a fair bit of noble savage fetischizing in there, but he does at least treat them as human beings, and even when they're villains they're hardly one-dimensional.

My only serious John Ford quibble: fist-fights aren't that funny, dude.

See also: drunk comedy irishmen.

Daniel_Rf (Daniel_Rf), Wednesday, 12 April 2006 11:14 (thirteen years ago) link

From what I've seen, there's a fair bit of noble savage fetischizing in there, but he does at least treat them as human beings

The most blatant pro-Indian sentiment of his career is his penultimate film, Cheyenne Autumn (still from the era where Euro-Americans played everyone, so the Cheyenne are played by Sal Mineo, Ricardo Montalban etc). Certainly Wayne in The Searchers seems as unhinged, and more racist, than Chief Scar. Apparently the tribes Ford worked with on location felt warmly toward him and gave him ceremonial honors (how much of this was PR I can't be sure).

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 12 April 2006 12:24 (thirteen years ago) link

OK, I have to ask you all a question. Is it like mandatory for a Ford movie to have a dance scene? Did he refuse scripts that didn't include one? Did he find a way to always introduce one in the movie? Why is he such a great fan of those scenes? Not that I dislike those mind you, I usually quite like them, but it baffles me that in all the movies of his I've seen there's one.

Jibé (Jibé), Friday, 14 April 2006 07:45 (thirteen years ago) link

young mr lincoln is amazing - one of my favorite films ever. i'm glad it's out on criterion now. liberty valance and clementine and fort apache and of course the searchers are great too.

to be honest, even tho i think ford is great and all, i often find myself not being all that...interested in his subject matter, somehow. it's not always easy to see the sadness and ambiguity behind all the macho bluster and not-very-funny "comic" interludes in some of those films. but it's definitely there.

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Friday, 14 April 2006 07:52 (thirteen years ago) link

Well, those dances provide the sort of community ritual (esp since so many of his films are set in the 19th-century frontier) that establish where the characters are in the social pecking order, who's courting who, who wants to kill who, etc, while also adding color to the narrative.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Friday, 14 April 2006 12:23 (thirteen years ago) link

if you could edit out the EXTREME CORNY SENTIMENTALITY of his movies, he'd be all-time classic

timmy tannin (pompous), Friday, 14 April 2006 14:36 (thirteen years ago) link

sometimes known as "heart."

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Friday, 14 April 2006 14:43 (thirteen years ago) link

more correctly known as "treacle"

timmy tannin (pompous), Friday, 14 April 2006 14:49 (thirteen years ago) link

have a drink and be Irish!

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Friday, 14 April 2006 14:58 (thirteen years ago) link

i do and i am, and don't get me wrong, he's obviously great, but it's that one aspect/flaw that prevents me from fully appreciating/enjoying his stuff.

timmy tannin (pompous), Friday, 14 April 2006 15:20 (thirteen years ago) link

It gets icky sometimes (as in one of his most overrated by his contemporaries, The Informer), but not as much as people claim, for me. Wayne wandering away from the doorframe at the end of The Searchers, barking "Never apologize, it's a sign of weakness" (in Yellow Ribbon?) -- not at all treacly.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Friday, 14 April 2006 15:24 (thirteen years ago) link

John Ford = Genius. Every time I watch The Grapes of Wrath I have a serious breakdown.

mts (theoreticalgirl), Friday, 14 April 2006 15:57 (thirteen years ago) link

Ford and I aren't simpatico, but I saw Young Mr Lincoln for the first time a few weeks ago and was taken with its conflicted hero, who's shown exploiting his aw-shucks manner in the same way that Preminger did Jimmy Stewart in Anatomy of a Murder.

The Quiet Man has too much ruddy Irish blarney for my taste, and would be my choice to destroy.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Friday, 14 April 2006 16:01 (thirteen years ago) link

oh, if anything that's the film where the blarney work best, and E.T. will back me up on that!

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Friday, 14 April 2006 16:11 (thirteen years ago) link

bob goen is a huge ford fan, yes

gear (gear), Friday, 14 April 2006 16:16 (thirteen years ago) link

two months pass...
'The Searchers': How the Western Was Begun

In the last shot of "The Searchers," the camera, from deep inside the cozy recesses of a frontier homestead, peers out though an open doorway into the bright sunshine. The contrast between the dim interior and the daylight outside creates a second frame within the wide expanse of the screen. Inside that smaller space, the desert glare highlights the shape and darkens the features of the man who lingers just beyond the threshold. Everyone else has come inside: the other surviving characters, who have endured grief, violence, the loss of kin and the agony of waiting, and also, implicitly, the audience, which has anxiously anticipated this homecoming. But the hero, whose ruthlessness and obstinacy have made it possible, is excluded, and our last glimpse of him emphasizes his solitude, his separateness, his alienation — from his friends and family, and also from us.

Even if you are watching "The Searchers" for the first time — perhaps on the beautiful new DVD that Warner Home Video has just released to mark the film's 50th anniversary — this final shot may look familiar. For one thing, it deliberately replicates the first image you see after the opening titles — a view of a nearly identical vista from a very similar perspective. Indeed, the frame-within-the-frame created by shooting through relative darkness into a sliver of intense natural light is a notable motif in this movie, and elsewhere in the work of its director, John Ford. Especially in his westerns, Ford loved to create bustling, busy interiors full of life and feeling, and he was equally fond of positioning human figures, alone or in small, vulnerable groups, against vast, obliterating landscapes. Shooting from the indoors out is his way of yoking together these two realms of experience — the domestic and the wild, the social and the natural — and also of acknowledging the almost metaphysical gap between them, the threshold that cannot be crossed.

But that image of John Wayne's shadow in the doorway — he plays the solitary hero, Ethan Edwards — does not just pick up on other such moments in "The Searchers." Perhaps because the shot is thematically rich as well as visually arresting — because it so perfectly unites showing and telling — it has become a touchstone, promiscuously quoted, consciously or not, by filmmakers whose debt to Ford might not be otherwise apparent. Ernest Hemingway once said that all of American literature could be traced back to one book, Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn," and something similar might be said of American cinema and "The Searchers." It has become one of those movies that you see, in part, through the movies that came after it and that show traces of its influence. "Apocalypse Now," "Punch-Drunk Love," "Kill Bill," "Brokeback Mountain": those were the titles that flickered in my consciousness in the final seconds of a recent screening in Cannes of Ford's masterwork, all because, at crucial moments, they seem to pay homage to that single, signature shot.

At the end of "Brokeback Mountain," for instance, we are inside Ennis Del Mar's trailer, looking out the window onto the Wyoming rangeland, from a domestic space into the wilderness, as in "The Searchers." But in this case, the interior, rather than a warm, buzzing home, is barren, the scene of Ennis's desolation. The outside, insofar as it recalls the mountain where he and Jack Twist spent their youthful summer of love together, is an unattainable place of freedom and companionship, rather than a zone of danger and loneliness as it was in the earlier film. Ennis is severed from those he loves, and from his own nature, by the strictures of civilization, while Ethan's violent nature renders him an exile from civilized life, condemned to wander on the margins of law, stability and order.

Of course, "Brokeback Mountain" is a western by virtue of its setting rather than its themes, which recall the forbidden-love mid-1950's melodramas of Douglas Sirk more than anything Ford was doing at the time. But just about any movie that ventures into the territory of the western — and a great many that do not — has a way of bumping up against not only Ford's images but also his ideas.

He did not invent the genre, of course, and hardly restricted himself to it in the course of a career that began in the silent era and lasted more than 50 years. There will always be those who find the frontier visions of Budd Boetticher, Anthony Mann, Raoul Walsh and Howard Hawks more complex, more authentic or more varied than Ford's, as well as those who seek out western heroes less obvious than John Wayne. But like it or not, Wayne and Ford, whose long association is sampled in a new eight-movie boxed set and examined in a recent PBS documentary, "John Ford/John Wayne: The Filmmaker and the Legend," directed by Sam Pollard, have long since come to represent the classic, canonical idea of the American West on film.

Which is to say that their movies, however deeply revered and frequently imitated, have also been attacked, mocked, dismissed and misunderstood. If, from the late 1930's to the early 1960's, they defined the classic western — a tableau involving marauding Indians, fearless gunslingers, ruthless outlaws and the occasional high-spirited gal in a calico dress — they also begat the countertendency that came to be known as the revisionist western, with its nihilism, its brutality and its harsh demystification of the threadbare legends of the old West. Thus, after Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone, after "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" and "Unforgiven," after "Dead Man" and "Deadwood," the brightly colored black-and-white world of "The Searchers" might look quaint, simplistic and not a little retrograde.

It certainly looked that way at Bennington College in 1982, when the novelist Jonathan Lethem saw the film for the first time. He recalls the laughter of his fellow undergraduates in an essay called "Defending 'The Searchers,' " which also recalls his own earnest intellectual obsession with the film. His first attempt to appreciate it ends in defeat — " 'The Searchers' was only a camp opportunity after all. I was a fool" — but he keeps returning to contend with the sneers and shrugs of academic and bohemian friends and acquaintances, who can't see what he's so excited about. "Come on, Jonathan," one of them says, "it's a Hollywood western."

So it is, which means that it's open to the usual accusations of racism, sentimentality and wishful thinking. David Thomson, in his "Biographical Dictionary of Film," tips his hat to "The Searchers," but only in the midst of a thorough ideological demolition of its director, whose "male chauvinism believes in uniforms, drunken candor, fresh-faced little women (though never sexuality), a gallery of supporting players bristling with tedious eccentricity and the elevation of these random prejudices into a near-political attitude." The idea that Ford is an apologist for violence and a falsifier of history, as Mr. Thomson insists, dovetails with a longstanding liberal suspicion (articulated most fully by Garry Wills in his book "John Wayne's America") of Wayne, one of Hollywood's most outspoken conservatives for most of his career. And of course, the presumed attitudes that make Wayne and Ford anathema at one end of the spectrum turn them into heroes at the other.

But as the PBS documentary makes clear, the two men did not always march in political lockstep. And in any case, the closer you look at the movies themselves, the less comfortably they fit within any neat political scheme. Even the portrayal of Indian and Mexican characters, once you get past the accents and the face paint, cannot quite be reduced to caricature.

And Wayne himself, from his star-making entrance as the Ringo Kid in "Stagecoach" (1939) to his valedictory performance in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962), his last western with Ford, is hardly the simple personification of manly virtue his critics disdain and his admirers long for. Even when he drifts toward playing a John Wayne type rather than a fully formed character, there is enough unacknowledged sorrow in his broad features, and enough uncontrolled anger in that slow, hesitant phrasing, to make him seem dangerous, unpredictable: someone to watch. He is never quite who you think he will be.

And this is never truer than in "The Searchers," where much about Ethan's personality and personal history remains in the shadows. A former soldier in the Confederate Army, he arrives in Texas (though the film was shot in Monument Valley in Utah) three years after the end of the Civil War, with no way of accounting for the time lag apart from the angry insistence that he didn't spend it in California. Wherever he was, he acquired both a virulent hatred of Indians and an intimate understanding of their ways. When his two young nieces are kidnapped by Comanches — their parents and brothers are scalped and the farmstead burned — he sets out on a search that will last for years and that will blur the distinction between rescue and vengeance. It becomes clear toward the end that he wants to find the surviving niece (now played by Natalie Wood) so that he can kill her.

This impulse points to a terrifying, pathological conception of honor, sexual and racial, and for much of "The Searchers" Ethan's heroism is inseparable from his mania. To the horror and bafflement of his companions (one of whom is both a preacher and a Texas Ranger, and thus a perfect embodiment of civilized order), Ethan shoots out the eyes of a dead Comanche, and exults that this posthumous blinding will prevent this enemy from finding his way to paradise. But when you think about it, Ethan's ability to commit such an atrocity rests on a form of respect, since unlike the others he not only knows something about Comanche beliefs but is also willing to accept their reality. And the film, for its part (the script is by Frank S. Nugent, who was once a film critic for The New York Times before he took up screenwriting), acknowledges the reality of Ethan's prejudices and blind spots, which is not the same as sharing or condoning them.

The Indian wars of the post-Civil War era form a tragic backdrop in most of Ford's post-World War II westerns, much as the earlier conflicts between settlers and natives did in the novels of James Fenimore Cooper. That the Indians are defending their land, and enacting their own vengeance for earlier attacks, is widely acknowledged, even insisted upon. The real subject, though, is not how the West was conquered, but how — according to what codes, values and customs — it will be governed. The real battles are internal, and they turn on the character of the society being forged, in violence, by the settlers. Where, in this new society, will the frontier be drawn between vengeance and justice? Between loyalty to one's kind and the more abstract obligations of human decency? Between the rule of law and the law of the jungle? Between virtue and power? Between — to paraphrase one of Ford's best-known and most controversial formulations — truth and legend?

Ford's way of posing these questions seems more urgent — and more subtle — now than it may have at the time, precisely because his films are so overtly concerned with the kind of moral argument that is, or should be, at the center of American political discourse at a time of war and terrorism. He is concerned not as much with the conflict between good and evil as with contradictory notions of right, with the contradictory tensions that bedevil people who are, in the larger scheme, on the same side. When should we fight? How should we conduct ourselves when we must? In "Fort Apache," for example, the elaborate codes of military duty, without which the intricate and closely observed society of the isolated fort would fall apart, are exactly what lead it toward catastrophe. Wayne, as a savvy and moderate-tempered officer, has no choice but to obey his headstrong and vainglorious commander, played by Henry Fonda, who provokes an unnecessary and disastrous confrontation with the Apaches. In the end, Wayne, smiling mysteriously, tells a group of eager journalists that Fonda's character was a brave and brilliant military tactician. It's a lie, but apparently the public does not require — or can't handle — the truth.

In telling it, Wayne is writing himself out of history, which is also his fate in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (not, unfortunately, one of the discs in the Warner box). That film — which contains the famous line "When legend becomes fact, print the legend!" —throws Wayne's man of action and James Stewart's man of principle into a wary, rivalrous alliance. Their common enemy is an almost cartoonish thug played by Lee Marvin, but the real conflict is between Stewart's lawyer and Wayne's mysterious gunman, one of whom will be remembered as the man who shot Liberty Valance.

What we learn, in the course of the film's long flashbacks, is that the triumph of civilization over barbarism is founded on a necessary lie, and that underneath its polished procedures and high-minded institutions is a buried legacy of bloodshed. The idea that virtue can exist without violence is as untenable, as unrealistic, as the belief — central to the revisionist tradition, and advanced with particular fervor in HBO's "Deadwood" — that human society is defined by gradations of brutality, raw power, cynicism and greed.

If only things were that simple. But everywhere you look in Ford's world — certainly in "Fort Apache," in "The Searchers," in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" — you see truth shading into lie, righteousness into brutality, high honor into blind obedience. You also see, in the boisterous emoting of the secondary characters, the society that these confused ideals and complicated heroes exist to preserve: a place where people can dance (frequently), drink (constantly), flirt (occasionally) and act silly.

And everywhere else — after Ford, beyond his movies — you find the same thing. The monomaniacal quest for vengeance, undertaken by a hero at odds with the society he is expected to protect: it's sometimes hard to think of a movie from the past 30 years, from "Taxi Driver" to "Batman Begins," that doesn't take up this theme. And the deeper question of where vengeance should stop, and how it can be distinguished from justice, surfaces in "Unforgiven" and "In the Bedroom," in "Mystic River" and "Munich."

In "Munich" the Mossad assassins spend most of the film in a limbo that Ethan Edwards would recognize, even though it takes place amid the man-made monuments of Europe rather than the wind-hewn rock formations of Monument Valley. The Israeli agents are far from home, exiled from the democratic, law-governed society in whose name they commit their acts of vengeance and pre-emption, and frighteningly close both to their enemies and to a state of pure, violent retaliatory anarchy. With more anguish, perhaps, than characters in a John Ford movie, they often find themselves arguing with one another, trying to overcome, or at least to rationalize, the contradictions of what they are doing. They appeal to various texts and traditions, but they might do better to pay attention to the television that is on in the background at one point in the movie: another frame within the frame, tuned, hardly by accident, to "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance."

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 15 June 2006 16:32 (thirteen years ago) link

Couldn't resist that Munich analogy, eh?

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Thursday, 15 June 2006 18:29 (thirteen years ago) link

"That'll be the day!"

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 15 June 2006 18:41 (thirteen years ago) link

honestly i don't think a.o. scott has seen a lot of ford movies

Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Thursday, 15 June 2006 20:40 (thirteen years ago) link


Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 15 June 2006 20:42 (thirteen years ago) link

i agree with the author on most point (although again, they seem like they are being repeated second-hand rather than freshly observed) it's sort of weird how this "is it ok to like john wayne?" meme gets trotted out every few years.

Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Thursday, 15 June 2006 20:42 (thirteen years ago) link

They keep showing Mogambo on TCM but I'm having a lot of trouble watching it- it's got a tired, 50s quality, taking place in that unconvincing limbo between studio and location with the usually luminous stars and the Technicolor not seen at their best. Maybe I should keep watching for a Merian C. Cooper elephant stampede or something? But he doesn't seem to be involved in this one.

Sons Of The Redd Desert (Ken L), Friday, 16 June 2006 23:46 (thirteen years ago) link

i like mogambo a lot, although the stock footage used in the hunting scenes is pretty creaky.

funny you should mention cooper--he and ford were partners in an independent production company, but no, he didn't have a hand in this one.

how hot is grace kelly in this?

Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Saturday, 17 June 2006 07:21 (thirteen years ago) link

Mogambo is nowhere as good as Red Dust (of which it is a remake)

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 17 June 2006 14:26 (thirteen years ago) link

amateurist, have you seen the documentary about Cooper, I'm King Kong? That's why I mentioned him- they discuss the Ford/Cooper team-up. Grace is cute, but is she as cute as in, say, the Hitchcocks?

Sons Of The Redd Desert (Ken L), Saturday, 17 June 2006 17:28 (thirteen years ago) link

four months pass...
Ford an active bisexual (Spencer Tracy too), acc to new Kate Hepburn bio? Time to open up the canon for Queer Studies.

(I guess Jon Stewart's jokey Western clips re Brokeback were even more OTM than suspected)

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 26 October 2006 15:48 (thirteen years ago) link

Some closet doors are better left closed.

Eric H. (Eric H.), Thursday, 26 October 2006 20:58 (thirteen years ago) link

Portrait of author:

Move over, Bogdanovich!

Eric H. (Eric H.), Thursday, 26 October 2006 21:00 (thirteen years ago) link

The Queer Man

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Thursday, 26 October 2006 21:20 (thirteen years ago) link

hahaha, no wonder that homophobe Richard Schickel hates the book, he probably just looked at the author pic.

Eric, you sleek young ageist, that's mean; I'm sure they both looked tight and cruisy on the Stagecoach set.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Friday, 27 October 2006 12:39 (thirteen years ago) link

Hung Mr. Lincoln
What Price Glory Hole

timmy tannin (pompous), Friday, 27 October 2006 15:16 (thirteen years ago) link

you don't even have to change "When Willie Comes Marching Home"

milo z (mlp), Friday, 27 October 2006 15:17 (thirteen years ago) link

Wee Willie Winkie takes on a disturbing new meaning

timmy tannin (pompous), Friday, 27 October 2006 15:21 (thirteen years ago) link

Spielberg says that he first met Ford when he was only about 15, aspiring to be make movies like those he admired by Ford. “So you wanna be a picture maker?” he remembers Ford saying (Ford in his office, dressed like he had just returned from a safari instead of lunch). “What do you know about art?” He sent the boy to a wall in his office where he had hung a series of Western landscape paintings. Asking young Spielberg to identify the location of the horizon line in a couple of them, Ford pronounced, “When you can decide that putting the horizon at the top of the frame or the bottom of the frame is better than putting it in the middle of the frame, you may, someday, make a good picture maker. Now get outta here.” Spielberg smiles.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 8 November 2006 20:42 (thirteen years ago) link

one year passes...

This fella with some quality early-Ford-at-Fox bloggery:

Dr Morbius, Friday, 25 January 2008 18:31 (twelve years ago) link

four months pass...

so Drums Along The Mohawk. Yes?

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Thursday, 29 May 2008 18:14 (eleven years ago) link

It's nice but his 3rd-best film of '39.

Dr Morbius, Thursday, 29 May 2008 18:18 (eleven years ago) link

two months pass...

They Were Expendable. Yes?

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Wednesday, 27 August 2008 15:15 (eleven years ago) link

Been a long time, I remember liking it. Lindsay Anderson loved it.

Dr Morbius, Wednesday, 27 August 2008 15:22 (eleven years ago) link

If I had to vote for anything it would be Ford's segment in How The West Was Won if only for that Cinerama shot of the blood being washed off the table right at you.

Elvis Telecom, Wednesday, 27 August 2008 23:23 (eleven years ago) link

super deluxo ultraultra restoration blu-ray of how the west was won coming in september

also with a second disc presenting the film in "Smilebox"
(shot is from a different movie)

abanana, Thursday, 28 August 2008 00:48 (eleven years ago) link

I'm looking fwd to West, never saw

Dr Morbius, Thursday, 28 August 2008 13:15 (eleven years ago) link

I did rent TWE.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Thursday, 28 August 2008 13:18 (eleven years ago) link

If I had to vote for anything it would be Ford's segment in How The West Was Won if only for that Cinerama shot of the blood being washed off the table right at you.

-- Elvis Telecom

this sounds fantastic.

the spielberg story upthread is the source of a song on the new drive-by truckers album. hum.

thomp, Thursday, 28 August 2008 13:32 (eleven years ago) link

one year passes...

Cheyenne Autumn – yes?

Roman Polanski now sleeps in prison. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 19 October 2009 19:40 (ten years ago) link

Saw that once a long time ago, liked it but suffers from a lotta stars in redface (see way up above).

have you seen The Sun Shines Bright or Wagonmaster?

Your Favorite Saturday Night Thing (Dr Morbius), Monday, 19 October 2009 20:11 (ten years ago) link

Hawks always said he was extremely flattered when people thought Red River was a John Ford movie.

Ward Fowler, Tuesday, 25 June 2019 19:22 (seven months ago) link

Yeah, I've heard Hawks sing Ford's praises. Welles did, too.

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 25 June 2019 19:25 (seven months ago) link

flip thought i was on the john wayne thread didni

godfellaz (darraghmac), Tuesday, 25 June 2019 21:36 (seven months ago) link

How Green Was My Valley

. (Michael B), Thursday, 27 June 2019 14:09 (seven months ago) link

Welles' two favorite directors were Ford and Renoir.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 27 June 2019 14:21 (seven months ago) link

so how do you all feel about Mogambo? I have it rented out, looked like an interesting outlier.
thanks for the recs also! the store has most of them, tho I haven't gotten around to any yet. bought the bargain bin HGWMV blu ray so sitting on that as well.

flappy bird, Tuesday, 2 July 2019 21:26 (six months ago) link

Mogambo is not as funny as Red Dust (orig version) bcz no Jean Harlow

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 2 July 2019 21:48 (six months ago) link

it's flat

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 2 July 2019 21:56 (six months ago) link

two weeks pass...

Thank you, currently immersed in the MUBI Straub-Huillet season at present, so loved this nugget esp:

I once asked Jean-Marie Straub what “an experimental film” is. He slammed the table and declared, “The Long Gray Line! That’s an experimental film, no?”

Ward Fowler, Friday, 19 July 2019 18:58 (six months ago) link

four weeks pass...

The Iron Horse: US or UK version?

flappy bird, Friday, 16 August 2019 05:15 (five months ago) link

& of the list above, I only have The Iron Horse and Wagon Master left. Any others to check out before Liberty Valance?

flappy bird, Friday, 16 August 2019 15:51 (five months ago) link

you should be OK

i dont know of diff versions

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 16 August 2019 17:40 (five months ago) link

The Iron Horse: stunning but not necessarily moving

3 Bad Men: same here, but both are enormously compelling, his composition is so perfect

Doctor Bull: my favorite of the Will Rogers pictures, genuinely very funny ("why are we staring at the cemetery? somebody get out?")

Judge Priest: very good but the DVD I watched was awful quality, need to rewatch. first "speaking to a dead loved one" scene?

Steamboat Round the Bend: underrated, the girl is great. there's an amazing moment where an angry mob of Confederate vets salute a mannequin of Robert E. Lee with utmost seriousness, feels like a classic Ford image.

The Prisoner of Shark Island: more than any other, Ford's influence on Ingmar Bergman is so clear here: shadow of Lincoln's dying face through mesh door, Mrs. Mudd revealed in the reflection of the bulletin board door condemning her husband, arrow pattern of the water as the boat draws closer to Shark Island.

The Grapes of Wrath: it's reassuring to know that "Oscar movies" haven't changed much in 80 years

How Green Was My Valley: so immersive and painterly, unlike TGOW, which is much more stark and barren

3 Godfathers: nice but overlong and not as good as 3 Bad Men

Wagon Master: more than any other film here, this one really invites multiple viewings... a distillation of running themes that is somehow more elusive than any other film here

The Sun Shines Bright: very good but the brutal racism here and in Judge Priest is really hard to get past for me, like the parade march is clearly a moving scene but watching that dude (and Rogers earlier) call black men "boy" throughout the movie makes it hard for me to get swept up

The Long Gray Line: the most bizarre discovery of this run, one of the most structurally unusual films I've ever seen, the first 90 minutes are the type of sentimental slapstick that sunk The Quiet Man for me, but once the clock really starts moving the momentum of the movie really has a powerful effect... this movie is the final shot of Fort Apache expanded into a ~135 minute movie. pretty great

Sergeant Rutledge: another outlier stylistically, it doesn't have the look of a Ford picture, feels shockingly modern. love the old ladies. Ford's preference for shooting as few takes as possible fails Woody Strode here, he's consistently compelling but there are a handful of really bad takes that sort of break the spell of his character for me

and I will watch The Fugitive before LV, only because it was one of Ford's favorites (along w/ TSSB and WM)

flappy bird, Friday, 30 August 2019 17:27 (four months ago) link

The Grapes of Wrath: it's reassuring to know that "Oscar movies" haven't changed much in 80 years

damn, it's not my favorite but you're so rong

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 30 August 2019 17:33 (four months ago) link

it's a great movie, stylistically unique and truly evocative of a barren America, but it's a message movie with long speeches, otherwise anathema to Ford.

flappy bird, Friday, 30 August 2019 17:55 (four months ago) link

The Grapes of Wrath has directly been cited as one of the earliest examples of what we now know to be an "Oscar movie." (Inaccurately, I'd say; The Crowd was a best picture nominee at the first Academy Awards.)

Pauline Male (Eric H.), Friday, 30 August 2019 19:57 (four months ago) link

i think Grapes is better than the book (and the Steppenwolf stage version i saw about 30 years ago)

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 30 August 2019 20:17 (four months ago) link

oh it's much better than the book even though Steinbeck is too unfairly forgotten these days

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 30 August 2019 20:42 (four months ago) link

The book develops quite slowly and lays a very broad foundation under the Joads' story that the movie couldn't possibly replicate. I can see where the slow pace of the book is completely out of synch with contemporary audiences, who can encompass the film much more easily, but Steinbeck's version was a whole education compared to the movie.

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 30 August 2019 20:59 (four months ago) link

yes, it's a more sweeping social panorama, but such are the two media

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 30 August 2019 21:21 (four months ago) link

I'm assuming Ford was more judicious about what pages he ripped out of the script of Grapes. I haven't read the book, but the movie seemed faithful to a fault to the text, but again I'm assuming he didn't really have a choice with such a major book.

flappy bird, Friday, 30 August 2019 22:49 (four months ago) link

another thing that struck me about Grapes was how much of it was shot on sets with backdrops - it counterintuitively makes the landscape feel so huge and empty, unlike any of the movies shot in Monument Valley where the landscape is so inviting and postcard ready. the America of Grapes is practically post-apocalyptic

flappy bird, Friday, 30 August 2019 22:53 (four months ago) link

the America of Grapes is practically post-apocalyptic

The Great Depression really was an apocalypse for millions of Americans. Try to get ahold of Wild Boys of the Road for an even more post-apocalyptic movie.

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 30 August 2019 22:56 (four months ago) link

I know, I specifically meant the mis en scene of the movie - he really pulls it off in creative ways. very limited use of sound, too. lots of quiet wind throughout. I'll check out Wild Boys of the Road

flappy bird, Friday, 30 August 2019 22:58 (four months ago) link

If I remember tomorrow evening I'll check out The Grapes of Wrath.

In the meantime, in the last several weeks I have seen:

1) The Informer: Drastically inferior to the 1929 Arthur Robison silent version. Between this and Hangman's House (1928) I'm convinced Expressionism was a bad influence on Ford. The opening bit with the heroine about to Sell Herself to a bowler-hatted toff for her passage to America was as risibly transparent as certain special effects conveying Gypo's thought processes.

2) Hangman's House: Are all of Ford's treatments of Irish themes this heavy-handed?

3) Bucking Broadway: Now this I liked, especially the finale (the hero and his sidekicks literally ride into a New York hotel full of dudes with Dishonest Intentions towards women, and proceeds to kick their fancy asses).

At this point, my favorite Ford film is still The Whole Town's Talking. And if you have not seen Wild Boys of the Road (Wellman, 1933), do so at your first opportunity.

Anne Hedonia (, Saturday, 31 August 2019 01:27 (four months ago) link

I've never seen The Whole Town's Talking, or Hangman's House. I *have* seen Bucking Broadway, and that is a pip.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 31 August 2019 04:43 (four months ago) link

The Great Depression against the Dust Bowl just seems like something none of this generation is equipped to comprehend even though we're all clearly going to go through something just as bad.

Pauline Male (Eric H.), Sunday, 1 September 2019 04:28 (four months ago) link

and there won't be any studio films about ours

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 1 September 2019 14:00 (four months ago) link

The Florida Project, as a snapshot of capitalism carried to its logical ends, is probably the closest we'll get to an American successor to The Grapes of Wrath. The works of the Dardenne Brothers also owe something to this tradition. But I cannot imagine a major American studio of today letting itself be associated with a work of this nature. For that matter I can't quite place this movie in pre-war filmmaking, even by comparison with Our Daily Bread or Man's Castle. I am assuming Joseph Breen took a firm and verbose stance on what could and couldn't make it into the movie.

Anne Hedonia (, Tuesday, 3 September 2019 00:30 (four months ago) link

four weeks pass...

What Price Glory (1952) or When Willie Comes Marching Home?

got a super cheap DVD comp of 6 of Ford's comedies & these are the only ones left

flappy bird, Tuesday, 1 October 2019 23:33 (three months ago) link

they're in my Fox box, haven't watched em

WPG is a remake

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 1 October 2019 23:52 (three months ago) link

John Ford receives the Presidential Medal of Honor from Richard Milhous Nixon. Like it or not folks... this is what Irish-American excellence looks like.

— ℑ 𝔇𝔬𝔫'𝔱 𝔅𝔩𝔞𝔪𝔢 𝔜𝔬𝔲 (@NickPinkerton) October 8, 2019

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 8 October 2019 17:06 (three months ago) link

If I want Irish-American excellence I'll watch a Cagney movie. What Price Glory watch party anyone?

Anne Hedonia (, Tuesday, 8 October 2019 17:15 (three months ago) link

my mother always said, "Nixon's not Irish."

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 8 October 2019 17:16 (three months ago) link

Since when was Nixon Irish?

Let them eat Pfifferlinge an Schneckensauce (Tom D.), Tuesday, 8 October 2019 17:21 (three months ago) link

he claimed to be at some point, i think on a state visit to Ireland

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 8 October 2019 17:27 (three months ago) link

Every US President claims they're Irish. Apart from Trump, probably his one redeeming quality.

Let them eat Pfifferlinge an Schneckensauce (Tom D.), Tuesday, 8 October 2019 17:30 (three months ago) link

What they usually mean by Irish is Protestant settlers in Ireland from Scotland or England sent there as colonizers.

Let them eat Pfifferlinge an Schneckensauce (Tom D.), Tuesday, 8 October 2019 17:32 (three months ago) link

Ford's one of the few directors whose work Nixon could identify by name.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 October 2019 17:37 (three months ago) link

well, kinda hard not to

same of the general public, after Hitchcock and Chaplin

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 8 October 2019 18:26 (three months ago) link

As my dad used to say, they've had one Catholic president and look what they did to him.

Let them eat Pfifferlinge an Schneckensauce (Tom D.), Tuesday, 8 October 2019 19:45 (three months ago) link

When Willie Comes Marching Home is one of his better comedies w/o Will Rogers. not totally fluff either, goes well with The Long Gray Line as movies about the conflicted feelings of military personnel stationed at home who never see combat. Willie is dying to fight in the war, and his WWI vet dad resents him being stationed in his home town, despite the fact that he was such a good gunner that they made him the instructor. it's from 1950 so it looks great & he wrings so much out of the thin premise and a mostly light script.

just noticed that Robert Wagner is in the remake of What Price Glory

flappy bird, Tuesday, 15 October 2019 01:54 (three months ago) link

three weeks pass...

It is with heavy heart that I announce that I apparently will be forced to see Roland Emmerich's Midway.

— ℑ 𝔇𝔬𝔫'𝔱 𝔅𝔩𝔞𝔪𝔢 𝔜𝔬𝔲 (@NickPinkerton) November 6, 2019

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 7 November 2019 21:38 (two months ago) link

two months pass...

Watched Wagon Master last night. Good lil western. Only really knew Ben Johnson from Last Picture Show so didn't even recognize him. Pretty effortless acting from him. And christ could he ride a horse. The scene where he's escaping from Indians, every other rider in the scene is getting bounced around on their horse, while Ben is going twice and fast and doesn't move an inch.

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Monday, 13 January 2020 22:15 (two weeks ago) link

Ford pegged it as one of his favorites. I've heard it was one of the most enjoyable sets he had. Makes ya wonder how much the experience of filming has on a director's or actor's personal favorites rather then purely the end result.

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Monday, 13 January 2020 22:17 (two weeks ago) link

I think it's set in 1880. Which means it was as distant from 1950 as 1950 is from now whoa.

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Monday, 13 January 2020 22:24 (two weeks ago) link

well, Ford knew old Wyatt Earp

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Monday, 13 January 2020 22:29 (two weeks ago) link

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