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#1 Izo

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 06:51 PM

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"I'm sentimental as hell. I'm Irish. I like animals, and then, after baseball, I like people." - John Ford, 1958 Newsweek Interview

For me, John Ford is the single greatest filmmaker that has ever lived. A big Irish softie with a tough-guy exoskeleton and an uncanny ability to capture the most iconic and beautiful with a gorgeous simplicity that isn't all that simple at all. I've seem many of Ford's films, and not all of them are great or even good, but every single one of them has a scene, a moment, a shot that, to me, is perfection. Ford's films are sentimental, but they are never less than sincere.

Highly Recommended:
The Iron Horse
3 Bad Men
Pilgrimage
Stagecoach
The Long Voyage Home
Steamboat 'Round the Bend
My Darling Clementine
The Grapes of Wrath
They Were Expendable
The Searchers
Young Mr. Lincoln
Fort Apache
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
Wagon Master
The Quiet Man
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Second Tier, Greatly Worthwhile:
The Lost Patrol
The Informer
Sergeant Rutledge
3 Godfathers
Doctor Bull
Judge Priest
Donovan's Reef
Rio Grande
How Green Was My Valley
Drums Along the Mohawk
The Prisoner of Shark Island

Forum Topics:

Young Mr. Lincoln, Criterion spine 320
Stagecoach, Criterion spine 516 - Also includes discussion of Bucking Broadway
The Prisoner of Shark Island, MOC spine 022
The Searchers


See Also:


Directed by John Ford, directed by Peter Bogdanovich
Horizons West, Directing the Western from John Ford to Clint Eastwood, by Jim Kitses

Roger Ebert Great Movies Reviews:
The Searchers
My Darling Clementine
The Grapes of Wrath

Great Directors Article (Senses of Cinema)

John Ford Made...Monsters? The Grotesque Tradition of John Ford (Senses of Cinema)

Chris Fujiwara on The Long Voyage Home

From Tag Gallagher:
Passage: John Ford's Young Mr. Lincoln
John Ford Rises from the Dead. Again. (On Bucking Broadway)
American Triptych: Vidor, Hawks, Ford
Brother Feeney - Francis Ford - A wonderful article on John Ford's brother.
Ford Till '47
Lengthy Interview with Tag Gallagher on Ford

Additionally, Gallagher's nearly 700-page book on Ford is available in its entirety for free from his official website.

Essential Reading: John Ford: Interviews

David Bordwell on Silent Ford Films

TSPDT 1,000 Greatest Films: The Informer (1935), Stagecoach (1939), Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941), They Were Expendable (1945), My Darling Clementine (1946), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Rio Grande (1950), Wagon Master (1950), The Quiet Man (1952), The Sun Shines Bright (1953), The Searchers (1956), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), Seven Women (1966)



#2 Lohengrin

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 07:28 PM

Good write-up. Ford's good. Not an all-time favorite pour moi, but I prefer him to most of those other old grandpa directors.

I've only seen like three of his movies, but Tobacco Road is my favorite of what I've seen. Definitely check it out. It's a weird one, but its imperfections are why I like it.

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#3 sexy rancheros

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 07:52 PM

Not including My Darling Clementine is downright shameful.
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#4 Izo

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 08:08 PM

Not including My Darling Clementine is downright shameful.


You're right. I wrote this on a time limit. The Quiet Man is another glaring omission.

Tobacco Road is quite good, I think, though many people seem to have violent reactions to it for some reason.

#5 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 10:38 AM

You're right. I wrote this on a time limit. The Quiet Man is another glaring omission.

Tobacco Road is quite good, I think, though many people seem to have violent reactions to it for some reason.


It is because it contains one of the most annoying characters of all-time. This is no joke. Dude Lester is beyond just irritating (beep beep honk honk). He is one of those rare screen characters where you either want to drop dead or pore wax into your ears like a modern day Jason (though he is no siren well except he could drive you to your death). But yes that character's eccentricities do make it an interesting one. What Dude does to the car is unforgiving.

Good call of both The Quiet Man, My Darling Clementine. I've never really thought of Young Mr. Lincoln as one of his better works. I felt Henry Fonda was miscast and his performance was almost too "ahh shucks I'm just a country lawyer" where I felt the real Lincoln would have been more of a force in not only oratory but personality as well.

Here are some write ups I have done:

Doctor Bull (1933: John Ford) ***/****

This is the first of three collaborations between Will Rogers and John Ford (and there would have been more if Rogers did not die shortly after the third in a plane crash) though it is probably my least favorite among them. Rogers is such a iconic character of the 1930s, though definitely less known today, that it is a boon that these films are together in the Ford at Fox set. I would recommend Judge Priest to be a definite watch though be warned it is quite un-PC (critic Jonathan Rosenbaum considers it one of the best movies from the 30s).

While Will is in typical character form as a sarcastic biting somewhat loner the tone of the film is not quite the comedy as the next two films would be. There is a current of condemnation of this doctor because he is considered out-of-date (though this did not make much sense since the same townsfolk who wanted to prevent him from inoculating their children) and a bit obscene since he is cavorting around with a widow. Doc Bull is a previous cow-doctor who prescribes castor oil (or placebo pills) to almost everything except for when medicine is actually needed.

The ending felt a bit too heavy-handed and somewhat unrealistic especially in dealing with a paraplegic and his 100% possibly of him never walking again (which of course I think you might know what happens). The fact that most of the townsfolk became more and more aggressively against him seemed a bit strange too. Though you definitely feel for him as he becomes more drained as each phone call and visit keep him from his bed (he started to remind me of Nicolas Cage's Frank Pierce in Bringing Out The Dead).

However, there is about an hour of perfect characterization and witty banter from the slightly-surly curmudgeon and a town of characters from the downright stereotypical "old ladies", an Italian family and a hypochondriac in raspy-voiced Andy Devine (who I just recently saw in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves as the least convincing Arab ever on film). It is worth watching to those who like John Ford movies and can handle some bad acting early on and clunky use of sound. I am amazed at how many non-western films John Ford has done.

Seas Beneath (1931: John Ford) **½/****

In the oeuvre of John Ford his late silents are ahead of his early talkies in artistic aesthetics because of two important factors: actors and dialogue. While he is most known for his sagacious later period films like The Searchers or The Quiet Man (and many others) he has several excellent 20s films like 3 Bad Men and Four Sons (I still have not seen Iron Horse which I will have to rectify soon). Those silents work quite well on a visual level and have a surprising amount of movement sometimes analogous to a Murnau film. When sound became prominent many producers felt forced to exploit this aspect which slowed down movement, placed people in specific positions due to microphones and forced the focus to be more on verbal acting ability. The latter was the rub in Ford's early talkies.

The biggest strength of this film is the look and feel of the settings and several nice shots of the camera. One of the biggest surprises is that most of this film is shot on location. There are beautiful shots on ships, on the sea and even some quick underwater shots (the earliest in a film I can think of) which show a submarine breaking the surface of the sea. John had the American naval at his disposal and it really showed. Given there is a possible anachronism of some of the equipment since this movie was supposed to take place during WWI.

Then there is the rub. The sound is typical of early 30s with very little music, stifled acting with hammy delivery and a general slow plot.

During WWI, a navel command is sending out a three-masted schooner in Spanish waters as a decoy (with a big hidden gun) to lure a famous U-Boat out of the water so it can possibly be torpedoed by a hidden American sub. When the navy personnel go ashore as merchants the captain falls in love with a double agent, while another personnel gets Mickeyed (sleeping potion) and left behind when the personnel cannot find him. The plot is mostly straightforward and the ending is obvious though still exciting. The Germans are treated (like in Grand Illusion) as humans so I do not think this played much in the 1940s.

An interesting movie that will be fun for people who enjoy 1930s films as long as they can handle some of the flaws of plot and acting. John Ford's use of camera is quite evident but does not quite handle the plot and characters as well as in his later films.

This movie can be found in the huge Fox at Ford box set.
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#6 Izo

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 12:13 PM

Good call of both The Quiet Man, My Darling Clementine. I've never really thought of Young Mr. Lincoln as one of his better works. I felt Henry Fonda was miscast and his performance was almost too "ahh shucks I'm just a country lawyer" where I felt the real Lincoln would have been more of a force in not only oratory but personality as well.



I added Liberty Valance and a couple of others as well. Dead-on reviews of Doctor Bull and Seas Beneath (in that one the stunt work deserves special mention). Doctor Bull is more impressive if you look at it as part of a sort of Americana Trilogy with Judge Priest and Steamboat 'Round the Bend, my favorite of the three.

Young Mr. Lincoln is in my top two or three Ford films. I think that Henry Fonda is absolutely perfect in it, and the "aw shucks" attitude that he has throughout is shown, to me, to be nothing more than a way to get people to underestimate him. I genuinely love the film.

#7 Izo

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 12:52 PM

Has anyone heard anything on The Quiet Man, The Sun Shines Bright (haven't seen this one!), or The Long Voyage Home supposedly getting Criterion-treatment?

#8 Izo

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 09:09 AM

More links added, though I confess not to having read them all yet. Tag Gallagher is really just a wonderful source when it comes to Ford.

#9 Izo

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 08:01 AM

Mary of Scotland ***/*****

This is exactly what I imagine the Private Lives of Alexander Korda Eclipse set is like, actually. A few uneven but entertaining period dramas. This one is actually really atypical for Ford. First off, it's a Europe-set period drama, which I don't know that Ford made another of. Secondly, it's a return to his Murnau-influenced expressionist visual style, complete with chiaroscuro lighting tricks, deep shadows, and silent film visuals. Finally, there are a very unusual amount of close-ups on Katherine Hepburn - who is miscast - like every other actor - but good here. There's actually a story behind that, though I don't know if Ford and Hepburn's love affair is actually what inspired the unordinant number of close ups.

The movie is fine, mostly just an interesting curio. It's the last film out of that John Ford box set that I hadn't watched, so there ya go. It's also my least favorite film in the set.

#10 Izo

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 08:06 AM

A number of silent films thought to be lost were found in New Zealand, including Upstream, a 1927 John Ford film.

Source

#11 Izo

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 11:46 AM

Out of curiousity how many Ford films have you seen?


33, with six or so odd films in various places in my collection still to be watched. I haven't even knocked out the entire Ford at Fox set, honestly.

#12 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 12:06 PM

33, with six or so odd films in various places in my collection still to be watched. I haven't even knocked out the entire Ford at Fox set, honestly.


Your one ahead of me :P. You can see a tally of directors I have seen in that thread of the same name. I have one film (and the documentary) left in the Ford at Fox set (yes I still need to see Iron Horse).

I'm glad you got that Mike. You will have to share your feelings after it is watched.
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My Criterion Collection (408; I Own and Have Watched):
1-16, 18, 19, 20, 21(2nd), 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51(1st & 2nd), 52, 52, 53, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86. 87, 88, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151(1st), 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 164, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 177, 180, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 201, 202, 204, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 224, 226, 227, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 237, 239, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 260, 263, 266, 267, 268, 271, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 297, 298, 300(2D), 301, 302, 304, 305, 306, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 332, 335, 336, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 351, 352, 353, 354, 357, 358, 359, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367, 368, 369, 370, 371, 372, 373, 374, 375, 376, 378, 379, 380, 383, 385, 386, 387, 388, 391, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 398, 399, 402, 404, 405, 408, 409, 410, 412, 413, 414, 415, 416, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422, 424, 425, 427, 428, 429, 430, 431, 432, 433, 434, 435, 437, 439, 441, 445, 446, 447, 448, 451, 453, 455, 456, 457, 459, 460, 461, 462, 465, 470, 475, 476, 478, 481, 482, 487, 490, 497, 498, 499, 500, 501, 503, 505, 512, 524, 525, 526, 528, 529, 530, 531, 539, 540, 543, 556, 565, 572, 578, 579, 580, 586, 596, 650, 664, 677

Previous Editions: 2,
Eclipse: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 23, 26, 33

“Empty your bladder of that bitter black urine you call coffee.” – The Tick

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#13 Izo

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 12:09 PM

Your one ahead of me :P. You can see a tally of directors I have seen in that thread of the same name. I have one film (and the documentary) left in the Ford at Fox set (yes I still need to see Iron Horse).

I'm glad you got that Mike. You will have to share your feelings after it is watched.



I may be one or two off, but whatever. I definitely need to revisit a few.

Do you have the Ford/Wayne box? If so, is it the new one with the Bogdonovich doc or the old one with Stagecoach/The Long Voyage Home? I'd say skip the asskissery and fluffiness of the Ford at Fox doc (I need to get around to those propaganda films at some point, though) and check out Directed by John Ford.

#14 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 12:14 PM

I may be one or two off, but whatever. I definitely need to revisit a few.

Do you have the Ford/Wayne box? If so, is it the new one with the Bogdonovich doc or the old one with Stagecoach/The Long Voyage Home? I'd say skip the asskissery and fluffiness of the Ford at Fox doc (I need to get around to those propaganda films at some point, though) and check out Directed by John Ford.


No, I was buying the films individually actually I wanted to watch several bought them when I found them and now have no need for the box set. I will buy Directed by John Ford then on your suggestion. I'm a completest so I will watch that ass kissery doc though :P (sometimes this type of doc can be seen in several of the Criterion extras, but luckily Criterion usually has a higher quality on its extras). Ford has so many films out that it is easy to miss some of his main films ^_^ and still have seen lots of his movies.

The usual lament: so many movies so little time :).
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#15 Izo

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 12:19 PM

Unfortunately with Ford, even with so many films available there are still so many yet to be released, including some very highly regarded ones. The Sun Shines Bright and The Fugitive are at the top of my list.

Have you seen Wagonmaster yet, Master? They Were Expendable? Sergeant Rutledge? The Quiet Man? The Long Voyage Home? What did you think? I count all those among his masterpieces, though others sometimes do not.

Perhaps this should all be moved to the director thread...

#16 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 12:30 PM

Unfortunately with Ford, even with so many films available there are still so many yet to be released, including some very highly regarded ones. The Sun Shines Bright and The Fugitive are at the top of my list.

Have you seen Wagonmaster yet, Master? They Were Expendable? Sergeant Rutledge? The Quiet Man? The Long Voyage Home? What did you think? I count all those among his masterpieces, though others sometimes do not.

Perhaps this should all be moved to the director thread...


Moved :P.

Out of those I have seen Wagonmaster and The Quiet Man (being Irish I have seen this several times). I have They Were Expendable so I'll make that a higher priority. The Ford at Fox set really boosted my Ford watchings ^_^.
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My Criterion Collection (408; I Own and Have Watched):
1-16, 18, 19, 20, 21(2nd), 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51(1st & 2nd), 52, 52, 53, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86. 87, 88, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151(1st), 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 164, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 177, 180, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 201, 202, 204, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 224, 226, 227, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 237, 239, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 260, 263, 266, 267, 268, 271, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 297, 298, 300(2D), 301, 302, 304, 305, 306, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 332, 335, 336, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 351, 352, 353, 354, 357, 358, 359, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367, 368, 369, 370, 371, 372, 373, 374, 375, 376, 378, 379, 380, 383, 385, 386, 387, 388, 391, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 398, 399, 402, 404, 405, 408, 409, 410, 412, 413, 414, 415, 416, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422, 424, 425, 427, 428, 429, 430, 431, 432, 433, 434, 435, 437, 439, 441, 445, 446, 447, 448, 451, 453, 455, 456, 457, 459, 460, 461, 462, 465, 470, 475, 476, 478, 481, 482, 487, 490, 497, 498, 499, 500, 501, 503, 505, 512, 524, 525, 526, 528, 529, 530, 531, 539, 540, 543, 556, 565, 572, 578, 579, 580, 586, 596, 650, 664, 677

Previous Editions: 2,
Eclipse: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 23, 26, 33

“Empty your bladder of that bitter black urine you call coffee.” – The Tick

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#17 Izo

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 12:36 PM

Moved :P.

Out of those I have seen Wagonmaster and The Quiet Man (being Irish I have seen this several times). I have They Were Expendable so I'll make that a higher priority. The Ford at Fox set really boosted my Ford watchings ^_^.


Thoughts on the two you've seen?

I hope you enjoy it. It seems to divide film fans down the middle, who either think it's sentimental garbage or among the greatest WWII films ever produced. I'm in the second category.

So have you seen any of the films in that John Ford Collection box you linked to a few days ago? You should jump all over that if not. Call them Ford B-sides if you want, but they're still essential for a fan.

What are your favorite John Ford films, Wagonmasteroftheoneinchpunch?

#18 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 12:55 PM

Thoughts on the two you've seen?

I hope you enjoy it. It seems to divide film fans down the middle, who either think it's sentimental garbage or among the greatest WWII films ever produced. I'm in the second category.

So have you seen any of the films in that John Ford Collection box you linked to a few days ago? You should jump all over that if not. Call them Ford B-sides if you want, but they're still essential for a fan.

What are your favorite John Ford films, Wagonmasteroftheoneinchpunch?


I have not seen any from that boxset (I do especially want to see the one with Boris Karloff :P).

For me both Wagonmaster and The Quiet Man are very worthwhile movies. I think with Wagonmaster aka Wagon Master ^_^ it depends on how you take to Ben Johnson I think the film worked quite well without having a big name for this movie (reading through reviews I see several have also stated this). Wagon Master is certainly a beautiful looking film, but also a moving film in the steadfastness of the Mormons. I especially liked the Ward Bond character. Here is a film I do want to revisit though. The Quiet Man has one of the great fist fight scenes of all time (of course I would mention that first). It also works well for me on its characterisms, the slight :) mysognistic Irish attitude, the cinematrography, the dialogue and pretty much everything else. Out of those two so far I prefer The Quiet Man because it has been more memorable to me (this is personal not a critique yet; I would have to see both again to put forth a proper review).

My favorite John Ford films are: The Quiet Man, Judge Priest, Stagecoach, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. The runner's up would be 3 Bad Men (1926), Fort Apache and My Darling Clementine. Many more in the third tier :).

What directors do you think have had the biggest influence by John Ford (besides Paul Schrader)?
Under Construction:
My Criterion Collection (408; I Own and Have Watched):
1-16, 18, 19, 20, 21(2nd), 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51(1st & 2nd), 52, 52, 53, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86. 87, 88, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151(1st), 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 164, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 177, 180, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 201, 202, 204, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 224, 226, 227, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 237, 239, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 260, 263, 266, 267, 268, 271, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 297, 298, 300(2D), 301, 302, 304, 305, 306, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 332, 335, 336, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 351, 352, 353, 354, 357, 358, 359, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367, 368, 369, 370, 371, 372, 373, 374, 375, 376, 378, 379, 380, 383, 385, 386, 387, 388, 391, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 398, 399, 402, 404, 405, 408, 409, 410, 412, 413, 414, 415, 416, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422, 424, 425, 427, 428, 429, 430, 431, 432, 433, 434, 435, 437, 439, 441, 445, 446, 447, 448, 451, 453, 455, 456, 457, 459, 460, 461, 462, 465, 470, 475, 476, 478, 481, 482, 487, 490, 497, 498, 499, 500, 501, 503, 505, 512, 524, 525, 526, 528, 529, 530, 531, 539, 540, 543, 556, 565, 572, 578, 579, 580, 586, 596, 650, 664, 677

Previous Editions: 2,
Eclipse: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 23, 26, 33

“Empty your bladder of that bitter black urine you call coffee.” – The Tick

My HK movie reviews
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#19 Izo

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 01:16 PM

Wagonmaster aka Wagon Master

What directors do you think have had the biggest influence by John Ford (besides Paul Schrader)?


I have to look at the DVD spine every time I type the name. The spine reads "Wagonmaster" while the cover says "Wagon Master". Ah well.

When it comes to talking about directors with Ford's influence, it's hard to say. I've seen Ford's shots quoted in everything from Paris, Texas to Kill Bill Vol. 2 to Taxi Driver and others. Paris Texas and Taxi Driver are in particular kind of pseudo-remakes of The Searchers. I know Leone loved Ford, as do Bogdanovich, Spielberg, and others. On the commentary of the great spaghetti western Keoma, directed by Enzo Castellari (the Italian B-movie icon who directed Inglorious Bastards) he says that Woody Strode, who appears in the film and worked with Ford several times, said that he was carrying Ford's torch. Castellari says hearing this was better than receiving an Oscar. Similarly, I know Clint Eastwood idolizes John Ford, and has said that How Green Was My Valley is his favorite film. In the Criterion booklet for The Furies, Anthony Mann says something similar about Ford. The Cahiers crowd adored him as well. His influence is far reaching and yet I've don't know that I've seen many filmmakers use his style, if that makes sense.

Jump on that box set. Especially for just over $20.

#20 Izo

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 09:41 PM

Any particular version of the two available in the Ford Fox set that I should watch for The Iron Horse if you have seen both?


All this Ford talk, and a bit in Gallagher's book (so far excellent, by the way) where he declares that the US version is far superior, as well as your mention of not having seen The Iron Horse, made me want to consider this question more carefully. I had some free time this afternoon, so I revisited the films (both versions, though I was only doing scene comparisons rather than watching the full movies). Basically, I agree with him, though I still don't think it will make a ton of difference.

I'll quote Gallagher, because he's far better than I:

"In common with the practise of the time, scenes in The Iron Horse were shot
multiple times and/or with two (or more) cameras. One negative was assembled in
California for the home markets, another negative in England for its markets. The
US version was most recently distributed by Paul Killiam; the UK is on dvd and TCM,
restored by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill. The latter in most cases has markedly
inferior takes.
Ford’s camera is significantly closer in US, giving US more intimacy, and in action
scenes it is also much lower to the ground, so that horses rushing by the camera
have more visceral impact. To escape Indians galloping after him, George O’Brien
causes his horse to fall in the snow, jumps off, and leaps onto a speeding train: all in
extreme long shot in UK, closer to filling the frame in US. Later, there is an
elaborate montage of lateral tracks of Indians charging a stalled train which is
missing in UK. A grave scene is in long shot entirely in UK; in US the same scene is
in full shot, cutting to the long shot for the fade out.
Fred Kohler’s villainous Deroux changes his name to Baumann in UK, and James
Welch’s Private Schultz becomes Private Mackay. In place of Ford’s dedication to
Abraham Lincoln, who gave birth to the Intercontinental Railroad, UK is “Dedicated
to the honour and memory of George Stephenson, the Scottish engineer, and to the
men of every nationality, who have followed in his footsteps since England led the
way by opening the first railway in 1825.”
Both “restorations” are marred by ugly tinting throughout - there is no white, nor
any black - and bad music. John Lanchberry’s UK score has not an American sound
and could not be more antithetical to Ford. William Perry’s US piano is relentlessly
percussive and clichéd. Seldom does either bring the movie to life. They succeed
with cattle herds and workmen swinging picks, but neither knows how to use music
as Ford did, to soak in the sentiment of a melody, to make magic when a guy
glances at a girl - the way George O’Brien glances at Madge Bellamy. (Ford talked
about his preference for music based on folktunes linked to each character in his
essay, “Thematic Presentations, A Wish for the Future,” The Film Daily, June 12,
1927.)
Into both versions mismatched close-ups of Madge Bellamy were interpolated by
Fox Film against Ford’s will. The Lincoln scene was William Fox’s suggestion."




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