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#81 Izo

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 09:34 AM

The film that Ford made between The Searchers and Wings of Eagles, The Rising of the Moon is airing on TCM next Saturday afternoon. I've actually never heard of the picture, but I don't think it's got a DVD release, so fans may want to check it out. It sounds like one of Ford's pet projects. TCM quick synopsis: "Three stories examine the lives of the Irish living under British oppression."

#82 clydefro

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 06:50 PM

The Grapes of Wrath is coming to Blu-ray...as a Screen Archives exclusive. This is one of my favorite Ford films so my reaction is definitely mixed. I have to wonder why Fox can push its MGM Blu releases for ten and fifteen bucks but then cuts a deal like this where it's $30 plus shipping or nothing.

Future, monthly Screen Archives exclusives are also promised so I could see some of the other Studio Classics and even Film Noir titles emerging this way.

#83 Izo

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 06:28 PM

The Wings of Eagles

I've put John Ford's The Wings of Eagles off for years due to its lackluster reputation, and now I'm kind of ashamed that I did, as it's really excellent and underrated, just shy of being a top tier Ford work, in my opinion. Predictably, the film's major issues come with the grabass humor that haunt many of Ford's productions. Oftentimes I rather enjoy the boisterous humor of his pictures - particularly in The Quiet Man and the Calvary Trilogy - but I cannot deny that there's just too much of it in the opening thirty or so minutes of this picture and I confess the first time I attempted to watch the film several years ago I was so put off by these early scenes that I turned the film off to come back to at a later date. It seems the cake fights and barroom brawls go on forever, and then are repeated. But as the film progresses, these early scenes are retroactively made more and more essential as they exemplify the protagonist's joie de vivre. And as the film falls into despair and then into triumph, the power builds and builds until I found myself holding back tears in the final moments. Even in Ford films that doesn't happen to me all that often.

The movie features one of John Wayne's most surprising and (dare I say?) brave performances. It's a beautifully realized portrayal of Spig Wead, Naval officer, screenwriter, and survivor of a neck injury that left him nearly paralyzed. He was also a personal friend and collaborator of John Ford's. Wayne completely puts vanity aside in the film, something I don't know that I can ever recall him doing before or after. In fact, as Wead the character ages, Wayne even appears without his toupee, something that he'd never do again*. The film's highlight for me were the hospital scenes, where we see Wayne laying on his face in a bed, completely unable to move. The horizontal protagonist created some really unusual opportunities for mise en cine in the picture, and I'm not sure Ford ever filmed humans this way before or after, and it's really fascinating to witness how he doesn't allow the single-room setting and immobility of his protagonist - indeed we only catch glimpses of Wayne's face in mirrors through this long middle section of the film - hamper his compositional brilliance.

The film is full of great little touches like Ward Bond's hilarious (and perfect) portrayal of Ford himself, who commissions a film script from Wead. The stock war footage is also jaw-dropping.

Highly recommended. Give it a chance. I'm glad I did.


*This fact came from the IMDB trivia page for the picture. Other great bits:

-According to director John Ford, "Everything in the picture was true. The fight in the club - throwing the cake - actually happened. I can verify that as an eyewitness. I ducked it. And the plane landing in the swimming pool right in the middle of the Admiral's tea - that really happened."

-The character of John Dodge was a fictional version of John Ford. Many of the props in Dodge's office - the Oscars, the pipe, the hollow cane - were borrowed from Ford.

#84 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 06:24 PM

How the West Was Filled With Loss by David Kehr

FOR his 1948 “Fort Apache,” the first movie in his celebrated cavalry trilogy, John Ford brought together four of the five leading men most closely associated with his career: George O’Brien, the star of “The Iron Horse” (1924), Ford’s first major critical and commercial success; Victor McLaglen, whose 12 films with Ford include an Oscar-winning performance in “The Informer” (1935); Henry Fonda, the Tom Joad of Ford’s “Grapes of Wrath” (1940); and John Wayne, who first worked with Ford as a prop man and extra in the late 1920s but only became an A-list actor with Ford’s “Stagecoach” in 1939.

Conspicuously absent is Harry Carey, the early western star who had given the young Ford his first feature directing assignment with the 1917 “Straight Shooting,” and whose dignified underplaying would remain a template for Ford in his direction of actors for decades to come. Carey had died in 1947, a few months after “Fort Apache” began production, a loss that clearly meant a great deal to Ford. He would dedicate “Three Godfathers” (1949) to Carey’s memory, and give Carey’s son, Harry Carey Jr., a leading role in it.

“Fort Apache” is one of the great achievements of classical American cinema, a film of immense complexity that never fails to reveal new shadings with each viewing. It has been the subject of reams of critical discourse, most often fastened on its historical and ideological aspects.

J. Hoberman, in his recent history of Hollywood and the cold war, “Army of Phantoms,” finds it an early exemplar of Fortress America, “a vision of total mobilization” in the face of a mounting Communist menace. At the same time it was among the first of the postwar “pro-Indian” westerns. Ford treats his Apache warriors with sympathy and respect, depicting them as fully justified in their revolt against the deceitful and exploitative policies of the United States government (represented by the sniveling Indian agent played by Grant Withers).

But watching the magnificent new Blu-ray edition of “Fort Apache” from Warner Home Video I was struck this time by the film’s reflective, inward quality, by its emotional climate of loss and uncertainty. The central conflict is not between military forces but within the community formed by the population of the small, seemingly forgotten outpost.

The movie begins with the arrival of Fonda’s Lt. Col. Owen Thursday, a rigidly self-disciplined, West Point-trained officer and Civil War hero who has probably been banished to this remote command because he’s a pain to have around the home office. Thursday, who tolerates no deviation from dress codes or classical battle tactics, arrives at his new post with his daughter, Philadelphia (Shirley Temple, now a young woman 11 years after Ford directed her in “Wee Willie Winkie”), and expects her to be a good soldier as well.

His antagonist is Wayne’s Capt. Kirby York, a veteran Westerner who knows the ways of the landscape and its people, and who, the film implies, might have expected to take over the command from the retiring Capt. Sam Collingwood (O’Brien). York has too much discipline and sense of duty to show any disappointment, and we repeatedly see him acquiescing without a murmur to Thursday’s orders, even when experience tells him that Thursday’s textbook tactics will lead only to disaster in the real world of the West.

The historian Richard Slotkin has connected Thursday to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, under whose command Ford had served (and chafed) in the Pacific theater of the recent war. Yet something more than settling a personal beef seems to be at stake here. York, no less than Thursday and Collinwood, is a man who finds himself living in a diminished present, unable to escape the shadow of a heroic past. A sense of stagnation and emptiness has settled in at Fort Apache, which the residents have attempted to fill with social ritual (the film contains two wonderfully filmed formal dance sequences) and domestic warmth.

The real command center of the fort is not Thursday’s office but the modest quarters occupied by Sgt. Maj. Michael O’Rourke (Ward Bond) and his wife, Mary (Irene Rich, a great actress of the silent period who had played Mrs. Erlynne in Ernst Lubitsch’s 1925 “Lady Windermere’s Fan”). The O’Rourkes have a son, Michael (John Agar), who has just returned from West Point as a second lieutenant. He and Thursday’s daughter are clearly destined for each other (at the time of the filming Agar was married to Ms. Temple), but Thursday will not even consider the union: there are class differences between commissioned and noncommissioned officers that can’t be overcome.

A snob and a racist (he regards the Apaches as “breech-clad savages”), Thursday represents the dead hand of tradition; only by getting him out of the way can the young couple be formed and the future take shape. But Ford, who was 54 when he filmed “Fort Apache,” is no less sensitive to the pull of tradition and the weight of the past. To look at the faces of “Fort Apache” is to see his life and already long career (over 100 features and shorts by this point, with some 30 more to go) passing by. Mortality lies in every frame.

At the climax of “Fort Apache” Thursday becomes a victim of his stubborn commitment to the life he has led, unable to escape himself or the institutional history he embodies. There is no honor or purpose in his death, and he takes scores of innocent men with him. Yet, in the film’s famously ambiguous coda we find he has become a mythic figure, a martyr to Manifest Destiny with some of the golden glow of George Armstrong Custer.

As in his late masterpiece “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962) Ford acknowledges a need for heroes while undermining the notion of heroism; the real significance of “Fort Apache” is contained not in the static historical painting of “Thursday’s Last Stand” that has appeared in his former office, but in the endlessly moving line of anonymous troops we see reflected in a window pane as York, the office’s new occupant, looks out. The parade goes by, as it always must and always will, with us or without us. (Warner Home Video, Blu-ray $19.98, previously released DVD $12.97, not rated)


Check out the link for mentions by Dave on other releases for this week.
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#85 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 01:43 PM

Has anyone else seen Arrowsmith? I watched it a few weeks ago and did not quite know what to write about it. I know it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and three other awards, but it feels like (and most likely is) a squeezed version of Sinclair Lewis's novel. The performances are overall good, but Dr. Martin is a jerk :).
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#86 clydefro

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 10:24 PM

^ I have. Pretty sure I mentioned it somewhere.

Anyway, I festively enjoyed Olive's The Quiet Man Blu-ray. What a beautiful film. It descends a little into some nonsense and there are questionable decisions on O'Hara's behavior but the flaws all seem so easy to forgive or even dismiss outright.

I was actually struck by John Wayne's wardrobe. From his hat to the vest he wears to the overcoat we see him in at the beginning, I definitely don't think he was ever so well-dressed in a movie and I kept wondering what happened to those actual pieces of clothing he wore.

Aside from the never-bettered picture quality on Olive's release, the long book excerpt booklet was a nice read and something I was very glad to see included. I'd imagine this will be one of my top releases come year's end.

#87 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 10:04 PM

^ I have. Pretty sure I mentioned it somewhere.

Anyway, I festively enjoyed Olive's The Quiet Man Blu-ray. What a beautiful film. It descends a little into some nonsense and there are questionable decisions on O'Hara's behavior but the flaws all seem so easy to forgive or even dismiss outright.

I was actually struck by John Wayne's wardrobe. From his hat to the vest he wears to the overcoat we see him in at the beginning, I definitely don't think he was ever so well-dressed in a movie and I kept wondering what happened to those actual pieces of clothing he wore.

Aside from the never-bettered picture quality on Olive's release, the long book excerpt booklet was a nice read and something I was very glad to see included. I'd imagine this will be one of my top releases come year's end.


I'll search for it tomorrow.

EDIT: found it

Arrowsmith is also kind of stiff. Myrna Loy is, as was common for the time, misused though still nice to see. The most notable aspect of the film for me was seeing a black character portrayed as an equal to the whites, with not even a hint of subservience.


Now you have me wanting to upgrade my The Quiet Man. Its been several years since I've seen it, I'll try to rectify that soon.
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#88 Izo

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 11:14 PM

Wow, the contrast in picture quality between the old DVD of The Quiet Man and the new Olive Blu-ray is remarkable. It's almost like watching the film for the first time. There are still problems with it, but I feel so happy to finally be able to see the film in such a quality version. There was a shot early in the film, seconds before John Wayne sees Maureen O'Hara for the first time that literally made me gasp. I'll describe it, but I won't be able to do it justice. Wayne stands at the left-center of the frame lighting a match with his shoe, while the trunk of an enormous tree takes up almost the entire right side of the frame. It's a shot that lasts maybe two or three seconds before a cut that brings us closer to Wayne, but it was so transcendent, the colors and clarity of the image were so unlike what I'd come to expect from the film, that it just wowed me.

It had been a couple of years since I'd last watched the film, but I really do love it so much. Sometimes movies just have an impossible-to-pinpoint kind of magic that makes you completely ignore - even value - any faults that the film has. For me, at least, The Thief of Bagdad is an example of this, and so too is The Quiet Man. The quality of performances from the ensemble cast - one of the things that Ford specialized in that is less-discussed - is top notch. John Wayne is very good here, as he always tended to be for Ford. But really, he's outshined by the supporting characters in the film. Ward Bond and Barry Fitzgerald are both excellent in their parts, but Victor McLaglen is so great that he's the character I most remember when thinking back on the film. The fist fight at the film's climax goes on so much longer than it reasonably should, but I wouldn't want to lose a second of it just in admiring Ford's miraculous eye for framing nature, his obvious love of the subject matter, and the masterful performances by the two fighting actors. Even Maureen O'Hara, who I've never been a great fan of, is never less than charming.

Sure, the film reinforces - even celebrates - every Irish stereotype you could possibly imagine. Sure, some scenes go on far too long - though I wouldn't change them for the world. Sure the film is unabashedly sentimental, but one never feels that it is insincere in the slightest. Watching the film, you don't notice any of these things. They simply melt away with the love that is so clearly in every frame of the movie. I really treasure this film.

#89 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 04:14 PM

The Long Voyage Home *****/*****

One of my absolute favorite Ford films, I find it absolutely terrifying and devastating, but never less than beautiful. Throughout the length of the picture I kept thinking of Ingmar Bergman, and I bet he loved this movie as well. I know nothing about Eugene O'Neill, aside from the fact that he wrote the one-act plays that this film is based on, and he reportedly adored the movie and wore out his own personal print of it, but I really need to learn more. Gregg Toland's cinematography really adds just so many more layers to the movie, as well.

John Wayne gets a lot of flak for his performance, but - accent aside - I think it's wonderful. But then, every member of the cast is absolutely perfect in this - with top honors going to Thomas Mitchell.

 
I finally saw this for the first time this weekend, filling in what I considered a conspicuous hole.  I actually did not wait long to watch it, I found a DVD of this a few days ago.  I need to do some research on this.  Have you learned any more on this or rewatched this since your previous viewing?  I would consider this an underrated John Ford film (no TSPDT list; though it is on Rosenbaums 1000.)

It is beautifully directed and it looks great for the set, the way the camera moves when needed and the German expressionistic lighting, smoke and shadows.  In many ways a sad tale and not just the ending.  I too like sea-faring tales.
 
Wayne's accent is off, but nothing wrong with his body performance.  What I found funny is that I didn't notice the accent until later in the film.  And this film is a ensemble piece, not a "John Wayne film" :D.  Has John Wayne done other accents?
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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,
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“Empty your bladder of that bitter black urine you call coffee.” – The Tick

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#90 Izo

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 05:36 PM

It's a very melancholy picture. I've seen it five or six times, so I'm pretty familiar, and I do consider it highly underrated, despite the Oscar nominations.

#91 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 02:03 PM

John Ford, on Uncommon Ground

 

This is Dave Kehr's last post for the New York Times.  Since I cannot find this set on Amazon, I believe it is shop.tcm.com only.  Three of these flims are appearing on DVD (in America) for the first time.

 

A couple of quotes that interest me:

 

"It may be the westerns and war movies that are the foundation of his reputation today, but throughout his long career — over 140 films, though most of the silent movies are lost — Ford remained, on the surface at least, a remarkably protean filmmaker." [a fact not lost on those who post in this thread]

 

"The Temple film, “Wee Willie Winkie,” was perhaps the first of Ford’s films to deal with a theme that would become central to his work after World War II: the social structure of a military encampment."

 

"The Long Gray Line” belongs to a cluster of films about marriage — a subject that rarely engaged Ford before — that pops up in his filmography of the 1950s."

 

"Ford’s darkest and most bitter film, “Two Rode Together”" [I have never seen this so I am intrigued]


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

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#92 Izo

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 03:15 PM

Oh I'd forgotten that set was coming out. I don't own any of previously released films in it, either.

Will read the article soon. Thanks master!

#93 clydefro

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 12:37 AM

The Whole Town's Talking is the least prototypically Ford film I've seen, and I think it's great fun. 

 

I don't know whether I'd call Two Rode Together his darkest or his most bitter. I tend to see The Searchers more so in both of those criteria. The Informer maybe too. Still, Ford wasn't a bitter filmmaker by nature so I'm not sure I could make a strong case to the contrary. Jimmy Stewart is certainly against type in it. 



#94 Izo

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 06:55 AM

I haven't made it to Two Rode Together yet, but that was my initial reaction to that comment as well Clyde.

The Long Gray Line is a film that belongs with The Wings of Eagles and The Long Voyage Home as some of his most underrated work.

#95 Izo

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Posted 08 September 2015 - 12:06 AM

I've watchedThe Whole Town's Talking this evening and I was pleasantly surprised by it. Ford's various attempts at comedies can be mixed affairs but this was clever and breezy and played a bit like a slower-paced Howard Hawks comedy. I particularly liked how the casting of Edward G. Robinson slyly plays him against type as a timid man who is mistaken for a dangerous gangster. I'd imagine Jean Arthur's performance could grate on some, but I thought she was fine. Ultimately this turned out to be probably the best straight comedy of Ford's that I've seen. It's pretty terrific.

#96 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 08 September 2015 - 11:34 AM

I've watchedThe Whole Town's Talking this evening and I was pleasantly surprised by it. Ford's various attempts at comedies can be mixed affairs but this was clever and breezy and played a bit like a slower-paced Howard Hawks comedy. I particularly liked how the casting of Edward G. Robinson slyly plays him against type as a timid man who is mistaken for a dangerous gangster. I'd imagine Jean Arthur's performance could grate on some, but I thought she was fine. Ultimately this turned out to be probably the best straight comedy of Ford's that I've seen. It's pretty terrific.

 

Here is something I definitely need to see.  I like how Robinson is playing against type earlier than his performances in gangster spoofs like A Slight Case of Murder (1938) -- a film I do like as well as Brother Orchid (1940) both directed by Lloyd Bacon.  I need to get that Ford set that movie is on.

 

Funny you mention that same year (1935) Robinson was in Howard Hawk's Barbary Coast -a film I have not see but do own.

 


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

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#97 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 01 September 2016 - 12:15 PM

The Whole Town’s Talking (1935: John Ford)
 
I have been reading a wonderful biography on John Ford by Scott Eyman (whose biography on John Wayne is quite good) so I thought it would behoove me to see a John Ford film I had not seen before.  This is one of his lesser known talkies, possibly because this almost screwball comedy does not quite fit in the Fordian themes that he is well known for.  He directed this for Columbia on loan from Fox (like Jackie Chan was on loan from Lo Wei for seasonal when he acted in Drunken Master) and this is a comedy (though Ford did like comedy) so many film critics/biographers (including the one mentioned above) lump this film in as a throwaway Ford film and relegate it to a lesser tier in his oeuvre – with some exceptions like Leonard Maltin who has an introduction on the Columbia DVD release.
 
The plot is quite simple for this screwball comedy with a milquetoast clerk Jones (Edward G. Robinson) who happens to have a Doppleganger in the murderous Mannion (of course also played by Edward G. Robinson) who happened to have escaped prison.  The police pick up the wrong man whose fingerprints end up saving him, but they give him a signed pass which he has to present to police.  When the gangster gets ahold of this news we know what he is going to do with that.  Jones happens to be in love with a coworker played by the uniquely voiced Jean Arthur in a strong type of role she would be famous for especially with Frank Capra.  Will somehow the gangster get between the two?
 
Jean Arthur was quite popular for around a ten year period, she was even billed above John Wayne in A Lady Takes a Chance in 1943 (another underrated film.) Some film historians like Leonard Maltin point to this film for helping her increase her fame, though she had been second billed in a decent amount of films (like she is here under Edward G. Robinson) and had been acting since 1923 so she was certainly known by the public at this time.  Of course, Robinson is the star.  He is playing off his ganger persona like he would do in such films A Slight Case of Murder and Brother Orchid.  Always interesting seeing him play against type, which I am sure he wanted to do more of just like James Cagney who was not always happy about the typecasting.  He is a good actor, maybe a little too meek here, but effective and helps work the comedy bits.
 
The special effects are quite good and rare for seeing in a John Ford film (not unknown since he did use them in several silent movies like Hangman's House).  Some of the seamless split-screens are sagacious* and just as good as in Big Business (1988) many years later.  The use of rear-projection is well done especially in a scene where Jones is talking to Mannion and you see him through a mirror in the background.  But it is also interesting to see same person different character performances: usually it is twins like Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers and of course Jean-Claude Van Damme in Double Impact which inspired Jackie Chan to do it.  But occasionally you can create your own like in Multiplicity.  It is almost its own subgenre.
 
I feel this is an underrated comedy from the well-known director.  Worth watching if you are a fan of screwball comedies, especially from Preston Sturges and may be of interest if you are a John Ford fan – just do not expect a normal John Ford film.
 
* One of the greatest use of split-screens is in Buster Keaton’s The Playhouse. At one point he plays nine characters at the same time.


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

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#98 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 11:58 AM

Rio Grande (1950: John Ford)

 

I am currently reading a book on John Ford by Scott Eyman I thought it was time to rewatch the third film in the cavalry trilogy (after Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon) since it is the one I have seen it only once before.  The main reason Ford started this was to get the backing from Republic Pictures to make the later The Quiet Man.  Republic was more known for being a B picture studio, but it (technically Herbert Yates) had wanted to have some more establishment pictures to run with the major releases.  John Ford could be a difficult director who could alienate actors*, producers and many others, but he was quite good at the studio system of bringing films on time and on budget.  He was also a brilliant director who could get great performances out of actors, beautiful cinematography and good composition out of the camera and thematic elements that were mature and sagacious.  Orson Welles was a huge fan of Ford and considered him one of the great directors. 

 

Beautiful looking film, though a bit more than usual stage scenes (given the Republic budget.)  I am a John Wayne fan and a Maureen O’Hara fan so it is nice to rewatch their first film together (out of five I believe.)  Great chemistry between the two.  O’Hara would play the estranged wife of 15 years who has come for her son who just flunked out of West Point and had decided to sign up directly with the military. Wayne plays a cavalry commander Kirby Yorke who is trying to protect the area from marauding Indians who hit and run and then go back to Mexico (past the Rio Grande) where they cannot be touched by the cavalry (the author used this as allegory for the Korean War.)  Wayne now has his son to worry about, a woman who has not seen in 15 years who he still loves and Indians.

 

Like with many Ford films there are a great amount of scenes that are fun to watch.  From the Roman riding was quite exciting, actually done by the actors themselves, which would be a big no-no today, though Ben Johnson was a great horseman.  To the Sons of the Pioneers and their sometimes hilarious way of being used in the plot.  And much more. 

 

* For example Ben Johnson got so angry with Ford during this film that he refused to work with him again for 15 years though he did finish the film.


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

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