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Since my DirectedByJohnFord.com website was hacked a few months ago, I feel a gaping hole for posting about my favorite director.  I figured it was about time to open up a thread of my own about his films.  Feel free to post willy-nilly about him (politely, of course, please).  It's a "Rambling" type of thread so minimal fuss and rules.

 

ford1.jpg

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Someone wrote that John Ford was a poet of images, and I agree. Wonderful artist. I want to mention a couple of ideas that have been on my mind for a while, thanks for this opportunity, MissG.

 

I think The Last Hurrah is much greater than it gets credit for. Ostensibly about an old-time Boston politician, a political boss who has his cronies and does good deeds for his people,  I think Ford directed that film as a farewell to the old Hollywood. There is a scene in which the Mayor -- Spencer Tracy -- is at a wake for an old friend. All the Mayor's cronies are there. But I see it as Ford's wake for the old Hollywood -- Tracy (representing Ford) is there; Jane Darwell, many of Ford's family of actors are in that scene.  And Tracy loses the election to a younger man who uses television to reach the public! (OK, obvious metaphor: TV gaining over the movies at the time the film was made). The old politics in The Last Hurrah is a surrogate for the old Hollywood.

 

Two other points:  I don't think John Huston is in the very top tier of directors. But I think he directed two truly great films toward the end of his career: Wise Blood and The Dead. And what do these films have in common? They are, IMHO, heavily influenced by Ford. The opening of Wise Blood = the opening of The Grapes of Wrath. Hazel Motes = Tom Joad, both coming home to a dead homestead. Loss of home: the greatest ill that can befall a John Ford hero!  And John Huston's The Dead, one of my top ten films of all time: look at that scene of Aunt Julia singing "Arrayed for the Bridal" by Bellini. The camera leaves the aging singer and moves around the house, settling on all the relics of family and past. It's right out of that great scene in The Grapes of Wrath, when Jane Darwell has to throw some stuff away, with "Red River Valley" playing the background; or Doc Holliday's girlfriend being shown Doc's room in My Darling Clementine, and dwelling on all the little objects that define Doc, as the song plays in the background. Things -- sacred objects, really -- imbued with personality and family. 

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I just watched Gideon's Day for the first time a couple days ago.  I found the film to be a pleasant divergence for John Ford.  Talk about leaving one's comfort zone! 

 

While the film will not be hailed as one of Ford's best, I found it be rather enjoyable thanks in large part to Jack Hawkins, who plays the titular character.  He's simply wonderful.  He does an exceptional job of riding the roller coaster of "Gideon's Day".  One moment he is playfully spending time with his wife and children and the next he's vehemently accusing a colleague of taking bribes.  The mixing of heavy and light throughout the film is carried off well because of Hawkins.

 

Where the film suffers is its lack of depth with any of the cases that come up throughout Gideon's day.  We never spend much time with any of them, so the emotional impact is minimal, at best.  We are continually being whisked away from caring.  But this is the point of the film.  Gideon's day is a whirlwind.  The moment you want to spend time with one thing, you are summoned to another.  So is the life of Gideon.

 

If you are looking for "Ford" in this film, I believe you will be disappointed.  I didn't find too much that was him.  I believe he was able to step outside of his element almost completely with Gideon's Day.  And for me, this was rather refreshing.  Sure, you will find Anna Lee as a bit of a Fordian security blanket, but you never feel she's all that "Fordian".

 

I think if you are looking to watch a very different kind of Ford film, one far from Monument Valley and wars, this is one to seek out.

 

Now pardon me, I must pick up some salmon.

 

http://letterboxd.com/scotthbg/list/how-i-like-john-ford/

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Since my DirectedByJohnFord.com website was hacked a few months ago, I feel a gaping hole for posting about my favorite director.  I figured it was about time to open up a thread of my own about his films.  Feel free to post willy-nilly about him (politely, of course, please).  It's a "Rambling" type of thread so minimal fuss and rules.

 

ford1.jpg

 

There is only one John Ford and I love him. He was the first director I started to notice when I was 9 or 10 years old. I remembered his name most likely because of John Wayne in the late 1940's and associated him with Wayne on the credits. As I got older and discovered his other films I became a huge fan of the man and his works. I think his films speak to people more then any other director. The sheer beauty of his work stays with you even after the film is over. The scenes haunt you unlike most other directors. Sure, he did some mediocre films, who didn't, but even those were better then some other directors "good" films. I own more of Ford's films on DVD then any other director and I watch his films more then any other director. Sure he was a s.o.b. with a lot of the cast and crews and berated actors in front of others, but these same actors and crew kept coming back to work with him time and again, and I for one am glad they did, because he got more out of them then any other director I can think of over a long period........

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Someone wrote that John Ford was a poet of images, and I agree. Wonderful artist. I want to mention a couple of ideas that have been on my mind for a while, thanks for this opportunity, MissG.

 

Swithin, thank you very much for your reply, and a terrifically thought-provoking one at that!

 

 

I think The Last Hurrah is much greater than it gets credit for. Ostensibly about an old-time Boston politician, a political boss who has his cronies and does good deeds for his people,  I think Ford directed that film as a farewell to the old Hollywood. There is a scene in which the Mayor -- Spencer Tracy -- is at a wake for an old friend. All the Mayor's cronies are there. But I see it as Ford's wake for the old Hollywood -- Tracy (representing Ford) is there; Jane Darwell, many of Ford's family of actors are in that scene.  And Tracy loses the election to a younger man who uses television to reach the public! (OK, obvious metaphor: TV gaining over the movies at the time the film was made). The old politics in The Last Hurrah is a surrogate for the old Hollywood.

 

That is brilliant!  I honestly never considered such a parallel/comparison but it works.  now I can't wait to watch the film again with this idea of the changing of the guard in old Hollywood in mind.  It makes the casting of Tracy especially perfect because Ford got Tracy to Hollywood with Up the River, and I've read that Tracy at the time intended The Last Hurrah to be his final film.  he would have started and ended his feature film career being directed by John Ford.

 

 

Two other points:  I don't think John Huston is in the very top tier of directors.

 

ha!  Well, I am no judge really but I have always liked his films for the most part and The Misfits is my 3rd favorite film of all time.  that's another Hollywood changing-of-the-guard films.

 

However, the two titles you mention I have never seen (my viewing is spotty on his later films).

 

But I think he directed two truly great films toward the end of his career: Wise Blood and The Dead. And what do these films have in common? They are, IMHO, heavily influenced by Ford. The opening of Wise Blood = the opening of The Grapes of Wrath. Hazel Motes = Tom Joad, both coming home to a dead homestead. Loss of home: the greatest ill that can befall a John Ford hero!  And John Huston's The Dead, one of my top ten films of all time: look at that scene of Aunt Julia singing "Arrayed for the Bridal" by Bellini. The camera leaves the aging singer and moves around the house, settling on all the relics of family and past. It's right out of that great scene in The Grapes of Wrath, when Jane Darwell has to throw some stuff away, with "Red River Valley" playing the background; or Doc Holliday's girlfriend being shown Doc's room in My Darling Clementine, and dwelling on all the little objects that define Doc, as the song plays in the background. Things -- sacred objects, really -- imbued with personality and family.

 

I'm sold.  I will look for both movies.  I saw a documentary about Huston that included quite a bit of footage taken on the set of The Dead.  I think I avoided watching it because it saddened me he was so ill at the time (dying).  I seem to recall that ritual plays a part in The Dead, so that alone definitely puts it in very Fordian territory.

 

I'm so glad you posted this and given such a fresh take on all these movies!

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Howdy, Frank, fancy seeing YOU in Monument Valley.  Did you take a wrong turn off Scarlett Street?  :P

 



While the film will not be hailed as one of Ford's best, I found it be rather enjoyable thanks in large part to Jack Hawkins, who plays the titular character.  He's simply wonderful.  He does an exceptional job of riding the roller coaster of "Gideon's Day".  One moment he is playfully spending time with his wife and children and the next he's vehemently accusing a colleague of taking bribes.  The mixing of heavy and light throughout the film is carried off well because of Hawkins.

 

that is pretty much my feeling.  it's rather plodding but Hawkins is brilliant. 

 

Where the film suffers is its lack of depth with any of the cases that come up throughout Gideon's day.  We never spend much time with any of them, so the emotional impact is minimal, at best.  We are continually being whisked away from caring.  But this is the point of the film.  Gideon's day is a whirlwind.  The moment you want to spend time with one thing, you are summoned to another.  So is the life of Gideon.

 

I also think Ford just wasn't interested in the "cases".  He's not into this genre at all and it shows.  And not necessarily in a bad way.  This is veering off the path in terms of genre, but it is most definitively Ford in his candid, affectionate look at human behavior in all manner of situations.  This is where he will always be found, with the people.

 

Now pardon me, I must pick up some salmon.

 

:D

 

Some of the domestic stuff like this bit with the fish reminds me of the policeman and his wife's dinners in Frenzy, of all films.

 

http://letterboxd.com/scotthbg/list/how-i-like-john-ford/

 

I didn't know you liked 3 Bad Men and Stagecoach that much!

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There is only one John Ford and I love him. He was the first director I started to notice when I was 9 or 10 years old. I remembered his name most likely because of John Wayne in the late 1940's and associated him with Wayne on the credits. As I got older and discovered his other films I became a huge fan of the man and his works. I think his films speak to people more then any other director. The sheer beauty of his work stays with you even after the film is over. The scenes haunt you unlike most other directors. Sure, he did some mediocre films, who didn't, but even those were better then some other directors "good" films. I own more of Ford's films on DVD then any other director and I watch his films more then any other director. Sure he was a s.o.b. with a lot of the cast and crews and berated actors in front of others, but these same actors and crew kept coming back to work with him time and again, and I for one am glad they did, because he got more out of them then any other director I can think of over a long period........

 

Welcome, fredb!

 

I'm impressed that you appreciated him from the start.  Eight or ten years old?!  I had to mature (somewhat) before I could appreciate the depth of his movies.  I'm talking not until I was in my 30s!  I was fond of just about every other major classic director except John Ford for years!  That's a real indictment of my superficial tastes I'm afraid, ha!

 

Now I can't believe how dense I was.  :D

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Howdy, Frank, fancy seeing YOU in Monument Valley.  Did you take a wrong turn off Scarlett Street?  :P

 

:D I got a bump on the head and now I'm trying to figure out where the heck I am.  I wonder how I got that bump...

 

I also think Ford just wasn't interested in the "cases".  He's not into this genre at all and it shows.  And not necessarily in a bad way.  This is veering off the path in terms of genre, but it is most definitively Ford in his candid, affectionate look at human behavior in all manner of situations.  This is where he will always be found, with the people.

 

I think the tough part is that we are given such a short time with all the people with the exception of Gideon (Jack Hawkins).  This is a film about one person, really.  And when taken on that level, it works fine.  But if you are wanting to delve into one story or other characters, you are left with an empty feeling.  He's tossed from one situation to another without much time to figure everything out.  He's working on the fly.

 

It's almost like an Alice in Wonderland kind of tale.

 

Some of the domestic stuff like this bit with the fish reminds me of the policeman and his wife's dinners in Frenzy, of all films.

 

I was going to post the same thing!  And that's the film where I know of Anna Massey.  Here she's Gideon's teenage daughter.

 

I didn't know you liked 3 Bad Men and Stagecoach that much!

 

How long have you known me?! 

 

I only have four more Ford films to watch from the 30s on.  The problem is, I don't have access to any of them.

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:D I got a bump on the head and now I'm trying to figure out where the heck I am.  I wonder how I got that bump...

 

Were you in a port bar talking to Mildred Natwick?  Is the Glencairn anywhere in sight?  Jump!

 

 

It's almost like an Alice in Wonderland kind of tale.

 

How?  I just watched a movie where a little girl was reading from that book.  I never liked it, even as a child.

 

 

Some of the domestic stuff like this bit with the fish reminds me of the policeman and his wife's dinners in Frenzy, of all films.

 

I was going to post the same thing!  And that's the film where I know of Anna Massey.  Here she's Gideon's teenage daughter.

 

So Anna is the wife?  I didn't know that.

 

 

How long have you known me?! 

 

But you never seem to be that gaga about Stagecoach.

 

 

I only have four more Ford films to watch from the 30s on.  The problem is, I don't have access to any of them.

What are they?

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Were you in a port bar talking to Mildred Natwick?  Is the Glencairn anywhere in sight?  Jump

 

Oh Miss G.. I don't have anything new to add to this conversation, ha.. but I just had to jump in here and say..

 

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.. and HA! :D

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Were you in a port bar talking to Mildred Natwick?  Is the Glencairn anywhere in sight?  Jump!

 

Ha!  I would have guessed you'd want me to be attacked!  I should re-watch that one.  I really didn't like it that much and I know so many others like it.  But I have seen so many more films since I watched it.  Especially those of Ford.

 

How?  I just watched a movie where a little girl was reading from that book.  I never liked it, even as a child.

 

Gideon's journey takes him to strange places where he meets strange characters.

 

So Anna is the wife?  I didn't know that.

 

No.  Anna is the girl who works at the bar who is in love with the protagonist in Frenzy.

 

But you never seem to be that gaga about Stagecoach.

 

Oh, no, I definitely like Stagecoach a lot.  I usually participate in Stagecoach discussions.  It was one of the first westerns I got on DVD and I liked it right away.  I liked it more than The Searchers, at first.  I have since come to like The Searchers more. 

 

What I like about Stagecoach is that the Ringo Kid (John Wayne) and Dallas (Claire Trevor) are the "unwanteds" with Society and are pushed out of town.  I like how they come to fall in love.  I think it's very romantic.  I also love Doc (Thomas Mitchell) and his understanding of them because of his own demons and disdain for "respectable Society".

 

Stagecoach is your kind of film because it brings people of disparate backgrounds together in an entrapped setting.  I also like those kind of films.

 

What are they?

 

Submarine Patrol (1938)

Air Mail (1932)

The Brat (1931)

Men Without Women (1930)

 

If you can unearth Ford Films that I haven't seen, I'd gladly watch them.  I haven't checked to see what silents of his may be on YouTube.  You should post a list of Ford films available to watch on YouTube, such as The Black Watch and Upstream.

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Some of you m ay know me from the SSO site, and will also know how much I love the Ford films. I just wanted to say how delighted I was to see this thread and I hope there will be many interesting discussions.

 

dee

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:) As a woman I appreciate Ford's honest depiction of us in his Western films.  It was a very hard life for us back then and he shows that even in that "man's world"  they could not have made it without us though they wouldn't admit it.  Women of courage like Mrs. Collingwood (Anna Lee) of Fort Apache, Tess Milay (Joanne Dru) of Red River and Nell Robertson (Veda Ann Borg) of The Alamo don’t have big roles but give their men the support they need to do what they must.  The Marthas of Red River and The Searchers fit in there too even if they bite the dust before the end.  In short, he did all right by us.

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One of the great pleasures, for me, of Ford's work is his depiction  of the role of women  not just in his films but in life. Whilst most of his films are about men and their world, what he seems to be saying is that their world is very incomplete without women.

 

In Ford films the definition of failure for a man or tragedy is the lack of women in their lives. The loss of his wife and family defines Captain Brittles. The loss of women, both Debbie and Martha, is his tragedy. Marty on the other hand comes away from the long search with a women. Colonel Yorke in Rio Grande is a lonely man, even though surrounded by people because his wife is absent. Curiously as Colonel Yorke who is respected but not liked by his troops, earns the affection of his wife, he earns the affection of his men. Tom Donophon's whole life becomes a tragedy when he loses a woman.

 

I know it is an extension of Ford's emphasis on family, but in nearly all his films I think by implication and frequently depiction, women are significant people. His cavalry triology are very much depicted as places where women have important roles in the lives of the men who work and fight there. They have strong voices . For example  the role Mrs O'Rourke plays at Fort Apache, she is important to the Fort outside being the O'Rourke's wife and mother. She plays an important role in the depiction of Colonel Thursday, after all he insults her and by extension the whole Fort by his reluctance to dance with her. And another of his sins is that he is a bad father to Philedelphia even though she loves him.

 

Curiously I find in Ford films that unlike many western directors he seems to place his emphasis on sexuality on married women, not dance hall girls, and maybe with a couple of exceptions, the dance hall girl's 'real' sexuality is exposed when they match up for love. Surely the expression on both Denver and Travis's faces when he is driving the wagon at the end of Wagonmaster says it all. And whatever Dallas has been, it is her response to Ringo, that defines her.

 

 

And it is not just the main characters. Corporal Bell and his wife in Rio Grande have a very affectionate relationship, and this is his tragedy, Major and Mrs Althorp certainly have a close relationship, his first regret when he reveals she is going away is that he will be a 'bachelor' all winter. Not to mention his very emphatic goodbye and hello embraces.

 

I also find Ford's depiction of women in Indian culture unusual. In his views of the village in The Searchers it is the women standing watching who catch our attention. Their presence is often silent but explains the way of life. Scar has his wives in his loging because his sons are dead. The times when Indians become one dimensional hordes are when, such as in Rio Grande, there are no women. Even in Stagecoach the first Indian we meet is a woman and something of Geronimo's issues are seen in her plight, as Chris's concubine.

 

 

dee

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Were you in a port bar talking to Mildred Natwick?  Is the Glencairn anywhere in sight?  Jump!

 

Ha!  I would have guessed you'd want me to be attacked!  I should re-watch that one.  I really didn't like it that much and I know so many others like it.  But I have seen so many more films since I watched it.  Especially those of Ford.

 

I'm surprised you didn't like it more, perhaps because there is no singularly defined central plot.  This is Ford at his most "radical" in terms of how he tells stories.  No wonder it's one of the few Ford films Owen likes.  I think if you shut off the volume and just LOOK at the film, as a silent, it's magnificent.  But heavy.

 


 

Gideon's journey takes him to strange places where he meets strange characters.

 

I really must watch it again, I don't remember anyone being that strange.  Some were unsavory and criminal, but not that strange.

 

 

So Anna is the wife?  I didn't know that.

 

No.  Anna is the girl who works at the bar who is in love with the protagonist in Frenzy.

 

Oy.  Now I'm paying for never having been able to watch this film all the way through.  Talk of unsavory!

 

But you never seem to be that gaga about Stagecoach.

 

Oh, no, I definitely like Stagecoach a lot.  I usually participate in Stagecoach discussions.  It was one of the first westerns I got on DVD and I liked it right away.  I liked it more than The Searchers, at first.  I have since come to like The Searchers more. 

 

Why do you like westerns?  Do you see anything different about Ford's westerns that stands out strongly amongst those by other directors?  (And those questions are open to all, by the way).

 

 

What I like about Stagecoach is that the Ringo Kid (John Wayne) and Dallas (Claire Trevor) are the "unwanteds" with Society and are pushed out of town. 

 

I like that too, but especially because the "respectable" people of the town are depicted as being narrow (the "league" of wives) or downright criminal (the banker, aka "Republican").  Also love the irony that the young couple's being "driven" out of town ended up being their salvation.

 

I like how they come to fall in love.  I think it's very romantic. 

 

It is very sweet and touching without being mawkish.  Bashful cowboys falling in love can often be tedious to me but Ford keeps it still on a believable level somehow.  Maybe this due in large part to Claire's excellent acting.  Her reactions as she finds herself coming to life again during the journey (through Ringo and through midwifing the birth) are so touching, so nakedly vulnerable especially for a whore, a woman who MUST hide or even learn to quelch such vulnerability in order to survive. The married woman (Mrs. Mallory), on the other hand, is totally cut off from her emotions.  Her role as a well bred southern lady has forced her to hide and deny what Dallas is unable to.  It makes her seem stronger on the outside than Dallas, but in the end, who protects and aids who?

 

I also love Doc (Thomas Mitchell) and his understanding of them because of his own demons and disdain for "respectable Society".

 

'Doc' Boone is a wonderful, "Shakespearean" character.  The voice of truth, common sense, human frailty and humor.  Too bad Tommy smarted off to Ford on set, they could have done some more marvelous films together.  :D

 

Stagecoach is your kind of film because it brings people of disparate backgrounds together in an entrapped setting.  I also like those kind of films.

 

It's one of the best examples of that type of film, and yes I adore those situations in movies.  

 

I am also starting to see similarities and ties between Stagecoach and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.  They act almost as "book ends" in Ford's western canon.

 

 

What are they?

 

Submarine Patrol (1938)

Air Mail (1932)

The Brat (1931)

Men Without Women (1930)

 

The Brat is hard to track down.  I think it's only at Library of Congress or some such preservation source.

 

 

If you can unearth Ford Films that I haven't seen, I'd gladly watch them.  I haven't checked to see what silents of his may be on YouTube.  You should post a list of Ford films available to watch on YouTube, such as The Black Watch and Upstream.

 

I need to post a lot!

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Were you in a port bar talking to Mildred Natwick?  Is the Glencairn anywhere in sight?  Jump

 

Oh Miss G.. I don't have anything new to add to this conversation, ha.. but I just had to jump in here and say..

 

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.. and HA! :D

 

18059f78-d1eb-42e1-b49f-41b8e15308a2_zps

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Dee,

It's always a pleasure reading your thoughts on Ford.  You often reveal things in a way I had not considered.

 

 



One of the great pleasures, for me, of Ford's work is his depiction  of the role of women  not just in his films but in life. Whilst most of his films are about men and their world, what he seems to be saying is that their world is very incomplete without women.

 

Absolutely.  A common theme throughout his career is in fact "Men Without Women", one of the most apt titles of any of his films.  Such men are always damaged in some way.

 

The loss of women, both Debbie and Martha, is his tragedy. Marty on the other hand comes away from the long search with a women.

 

Good point about Marty.  women often represent the best aspect of a cohesive community, although occasionally, they can represent its narrowest side (the morally superior old biddies in Stagecoach and Sergeant Rutledge).

 

Colonel Yorke in Rio Grande is a lonely man, even though surrounded by people because his wife is absent. Curiously as Colonel Yorke who is respected but not liked by his troops, earns the affection of his wife, he earns the affection of his men. Tom Donophon's whole life becomes a tragedy when he loses a woman.

 

I would add Mr. Gruffydd in How Green Was My Valley to that group.  Of course, there is the other side to it as well: most of these men could only accomplish what they set out to do (ultimately working to protect and unite a community) alone, without the woman.  It can become a vicious circle.  Ethan's life seemed an endless, circular "wander" pivoting on his love from Martha.  Ford loved family life but hated to be at home with family so his films reflect the push and pull of its dynamics---for a man anyway.

 

I know it is an extension of Ford's emphasis on family, but in nearly all his films I think by implication and frequently depiction, women are significant people. His cavalry triology are very much depicted as places where women have important roles in the lives of the men who work and fight there. They have strong voices . For example  the role Mrs O'Rourke plays at Fort Apache, she is important to the Fort outside being the O'Rourke's wife and mother. She plays an important role in the depiction of Colonel Thursday, after all he insults her and by extension the whole Fort by his reluctance to dance with her. And another of his sins is that he is a bad father to Philedelphia even though she loves him.

 

Except for being an on the whole, good leader (with significant weaknesses, however), its Thursday's genuine love for his daughter that is his only redeeming quality.  and I can't resist thinking there are implications that Thursday's extremes arose after the death of his wife.  They may even have been the death of her.  At any rate, I can't help but think had she lived she would have tempered his harsher qualities.  Once she died there was no restraint.  She would have instantly recognized Mrs. O'Rourke's place in the regimental order of things at the Fort and prevented or smoothed over the tragic gaffs on the part of her husband.  In these films, women are infinitely wiser about the real mechanics of relationships.  The men are utterly clueless of such things, and still usually are.

 

Curiously I find in Ford films that unlike many western directors he seems to place his emphasis on sexuality on married women, not dance hall girls, and maybe with a couple of exceptions, the dance hall girl's 'real' sexuality is exposed when they match up for love. Surely the expression on both Denver and Travis's faces when he is driving the wagon at the end of Wagonmaster says it all. And whatever Dallas has been, it is her response to Ringo, that defines her.

 

ha!  That's a neat observation. Husbands and wives are anything but sexless in his films, that's true.  And love making is not only for the young and beautiful.

 

 

And it is not just the main characters. Corporal Bell and his wife in Rio Grande have a very affectionate relationship, and this is his tragedy, Major and Mrs Althorp certainly have a close relationship, his first regret when he reveals she is going away is that he will be a 'bachelor' all winter. Not to mention his very emphatic goodbye and hello embraces.

 

I love seeing such couples.  They make me think of Olive and Harry Carey.  I'm sure living with them as he did when he was young, Ford was able to really see how those two made their marriage happy and it probably was no little regret to him that his own marriage was never as smooth.

 

I also find Ford's depiction of women in Indian culture unusual. In his views of the village in The Searchers it is the women standing watching who catch our attention. Their presence is often silent but explains the way of life. Scar has his wives in his loging because his sons are dead. The times when Indians become one dimensional hordes are when, such as in Rio Grande, there are no women. Even in Stagecoach the first Indian we meet is a woman and something of Geronimo's issues are seen in her plight, as Chris's concubine.

 

Then there is "Look", one of the most touching yet misunderstood characters in his films.

 

 

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It's always a pleasure reading your thoughts on Ford.  You often reveal things in a way I had not considered.

 

April, Thanks for the thoughts

 

 

Good point about Marty.  women often represent the best aspect of a cohesive community, although occasionally, they can represent its narrowest side (the morally superior old biddies in Stagecoach and Sergeant Rutledge).

 

As well as the 'good' women who take Mrs Mallory away near the end, throwing Dallas back to her life of prostituion, despite n act of selflessness. No redemption there. And even the 'good' Morman women in Wagon master get pretty huffy when they see their men dancing with the Indians.

 

 

I would add Mr. Gruffydd in How Green Was My Valley to that group.  

Oh yes and maybe Wyatt Earp too.

 

Of course, there is the other side to it as well: most of these men could only accomplish what they set out to do (ultimately working to protect and unite a community) alone, without the woman.  It can become a vicious circle.

 

I wonder if there is not some implications that most men only make it with women. Mr Jorgenson maybe. But so many of Ford's heroes and even minor characters  'walk away' Lincoln, Tom Joad, Huw's brothers even Old Huw. One of Ford's real heartbreak scenes and probably a shocker for him because it is a woman, is Min walking away in Flight of Eagles, that almost contradicts everything that went before.

 

They make me think of Olive and Harry Carey.  I'm sure living with them as he did when he was young, Ford was able to really see how those two made their marriage happy and it probably was no little regret to him that his own marriage was never as smooth.

 

How Ford's real world fitted into his film world is one of the many enigmas about the man I guess

 

 

Then there is "Look", one of the most touching yet misunderstood characters in his films.

 

Look is such a  contentious character. On the one hand the buffoon, made worse because it’s an underprivileged woman. On the other, I believe as I have said elsewhere, there to shock us out of our moral complacency. 

 

Dragging an audience into the film, by letting them imagine the worst as in Martha and Lucy's death maybe artistic, but Look is the only woman Ford shows dead in the Searchers, and at the hands of the soldiers not the Indians. I think Ford pulls us (or tries to)  into sharing some of Ethan's and the settlers worst traits.

 

I still strongly suspected there are a couple of frames just as Marty and Ethan register disgust at her death, where Ford is giving a subliminal message at the audience, waving his finger and saying " Don't call me a racist, you laughed at her"

.

 

 

dee

 

 

 

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I still strongly suspected there are a couple of frames just as Marty and Ethan register disgust at her death, where Ford is giving a subliminal message at the audience, waving his finger and saying " Don't call me a racist, you laughed at her"

 

I'm positive he did intend just that.  Just listen to Look's music cue, it's very gentle and sympathetic.  

Good people have bad traits, bad people have good qualities, it's all a mixture in Ford as in reality.

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I'm surprised you didn't like it more, perhaps because there is no singularly defined central plot.  This is Ford at his most "radical" in terms of how he tells stories.  No wonder it's one of the few Ford films Owen likes.  I think if you shut off the volume and just LOOK at the film, as a silent, it's magnificent.  But heavy.

 

I may have watched it "too early" in my Ford run.  If I remember correctly, I wasn't moved emotionally enough.  I just remember Wayne, Mitchell, and the drunkard family man.

 

I really must watch it again, I don't remember anyone being that strange.  Some were unsavory and criminal, but not that strange.

 

The scene with Dianne Foster was very odd.

 

Oy.  Now I'm paying for never having been able to watch this film all the way through.  Talk of unsavory!

 

You don't like Frenzy because of the ugly people!  Anna Massey was one of them!

 

Why do you like westerns?  Do you see anything different about Ford's westerns that stands out strongly amongst those by other directors?  (And those questions are open to all, by the way).

 

Excellent questions!  I hope others answer.

 

I find westerns to be very "masculine", so I find them easy to relate to and identify with.  There's the classic good versus bad and then the "grey" eventually shows up as the westerns mature.  I love the time of westerns, the "wild west".  I love watching the way of life of the Old West.  I like the conventions of the western: the town, the sheriff, the deputy, the saloon, the church, the shop, the horses, the dirt and dust, the plains, the mountains, the clothes, the hats.  While all of this makes the genre restrictive, it's very comfortable to me.  Westerns also connect with the little boy in me because there are villains.  If there is a western, there is a villain.  This makes it very "superhero".  And that's something I have always been drawn to.

 

What I like about Ford's westerns is his romance with the West.  He treats the West with such great love and care.  He was clearly a romantic.  I like that Ford knows how to blend many feelings in his westerns.  You are going to find drama, action, romance, and comedy.  He makes a complete picture.  Hitchcock did the same with his thrillers.

 

Anthony Mann's westerns tend to be more psychological, which is something I love.  He makes the film noir western with dark characters and themes.

 

Budd Boetticher's westerns usually feature revenge.  They are a battle inside that is projected outward.

 

The underrated Delmer Daves' westerns can be somewhat Shakespearean.  He also seems to focus on the weak-willed man facing challenges.

 

Howard Hawks' westerns that I have seen have been mostly with Duke.  He tends to like the buddy-buddy films with an older wiser man playing a critical role.

 

Henry Hathaway typically likes isolation in his westerns.  He places a group of characters in tight quarters and lets the emotions bubble up.

 

William Wellman's westerns are pretty interesting.  They usually feature a sociological thread with them.

 

Raoul Walsh seems to like a man at odds with the world he lives in.  He's often being chased and pushed to the fringe.

 

I like that too, but especially because the "respectable" people of the town are depicted as being narrow (the "league" of wives) or downright criminal (the banker, aka "Republican").  Also love the irony that the young couple's being "driven" out of town ended up being their salvation.

 

I like your final comment.  That's very true.  You fully expect the Ringo Kid and Dallas to find their happiness together away from civilization.

 

It is very sweet and touching without being mawkish.  Bashful cowboys falling in love can often be tedious to me but Ford keeps it still on a believable level somehow.

 

Coop is often the bashful fella!  Although, you usually don't like him in such roles.

 

Maybe this due in large part to Claire's excellent acting.  Her reactions as she finds herself coming to life again during the journey (through Ringo and through midwifing the birth) are so touching, so nakedly vulnerable especially for a ****, a woman who MUST hide or even learn to quelch such vulnerability in order to survive. The married woman (Mrs. Mallory), on the other hand, is totally cut off from her emotions.  Her role as a well bred southern lady has forced her to hide and deny what Dallas is unable to.  It makes her seem stronger on the outside than Dallas, but in the end, who protects and aids who?

 

That was wonderfully said!  And a very good compare and contrast with Dallas and Mrs. Mallory.  The presence of a child is something that helps to bring Ringo and Dallas even closer.  They were starting to find something to live for versus just living.

 

'Doc' Boone is a wonderful, "Shakespearean" character.  The voice of truth, common sense, human frailty and humor.  Too bad Tommy smarted off to Ford on set, they could have done some more marvelous films together.  :D

 

And I would be a "Tommy Mitchell" with Ford, without a doubt. :D  Mitchell was seemingly born to play "Doc Boones".  He really is Shakespearean.  He's just as great in the under-appreciated The Hurricane.

 

I am also starting to see similarities and ties between Stagecoach and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.  They act almost as "book ends" in Ford's western canon.

 

They are certainly bookends.  What are the similarities?  There is the coach, for sure.  And the coach is a dusty relic in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.  That tells you a lot.

 

I need to post a lot!

 

Do you know of any Ford silents available on YouTube that I haven't seen?

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Just a short comment here, but what I wouldn't give to watch "FrankGrimes" and "MissGoddess" discuss their views on a TCM program would make a very short list.

 

Have loved reading this running commentary you two especially have provided in this thread, as I've found them very well articulated and insightful on the subject of John Ford, his films, and those involved with them.

 

(...and now, carry on, sir and madam...that's all I want to say here)

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The Grey Dude says: 

 

There's the classic good versus bad and then the "grey" eventually shows up as the westerns mature.  I love the time of westerns, the "wild west".  I love watching the way of life of the Old West.  I like the conventions of the western: the town, the sheriff, the deputy, the saloon, the church, the shop, the horses, the dirt and dust, the plains, the mountains, the clothes, the hats.  While all of this makes the genre restrictive, it's very comfortable to me.  Westerns also connect with the little boy in me because there are villains.  If there is a western, there is a villain.  This makes it very "superhero".  And that's something I have always been drawn to.

 

And I LOVE that you love all that sir. As rare as it may be.. I can't argue with any of it. 

 

Miss G asks:  Why do you like westerns?  Do you see anything different about Ford's westerns that stands out strongly amongst those by other directors?  (And those questions are open to all, by the way).

 

Basically.. ha.. I COULD almost point to what is written above by our shadowy friend and just say "Yeah..what HE said" ha. Because I think he really is onto something. It's "all that" rolled into a nice burlap package, tied up in rope.. ha. (a frozen one , of course) :D

 

And I don't really want to interrupt  you two here.. so I won't comment TOO much for now. But I will just add that I have often said that if I could be placed in a room full of all my favorite movies and just sit down and watch them all one by one, I'd watch the westerns first. They really are my favorite. And I know it is because the themes and characters and plot lines of westerns.. the really GOOD ones..  all are just so appealing to me.  

 

And I know.. yes..  they can be and ARE often are a bit "black and white" in their themes and characters (and yes.. I do LIKE them that way)  but not always.

 

(Because YES, Frank Grimes.. I admit.. go ahead and gloat..  but I DO agree they can be and often are sometimes "gray" I mean GREY! ha) 

 

But I'll go even further to say this:  even if they ARE "grey-ish" sometimes.. I think one of the reasons that still WORKS so well in a "western setting" is  that they can STILL make us THINK in a "black and white: way.. about the GREY stuff.

 

(if that even makes sense.. I admit, it may only make sense to me. ha.)   

 

I guess I say all that to mean that with MOST westerns,  if (as Mr. Grey has said)  there is always a "bad guy" then in a GOOD western.. its also true there is going to be a good guy too.. and we WANT to see the "good guy" win.  

 

And better yet.. if there IS a bad guy.. we want the him to get what's COMING to him too. (how very "black and white!) OR he can also sometimes repent.. I'll take that too (because yeah.. I am a sucker for that in any film, I confess) :)

 

Either way, he needs to.. must be.. HAS to be dealt with.

 

But the GOOD part is, for as "flat" and "black and white" as that all may sound.. it really can be intriguing to watch it all play out . And MANY westerns can truly be very complex and complicated stories. I think for SURE you could say this about at least MOST of the "Fordie" westerns.  They can be very complicated in how they are presented. It is rarely just a "one hat fits all" sort of story for his characters. For all the "black and white" of it...  the "good guys" are not always the people who "should" be considered good ...like the "respectable townsfolk" in Stage Coach", perhaps... but instead of being thought of as "good" they often are shown in a very bad light.

 

Meanwhile, the REAL good guys in that story were the Ringo Kid and Dallas.. and the doc too.  (and PS: yay.. for the lovin' on sweet Thomas Mitchell) Sometimes the "good guy" can come in a not-so "black and white" package.. but we are still going to think of him that way and we want them to prevail against the real "bad guy". (again I say.. how very "black and white")  

 

Of course there are exceptions to every rule.. for a far, far more complex character to consider.. look at Ethan Edwards in The Searchers who is both the good guy and the bad guy (depending on how you look at it). And yet, he's in NO way "grey" about anything. He is BOTH "black AND white" all at the same time.  Do you cheer for him.. or hate his guts?? The answer to both is "yes" ha. Now HOW did Ford do THAT?? And yet he did.. perfectly.

 

Very intriguing to be sure. 

 

But getting back to westerns in general, one other thing that I think most folks overlook, is they often are very "universal" in the themes they present. That is to say if you peel back all the "western trappings" and put the story in a different setting.. a lot of time it still WORKS. (Because  hey..  a good story is always going to be good.. no matter where or when it takes place.)  

 

Maybe,  life in the "old west" is really just like life "everywhere else".. ha.. only with horses.. and perhaps big hats and boots. And... lots of dust and dirt. ha. 

 

Who knew??) :D

 

OK.. ok. I started this all by saying I wasn't going to interrupt.. and yet I went on and on.. ha. (I know. you aren't surprised at all by this, are you?) ha.   :rolleyes:

 

So enough of my blabbage..

 

I will only add one  more thing.. Miss G AND Mr. Grey.. it is good to see more of BOTH of you two posting these days. And as Dargo has said.. "Carry on" you two.. (and on and on) It's been a fun read!  :)

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Just a short comment here, but what I wouldn't give to watch "FrankGrimes" and "MissGoddess" discuss their views on a TCM program would make a very short list.

 

Have loved reading this running commentary you two especially have provided in this thread, as I've found them very well articulated and insightful on the subject of John Ford, his films, and those involved with them.

 

(...and now, carry on, sir and madam...that's all I want to say here)

 

That was terribly nice of you to say, Dargo.  I greatly appreciate that.  But I can tell you from the time I have spent with Miss G, she's truly the expert on John Ford and classic film.  This is especially so when compared to me!  I'm still a student of hers.  Just don't ask me what I'm studying! :P

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Just a short comment here, but what I wouldn't give to watch "FrankGrimes" and "MissGoddess" discuss their views on a TCM program would make a very short list.

 

Have loved reading this running commentary you two especially have provided in this thread, as I've found them very well articulated and insightful on the subject of John Ford, his films, and those involved with them.

 

(...and now, carry on, sir and madam...that's all I want to say here)

 

Thank you, kindly, Dargo!  

Ha, the FCC would ban us from Television if we ever dragged our routine on the air.  My views would certainly chase away too many TCM fans, ha.  But I can't help but run on about Ford, I thought it best to corral my enthusiasm into a single thread. :)

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