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Ford at Fox... and RKO, and MGM, and WB, and Columbia...


Film_Fatale
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I remember seeing The Grapes of Wrath at maybe 12 years old? and thinking "I'll always be on the side of the little guy...".

 

It's marvelous when movies can move people like that. This is why I always say that Ford is the director who takes me to the places I want to go. He knew how to paint the landscape---of the earth and of the soul.

 

FondaasTomJoad.jpg

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I'm so glad that this set came, even if I can't afford buying it this year, but I hope after winter holidays. I haven't seen most of the films in it, and Ford is my favorite film director. I have all his films with Wayne and some others memorable masterpieces as Grapes of Wrath, My Darling Clementine and drums along the Mochowk.

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I hope they reduce the price, but Amazon right now have it for 200$. And I already spent a lot of money on Gary Cooper films and stills and books. And after all I think I will go to Paris and may be I pick up there some more movies. In big stores they have zone 1 releases too. Last time I was there in summer I bought there Uncoqured and MGM collection. So I will wait a little with Ford.

Expecially I want to see his silent movies. I have a book on Ford with beautiful photos from his silent movies.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Reviews on the set continue. This writer from the Washington Post is hopeful for a follow up set that will include more silents and has had his curiosity spiked about older brother Francis Ford's own directorial efforts:

 

http://washingtontimes.com/article/20071228/ENTERTAINMENT/108521409/1007

 

Another glowing review from The Philadelphia Inquirer:

 

John Ford at his best in 24 films

By Tirdad Derakhshani

 

Inquirer Staff Writer

 

It's high time John Ford took his rightful place in the popular consciousness - next to F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Jasper Johns and Louis Armstrong - among the greatest American artists of the past century.

The release of Ford at Fox, a gigantic DVD set of 24 films by Ford, which also includes a hardcover book of rare photos and a terrific new feature-length documentary by Nick Redman about the filmmaker's career, can only help.

 

Ironically, Ford, who made 130 features and won six Oscars in a career that spanned six decades, was partly responsible for his reputation as a mere journeyman. This quintessentially American of all American filmmakers always insisted he was just a "picture man" and would become virtually apoplectic when his movies were praised as works of art.

 

"Someone's called me the greatest poet of the western saga. I'm not a poet and I don't know what a western saga is," Ford, then 78, said in his last interview before his death in 1973.

 

"I'm just a hardworking, run-of-the-mill director," said the creator of such poetic sagas as How Green Was My Valley, My Darling Clementine and Young Mr. Lincoln. (Unless noted, all the films mentioned are included in the boxed set.)

 

Born in Maine as John Martin "Jack" Feeney, Ford moved to Hollywood in 1913 to work for his brother, the successful silent film director Francis Ford. By 1917, he was directing his own films (in his first year alone, he cranked out 10 silents).

 

Here's a brief look at some personal favorites in the collection:

 

Ford's breakout film, the 1924 silent Iron Horse, is about the construction of the first transcontinental railroad. It contains a theme which would preoccupy Ford for the rest of his career: how American society is held together through the use of economic and political power and, by contrast, how its ideal myth or image of itself is built up.

 

The dark anti-war films, Four Sons (1928) and Pilgrimage (1933), both adapted from stories by I.A.R. Wylie, were made under the considerable influence of the great German expressionist F.W. Murnau (Nosferatu), who made his greatest film, Sunrise, at Fox.

 

Four Sons, which used the same sets as Sunrise, is about a Bavarian mother whose children are variously trapped and destroyed by the horrific events of World War I. Pilgrimage tells of a different kind of mother, a possessive, jealous creature who breaks up her son's romance by sending him off to war.

 

Prisoner of Shark Island, from 1936, is a sharp critique of blind patriotism. It follows the authorities as they arrest anyone they believe helped John Wilkes Booth murder President Lincoln. In their zeal, the patriots suspend their prisoners' civil rights by arresting them without warrants or giving them access to lawyers. The parallels to the alleged treatment of accused terrorists by the U.S. government are eerie.

 

The Steinbeck adaptation, Grapes of Wrath (1940), about life during the Depression, contains an equally powerful indictment of how economic and political power can easily corrupt corporations and government agencies.

 

How Green Was My Valley (1941), which is considered one of Ford's greatest films, similarly focuses on how a working-class family is destroyed because of the socio-economic forces that prey on them, but this time set in turn-of-the-century Wales.

 

Set after the Civil War, Fort Apache (1948), which stars John Wayne and Henry Fonda, is loosely based on the Battle of Little Bighorn and gives one of the first sympathetic portraits of American Indians in westerns.

 

Other notable films in the boxed set include When Willie Comes Marching Home, Drums Along the Mohawk, and Wee Willie Winkie.

 

Ford at Fox, which is packaged in a rather assuming, heavy black box, would provide the perfect immersion course for Ford newbies. Perhaps it will help more Americans to better appreciate our cinematic heritage.

 

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/weekend/20071228_John_Ford_at_his_best_in_24_films.html

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My first foray into the Ford at Fox collection was a *Pilgrimage* into the world of a woman whose possessiveness toward her only son spurs her to send him to his death and a coldhearted denial of the child he leaves behind. So much for Pappy's purported idealization of the sanctity of motherhood. :P

 

For the record, these are my initial impressions of the movie: As is his wont, Ford makes Pilgrimage a journey with twists and turns, flinging both light and shadow on the path. Recriminations and rash actions are followed by gallows humor, suicide watch by bucolic sprightliness and rituals of grief by comic interludes in the "innocents abroad" manner. All of which illustrates life's way of laughing at us and how some cope by laughing right back.

 

You wouldn't suspect that anything like humor would crack the granite surface "Hannah Jessop" (the brilliant Henrietta Crosman) but since she is convinced her actions toward her son are unquestionably "right and decent", she can look upon life without a qualm and leavens her tough talking ways with amusing and sardonic sallies. Why, even her grim acceptance to join the other widows travelling to France to visit their son's graves seems more like the picking up a flung gauntlet or spitting in a challenger's eye---not at all the soft relenting to motherly sentiment which moves the other ladies. And so Hannah's journey, inward as well as outward, begins on board an ocean liner that takes her to a country with strange customs and language, yet face to face with the identical situation that drove her and her son apart. I won't give any more of the plot away, but even if I outline the whole story you would still find plenty to be surprised by in the way it unfolds. Ford's style is fairly waggish at times in this picture, he even breaks the "fourth wall" and one of the cardinal rules of movies: never have your characters address the camera directly. Both Crosman and Norman Foster do this and it really startled me because I felt---instead of jarred out of the moment---jerked in as though I was a participant and no longer just a spectator at the tragedy tearing them apart. It was really unsettling. I wonder if it will have the same effect when I watch it again.

 

But the heart and soul of the play is Henrietta Crosman's "Hannah" and it's well worth your time to take the Pilgrimage with her.

 

More about Pilgrimage and 9 other "underrated Ford films" here, by Jonathan Rosenbaum:

 

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/articles/ten_underappreciated_john_ford_films.htm

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It's about time! You've had Ford at Fox for almost a month now. You'd never, ever,

ever see me not watch my DVDs within a month of purchasing them. It's more like

3 or 4 or 6 months with me.

 

Nice review, Fordy Guns. I think your first Ford at Fox choice of Pilgrimage

was an excellent one. You have definitely increased my interest in seeing the film.

 

I found this to be a very tempting tease by you:

 

And so Hannah's journey, inward as well as outward, begins on board an ocean liner

that takes her to a country with strange customs and language, yet face to face with

the identical situation that drove her and her son apart.

 

"Inward and outward" is a big selling point for me. I'm also very curious to find out how

the humor is woven into such a dark tale. It seems fascinating.

 

All of which illustrates life's way of laughing at us and how some cope by laughing

right back.

 

That's a refrain I have heard before.

 

Thanks for the Rosenbaum link. You have exquisite taste. ;)

 

I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on Pilgrimage. I'm sure there are some

others who have the Ford at Fox box set. Ken? Film Fatale?

 

So what's the next Ford at Fox film on the docket for you?

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So what's the next Ford at Fox film on the docket for you?

 

I want to go through all the titles I've never seen before, and up next will be the "A" side of the same disc (Pilgrimage was the "B" side): Born Reckless. Then I'll get to *Four Sons* which is actually one I've seen in clips and am familiar with the talkie remake. I find the story of *Four Sons* to be extremely moving so I already know I'm going to love Ford's version. *The World Moves On* has me very curious, just by the title alone.

 

How quickly I'll get to these movies is another story! I have Lubitsch's silent movie *The Doll* to get to and Ronald Colman's Cynara, not to mention tomorrow night is the screening of *Anatomy of a Murder* with Foster Hirsch introducing the film.

 

Movies, movies, movies!!

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I want to go through all the titles I've never seen before,

 

Wise decision.

 

and up next will be the "A" side of the same disc (Pilgrimage was the "B" side): Born Reckless. Then I'll get to Four Sons which is actually one I've seen in clips and am familiar with the talkie remake. I find the story of Four Sons to be extremely moving so I already know I'm going to love Ford's version.

 

I'm definitely interested in hearing your opinion on those flicks, Fordy Guns.

 

The World Moves On has me very curious, just by the title alone.

 

Yes, that title is very Goddess-like.

 

How quickly I'll get to these movies is another story!

 

I know that it's very difficult keeping up with me in the film-watching department, but keep trying. :)

 

I have Lubitsch's silent movie The Doll to get to and Ronald Colman's Cynara, not to mention tomorrow night is the screening of Anatomy of a Murder with Foster Hirsch introducing the film.

 

I can't wait to read about your Anatomy of a Murder screening. Hirsch's comments about the film and Preminger should be interesting.

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OK I saw *Born Reckless* and all I can say is it's a dud. It was made in '30 when talkies were coming right out of the box---the "ice box" as it was called and maybe that has something to do with it but I"m not sure. I definitely think Edmund Lowe, the lead, was rather terrible. It's the only John Ford gangster film other than, The Whole Town's Talking, that I've seen so far. The latter movie is an underrated gem.

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OK I saw Born Reckless and all I can say is it's a dud. It was made in '30 when talkies were coming right out of the box---the "ice box" as it was called and maybe that has something to do with it but I"m not sure. I definitely think Edmund Lowe, the lead, was rather terrible. It's the only John Ford gangster film other than, The Whole Town's Talking, that I've seen so far. The latter movie is an underrated gem.

 

Two down. You're getting there... sloooooooooowly getting there.

 

So which line from above did I find the most telling from you? This one:

 

I definitely think Edmund Lowe, the lead, was rather terrible.

 

If you don't like the lead, the film is in big, big trouble.

 

So what's next?

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So what's next?

 

Well, it looks like the Museum of the Moving Image is screening *Nick Redman's documentary* as well as *Just Pals* (his first movie for Fox) and The Iron Horse. It would be fun to see Just Pals on the big screen....I didn't really want to watch the documentary until I saw all the "unseen" features but I may not be able resist. I've seen Horse already.

 

Yes, I would actually take out my Passport and travel to Queens for Pappy. :)

 

It looks like they are also showing *Pilgrimage* and *Four Sons* at this screening:

 

From the New York Times:

 

JOHN FORD AT FOX (Saturday and Sunday) The Museum of the Moving Image pays tribute to Fox Home Video?s ambitious and acclaimed 22-film DVD box set ?Ford at Fox? with screenings of several of John Ford?s most rare titles, in 35 millimeter, included in the collection. Saturday features the charming Buck Jones comedy ?Just Pals? (1920) and Ford?s breakthrough epic, ?The Iron Horse? (1924), as well as Nick Redman?s documentary ?Becoming John Ford.? On Sunday the museum offers two overlooked masterworks: the 1928 antiwar film ?Four Sons? (one of the biggest hits of its year) and Ford?s 1933 return to the same moral territory, ?Pilgrimage,? a rending melodrama about a mother visiting the European grave of her estranged son, killed in World War I. Museum of the Moving Image, 35th Avenue, at 36th Street, Astoria, Queens, (718) 784-0077, movingimage.us; $10. (Kehr)

 

Message was edited by: MissGoddess

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Bonjour, Missy G -- The Ford at Fox retrospective is continuing at the Museum of the Moving Image this weekend with one real temptation: Air Mail from 1932. It's tempting because it's not in the Fox collection, it's a movie Ford made on loan-out to Universal and I've never seen it anywhere. It predated Only Angels Have Wings but I believe it's similar subject matter.

 

Go! Clear that runway of yours for take-off, Fordy Guns!

 

I may go to see this because I love movies about flight. A dream triple feature would start with WINGS, followed by Air Mail and finish with Only Angels Have Wings.

 

I never knew that, Miss Flighty. That's quite interesting.

 

Jimmy's flight movies aren't crappy either: The Spirit of St. Louis, Highway in the Sky and Flight of the Phoenix (though that one's more or less grounded).

 

"Aren't crappy," huh? I actually haven't seen any of them, although I have The Spirit of St. Louis on DVD. You know my fondness for Only Angels Have Wings, though.

 

Hiya, Edgecliff -- You got the Ford at Fox box, didn't you? How much of it have you watched? Any comments?

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  • 2 weeks later...

This just in: MissGoddess just finished watching Ford's first film for Fox, Just Pals. She loved it, gives it ten stars out of five and thinks it packs many of the lovley Fordy Themes into a sweet, not-so-simple story of misfit "bum" by the name of "Bim". Gotta run now! :D

 

P.S. She also now thinks Buck Jones is a ****!

 

buckjonesphoto.jpg

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This just in: MissGoddess just finished watching Ford's first film for Fox, Just Pals. She loved it, gives it ten stars out of five and thinks it packs many of the lovley Fordy Themes into a sweet, not-so-simple story of misfit "bum" by the name of "Bim". Gotta run now!

 

P.S. She also now thinks Buck Jones is a ****!

 

Who is this, Miss Goddess' press agent? Take a memo --

 

I'm glad you watched Just Pals and 3 Bad Men today. Stop. It must have been a "full day" of Ford at Fox watching for you. Stop. I now understand how you can be so very busy. Stop. I hope you didn't wear yourself out. Stop.

 

Nice list, Fordy Guns. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on Just Pals and, especially, 3 Bad Men.

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