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Favorite John Ford Film


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I saw "The Sun Shines Bright" about 15 years ago. It was on a double bill with "Steamboat 'Round the Bend." Both were good. I liked "Steamboat" a bit better because of the excitement of the steamboat race, but "Sun Shines Bright" was also very good. The scene in which the judge marches in the prostitute's funeral when no one else in the town will was very good. I'd definitely like to see it again. (I understand that "Sun" was arbitrarily cut by Republic. Ford had gone X minutes over the agreed on running time on "The Quiet Man" and Republic had not cut that movie, but they cut "Sun" by X minutes as revenge for "Quiet Man."

 

One odd thing I just realized. Milburn Stone, "Doc" on Gunsmoke, played the jerk politician in "Sun Shines Bright." He is the closest thing the movie has to a villain. James Arness was one of the bad guys in "Wagonmaster," and Ken Curtis often played unsympathetic roles for Ford, in "The Searchers," (okay, comic relief villain) and "Cheyenne Autumn. So three of the leads of Gunsmoke were all bad guys of various stripes in Ford's movies.

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Welcome SalMarz!

 

I agree that Mister Roberts (1955) is a great film, and one that I wish we could see right here on TCM, but Ford was not its director. He started it, but worked barely a week before he was replaced by Mervyn LeRoy, a pretty good director in his own right who received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award (from the Academy) in 1976.

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Thanks for some insights into The Sun Shines Bright, Mike. Everyone who's ever seen it seems to find the prostitute's funeral to be the best scene. I must track it down sometime. I've seen many of the lesser works of John Ford, such as Seven Women(liked it), Arrowsmith(not so hot), and of course, Donovan's Reef, but not the one starring one of my most esteemed character actors, Charles Winninger, whom I particularly loved in Destry Rides Again from earlier in his career. I've seen and liked Steamboat Round the Bend once, but I'd like to view it again, since I found the relationship between Will Rogers and Stepin Fetchit, for all its inescapable racism, to be surprisingly warm and affectionate. I'm quite fond of John Ford's Doctor Bull(1933), which also features Will Rogers as a small town medico. Have you seen this one? It was shown on FMC awhile back and is interesting for the quirkiness of the main character and the cutting treatment of the rampant ignorance depicted among the rural folk.

 

As you probably know already, it may not have been entirely coincidental that Milburn Stone, Ken Curtis and James Arness all wound up appearing in Gunsmoke after their work with Ford. As a charter member of the "Ford Stock Company", John Wayne knew the actors quite well and he had a financial interest inititially in Gunsmoke through his production company. He also had young James Arness under personal contract to his company at the time that the tv show was developed. Arness had impressed Wayne quite a bit as the big fly boy in the Batjac production, Island in the Sky, so when the original producers had approached Wayne to ask him to appear in the show, Wayne wasn't interested but thought of his friend and employee. He instead promoted his prot?g?, James Arness, for the role. Arness' career was defined by the cowboy show and Wayne made a profit from his contractee becoming the star. And of course, many of his acting friends eventually found their way onto the small screen as well.

 

Btw, Ken Curtis was John Ford's son-in-law, stormily married to Ford's daughter Barbara from '52 to '64. Curtis was also a very successful cowboy crooner on screen long before Gunsmoke, introducing the standard "Tumblin' Tumbleweed" as one of the legendary Sons of the Pioneers group. Boy, you'd never think the guy was a good singer, based on his warbling in The Searchers, would ya?

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  • 5 weeks later...

I am always happy to chime in about one of my favorite directors. If I must choose just one, it might have to be HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY because it moves me the most and also has a healthy dose of wonderful humor.

 

Now for the westerns, my favorite is THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, though it just kills me what happens to JW's character. I know that's the point of the whole story, but it is so hard to take. :( My other favorite westerns are Rio Grande and Stagecoach.

 

I agree about THE LONG VOYAGE HOME being an underrated gem.

 

I even love DONOVAN'S REEF the more I see it. I've never seen a "bad" JF film. I have not yet seen THE SUN SHINES BRIGHT, which has been mentioned---does TCM ever air it?

 

I don't think THREE GODFATHERS has been mentioned (the JW/Pedro A./Dobie Carey version). It's another technicolor beauty. Also, THE LONG GREY LINE which features touching performances by Ty Power and Maureen, and the underrated SERGEANT RUTLIDGE.

 

Of course, The Quiet Man, a masterpiece as well. But "Valley" is king for me.

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