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FORT APACHE

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Gary J.
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Re: FORT APACHE

Postby Gary J. » July 25th, 2011, 5:42 pm

The 'tribute' was for the good of the morale of the Calvary itself, not for the individual commander.
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MissGoddess
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Re: FORT APACHE

Postby MissGoddess » April 23rd, 2013, 8:51 pm

(I posted this at TCM, but I'll go ahead and copy it here for what it's worth)

This movie is ridiculous! By now I should have caught just about everything, I've seen it so many times it's embarrassing, but at lunchtime today I caught about 20 minutes on TCM...and I am amazed how many things I noticed or focused on in such a short time. It really is an incredibly rich, tightly woven tapestry of outpost life, and so much more.

What I noticed, briefly (ha! it started out 'brief' but now it's an epic! i think this is the most i've written in years and of course it's the same movie again and again. i guess with the entire Louvre at my disposal, i'd return to the same painting or sculpture at each visit. i'm exhausted, lol, and so will you be if you read on :D ):

The visiting-card scene; a new Lieutenant pays his respects. I watched the scene between John Agar (Lt. Michael O'Rourke) and Shirley Temple (Philadelphia) on the back stairs more closely this time. What was before just an amusing little interchange now seemed to beautifully and economically set up the significance behind customs in fort life. The little business with the personal address cards, how Agar has come to leave his as a point of courtesy soon blows up into this whole debate once John Wayne (Captain York) shows up. He observes teasingly that the young Lieutenant is following proper protocol with his little visit, and it upsets Philadelphia to now realise Michael was only paying a "duty call" and had not come to see +her+. From the proper manner of leaving the card (the Lieutenant upon arriving at a new post must pay his respects to the commanding officer and leave a card for him and each lady of the house---on a silver salver no less) and delights in questioning the strange circumstance of the call being paid on the back stairs to a young lady in her "nightie" (at this Philadelphia makes her own point about decorum: she is wearing a "dressing gown", not a nightie*---see note below!). All this plays like so much amusing nonsense, but the scene is filled with more than good humor and fun for the observance of a quaint custom has led to the laying of a foundation of rapport between the three (isn't that the positive role custom pays in communities, particularly Ford's?); furthermore, Wayne's character has just unconsciously stepped into his role as mediator, a role which is destined to expand as well as test him.

This scene is the first of many that with feeling point up the stark contrast Ford depicts between the meaning of the customs and gestures of the people of the fort (now including Philadelphia) to Fonda's (Lt. Col. Thursday). We feel the warmth of its easy banter just as we felt the ice behind Thursday's punctilious behavior earlier when first meeting the three sergeants and young Lieutenant at the way station. After sarcastic observations on their failure to meet his arrival with due pomp (they had not received word of his coming, the telegraph wires were down), Thursday buys the men a round of drinks (on account) merely as an empty gesture---not to draw closer to those he instinctively felt superior to.

(*Note: the "nightie" does in fact make an appearance when in a later scene in their new quarters, Phil helplessly views all their possessions and bags piled up in disorder. What should be right on top of the luggage but her nightgown! You can't see blushing in black-and-white but she's so embarrassed she grabs it hastily, rolls it up tightly and tucks it away, conscious that soldiers who carried in their bags must have seen it! So cute.)

Image

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George O'Brien (Capt. Collingwood) and Fonda: Changing of the guard. This one may already have been brought up, so I apologize if it's a repeat but it really jumped at me today. We've discussed previously the mystery of the prior relationship between Thursday and Collingwood. Clearly they were closely associated, perhaps even friends. Mrs Collingwood (Anna Lee) remarks upon greeting Philadlephia that her mother was "her dearest friend", so the relationship extended to the two families. What caught my eye was a fleeting moment only. The first morning when Thursday has ordered "officer's call", he reads aloud to the assembled men the orders commanding him to report to Fort Apache to assume command. The next point of order seems to be to establish everyone's relative positions in the new regime and Thursday with undisguised relish takes the opportunity to insult an old comrade. After ordering the return of York (Wayne) to his previous troop command, he removes Collingwood from his position as adjutant and replaces him with another officer (unfortunately I can't remember the actor or character's name---it was an older man). The look between Collingwood and his replacement---the latter looking abashed and Collingwood conscious of the snub---was so brief but it underscored Thursday's previous gesture of contempt toward Collingwood at the dance, when he refused to take the man's outstretched hand in greeting. Now, to really dissect the scene even more unnecessarily (lol) I had to look up what an "adjutant" was. One definition I found really drives home the harshness of this act: an adjutant is the principal aide to a commanding officer. Being a position of confidence and closeness to the C.O., rather like his "right arm", what can say "you are dust" more humiliatingly than to shove aside the able existing adjutant and old friend and replace him with a stranger? Whoa! Poor George's face, this was a slap in the face. It may be that it was this insult which drove him to request the transfer to West Point as an instructor.
-------------------

Ward Bond (Sgt. Major O'rourke) and Fonda reach an understanding. The two men are discussing Agar's (Michael O'Rourke) West Point appointment. Rather, Thursday is grilling his Sgt. Major, making no attempt to hide his incredulity how such a man's (Irish) son went to West Point. He is astonished to learn that the senior O'Rourke was awarded the Medal of Honor. Never before did I notice in the following exchange, where Thursday's eyes are:

Thursday: "It was my understanding that only holders of the Medal of Honor receive such appointments."

O'Rourke: "That is my understanding, too, sir."
Fonda scans his eyes on Bond's chest---<span style="text-decoration: underline;">there is no medal pinned there.</span> We can read through the actors and through Ford that O'Rourke does not make a display of his honors---and that Thursday certainly would. Again, with a richly laden economy Ford fleshes out character and contrast.

(I wish I could have posted screencaps, however my iMac's DVD drive appears to be kaput. :( )

--------------------

Old stick-in-the-mud. Finally, even in just twenty odd minutes of screen time, I saw a funny pattern emerge with Fonda's character. Ford likes to show the bad guys interrupting a good time, a great card game or drinking escapade, dance or musical interlude. I lost count how many times Thursday's entrance into a room is a jarring interruption of some convivial scene. He interrupts reunions, dances, housewarmings, dinners...the list goes on, showing how he is a rigid, obtuse (due to pride) and occasionally absurd authority figure whose subjects merrily cavort when he is not around, but snap to rigid and forced attention when he arrives to spoil their fun. It only adds to my admiration of this character and the movie as a whole. Even with humor, Ford always makes the contrast evident between rules and regulations which have become calcified with empty egotism, and the at times haphazardly shared, life-affirming customs of a community.
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Re: FORT APACHE

Postby movieman1957 » April 23rd, 2013, 9:07 pm

It's always worth having you post something here.

One of the things I've always liked about "Ft. Apache" is the dealing with protocol and the rules. They create some humor and some stress but all for a reason. I believe the reasons are much bigger than just being courteous but more to the duties of a soldier and following rules. They are not to be questioned.

That whole scene between Fonda and Bond about barging into the house and the argument that follows is such a smart scene. Bond lowers the boom without ever losing the respect of the officer or a hint of temper. Fonda feels the sting. It is well played.
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Re: FORT APACHE

Postby JackFavell » April 23rd, 2013, 9:40 pm

Wow! I am so happy to read this! I have really missed you writing.

I only watched a little bit of the movie today, I was in and out, partly because I was busy and partly because I was too keyed up, finding a Francis Ford movie with similar themes on youtube, called The Invaders. By sheer coincidence, I watched it right before Fort Apache came on. I became almost too agitated to watch Fort Apache, knowing too that Alice would be coming home from school before the end of the film and I'd be a mess if I tried to watch through to the end. :D So I didn't watch, but now I wish I had so it would be fresh in my memory. I may watch it tomorrow now so I can watch for these points!

I do remember the quick look from Collingwood to his successor. It's so fast I'm quite sure I never noticed it till maybe the last time I saw the movie. You made it more clear to me by looking up the definition of an Adjutant, wow what a real cut that is. One that really hurts. And this is the man who will later bring Thursday water and clean him up when he rides into the hellish massacre he's created. Collingwood shows the grace that Thursday only pretends to have, ministering to a man who cut him so. And Thursday of course realizes it. But too late.

I noticed the greeting scene with the cards, but not the part with John Wayne and the nightie. :D I did notice how economically it was scripted and filmed. only a few lines to one another, and something passes in between the words... Phil gets her back up at his sudden stiff but very proper manner and when he says he didn't come to see her she really blows up. It's in between the lines where the action happens. She got mixed messages from him and now she's made a fool for thinking he came to see her. Which he did. :)

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Re: FORT APACHE

Postby mrsl » April 24th, 2013, 3:36 pm

.
Miss Goddess and Miss Favell:

How I would love to have your gifts of insight ! ! ! You see so much more than I do. I have my own directors cut (if you can call it that),of Fort Apache and watch it often, but still I never miss it when it is on TCM or any other channel that may show it. I adore that movie ! ! !
Anne


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* * * * * * * * What is past is prologue. * * * * * * * *

]***********************************************************************

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Re: FORT APACHE

Postby MissGoddess » April 24th, 2013, 3:48 pm

movieman1957 wrote:It's always worth having you post something here.


thank you, Mr.M! :)

One of the things I've always liked about "Ft. Apache" is the dealing with protocol and the rules. They create some humor and some stress but all for a reason. I believe the reasons are much bigger than just being courteous but more to the duties of a soldier and following rules. They are not to be questioned.


rules are certainly needed and necessarily obeyed to maintain order---and ultimately furnish some degree of protection, for military personnel. men like thursday, of course, carry it too far.

That whole scene between Fonda and Bond about barging into the house and the argument that follows is such a smart scene. Bond lowers the boom without ever losing the respect of the officer or a hint of temper. Fonda feels the sting. It is well played.


it's one of my favorite scenes in all westerns. i think it one of ward bond's finest moments. he really shames thursday, but not in a disrespectful way. rather the contrary, he points out in a direct and fine way how disrespectful and out of bounds his commanding officer was.
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
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Re: FORT APACHE

Postby MissGoddess » April 24th, 2013, 3:53 pm

JackFavell wrote:

I only watched a little bit of the movie today, I was in and out, partly because I was busy and partly because I was too keyed up, finding a Francis Ford movie with similar themes on youtube, called The Invaders. By sheer coincidence, I watched it right before Fort Apache came on. I became almost too agitated to watch Fort Apache, knowing too that Alice would be coming home from school before the end of the film and I'd be a mess if I tried to watch through to the end. :D So I didn't watch, but now I wish I had so it would be fresh in my memory. I may watch it tomorrow now so I can watch for these points!


how well i know that feeling! some times i can't watch something "on the fly" when i know it yields most of its richness only when you can sit down and really dedicate all your attention. it makes me crazy, ha. but i literally could NOT turn the channel, i got so sucked in and involved in the scenes that were just really setting things up, they were not yet the climactic ones coming later. now i know why the later scenes have so much tension, they were really building slowly with moments shared which created a real bond for the audience with the characters. we came to be a part of their world and know and care for them. that's why their end is so painful to see...

And Thursday of course realizes it. But too late.
yes, too late. he seems the kind who only learns when it is too late.

She got mixed messages from him and now she's made a fool for thinking he came to see her. Which he did. :)


ha! i feel like we in the audience are learning to navigate the customs and protocols just as phil does. in a way, the domestic aspect in the first part of the movie is told through her point of view, a woman's point of view. so once again, women are hardly sideline characters in a ford film.
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
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Re: FORT APACHE

Postby MissGoddess » April 24th, 2013, 3:58 pm

mrsl wrote:.
Miss Goddess and Miss Favell:

How I would love to have your gifts of insight ! ! ! You see so much more than I do. I have my own directors cut (if you can call it that),of Fort Apache and watch it often, but still I never miss it when it is on TCM or any other channel that may show it. I adore that movie ! ! !


hi ann---i can't claim any gifts of insight, it's just the magic of this particular film that it always seems to yield up some littl detail that adds something important to the overall story and themes. i didn't think i could possibly find anything more to notice! it's a remarkable piece of film making.
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
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Re: FORT APACHE

Postby JackFavell » April 24th, 2013, 4:02 pm

The Invaders has the women's point of view too. Interesting.

It's almost like Ford (or both Fords) took the women's social protocols, and then the men's social or military protocols, and then he smashed them smack dab against each other,in opposition really, in order to find out what happened. I'm only just realizing as I write that Ford does this in movie after movie. I almost can't think of any that he directed where he doesn't. And I think generally, he sides with the women.

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Re: FORT APACHE

Postby RedRiver » April 24th, 2013, 4:59 pm

That whole scene between Fonda and Bond about barging into the house

That's my favorite scene in the movie. Mrs. O'Rourke makes it clear who's in command in her house! Ford was such a detailed director. How did it even occur to him to incorporate so much nuance?

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Re: FORT APACHE

Postby pvitari » February 19th, 2014, 8:23 pm

I mentioned in the She Wore a Yellow Ribbon thread that I had screencapped Fort Apache and would be posting the screencaps during the John Wayne marathon week on TCM in April (April 21-26).

Tinker then asked:
I'm looking forward to Fort Apache. That is such a beautiful film. How many times are you finding Ben doublin'? :D


In all seriousness... ;) A lot.

Definitely Ben:

You can clearly see that's Ben doubling for John Agar in the scene where Lt. O'Rourke rescues the runaway wagon. I've always wondered if that was something Ford dreamed up for Ben to do after Ben first caught his attention doing something very similar, for real, when the ammunition wagon turned over and the trapped stuntmen were being dragged towards to the rocks by the runaway horses.

In that scene with Ben doubling as Lt. O'Rourke, he turns around in the saddle and shoots -- himself! In the next shot where you see the Indian falling off his rearing horse I believe that's Ben doing the fall. (A magazine article about Ben around that time prints the publicity still of that fall and claims it is him.)

Doubling for Henry Fonda leading the charge -- he's heavily made up to look like Fonda.

Doing the horse fall for Fonda, then later mounting the horse Yorke brings to Col. Thursday and riding it unsteadily back to his command (and certain death).

Also:

I think that might be Ben doubling for John Wayne when he rides his horse down the hill to the wounded Thursday.

Also possibly doubling for John Agar in the scene where Lt. O'Rourke takes Philadelphia riding and they find the two soldiers killed by the Indians -- but they're so far off from the camera that it's impossible to tell. I wonder who was doubling Shirley Temple. :)

Ben as himself! ;)

You can clearly see Ben as one of the cavalry troopers during the charges. In the first shot he is galloping and also leading the bugler's horse with a rein or rope (Tinker, don't know the correct terminology) -- the bugler falls off when he is shot. Moments later you can see Ben leading that horse when another stuntman now made up to double Fonda as Thursday tries to run up to the horse but doesn't have the strength to try to catch him and mount up. (But I'm quite sure that's Ben again when Thursday mounts Yorke's horse for that last ride.)

I'm sure there's more Ben in the movie but with so much happening so fast and faces obscured it's not possible to tell. :)

If I got any of this wrong I'd love to be corrected so please tell me if someone else is doing any of the stunts or riding mentioned above. And if anyone knows of anywhere else in the movie you can see Ben -- please chime in! :)

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Re: FORT APACHE

Postby tinker » February 20th, 2014, 3:31 am

Paula

I knew you would find Ben no matter how many moustaches they put on him!!!!

I am not sure about the regulations of the two horses being led before falls. Probably safety to keep them straight and hoping the audience would not notice. I think Fort Apache was made about the period when they were not allowed to do anythingc ruel like Running W's thank god but before the highly trained athletes like Cocaine and Twinkle Toes and Coco, so the horses were not as reliable about staying straight, essential for the safety of the person doing the fall.

I am pretty sure you are right about it being Ben in the ride with Philedelphia. It looks like his long rein style of riding. I think he might be one of the riders in the newbies scene who falls off the rearing horse. I am sure you will no for certain.

dee
But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. (William Butler Yeats )
How did I get to Hollywood? By train. (John Ford)

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Re: FORT APACHE

Postby pvitari » February 20th, 2014, 7:17 am

I think he might be one of the riders in the newbies scene who falls off the rearing horse. I am sure you will no for certain.


I have looked very closely for Ben in that scene more than once and cannot find him. Maybe he's somewhere in the background.

Your comment about Ben's style of "long-rein" riding is interesting. I would love to hear from a rider's perspective what is unique and distinctive about his riding. ;)

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Re: FORT APACHE

Postby tinker » February 20th, 2014, 6:29 pm

Paula

I am not a western rider I ride what Americans call English so things are a bit different for me but here goes. Good riders have what in English we call an independent seat which means you move with the horse in perfect balance no matter what it does, without gripping with your backside, thighs or calves or hanging onto anything, especially the reins. Not so hard going slow or in a straight line on flat ground but much harder turning twisting or galloping over rough ground. Watch Ben in Wagon Master when the horse pecks and he loses a rein. He never shifts in his lower, tightens his body or clutches at anything. Regardless of the horse nearly coming down on its nose he remains still. Its balance.

Unfortunately for those of us are mere mortals, the usual thing we hang onto when we lose our balance is the reins which are attched to a big steel thing in the horse's mouth. Ouch for the horse, regardless of whether the bit is a western or English one. Western riders tend to ride on a long rein and not have any contact (giving orders with the reins)with the horses mouth, so no pain for the horse.) English riders use short reins and have contact (or are giving orders with the reins) but it is supposed to be very gentle, not using the reins to balance. No pain for the horse. If you lose your balance with long reins and start clutching, its like swinging around on a long pendulum attached to the big steel thing in the horses mouth. Very big pain for the horse.

The problem is with a no contact witth the horses mouth is when you want to do very active riding that involves twisting, turning and galloping down hills on rough ground. Horses doing these activities need their centre of balance further back. They lift and shorten their backs so they look taller and high in their attitude because its fun and exciting for them. With a loose rein, horses centre of gravity is more toward their front end than their back end and they usually are not excited. But this is not so good if you need that centre of gravity back so they can use their hinds legs well under their bodies, because no power no energy. For example, the sliding stops where the horse's back legs seem to come between his front legs. The horse uses all the power of his backside and hind leg bend to do it. Rear wheel drive so to speak. If the horse tries doing these activities without rear wheel drive I guarantee they will fall over on their nose, English or western.

The usual way for any rider western or English to get contact is to take a shorter rein and ask for movement without allowing the horse to stretch his neck to far. The extreme of this is getting them to rear. Watch Frank McGrath as the bugler in SWAYR. He has a very short rein because he knows if he lost his balance using a long rein with the power needed to rear he would pull the horse over. On rereading this I remember there is a scene in Wagonmaster where Frank McGrath does exactly that and the same black horse falls over from a rear. Or Chuck Robertson galloping Cocaine down the cliff in Hondo. He wants all the work from the backend.

Which brings me back to Ben. He rides on a very long rein but still has the contact to get the rear wheel drive and he never loses his balance or uses the reins to hang on with. That is why Steel always seems 'Up" when Ben rides him. He's not going that way when Gregory Peck rides him.

So it comes down to NEVER EVER using the reins to keep your your balance while revving the horse up with rear wheel drive, and its a lot easier to do that with shorter reins. Ben rarely used the short rein, his balance was that good.

dee
Last edited by tinker on February 21st, 2014, 12:17 am, edited 2 times in total.
But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. (William Butler Yeats )
How did I get to Hollywood? By train. (John Ford)

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Re: FORT APACHE

Postby pvitari » February 20th, 2014, 10:59 pm

Tinker, wow, thanks for that great analysis of Ben's horsemanship.

Last December I posted a brief e-mail interview with Mary Brown, founder of Festival of the West. She knew Ben from his appearances there and other events they did together. I asked her what, in her opinion as an experienced horsewoman, made Ben special as a rider and she responded: "Balance. The man was incredibly balanced on a horse. No matter what the horse did or which way the horse turned, Ben was always right in the middle."

I posted the interview on December 27 -- just scroll down at the Ben page and you'll see it. It includes two great photos from Festival of the West taken by a fan named Antony O'Donnell, one with Ben at a panel with Mary Ellen Kay, Harry Carey, Jr. and Buck Taylor, and another of Ben signing photos.

Back to Fort Apache. Here are three screencaps with Ben.

Doubling for John Agar in the runaway wagon sequence.
Image

Doubling for Henry Fonda, leading the charge.
Image

As a cavalry trooper, leading the horse ridden by (I think) Frank McGrath as the bugler -- Frank's about to be shot and will lose his grip on the horse and fall off.
Image


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