Your Favorite John Ford Western

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MissGoddess
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Post by MissGoddess »

Well this is already one of my favorite threads in these parts. :lol:

I really appreciated your recounting that scene in My Darling Clementine, Moira, because it stirred me as well and continues to do so upon each viewing. Isn't it appropriate, that Ford and/or the screenwriter had Mowbray break down at just that point in the soliloquy, so that Mature could take up the autobiographical (and prophetic) lines?

My favorite John Ford western? Is Young Mr. Lincoln considered a western? If not, then it's either Rio Grande or My Darling Clementine. But I love them all, including The Horse Soldiers and Seargent Rutledge and oh, even that movie about finding Natalie Wood in a teepee.

Miss G
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mrsl
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Post by mrsl »

Klondike:

I'm good on names of people I know, but not much on characters unless they really strike my fancy. Your mention of Ford not keeping elements of his family name made me think of some of the characters in his movies. It seems to me he used Sean a lot, and Aloysious, and Feeney, in at least a couple of movies. Am I right, or loco?

Welcome Cinemalover!!! I'm looking forward to more of your descriptions of your Friday night with the kids video watching, and the reviews thereafter.
I hope you're going to start a topic on it again.

Anne
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Lzcutter
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Post by Lzcutter »

It's always been a three way tie for me and Ford's westerns:

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

The Searchers

and

Liberty Valance.

You can condemn me to the stake but I can't choose a favorite of the three. The runners up include Stagecoach, the Iron Horse and Fort Apache.

Stagecoach because of its story and the wonderful way it is shot. That introduction shot of Ringo is one for the ages and its basically a character driven disaster story. I love it because it is so character driven. Add to it Yakima Canutt's fine stunt work ad Ford's use of Monument Valley and the Iverson Movie Ranch, and the supporting actors who almost out-shine the leads and you have a winner.

The Iron Horse: Ford's silent epic of the transcontinental railroad. Here is where he began to hone his voice as a filmmaker. An Essential.

Fort Apache: From this point on, Ford begins to play with his one of his favorite subjects: legend vs fact. The first in his cavalry trilogy, he shows he understands the camaraderie of men despite their ranks and the simple joys of hearth and home on the western frontier. But always, underneath, is the driving force: legend and truth. It will be a subject he comes back to numerous times finally culminating in the other side of the story with Liberty Valance.

And the three way tie:

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon: John Wayne in one of his finest roles playing older than he was and giving it his all. He strikes all the right chords in his portrayal of Nathan Brittles. Back up by the Ford stock company with high praise going to Vic MacLagen and newcomer Ben Johnson. Ford shooting technicolor out in Monument Valley, telling the story of the last weeks of an aging army officer. Watching it again a few months back, I was reminded how much of the story is not told in wordy dialogue but in gestures and small throw away lines. Quincannon and Nathan go back years together. Nathan gave up drinking while Quincannon didnt' but they still are best buddies. George O'Brien, who had had a falling out with Ford years back when they worked together is wonderful in this film and Apache. The scenery, cinematography, the script, the actors, Ford brings them all together and hits the high notes every time.

The Searchers: perhaps Ford's darkest films and not a film, I think, he could have made as well had it not been for his service during WW2. Again Wayne is terrific and terrifying as Ethan Edwards. Many people call this film racist but, I think, it's because they don't look past the obvious. A wonderful, risky collaboration between Ford, Wayne and the cinematographer. Major credit should always go to the scriptwriter whose subtle use of words and action help this film carry much more punch. For years filmgoers over looked or never saw the back story of Ethan and Martha. This film alone influenced film makers that came after Ford from Spielberg, Lucas and Ford to internationally.

Liberty Valance: At first glance the story of legend vs fact brought full circle. At its heart, the story of a man willing to risk it all for the woman he loves. And loses not only the woman but all that he was. Wayne is heartbreaking as Tom Donaphin whom when we meet him is a well respected business man, building a home for Hallie and planning a very different life than the one he is forced into. It may be Jimmy Stewart's story but John Wayne (and Ford) never let you forget that Donaphin is the man who risked everything in the final showdown with Liberty. Add Lee Marvin, Wood Strode, Andy Devine and you have character actor heaven.
Shot largely on a soundstage that gives it even more a feeling of elegiac passing and memory, when people ask why Wayne won the Oscar for True Grit I always tell them to watch these three films.
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"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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Post by JulieMarch4th »

For me, LIBERTY VALANCE is one of those movies that is just filled with surprising story twists. I love it. I love the whole idea of 'Print the legend' -- sometimes the legend is more 'useful'?

YELLOW RIBBON -- years ago, TCM did the month long Western Marathon, and the inter-movie interiviews (I know they have a technical name, but I don't know it) mentioned this movie in reference to John Wayne could make the speaker cry. The whole sequence when he goes to his wife's grave to make his report? And how he gets McLaglin put in jail so he he won't lose his pension?

Lynn -- have you ever read the novel that THE SEARCHERS was taken from? One primary difference is that the novel is from the POV of Martins, not Ethan's (Amos in the book). I love this movie, too.

I am a late-comer to westerns in general -- never watched them as a kid, so I had to fight a lot of anti-western snobbery!

Julie
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Post by Lzcutter »

Julie,

The scene for me in Yellow Ribbon is when Wayne comes out to say goodbye to his troops one last time and they present him with his shiny gold watch. I tear up just thinking about it. The night they announced that Wayne had died, almost thirty years now, Channel 2 news played that clip over the announcement.

I've not read the book The Searchers is based on. I think Ford and the screenwriter made the right choice in having the story from Ethan's POV.
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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JulieMarch4th
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Post by JulieMarch4th »

Lynn,

Yes, when he's told that there's a 'sentiment' engraved in it?

It took me until I reached my, um, forties, before I could appreciate a Western. Hopefully, I have many more years in front of me :shock:

It took me about the same amount of time before I saw enough of John Wayne to appreciate him!

Julie
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MissGoddess
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Post by MissGoddess »

LZ---I really, really enjoyed reading your comments on your favorites. I find Ribbon, Valance and The Searchers three of Ford's most emotional wersterns...Valance in particular tears me to pieces. Every time I see a cactus rose....
:cry:

One thing I am determined to do is to eventually see The Searchers on the big screen. I'd give much to see all these films that way, I believe it would it open up even more avenues of appreciation for them. It's the way they were crafted to be seen. Monument Valley ought to be viewed "monumentally", and my TV screen doesn't fit the bill.

Miss G
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movieman1957
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Post by movieman1957 »

Seven of his films wound up in the poll. (Nearly half of the list is Ford's.)

Stagecoach
She Wore A Yellow Ribbon
The Searchers
Rio Grande
Liberty Valance
Ft. Apache
My Darling Clementine.

I guess we don't know enough of "The Iron Horse" to have it on. What did we miss? "3 Godfathers", "The Horse Soldiers", "Sgt. Rutledge", "Two Rode Together."
Chris

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ChiO
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Post by ChiO »

The poll, unfortunately, does not have the best Western (and I don't mean the hotel) made by a director whose last name begins with "F" -- FORDY GUNS! :P
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Post by MissGoddess »

ChiO wrote:The poll, unfortunately, does not have the best Western (and I don't mean the hotel) made by a director whose last name begins with "F" -- FORDY GUNS! :P
Ahh, ChiO, I see you've still got a long way to go in your education. :P But I'm hopeful you will become a "convert"! :twisted:
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MissGoddess
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Post by MissGoddess »

movieman1957 wrote:Seven of his films wound up in the poll. (Nearly half of the list is Ford's.)

Stagecoach
She Wore A Yellow Ribbon
The Searchers
Rio Grande
Liberty Valance
Ft. Apache
My Darling Clementine.

I guess we don't know enough of "The Iron Horse" to have it on. What did we miss? "3 Godfathers", "The Horse Soldiers", "Sgt. Rutledge", "Two Rode Together."
Hi Chris! In my opinion, 3 Bad Men is one of his best and could easily sit up there with the rest!
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