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Your Favorite John Ford Western

Posted: April 14th, 2007, 4:34 pm
by ken123
My vote goes to " Fort Apache ", with " The Searchers a close second. Ford was a fearless film maker who attacked perhaps the number one ill facing America racism. "Two Rode Together " stands high on my list also for the same reason. Outstandind performances by Wayne in Fort & The Searchers, Fonda great in my favorite, with Stewart and Widmark great in Two Rode Together. :P

John Ford Westerns dealing with Racism

Posted: April 14th, 2007, 4:53 pm
by moira finnie
Interesting that you should mention Two Rode Together (1961)as a favorite Ford Western. I just finished reading a biography of James Stewart by Marc Eliot. In it, he cites Stewart's belief that Ford seemed disinterested throughout the film's production. The author doesn't mention that Ford had a tendency to treat at least one of his actors in an offhanded, if not angry manner on almost every movie he made, so perhaps this is indicative of the Ford treatment. Despite Stewart's perceived apathy on Ford's part, he and Richard Widmark have both mentioned some favorite acting moments in that movie, notably the rambling conversation along the river bank, filmed from the perspective of the middle of the river.

The theme of racism in that film was forcefully brought home, I thought, through the quiet dignity of Linda Cristal, the heartbreak of the parents who'd lost their children, the plight of the forcibly repatriated white children raised among the Indians, and the scene at the dance. I thought that it was interesting that Ford didn't try to romanticize the Native peoples while making these points about the tragic consequences of ignorance, hate and conflict for all parties.

I think that my favorite Ford Western dealing with racism would have to be The Searchers (1956) but I also like Sergeant Rutledge (1960) very much. I thought Woody Strode was excellent in that minor classic.


Posted: April 14th, 2007, 5:22 pm
by ken123
I totally agree with your entire post.

I have a quote from a book about Ford, it can't find it at the moment, where he ( Ford ) is quoted that " Two Rode Together " was the biggest piece of cr*p that I have done in twenty years. I think that it is a minor classic. Woody Strode gave great dignity to his characted in" Sergent Rutledge ". Jeffery Hunter, who was greatly underrated, does an excellent job in the film, as does Constance Towers. The members of " the Ford Stock Company " do well also. Rutledge is a great film. :P

Posted: April 14th, 2007, 5:26 pm
by mrsl
Actually this is really just a practice. But I do have to say that Two Rode Together is one of my favorite all-time westerns followed by the Searchers. But like so many other people, if its ford, it has to be good.

Also, love the emoticons!!!


Posted: April 14th, 2007, 5:36 pm
by ken123
Welcome aboard. Ford was the greatest American Film Director. But he had to be one of the best, he was Irish.

I was hoping that you would be invited to this forum, and I knew that you loved " Two Rode Together ", as do I :P

Sergeant Rutledge

Posted: April 14th, 2007, 5:37 pm
by moira finnie
Thank goodness you've found your way here, Anne. Hope you like it.

Funny that so many people I've spoken with over the years cite Sgt. Rutledge as a favorite Ford film, but it's almost never shown. I'm especially fond of the sequence when Strode and Towers are isolated at the station. The ominous atmosphere that Ford creates with very few elements is like something out of a film noir. Of course he did something similar in The Lost Patrol 30 years earlier as well! Does anyone know why Sergeant Rutledge isn't shown more?


Posted: April 15th, 2007, 12:55 am
by feaito
I think that my favorite John Ford western and one that left a lasting impression on me as a kid was "The Searchers"... the theme of the lost niece kidnapped and raised by the Indians deeply moved me. John Wayne is at his best in this one.

And among the non-westerns, "Mary of Scotland", which I saw as small kid (I was 5 years old I believe) and made such an impact on me, that the scene in which Kate Hepburn walked towards the scaffold and death, has been in my memory for many years.

Posted: April 15th, 2007, 2:49 am
by ken123
Sergent Rutledge is included in the John Ford Collection along with Mary of Scotland, The Informer,The Lost Patrol, and Cheyenne Autumn. Sergent Rutledge, does not include an audio commentary.

Posted: April 15th, 2007, 9:08 am
by mongoII
Hard to choose from Mr. Ford's impressive list of westerns although my choice is "My Darling Clementine" (1946).
His black and white film is as lush as many color films you see. His use of shadow is powerful – witness his death shroud on Doc Holliday's face (Victor Mature) as he talks to Chihuahua (Linda Darnell) who is literally and metaphorically entering into the light.
The old west looks as sparse as I imagine it was. Ford's only weakness is that he doesn't bring much tension to the actual gunfight, but his warming, comic telling at other points means that his strengths vastly outweigh the odd weakness. Henry Fonda gives a strong depiction as Wyatt Earp.

Favorite Ford non-western is "The Grapes of Wrath".

Red-white&blue's always a tad brighter for a touch o' Gr

Posted: April 15th, 2007, 10:11 am
by klondike

You're right, he did have to be one of the best because he WAS Irish, and moreover, a first-generation Irish American from New England!

From IMDb:
> "While John Ford is the director's "Hollywood" name, and his American birth name is John Feeney, his Irish name was Sean Aloysius O'Fearna. Allegedly his parents referred to him as 'Sean' "

A shame he didn't keep some form of his Family surname, though, and equally a shame he had to choose "Ford"!
One can only hope he at least drove a Chevy!


My Darling Clementine's use of visual & spiritual shadow

Posted: April 15th, 2007, 12:25 pm
by moira finnie
mongoII wrote:Hard to choose from Mr. Ford's impressive list of westerns although my choice is "My Darling Clementine" (1946).
His black and white film is as lush as many color films you see. His use of shadow is powerful
I'd forgotten about the deft use of b & w shadows in My Darling Clementine (1946). One especially memorable scene using visual effects of light, shadow and perspective in that film was when Alan Mowbray as the alcoholic Shakespearian actor Granville Thorndyke, is forced by the Clantons to climb on the bar to recite the soliloquy from "Hamlet".

Wyatt Earp (Henry Fonda), disgusted by the sight, tries to leave with his new friend, Doc Holliday (Victor Mature). Doc tells Wyatt he is interesting in listening: "Wait, I want to hear this." Holliday draws closer to the actor, and he and Wyatt watch from inside the saloon as the uncultured clan bullies and torments the tremulous performer. As a pianist accompanies the performance, Thorndyke (Mowbray) melodically delivers his lines while the viewer sees only what light is given by the hanging oil lamps over the bar, obscuring much of the rest of the interior:

To be or not to be
That is the question
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing
End them?
To die
To sleep
No more;
And, by a sleep to say we end the heart-aches
And the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to
'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd.
To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream:
Ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death
What dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil?

Walter Brennan as Ike Clanton interrupts these poetic lines, mocking the actor, claiming "That's enough, that's enough. You don't know nothin' but them poems. You can't sing. Maybe you can dance." Then Victor Mature steps forward to prevent the further humiliation of Alan Mowbray. Mature's character identifies with the fear expressed in the speech, and asks Mowbray politely to please continue:

Must give us pause
There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
...the law's delay
The insolence of office
And the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy take
When he himself
Might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin?
Who would fardels bear
To grunt and sweat under a weary life
At which Mowbray breaks off, confused and forgetting the lines, asking Mature to please help him, since the actor is too drunk and frightened to continuethe soliloquy. Holliday finishes up the lines and impresses Earp with his previously unknown sophistication, as he recites:

But that the dread of something after death...
The undiscovered country
From whose bourn no traveller returns,
Puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all...

All of this extraordinary, relatively brief scene illustrates the demons that each human being wrestles with throughout their life, and within the movie's context, shows the complex nature of Mature's lost soul, and gives Fonda's character more reason to be drawn to the doomed Doc Holliday character.

A beautiful moment by the master, John Ford, giving actors Alan Mowbray and Victor Mature what may be their finest moments on film. And cinematographer Joseph MacDonald was batting a thousand throughout this movie too!

Aside from that, it's a pretty good oater, too! Sorry to wax on so long, but I do love that aspect of the movie very much. Below is the long bar with the lamps that I've described in the scene:

Posted: April 15th, 2007, 4:14 pm
by ken123
I believe that it was Grant Withers that mocked Mr. Thorndyke. :wink:

Favorite Fords

Posted: April 15th, 2007, 6:23 pm
by Sue Sue Applegate
The ones I love:

My Darling Clementine
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
The Searchers

Posted: April 16th, 2007, 3:33 pm
by movieman1957
There's no argument on any of them but one that hasn't been mentioned is "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon." Wayne's "grandfatherly" performance is unlike anything else he did.

Some people think there may be too much humor in it ("Picnicing. Mr. Pinnell?) but I think it's a good study of a man giving the wisdom of his years, most often, eloquently.

Posted: April 17th, 2007, 11:08 am
by cinemalover
The Searchers
This is a film that I couldn't appreciate as a child, but rewatching it this weekend the themes of hatred, obsession and racism really strike home. John Wayne gives one of his best all-time performances as Ethan Edwards, a man whose spirit was broken by the surrender of the Confederacy that he had sworn an oath to defend. His entire purpose becomes the destruction of the Indian that killed his family and kidnapped his niece, Chief Scar.
P.S. This is a beautiful site, thanks for the invite and kudos to the web designer.