John Ford

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tarpilot
Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:48 am

Re: John Ford

#151 Post by tarpilot » Sat Aug 06, 2011 1:04 am

Yojimbo wrote:
domino harvey wrote:Cahiers du Cinema loved it on first release, if memory serves. But that means nothing, really, as their Ford tastes ran eccentric to put it mildly
Didn't they love every Jerry Lewis film, on first release, also?
Every Jerry Lewis film deserves love on any release

mattkc
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2007 10:32 am

Re: John Ford

#152 Post by mattkc » Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:10 am

Even if Lyon and Albert are weak, I'm not at all sure it would make 7 Women a better film if they were any different. The main players, Bancroft and particularly Leighton, hit all the right notes, and if anything is overstated it's nothing that doesn't remain on the surface in any case. Scenes like the one between Agatha and Emma, the arrival of Cartwright, the first supper, the child birth, the final scene of the women together are obvious only if one is unwilling to penetrate beyond the most obvious level. The pathos is potboiler stuff, but seeps into the marmoreal fabric of the style to become something else entirely... The sense of the unspoken shades of difference and distance between individuals and between their places within a larger whole; the presence of objects - that green lamp that holds the space between Cartwright and Agatha's confrontation - their influence over the images; the dense weave of designs, of patterns, of separate layers of order... no words can conjure up the realm of the film, everything physical and concrete yet a fantasy bordering almost on nightmare. Ford is able to generate, bring forth the summation of a character and put it on the screen. Everything is stylized in this film, which will doubtless put off some, but it is the culmination of that late, stately style of John Ford.

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Yojimbo
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Re: John Ford

#153 Post by Yojimbo » Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:35 am

mattkc wrote:Even if Lyon and Albert are weak, I'm not at all sure it would make 7 Women a better film if they were any different. The main players, Bancroft and particularly Leighton, hit all the right notes, and if anything is overstated it's nothing that doesn't remain on the surface in any case. Scenes like the one between Agatha and Emma, the arrival of Cartwright, the first supper, the child birth, the final scene of the women together are obvious only if one is unwilling to penetrate beyond the most obvious level. The pathos is potboiler stuff, but seeps into the marmoreal fabric of the style to become something else entirely... The sense of the unspoken shades of difference and distance between individuals and between their places within a larger whole; the presence of objects - that green lamp that holds the space between Cartwright and Agatha's confrontation - their influence over the images; the dense weave of designs, of patterns, of separate layers of order... no words can conjure up the realm of the film, everything physical and concrete yet a fantasy bordering almost on nightmare. Ford is able to generate, bring forth the summation of a character and put it on the screen. Everything is stylized in this film, which will doubtless put off some, but it is the culmination of that late, stately style of John Ford.
Bullshit! =;

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knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: John Ford

#154 Post by knives » Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:53 am

Because that is the more compelling argument. #-o

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Yojimbo
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Re: John Ford

#155 Post by Yojimbo » Mon Aug 08, 2011 1:02 am

knives wrote:Because that is the more compelling argument. #-o
No, because if I ask matt to parse that post and explain it clause by clause and then the sum of the whole he'd be hard-pressed to do so while keeping a straight face.
Late, stately style, indeed: he'd lost the plot!

mattkc
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Re: John Ford

#156 Post by mattkc » Mon Aug 08, 2011 1:55 am

If I were to dissect the parts and analyze them, there might be much that seems disagreeable, but what criteria would I use? The film creates a very vivid, very alive context in which to see everything in. For me, it works as a whole. I'm not sure there aren't elements which are unsuccessful, but virtually every scene is touching to me. Do separate scenes always work? In a bad and formless movie much of it would certainly be cringe-worthy. But any dubious aspects of the script or what have you feel subsumed to the style and the overall whole. Partly through the cutting and the framing, which throughout always feel "felt" and in-tune with the narrative, and most especially to the characters, yet at once distanced, and sounding much more powerful notes than those sounded in the script. It's not merely that it has a style; it's the deep-seated integrity of a style that has been enriched through a lifetime of work. It has one of the most graceful and subtle rhythms of any film I know! It's awake from the very beginning until the final fade.

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Yojimbo
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Re: John Ford

#157 Post by Yojimbo » Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:03 am

mattkc wrote:If I were to dissect the parts and analyze them, there might be much that seems disagreeable, but what criteria would I use? The film creates a very vivid, very alive context in which to see everything in. For me, it works as a whole. I'm not sure there aren't elements which are unsuccessful, but virtually every scene is touching to me. Do separate scenes always work? In a bad and formless movie much of it would certainly be cringe-worthy. But any dubious aspects of the script or what have you feel subsumed to the style and the overall whole. Partly through the cutting and the framing, which throughout always feel "felt" and in-tune with the narrative, and most especially to the characters, yet at once distanced, and sounding much more powerful notes than those sounded in the script. It's not merely that it has a style; it's the deep-seated integrity of a style that has been enriched through a lifetime of work. It has one of the most graceful and subtle rhythms of any film I know! It's awake from the very beginning until the final fade.
Glad you enjoyed it!

mattkc
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Re: John Ford

#158 Post by mattkc » Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:25 am

I'll gladly suffer your derision. I'm more offended that you've twice quoted my posts complete.

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Yojimbo
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Re: John Ford

#159 Post by Yojimbo » Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:29 am

mattkc wrote:I'll gladly suffer your derision. I'm more offended that you've twice quoted my posts complete.
You misunderstood my last post; I am genuinely glad you enjoyed it, but I won't be watching it again

mattkc
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Re: John Ford

#160 Post by mattkc » Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:39 am

One thing to add... Pether is tragically pathetic. The film is completely successful in conveying this. Emma is interesting and Lyon's awkward reading of lines lends those scenes an extra shade of peculiar character. What's important obviously is how marginal all these people are, each in different ways.

WelcomeAZ
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:41 pm

Re: John Ford

#161 Post by WelcomeAZ » Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:52 pm

Hi, all. Happy to have found a lively and intelligent discussion of Ford online. After reading through this fascinating thread I hope to be able to contribute substantive conversation at some point in the future. For now, I believe some of you may be interested in these Ford pages I've stumbled across (see below), as well as an excellent site called Directed by John Ford.

John Ford Gallery
Review of My Darling Clementine

WelcomeAZ
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:41 pm

Re: John Ford

#162 Post by WelcomeAZ » Sat Jan 07, 2012 4:32 pm

It seems to be polarizing, but I find The Wings of Eagles to be a very moving film, among the finest of Ford's later works. As with all Ford it's visually stunning, I'd go so far as to say scintillating, and Wayne turns in one of his strongest performances, running the gamut of hotshot, hell raising young pilot to helpless, completely vulnerable but stubborn middle-aged object of pity. It is a cautionary tale of tragedy and opportunities missed, while at the same time a celebration of life - no mean accomplishment. Ford was a friend of "Spig" Wead, but even beyond that connection the film comes across to me a very personal one for him.

I concur with Dave Kehr's assessment, published many years ago in the Chicago Reader.

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Yojimbo
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Re: John Ford

#163 Post by Yojimbo » Mon May 28, 2012 7:51 pm

evillights wrote:Wow. There's a lot of hate here for some Ford films which I think are pretty interesting.

I can't say that I've found any stinkers in the Ford corpus, of what I've seen. Actually, I should revise: the first two times I saw When Willie Comes Marching Home, I thought it completely sucked. The third time I saw the film (in the "Ford at Fox" set), it was a revelation — insofar as I thought it was a fine film; what irritated me about it initially, by then seemed pretty lovely. If I had to compare it to any other film (both in terms of shift of personal evaluation, and in terms of content), it would be Fritz Lang's Cloak and Dagger.

I had a similar turnabout on Tobacco Road, though that came only in a second viewing and one in rapid succession. I think it's a beautiful film.

So, for what it's worth, going through a list of all the Ford films I've seen, I'd rank each entry within the following brackets — from 'least good' to 'greatest.' (I caught part of The Hurricane last night on TCM for the first time, but it was only a portion, so I won't count it in the big tally; but what I saw I thought was fairly amazing.) Of course this is subject to change over time, as with any list. But maybe it will provoke in some forum-readers a reassessment of the films they haven't been keen on, or will inspire viewers who haven't seen much Ford to start investigating unexplored corners of the director's body of work.
===

VERY GOOD:
Straight Shooting
Bucking Broadway
Just Pals
Hangman's House
Up the River: A Comedy Drama
Seas Beneath
Arrowsmith
The Lost Patrol
The Informer
Mary of Scotland
Four Men and a Prayer
Tobacco Road
When Willie Comes Marching Home


EXCEPTIONAL:
The Iron Horse [US version]
Salute
Airmail
The World Moves On
The Whole Town's Talking
Steamboat Round the Bend
The Prisoner of Shark Island
The Plough and the Stars
Sex Hygiene
Torpedo Squadron 8
December 7th [1h 23m version]
This Is Korea!: The Story of the 7th Fleet and the 1st Marine Division
What Price Glory


PROBABLE MASTERPIECES:
3 Bad Men
Mother Machree [incomplete only-extant version]
Four Sons
Pilgrimage
The Long Voyage Home
3 Godfathers




[/i]

'Just Pals' is the only one of the Ford (at Fox) Silents box-sets I've yet to watch, although I don't expect to be ranking it among his Very Great Masterpieces, but I want to say how completely blown away I was by '3 Bad Men', which instantly shot into the rank of 'My Top Ten Fords', no matter what film has to give way.
I can't recall seeing another film which not only blended, seamlessly, comedy, tragedy, romance, and action-adventure into one film, but did so without skipping a beat.
A wonderful, wonderful film.
And anybody who insists the Coen Brothers have no taste just see which idea/shot they lifted, wholesale, for a scene in 'Raising Arizona'
(I'll give you that much of a clue)

I loved 'Hangman's House', also, although its not in '3 Bad Men' class
Not even by a long shot; although that's no shame

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Sloper
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 10:06 pm

Re: John Ford

#164 Post by Sloper » Tue May 29, 2012 5:41 am

Yojimbo wrote:'Just Pals' is the only one of the Ford (at Fox) Silents box-sets I've yet to watch, although I don't expect to be ranking it among his Very Great Masterpieces, but I want to say how completely blown away I was by '3 Bad Men'... I can't recall seeing another film which not only blended, seamlessly, comedy, tragedy, romance, and action-adventure into one film, but did so without skipping a beat.
I love 3 Bad Men as well, but everything you say about that film is even truer of Just Pals - well, if you substitute pathos for tragedy.

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Yojimbo
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Re: John Ford

#165 Post by Yojimbo » Tue May 29, 2012 8:12 am

Sloper wrote:
Yojimbo wrote:'Just Pals' is the only one of the Ford (at Fox) Silents box-sets I've yet to watch, although I don't expect to be ranking it among his Very Great Masterpieces, but I want to say how completely blown away I was by '3 Bad Men'... I can't recall seeing another film which not only blended, seamlessly, comedy, tragedy, romance, and action-adventure into one film, but did so without skipping a beat.
I love 3 Bad Men as well, but everything you say about that film is even truer of Just Pals - well, if you substitute pathos for tragedy.
Must check it out soon, so.
btw, I just discovered that 'Hangman's House' is screening at my local arthouse cinema next month

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ellipsis7
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Re: John Ford

#166 Post by ellipsis7 » Tue May 29, 2012 8:57 am

Perhaps part of or because of this event....

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Yojimbo
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Re: John Ford

#167 Post by Yojimbo » Tue May 29, 2012 9:02 am

ellipsis7 wrote:Perhaps part of or because of this event....
...pro-ba-bly

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Yojimbo
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Re: John Ford

#168 Post by Yojimbo » Tue May 29, 2012 7:09 pm

Sloper wrote:
Yojimbo wrote:'Just Pals' is the only one of the Ford (at Fox) Silents box-sets I've yet to watch, although I don't expect to be ranking it among his Very Great Masterpieces, but I want to say how completely blown away I was by '3 Bad Men'... I can't recall seeing another film which not only blended, seamlessly, comedy, tragedy, romance, and action-adventure into one film, but did so without skipping a beat.
I love 3 Bad Men as well, but everything you say about that film is even truer of Just Pals - well, if you substitute pathos for tragedy.
Just watched it ; another wonderful film.

I wasn't prepared for the way he ratcheted up the pace in the last twenty minutes, but, up until then it had been a wonderfully charming comedy-romance, enhanced by the often-stunning quality of his painterly compositions.
I also loved the use of the refrain "the law will take care o' this", the way the old lad kept popping up at opportune times.

It wasn't apparent to me how much if any debt he owed to Murnau, here, as was all-too-evident in 'Four Sons', but his framing choices, for the most part, were already the work of a great artist, and those who decry him for his later 'Oirish' humour should check out the likes of this film to see what a great comic gift he had.
Which reminds me, I've only watched one of the comedy box-set, so far!

btw, that tree by the 'picket fence' looked remarkably like similar in 'The Iron Horse'

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whaleallright
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Re: John Ford

#169 Post by whaleallright » Wed May 30, 2012 6:36 pm

Murnau's impact on Ford isn't felt until the former came over to work for Fox in 1927. Apparently William Fox had several of his contract directors--not just Ford but Borzage as well--watch the shooting of Sunrise. Which is one reason why you see a Sunrise influence in a few films released either before or at about the same time as Murnau's masterpiece.

Four Sons is Ford's most slavish Murnau imitation, and Hangman's House shows a strong debt too. Eventually the Murnau influence came to be sublimated into Ford's aesthetic along with a host of other influences. The most interesting instance is Pilgrimage, where the scenes taking place on the farm have a very notable Murnau feel, from the lighting to the set design and cinematography.

In any event, Ford was a master long before he encountered Murnau's work, as a viewing of Straight Shooting will attest.

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Yojimbo
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Re: John Ford

#170 Post by Yojimbo » Wed May 30, 2012 7:06 pm

jonah.77 wrote:Murnau's impact on Ford isn't felt until the former came over to work for Fox in 1927. Apparently William Fox had several of his contract directors--not just Ford but Borzage as well--watch the shooting of Sunrise. Which is one reason why you see a Sunrise influence in a few films released either before or at about the same time as Murnau's masterpiece.

Four Sons is Ford's most slavish Murnau imitation, and Hangman's House shows a strong debt too. Eventually the Murnau influence came to be sublimated into Ford's aesthetic along with a host of other influences. The most interesting instance is Pilgrimage, where the scenes taking place on the farm have a very notable Murnau feel, from the lighting to the set design and cinematography.

In any event, Ford was a master long before he encountered Murnau's work, as a viewing of Straight Shooting will attest.
There's a beautiful shot in Hangman's House where the lovers are travelling by boat to where McLaglan has been secreted which compares with anything in Murnau, or Mizoguchi
But I don't see why Ford had to shoot Four Sons in such a blatant Murnau style?
Or was it some form of studio-sponsored promotion job, whether to boost Murnau's career, or prove that a local man could be just as artistic as the great German director, perhaps?

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manicsounds
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Re: John Ford

#171 Post by manicsounds » Sat Jul 28, 2012 10:26 am

I finally finished the series, and on the John Ford featurette on "Young Indiana Jones 3" was possibly the first time I saw Tag Gallagher on camera. Is this a first? I've seen the featurettes he's done, but always through audio. Some really long hair going on there.

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Yojimbo
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Re: John Ford

#172 Post by Yojimbo » Sat Jul 28, 2012 10:32 am

manicsounds wrote:I finally finished the series, and on the John Ford featurette on "Young Indiana Jones 3" was possibly the first time I saw Tag Gallagher on camera. Is this a first? I've seen the featurettes he's done, but always through audio. Some really long hair going on there.
I think I saw him on an Ophuls DVD

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HerrSchreck
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Re: John Ford

#173 Post by HerrSchreck » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:14 pm

Yojimbo wrote:[

But I don't see why Ford had to shoot Four Sons in such a blatant Murnau style?
Or was it some form of studio-sponsored promotion job, whether to boost Murnau's career, or prove that a local man could be just as artistic as the great German director, perhaps?
What makes you think he HAD to shoot it in that imitative style?

Ford was completely open about his unabashed admiration for Murnau's style.. he proclaimed Sunrise to be the greatest film ever made (at that time), and the integration of Murnau's sensibility showed how profound the impact was. I think Ford wanted his films to reach that lofty place where every single shot would be a thing of painterly beauty that could hang in a museum, because he thought that's where all 'great films ' were headed now.

Problem was that Ford hadn't steeped himself in art history his whole adult life the way Murnau did.. thus he merely replicates Murnau in these self consciously arty films, rather than referencing the world of 18th and 19th century art the way Murnau did . It's only as the twenties give way to the thirties that Fords style matures, taking what he needs from Murnaus style and discarding the rest, particularly the hyper conscious pictorialism, which didn't suit Ford's character one bit.

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david hare
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Re: John Ford

#174 Post by david hare » Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:55 pm

I would like to add a little to Schreck's post.

First, Ford was in fact very deeply steeped in schools of 19th Century American painting in particular, and this lifelong attachment unfolds itself over and over in both the pictorialism of landscape presentation and in the anecdotal form of initially presenting characters as "types". So I think he came to movies very early with a highly pictorial visual sense.

Secondly, it's true to say that EVERYONE at Fox, not only Ford felt the influence of Murnau's style in the late 20s when Murnau came over to the States - certainly Walsh and Wellman, and this shows in their work of the period. What's so interesting in Ford is that as long after Murnau's death as 1933 Ford reconstructs highly Murnauian settings and a bucolic studio world that instantly evokes Sunrise in the stunning Pilgrimage, but he goes further and integrates the high visual stylization into the narrative and performances, with post expressionist devices like faces looking direct to camera for angle/reverse angle shots, and lengthy silences in soundtrack. And again in the Informer in 1935. It's hard to say when if at all Ford transcended Murnau, if that's even the right word, but I believe he's a completely unique and axiomatic artist with the arrival of Pilgrimage in fact.

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knives
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Re: John Ford

#175 Post by knives » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:39 pm

Maybe a good word instead of transcends is strips. I think that Murnau worked like a chrysalis for that group of film makers where he allowed for their specific voices to evolve into something greater than they thought they could do. I believe, for example, that even without Murnau we would have Stagecoach, but that he allowed for it and its brothers to arrive sooner and with more personality. They could have easily turned up like Hathaway with strongly made anonymous pictures, but Murnau was the kick needed for them to really become authors in full.

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