John Ford

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Tuco
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Re: John Ford

#176 Post by Tuco » Sun Jul 29, 2012 12:41 am

The Murnau influence still popped up later - look at much of what happens in Lordsburg in STAGECOACH, as well as lots of MY DARLING CLEMENTINE. Ford is my "Desert Island" director (this could change at any moment, of course...) But speaking of CLEMINTINE, thanks to Victor Mature, of the famous comment from Groucho Marx after seeing SAMSON AND DELILAH, "That's the first movie I've ever seen where the leading man has bigger tits than the leading lady."

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HerrSchreck
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Re: John Ford

#177 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun Jul 29, 2012 2:00 am

I think I may have miscommunicated what I meant , Dave . I didn't by any means aim to indicate that Ford didn't have a highly developed pictorial sense ... Anyone who has seen his pre ,27 films knows that Ford had an extremely developed pictorial sensibility.

What Ford tried to lift from Murnau --and seems a pale imitation of the great German in doing so--was this excessively hyper painterly style of silent filmmaking resident in Four Sons, et al, those titles from the immediate post Sunrise period .

If Ford is rconsciously eferencing and specifically reproducing actual works of Dutch and German painting and Romantic etchings the way Murnau had been doing with Freund and Hoffman since 1920, I confess I don't see it. There are so many museum pieces consciously referenced in Murnaus films which cause his oeuvre to be an ever engaging dialogue with art history in a degree that even Lang could only approach in a reproductive sense, rather than expanding on the works referenced via a living breathing dialog with the visual masters of the past , a la FWM.

Murnau doesn't necessarily mean Great Shots. Just because Informer contains fabulous cinematography doesn't, to me, make it Murnau -esque. Informer is to me something altogether unique , almost Hitchcockian or Langian more than Murnau-esque... Though of course the influence is there beneath the surface. By the30's, Ford had shaken off tthe vast bulk of that gauzy dreamy patina and returned to a less lingering, self conscious style, and moves things along, allowing the influence to show during moments of high expression and the establishment of mood and place a la the great Pilgrimage . But never again would we see the great Ford touch and flawless intuition buried under all that excessive gauze .

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Yojimbo
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Re: John Ford

#178 Post by Yojimbo » Sun Jul 29, 2012 8:20 am

Tuco wrote:The Murnau influence still popped up later - look at much of what happens in Lordsburg in STAGECOACH, as well as lots of MY DARLING CLEMENTINE.
...not forgetting 'Grapes of Wrath',....

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Yojimbo
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Re: John Ford

#179 Post by Yojimbo » Sun Jul 29, 2012 8:56 am

HerrSchreck wrote:I think I may have miscommunicated what I meant , Dave . I didn't by any means aim to indicate that Ford didn't have a highly developed pictorial sense ... Anyone who has seen his pre ,27 films knows that Ford had an extremely developed pictorial sensibility.

What Ford tried to lift from Murnau --and seems a pale imitation of the great German in doing so--was this excessively hyper painterly style of silent filmmaking resident in Four Sons, et al, those titles from the immediate post Sunrise period .

If Ford is rconsciously eferencing and specifically reproducing actual works of Dutch and German painting and Romantic etchings the way Murnau had been doing with Freund and Hoffman since 1920, I confess I don't see it. There are so many museum pieces consciously referenced in Murnaus films which cause his oeuvre to be an ever engaging dialogue with art history in a degree that even Lang could only approach in a reproductive sense, rather than expanding on the works referenced via a living breathing dialog with the visual masters of the past , a la FWM.

Murnau doesn't necessarily mean Great Shots. Just because Informer contains fabulous cinematography doesn't, to me, make it Murnau -esque. Informer is to me something altogether unique , almost Hitchcockian or Langian more than Murnau-esque... Though of course the influence is there beneath the surface. By the30's, Ford had shaken off tthe vast bulk of that gauzy dreamy patina and returned to a less lingering, self conscious style, and moves things along, allowing the influence to show during moments of high expression and the establishment of mood and place a la the great Pilgrimage . But never again would we see the great Ford touch and flawless intuition buried under all that excessive gauze .
Schreck, if you're now saying Ford already had a highly developed pictorial sense, perhaps you might reconsider your answer to my question as to why he felt he THEN had to produce a complete film, which was more pastiche of/homage to Murnau than any of his films that I saw, before or after.
(admittedly my experience of his silent era is limited to the Ford at Fox box-set)
If you're accepting that he already had a fully-formed style, then 'Four Sons' must be considered either a retrograde step on his part, or pastiche/homage

And I also tend to relate 'The Informer' more with the crime cinema of the German Expressionists, rather than Murnau, specifically
(and perhaps it influenced later French films, such as 'Quai Des Brumes' and 'Le Jour Se Lève)

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david hare
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Re: John Ford

#180 Post by david hare » Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:12 pm

Schreck let's pick up this endlessly wonderful discussion in Berlin. It deserves far more time and not a few drinks and smokes.

Meanwhile a headsup to an Oz BluRay of Man who Shot Liberty Valance. This is a port of the identical Paramount BD released across Euroepan territories. Region free and in OZ at the giveaway price of AUD$12.98 plus postage at JB Hifi

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HerrSchreck
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Re: John Ford

#181 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:06 pm

Yojimbo wrote:Schreck, if you're now saying Ford already had a highly developed pictorial sense, perhaps you might reconsider your answer to my question as to why he felt he THEN had to produce a complete film, which was more pastiche of/homage to Murnau than any of his films that I saw, before or after.
(admittedly my experience of his silent era is limited to the Ford at Fox box-set)
If you're accepting that he already had a fully-formed style, then 'Four Sons' must be considered either a retrograde step on his part, or pastiche/homage

And I also tend to relate 'The Informer' more with the crime cinema of the German Expressionists, rather than Murnau, specifically
(and perhaps it influenced later French films, such as 'Quai Des Brumes' and 'Le Jour Se Lève)
I'm not sure why I would want to reconsider my answer to your question, Yo.

Just because a person had a highly developed pictorial sense doesn't eliminate matters of degrees, and specific forms of stylization. Murnau is coming to Fox with a very specific pictorial sensibility where shots were endlessly labored over for hours and days and weeks with men like Wagner, Freund, and Hoffman in the echoing, reproduction, and expanding on famous works of art within the highly controlled zone of the studio. Maskings, overlays, gauze, fog, dreamy chiaroscuro, special effects, an excessively sophisticated dialog with art history . . . by the time Murnau came to Fox he was very famous for the incredible results he'd achieved within the UFA, along with his masterful command of film grammar, characterization, metaphor, and visual poetry. The end result is quite simply perhaps the most venerable level of genius resident within any filmmaker fore or aft, and the man ever remains my favorite filmmaker of all time.

John Ford, prior to the arrival of Murnau, had a very good visual sense--one that was very ventilated and naturalistic (albeit well-composed) versus the extremely highly labored over images of Murnau-- but had exhibited very little interest in this kind of excessively gleaming, dreamy, deeply shadowy, highly consciously poetic, swirling studio artifice which had such an "arty", "European" look. Ford was always--pre-'27-- at his best out of doors, allowing his actors and his narratives to breathe against the majesty of location, which was always his favorite place to be.

Obviously Murnau hit him like a ton of bricks . . . and starting with the hugely corny Four Sons, an obvious imitation of his new idol as well as a striving towards the new "high(er) visual art" to which he wanted his films to aspire, his style did a complete left turn andthe influence was more imitative than inspirational. As a couple short years wore on and Ford's own strong sense of self and style bloomed out and over his posession with all that was Murnauesque, we see him integrate somewhat labored over moments of pictorialism at key moments of establishment and narrative peak . . . but never thru and through across the entirety of the narrative, with fake beams of light stenciled on glass overlaying the lens (a la Four Sons), studio fog, etc. He becomes the Ford we all know and love, the master of that great intuitive sense of camera placement, striking visual moments at moments of punctuation, the deft editing, the capturing of magical moments and performance-- the perfect filmmaker for Hollywood's golden years.

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whaleallright
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Re: John Ford

#182 Post by whaleallright » Wed Aug 01, 2012 4:37 am

I agree that after he got Four Sons (and Hangman's House) out of his system, Ford largely absorbed the influence of Murnau into his own personal aesthetics. I don't think Ford ever got a certain self-conscious pictorialism out of his system, though; it's evident right on through to 7 Women and it's one thing that distinguishes him from directors like Hawks and Walsh. I submit not just The Informer but also The Long Voyage Home and The Fugitive as instances where pictorialism almost gets the better of him. Of course, the latter two can almost be co-credited to their cinematographers, Gregg Toland and Gabriel Figueroa, respectively. The Fugitive looks as much like other Figueroa films like Enamorada and The Pearl as it does any other Ford film.

I don't know if it's come up yet, but Pilgrimage is a film where certain scenes look like a pastiche of Murnau, and others look like something else again. Indeed the first few reels, which take place in a rural setting, seem to be borrowing quite heavily from Sunrise.

One thing amazing about Ford is that several of his most striking shots occur in his very first feature, Straight Shooting, from 1917--indeed the shots stand out not only from the rest of this excellent film but seem to depart almost entirely from the conventions of late-1910s decoupage. (I'm thinking in particular of one shot that frames Harry Carey and Molly Malone in a doorway from a high, oblique angle, which caused the audience I saw the film with to gasp.) One might suspect the influence of his brother, Francis, who had been directing films for five years by that point. But as good of a director as Francis was, there isn't much in his work that equals the achievement of Straight Shooting. John Ford was a natural.

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david hare
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Re: John Ford

#183 Post by david hare » Wed Aug 01, 2012 4:52 am

My post previous page.

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whaleallright
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:56 am

Re: John Ford

#184 Post by whaleallright » Wed Aug 01, 2012 5:44 am

Thank you. I've also noticed that I've repeated myself from an earlier comment. That's what happens when you have too many things going on at once....

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scotty2
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Re: John Ford

#185 Post by scotty2 » Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:28 pm

Brief appreciation of O'Neill and Ford's The Long Voyage Home.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: John Ford

#186 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed May 21, 2014 11:09 pm

I suppose this is a better place to discuss the _films_ in the Ford at Fox set. My family watched "Three Bad Men" -- and loved it. I got worried when our elderly Oppo DVD choked on it -- but our middle-aged Sony Blu-Ray player had no problems at all.

I had a complicated reaction to Tobacco Road (on my recent first viewing). A lot more complex (and interesting) than I anticipated, based on all the negative remarks. Did I have"reservations" about it -- yes, lots. But it seemed that there were a lot of positive aspects as well. The almost absurdist humor John Ford found in this seems a lot more appealing than the lurid seriousness of the original source.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: John Ford

#187 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu May 22, 2014 11:21 pm

Another previous unknown (to me) gem -- Hangman's House. Excellent, very atmospheric silent film.

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ellipsis7
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Re: John Ford

#188 Post by ellipsis7 » Fri May 23, 2014 4:14 am

This film contains the first glimpse of John Wayne in a Ford or any other film I guess... He apparently is both the condemned man on the gallows depicted in silhouette and a raucous spectator at the races as seen in the capture below...

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: John Ford

#189 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri May 23, 2014 8:03 am

ellipsis --

Cool! How did you figure this out?

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ellipsis7
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Re: John Ford

#190 Post by ellipsis7 » Fri May 23, 2014 8:17 am

I think I got it from Tag Gallagher's JOHN FORD book, or suchlike... Also mentioned in these programme notes...

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liam fennell
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Re: John Ford

#191 Post by liam fennell » Fri May 23, 2014 8:34 am

I've only looked at the 3 Will Rogers movies recently from the box. They were all really fun if not particularly ambitious! I started with Steamboat Around the Bend and enjoyed it so much I went right onto the other two and they were equally satisfying. Ford and Rogers make a great team. Ford's humor is kept in check and Rogers it allowed to gracefully joke his way through all three pictures. The rhythms of the movies are matched to his performance, as with Fonda in My Darling Clementine, and to great effect. He is so easy-going as a rule that it is almost shocking when he encounters a serious situation and loses his cool, as in Judge Priest, or is faced with a potentially dangerous situations such as when encountering the swamp people in Steamboat. It's a shame they couldn't keep working together, in a way, one could easily imagine many more fruitful collaborations.

In fact, after those I looked at Donovan's Reef for the first time and couldn't stop thinking about how Will Rogers would've fit right into the thing with a little tiny bit of rewriting. Talk about a movie made in the wrong decade! Slight, perhaps, but perfectly enjoyable.

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Drucker
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Re: John Ford

#192 Post by Drucker » Fri May 23, 2014 9:07 am

I believe it's in the hour-long interview that accompanies the Stagecoach blu-ray where Ford makes a comment that nobody else he's ever worked with (or seen?) comedically holds a candle to Rogers.

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domino harvey
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Re: John Ford

#193 Post by domino harvey » Fri May 23, 2014 9:14 am

Worth noting that Will Rogers was unfathomably popular in his day, at a level almost incomprehensible even to our modern era of celebrities. It's been said that Will Rogers' death had a greater effect on the nation (up to that point) than any other death save Lincoln's.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: John Ford

#194 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri May 23, 2014 12:12 pm

Being an Oklahoman (in origin), Will Rogers was still quite a posthumous celebrity into the early 60s at least. I lost count of how many times I wound up in Claremore to visit the Will Rogers Memorial Museum.

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swo17
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Re: John Ford

#195 Post by swo17 » Fri May 23, 2014 12:18 pm

I remember growing up with this book:

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domino harvey
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Re: John Ford

#196 Post by domino harvey » Fri May 23, 2014 1:58 pm

Now that I can see it, wow, I am pretty sure I read that when I was younger too (though being from Oklahoma, it shouldn't be too surprising)

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Re: John Ford

#197 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri May 23, 2014 2:18 pm

domino harvey wrote:Now that I can see it, wow, I am pretty sure I read that when I was younger too (though being from Oklahoma, it shouldn't be too surprising)
Alas, I _can't_ see anything.

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domino harvey
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Re: John Ford

#198 Post by domino harvey » Fri May 23, 2014 2:20 pm

Refresh the page, I just changed swo's non-working image to a working one. Or click here

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swo17
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Re: John Ford

#199 Post by swo17 » Fri May 23, 2014 2:21 pm

Thanks for fixing the link.
domino harvey wrote:I am pretty sure I read that when I was younger too (though being from Oklahoma, it shouldn't be too surprising)
Which explains how we both came to value humor. Too bad they never made a "The Value of Being Serious and Taking Things Seriously" book.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: John Ford

#200 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri May 23, 2014 2:26 pm

domino harvey wrote:Refresh the page, I just changed swo's non-working image to a working one. Or click here
Firewalled for me, I guess. Oh well, I'll take a look this evening.

It seems like Rogers was very much in the tradition of the early-to-middle period Mark Twain.

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