John Ford

John Ford – Pilgrimage (1933)


Synopsis:
The story of an Arkansas farm woman and her son. When the son expresses his desire to marry a girl who comes from a family that the mother thinks is trash, she enrolls him in the army.

Review:
In this sentimental film directed by John Ford a mother disapproves of her son’s marriage and gets him drafted; he is killed in the war, and she comes to realize her error.

In Three Cedars, Arkansas Hannah Jessop (Henrietta Crosman) works in the field with her son Jim (Norman Foster). She reads to him from the Bible about the dangers of an evil woman, and he says he wants to enlist. Jim meets Mary Saunders (Marian Nixon) at night, putting her drunk father to bed and hiding his jug in the hayloft. Mary asks Jim not to enlist. Jim tells his mother he wants to earn wages so that he can marry. Hannah tells Mary to stay away from Jim and gets Jim put in the army. Jim gets off a troop train and kisses Mary, who tells him she is going to have a baby. He tries to stay to marry her, but he is forced back on the train. Jim fights in the trenches. In a rain storm Mary’s father asks Hannah to help deliver Mary’s baby. A telegram to Hannah reports that Jim was killed. She pieces together a torn photo of him. Read More »

John Ford – Cameo Kirby (1923)

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The director formerly known as Sean O’Feeney is billed as John Ford for the first time here, and he helps make this one of John Gilbert’s best pre-MGM features. Cameo Kirby (John Gilbert), once a man of high social standing, has become a professional gambler and works the Mississippi riverboats of the 1800’s. An old man (William E. Lawrence) is being cheated in a crooked card game, and Kirby gets involved in the play, with the intention of giving the man his money back. Unaware of Kirby’s plans, the old man commits suicide. It turns out that Kirby’s sweetheart (Gertrude Olmstead) is the man’s daughter. But in spite of the tragedy, she comes to understand Kirby’s altruistic motives. Based on a story by Booth Tarkington, the melodrama is offset by solid performances and an exciting paddle-wheeler river race (a bit of action that one would expect from John Ford). An 18-year-old Jean Arthur made her movie debut in this film as a bit player. ~ Janiss Garza, All Movie Guide
Jean Arthur – Ann Playdell; Engenie Ford – Mme. Dauezac; Alan Hale – Colonel Moreau; William E. Lawrence – Colonel Randall; Jack McDonald – Larkin Bruce; Gertrude Olmstead – Adele Randall; Phillips Smalley – Judge Playdell; Richard Tucker – Cousin Aaron Read More »

John Ford – 3 Bad Men (1926)

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Synopsis (contains spoilers)
Set in 1877 during the Dakota land rush, 3 Bad Men gracefully blends the epic with the intimate. This seriocomic tale centres around three outlaws who redeem themselves by protecting pilgrims who need thier help to reach what 3 Bad Men explicitly calls the promised land.

The ostensible celebration of the pioneering spirit in 3 Bad Men is darkened not only by the necessity of the outlaws’ deaths but also by the fact that the promised land is morally tainted. The ground reserved for new settlers is former Indian homeland, seized by the white government that conquered the Sioux nation in the aftermath of the Custer massacre. Ford leaves that aspect largely implicit, reserving the role of overt villian for the corrupt sheriff of the town of Custer, Layne Hunter. Read More »

John Ford – Donovan’s Reef (1963)

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‘Guns’ Donovan prefers carousing with his pals Doc Dedham and ‘Boats’ Gilhooley, until Dedham’s high-society daughter Amelia shows up in their South Seas paradise.

Excitement on Haleakoloha:’Donovan’s Reef’ Opens at Three Theaters John Ford Production Stars John Wayne
ONLY an ancient hermit would believe that the director John Ford and his writers, Frank S. Nugent and James Edward Grant, were serious in their approach to “Donovan’s Reef,” which turned up yesterday like a welcome port in a storm at the Paramount, Trans-Lux 52d Street and Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Theaters. For this running account of Pier 6 brawls, miscegenation, romance and religion that disrupt the idyllic life on a post-World War II South Sea island paradise is sheer contrivance effected in hearty, fun-loving, truly infectious style. Read More »

John Ford – Wee Willie Winkie (1937)

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Joseph McBride wrote:
Wee Willie Winkie provides a case study of how Ford approached what could have been another pot-boiler and infused it with his own artistic sensibilty. If there were any real justice in Hollywood, Ford would have won an Oscar for a film such as this one, whose truly superior craftsmanship is all the more impressive for seeming so effortless. With larger-than-life romanticism, Ford deflty creates a child’s storybook vision of the world, then introduces unexpectedly touching moments as reality impinges on the consciousness of the innocent protaganist. This stylised feeling was heightened in the film’s original release by tiniting the daytime scenes sepia and the nighttime scenes blue, reviving a practice from the silent cinema. Read More »

John Ford – Stagecoach [+Extras] (1939)

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A Ford-Powered ‘Stagecoach’ Opens at Music Hall; Mickey Rooney Plays Huck Finn at the Capitol
In one superbly expansive gesture, which we (and the Music Hall) can call “Stagecoach,” John Ford has swept aside ten years of artifice and talkie compromise and has made a motion picture that sings a song of camera. It moves, and how beautifully it moves, across the plains of Arizona, skirting the sky-reaching mesas of Monument Valley, beneath the piled-up cloud banks which every photographer dreams about, and through all the old-fashioned, but never really outdated, periods of prairie travel in the scalp-raising Seventies, when Geronimo’s Apaches were on the warpath. Here, in a sentence, is a movie of the grand old school, a genuine rib-thumper and a beautiful sight to see. Read More »

John Ford – Men Without Women (1930)

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PLOT SUMMARY
An important John Ford film from the early talkie period (much of the film is silent with sound effects). After an alcohol-feuled shore leave in Singapore, the crew of an American submarine find themselve sinking after running headlong into a ship. Very tense and terse, with John Wayne in a small role as a radio operator. These early Fox talkies are very hard to come by and this title is particularly difficult to run down. Read More »