John Ford

John Ford – The Sun Shines Bright (1953)



John Ford’s remake of his 1934 Will Rogers vehicle, Judge Priest, combines three Irvin S. Cobb stories about the kindly Kentucky magistrate William Priest (Charles Winninger).

Set in 1905 Kentucky, it focuses on the judge’s battle for reelection against Yankee prosecutor Horace K. Maydew (Milburn Stone). Despite the judge’s popularity, it’s possible that his generosity and sense of justice may cost him the election. First he tries to persuade the eminent General Fairfield (James Kirkwood) to admit that he’s kin to Lucy Lee (Arleen Whelan), whose questionable background makes her a subject for ridicule. Next he faces down an angry lynch mob accusing a black man of a heinous crime – the frustrated vigilantes, dispersed by the gun-wielding judge, vow vengeance at the polls. Read More »

Tag Gallagher – John Ford: The Man and his Movies (2007)

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This is the revised and enlarged version of Tag Gallagher’s great book on John Ford.
659 pages, with lots of new screenshots and frame enlargements.

The book was originally published in 1986. Read More »

John Ford – The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance [+Extras] (1962)


Like Pontius Pilate, director John Ford asks “What is truth?” in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance–but unlike Pilate, Ford waits for an answer. The film opens in 1910, with distinguished and influential U.S. senator Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) and his wife Hallie (Vera Miles) returning to the dusty little frontier town where they met and married twenty-five years earlier. They have come back to attend the funeral of impoverished “nobody” Tom Doniphon (John Wayne). When a reporter asks why, Stoddard relates a film-long flashback. He recalls how, as a greenhorn lawyer, he had run afoul of notorious gunman Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin), who worked for a powerful cartel which had the territory in its clutches. Time and again, “pilgrim” Stoddard had his hide saved by the much-feared but essentially decent Doniphon. Read More »

John Ford – 7 Women (1966)


John Ford’s final film is set in China in 1935, where a group of American women, led by Agatha Andrews (Margaret Leighton), work as missionaries. One of the women, Florrie (Betty Field), is pregnant and accompanied by her husband, Charles (Eddie Albert), while the others are single and on their own. The mission has become crowded after a cholera epidemic forced several outsiders to flee a nearby British mission and seek shelter with the American group, while a Mongol warrior, Tunga Khan (Mike Mazurki), has assembled troops who are sacking the area. When a female doctor, Dr. D.L. Cartwright (Anne Bancroft), enters the picture, she attempts to bring humor and civility to the group, but her tough yet compassionate nature clashes with Agatha’s by-the-book approach, and when Cartwright is willing to put her own safety at risk to gain the attentions of Tunga Khan and slow his onslaught, the group is strongly divided — most of the women admire the doctor’s bravery, but Agatha (who seems to have a non-professional interest in Cartwright herself) considers her foolish and reckless. Seven Women was originally planned to star Patricia Neal as Dr. Cartwright, but when she suffered a stroke during filming that put her acting career on hold for several years, Anne Bancroft was recast in the role. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide Read More »

John Ford – How Green Was My Valley [+Extras] (1941)


Joseph McBride, Searching for John Ford wrote:
Ford was not the first director assigned to the film by Darryl F.Zanuck. William Wyler spent three months preparing the picture. he cast many of the parts, oversaw the construction of the sets designed by Richard Day and nathan Juran, and spent ten weeks working on the script with Phillip Dunne. in Dunne’s view Ford made little contribution to the script beyond adding some bits of business and lines of dialogue… But while others were primarily involved for shaping the adaptation of the novel before Ford was assigned to the project, Dunne nevertheless acknowledged to me that Ford “did what any good director does — he made it his picture while shooting it.” Read More »

John Ford – Mother Machree (1928)


from Waldo’s announce

Reels one, two and five — all that survives, unfortunately, of this late silent film by John Ford, though it’s enough to suggest that it might have been a major work. The story, supposedly based on the sentimental Irish ballad, is a blend of “Sylvia Scarlet” and “Stella Dallas,” about a single mother who joins a traveling circus (lead by Victor McLaglen) to support her child, only to eventually lose him to a rich couple. She meets her son (Neil Hamilton) years later when she’s employed as a domestic, and now he’s a swaggering young society man. Does she reveal her identity to him? We’ll never know, since the end of the film is missing. What you do get is one heck of a storm sequence in the first reel, filmed by Ford in the high expressionist style he was then absorbing from FW Murnau. Read More »