Tag Archives: John Ford

John Ford & Gregg Toland – December 7th (1943)


Utilizing stock military footage of Pearl Harbor, December 7th departs from the typical documentary form to present a narrative framing device featuring Walter Huston as a character representing Uncle Sam, Harry Davenport as a folksy representation of “conscience” called Mr. C, and Dana Andrews as the ghost of an American soldier. The story opens on December 6, 1941, the day before the attack, with Uncle Sam and Mr. C carrying on a discussion about the history of Hawaii and the country’s war preparations. One of the approaches taken by co-directors John Ford and Gregg Toland was to paint the Japanese-American citizens of Hawaii (37 percent of the population, according to the film) as potential traitors, fifth-columnists spying on their “American” employers for information to hustle back to the “homeland.” Read More »

John Ford – Chesty: A Tribute to a Legend (1976)

A documentary about Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller, USMC. Interviews, combat footage, parade at Virginia Military Institute. Made for TV, but never sold or released. Read More »

John Ford – Stagecoach (1939)

John Ford’s landmark Western revolves around an assorted group of colorful passengers aboard the Overland stagecoach bound for Lordsburg, New Mexico, in the 1880s. An alcoholic philosophizer (Thomas Mitchell), a lady of ill repute (Claire Trevor) and a timid liquor salesman (Donald Meek) are among the motley crew of travelers who must contend with an escaped outlaw, the Ringo Kid (John Wayne), and the ever-present threat of an Apache attack as they make their way across the Wild West. Read More »

John Ford – Four Sons (1928)

A Bavarian mother loses three sons in World War I and goes to America to join the fourth. Read More »

John Ford – Kentucky Pride (1925)

Kentucky Pride is a 1925 American silent drama film from Fox Film about the life of a horse breeder and racer, directed by John Ford and starring Henry B. Walthall (who had previously played the Little Colonel in D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation). It is among Ford’s lesser-known works, but has been praised for sweetness and charm and its beautiful depiction of the life of horses and the relationship between the protagonist and his daughter. Several well-known thoroughbred racehorses appear in the film, including the legendary Man o’ War. Read More »

John Ford – Steamboat Round the Bend (1935)

“Steamboat ‘Round the Bend” was a personal project for Ford who saw the novel (Ford purchased the adaptation rights from writer Ben Lucien Burman) as a potential opportunity to work with his good friend Will Rogers. The pictures he directed at Fox were usually lighter affairs with a sustained focus on entertainment rather than art. Ford is generally not remembered for such films because his precise framing and noble themes brought him far more recognition and acclaim. Nevertheless, Ford still had the sense to know how to present a good comedy. Read More »

John Ford – The Battle of Midway (1942)

The Battle of Midway
John Ford is widely regarded as one of America’s greatest film directors, a myth-maker who put his distinctive stamp on the Western genre, and whose films memorably portray key moments in American history. Although known primarily as the director of classic Hollywood movies like Stagecoach (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and The Searchers (1956), there’s more to Ford than his impressive feature film career. Many people may not know that Ford served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and worked for the O.S.S. (Office of Strategic Services) as Chief of the Field and Photographic Branch. During this time, he undertook various missions for the Navy, and was involved in the production of training films and war documentaries, one of which was The Battle of Midway. The battle itself took place in the Central Pacific from June 4 to June 6 1942, and Ford was present as the Japanese attacked the American outpost on Midway Island. How did such a noted Hollywood feature film director, a man who Tag Gallagher calls “… the great poetic chronicler of American history”, approach documentary filmmaking, and more specifically, how did he chronicle the events at Midway? Read More »