Posts from Paula in thread „John Ford“
Columnist Maureen Dowd published an op-ed about Ford, The Quiet Man, John Wayne, and more Fordian topics this past Sunday.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/opini ... ml?_r=2&hp
Cowboys and Colleens
By MAUREEN DOWD
WHEN John Ford was making “The Quiet Man” on location in the west of Ireland, the studio head in Hollywood looked at the extravagantly gorgeous footage — which would win the 1952 Oscar for color cinematography — and complained, “Everything’s all green.”
It had taken Ford, one of the world’s greatest filmmakers, 20 years to persuade anyone to bankroll the “silly little Irish story,” as Maureen O’Hara, one of its stars, dryly noted. And even then the director had to soft-pedal the I.R.A. politics that informed the 1933 Maurice Walsh story that the movie was based on, and he had to fight to use Technicolor, the better to illuminate his Arden of green hills, blue sea and red hair.
I thought that by now “The Quiet Man,” once considered a font of offensive drinking-and-brawling stereotypes by many native Irish, including my dad, would have disappeared into the mist. It has been 60 years since Ford arrived in Cong in County Mayo — spurring the installation of electricity and phone lines — to shoot his sexy culture clash and love letter to Ireland.
Cong, the stand-in for the fictional Inisfree of the movie, is still such a tourist magnet that the Irish had to designate a decoy “Quiet Man” cottage, complete with creepy O’Hara and John Wayne mannequins, because fans seeking keepsakes were dismantling the original chunk by chunk.
Standing on the little bridge where Wayne’s Sean Thornton hears his dead mother’s voice, it struck me that Ford created the most potent cinematic images of two countries, Ireland and America, indelibly shaping our dreams.
“The Irish Cyclops,” as he was known for wearing a black eye-patch, was the Old Master of diametrically different landscapes, lush in the love story shot in Mayo and dusty in the Westerns shot in Monument Valley.
“It’s so ironic that his people left Ireland because they couldn’t survive in the arid land during the famine,” Joseph McBride, the author of “Searching for John Ford,” told me. “But then Ford portrayed the American Dream as this prehistoric desert, and he portrayed the old country as green and fertile.”
In 1965, Joan Didion wrote an homage to the iconic Wayne character conjured by Ford and other directors: “In a world we understood early to be characterized by venality and doubt and polarizing ambiguities, he suggested another world, one which may or may not have existed ever but in any case existed no more; a place where a man could move free, could make his own code and live by it.”
Wayne was, Didion wrote, “the perfect mold,” into which Ford could pour all “the inarticulate longings of a nation wondering at just what pass the trail had been lost.”
The Duke tamed the American West. “Manifest Destiny on the hoof,” as Garry Wills put it in “John Wayne’s America,” adding that he became the “pattern of manly American virtue,” even though he avoided serving in World War II.
In “The Quiet Man,” Wayne tames the fiery O’Hara. As he drags his obdurate bride across a field to fling her at the feet of her obnoxious brother, a woman hands him a branch, saying, “Sir, here’s a good stick to beat the lovely lady.” It’s the most controversial line in the movie.
But O’Hara’s Mary Kate Danaher is usually the one socking the peace-seeking Yank. As the actress points out in Se Merry Doyle’s 2010 documentary “John Ford: Dreaming The Quiet Man,” the tongue-in-cheek line summed up the cantankerous and devious Ford’s brutal methods with actors.
The director, the son of parents who fled Spiddal in County Galway, was born John Martin Feeney near Portland, Me. His father was a bootlegger. He adopted the name Ford, but later liked to imply he was from Galway, his name was Sean and he spoke Irish, getting O’Hara to speak gibber-Irish with him to impress the crew.
As the newspaper editor in Ford’s “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” said, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
McBride hails Ford as “our national mythmaker, our Shakespeare.”
Reviewing “Fort Apache” for The Nation in 1948, James Agee viciously wrote: “There is enough Irish comedy to make me wish Cromwell had done a more thorough job.” But Ford’s characters — and the land was always a character — are vivid archetypes.
Fintan O’Toole of The Irish Times said the Irish were the Indians of imperial Britain who became cowboys in America. The right-wing Wayne told Playboy in 1971 that the cowboys didn’t steal the land, because the Indians “were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.” Ford told the BBC in ’68, “My sympathy is all with the Indians,” even though he veered between demonizing and valorizing them.
In searing works like “How Green Was My Valley” and “The Grapes of Wrath,” the director was deeply influenced by his parents’ exile.
“He was always dwelling on the breakup and collapse of family, community and traditional American ideals,” McBride said, “which makes him interesting and modern in a sense.”
I wasn't sure which thread to put this in, but John Ford is as good as any, I guess. If it belongs somewhere else, I know EthanEdwards will move it!
I've posted all this to my webpage at http://benjohnsonscreencaps.shutterfly.com
John Ford, Ben Johnson, Nevada Governor Vail Pittman, John Wayne and Harry Carey Jr. at the Silver Spurs Award ceremony in Reno on May 13, 1950.
Back of the photo.
A newspaper article about the event.
An ad for gala screenings of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Wagon Master.
John Wayne's plaque.
Oh, for my own personal Way Back Machine (or a Tardis, or a Time Tunnel) so I could go back in time to attend!
More Ford news -- there is going to be a John Ford symposium in Ireland. "The Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) in association with the John Ford Estate and the Irish Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, has created JOHN FORD IRELAND, an annual symposium dedicated to the legacy and continuing influence of John Ford on generations of audiences and film makers."
The first symposium will take place in Dublin in June 2012. Clint Eastwood has already been awarded the very first John Ford Award, which will be presented annually by the symposium.
How I'd love to go but a trip to Ireland alas is way beyond my budget. Maybe some other year.
Lots more information about the symposium at http://www.directedbyjohnford.…honor-all-things-fordian/
I saw Wagon Master at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC last week -- they had three screenings of a 35mm print and I went to two of them. Sadly, MoMA's print has seen better days. It is afflicted with lots of black vertical lines and other print damage, and apparently the print also has a lot of splices, resulting in occasional jumps in the soundtrack. At one point it skipped over a couple of lines of dialogue, completely obliterating one of the funnier lines in the script. (There was a simultaneous, spontaneous -- and very audible -- ARRGGGH! of frustration from myself and the three ladies who had joined me for the second viewing of the film.)
That said, it still was fabulous seeing Wagon Master on the big screen in 35mm. ALL kinds of detail jumped out that simply is not observable (or audible) watching this on DVD or on a TV broadcast, and I came away feeling as if I'd had an entirely new experience with this movie and that I could see so much more in it than before (and I have always loved it and believed it to be a great film).
I love my DVDs but they still don't come close to 35mm on a big screen.
More John Ford goodness!
First of all, if you haven't checked out my pal April Lane's fabulous new website for John Ford, "Directed by John Ford," go there posthaste. Here's the link: http://directedbyjohnford.com/
Also, Moira Finnie, a wonderful blogger on film (who also writes for the Movie Morlocks blog at the TCM webpage), interviews April at her blog Skeins of Thought. This is a great discussion about Ford, so I also advise you all to go there a.s.a.p.;) The link: http://moirasthread.blogspot.c…rd-conversation-with.html
Oops, there was a typo in the link. Sorry about that.
The "Cheyenne Awful" comic is no longer on my website's front page but it's in the Memorabilia section. So go here:
And then scroll down to the album section till you find it. Look for the album entitled "Mad Magazine September 1965."
To get the big versions of the scans, you'll have to sign into Shutterfly (it's free, it just takes a moment to sign up) and then you can download the big size scans.
P.S. Do check out the front page though... all the latest goodies are posted there. http://benjohnsonscreencaps.shutterfly.com
Mort Drucker was a genius caricaturist. He had an amazing talent for accurate likenesses while also picking up on the essential essence of whoever he was spoofing.
Anyway, that Ford pic I posted is from Mad Magazine's parody of Cheynne Autumn -- which Mad called Cheyenne Awful. In fact, I just scanned in and posted "Cheyenne Awful" to my Ben Johnson webpage, so if anyone wants to have a look, it's at http://benjohnsonscreencap.shutterfly.com. Warning! It does a real number on Cheyenne Autumn. It's hilarious -- but it takes no prisoners. To my great disappointment, however, the only cast members who somehow escaped the great Drucker's pen were Ben and Harry Carey Jr. They are not in the parody.
John Ford will be honored with a U.S. postage stamp next year!
With the Great Film Directors stamps, the U.S. Postal Service honors four great filmmakers who captured the many varieties of the American experience. These extraordinary directors created some of the most iconic scenes in American cinema. They gave audiences an unforgettable (and in some cases, deeply personal) vision of life.
The stamp art combines a portrait of each man with an example of one of his most iconic works.
For the John Ford stamp — the first of four designs to be revealed — the background recalls a scene from The Searchers, an influential Western starring John Wayne and making Ford’s characteristic use of the American landscape.
Art Director Derry Noyes designed these stamps using art by award-winning illustrator Gary Kelley, who created the images using pastels on paper.
The Great Film Directors stamps are being issued as Forever® stamps. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.
The remaining three designs will be revealed at a later date.
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