Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. John Ford

October 2, 2007

When asked by and interviewer in 1967 which directors he most admired, Orson Welles (director of Citizen Kane) answered that he liked “the old masters. By which I mean John Ford, John Ford, and John Ford. With Ford at his best, you feel that the movie has lived and breathed in the real world.” Previously he had said, “John Ford was my teacher. My own style has nothing to do with his, but Stagecoach was my movie textbook. I watched it over forty times.”

Who is this John Ford? Turns out most of you (with the exception of Kody and Patrick) had no idea. Even though he made over 50 films, and won 4 Academy Awards, not many people tend to see his films these days. Well, kids, thats a shame, and it’s my duty to put a stop to this nonsense.

If you haven’t received one already, you can download the handout here: John Ford Handout

John Ford was known mostly as a director of westerns. Some of his masterpieces include Stagecoach, My Darlin’ Clementine, The Searchers, and The Man who Shot Liberty Valance. But he also did quite a few “prestige” pictures, based on famous literature or historical happenings such as How Green Was My Valley, They Were Expendable, and The Grapes of Wrath. A lot of these might seem a little Old Fashioned now, maybe at times even a little hokey (largely due to the choice of music, which was a problem for the majority of films in the pre-60’s), but at the time he was comparable to someone like Clint Eastwood or Martin Scorsese. In the 1940’s and 50’s if you wanted to see a sweet action film with morally complex characters and beautifully crafted imagery, you waited til the next John Ford film came out. And once you get used to it, there are few directors as satisfying to the soul.

After watching a few clips from previously mentioned films, we watched The Grapes of Wrath in its entirety, and wrote a response to it.

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