The Golden Age of Hollywood

Would contributors like to say which John Ford film is a favourite, and why?  It is hard to choose, but I think "Grapes of Wrath" is my personal fave, along with "The Searchers" and "How Green Was My Valley" (though we tend to think of this as overly sentimental these days).  'The Quiet Man' was a lovely film too.  Oh, so many to choose!!  His use of the scenery from Monument Valley virtually constitutes another character in his films.  Wonderful stuff.

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As an Okie, Grapes of Wrath is taboo. I fell in lust, er love, with Maureen O'Hara when I was 9 due to The Quiet Man. I still think her first scene, when she looks over her shoulder, is the SEXIEST shot in motion picture history!

I love 3 Godfathers, and if it's overly sentimantal - good. In this cynical world, I need that. I also enjoy Wagonmaster and The Sun Shines Bright, two films that Ford essentially made for himself. My Darling Clemintine is so far from the truth it's ridiculous, but it's still the best Earp film ever. (James Garner, who made a darned good Earp, picked Fonda for the best.) And The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is outstanding.
"My Darling Clementine" is a huge disappointment. Ford had some bombs, to be sure. He started in silent films and his brother acted in some of these too. But I also loved "The Informer" because of its use of camera for atmospherics. (I recognized Ford in the cinematography of Conrad Hall for "American Beauty" - the floating plastic bag!) Ford was very loyal to his cinematographers and used some for friendship and sentimental reasons, even though Hollywood considered them past their "use-by dates"; particularly Archie Stout, whose son was killed in WW2.

I think his finest cinematographer was Winton Hoch for "The Searchers".
Gosh, I think "My Darling Clementine" is fabulous, and one of Ford's best - Henry Fonda is amazing in it. Imho Ford had no bombs ever, and I love all of his films - not sure I have a favorite, but "The Grapes of Wrath" is very high on the list.
I think we've been through this before, Mickey, but Okie's are the heroes in The Grapes of Wrath -- I don't get this taboo. But it's your state, man. So, no disrespect, I gotta go with The Grapes of Wrath. This is the best film presentation of getting "tractored out" and heading to California -- the ostensible Promised Land -- during the Great Depression. This film is one of the United States' greatest cultural treasures.

A close second for me is Red River, the prototype for all western cattle drive films to come.
Hawks did Red River, Paco. One of his best. He admitted to stealing from Ford a lot in that one.

What we Okies have against Grapes of Wrath is that you would not BELIEVE the image that book and film gave oru state. There are people who to this day think we have spitoons in church, etc. Now, some of us DO sound like John Qualen in that film, but I once heard an employee from the Dept. of Tourism state Oklahoma suffers from (his words) "The Grapes of Wrath Syndrome."
My bad on Red River, thanks for correcting me.

Thanks also for more on "The Grapes of Wrath" syndrome. My view is certainly driven in part by the fact that I love Steinbeck's book. I also know one Oklahoma native, Woody Guthrie, who was greatly inspired by the film. The night Woody saw it he stayed up all night and wrote the song Tom Joad, on of his classics.

No matter how you analyze it, during the Great Depression folks from the panhandle of Texas all the way to the Dakotas suffered not only the Dust Bowl storms but also economic hardships we can't imagine today. And Oklahoma's plight was the one immortalized by Steinbeck, Ford, and Guthrie.
Yes, I loved "Red River" and that is, of course, a Howard Hawks film!! That scene where he arrives at the spot where he's going to start the ranch and bends down to snatch a piece of grass - terrific!! Reminds me of the scene in "The Grapes of Wrath" where John Qualen says, as he rubs the dust in his hands, "...there's working on it, and living on it" etc. A real affinity with the soil - what a film; what a director!!!!

But I take the point about stereotyping of "Oakies". But is that Steinbeck or Ford?
I loved the earlier Ford film "Wagonmaster" too. Isn't that the one where they are all dancing together and chanting? Ford was a conflicted man, according to biographer Joseph McBride (what an outstanding work, is this biography). He was a macho man with a sensitive touch and could never reconcile those two polarities of his character - hence he drank and smoked himself crazy.

I could talk about Ford all day and every day!! I loved the Victor Young score of "Rio Grande" and the fabulous scene where Maureen O'Hara takes Wayne's hand as he's lying on the stretcher and carried along by the horse.

Keep the comments coming!
Ford told Peter Bogdanovich that with Ribbon he attempted to capture the style of Remington. I love the relationship between Wayne & McLaglen in that movie.

My Darling Clemintine is one that definitely isn't the way it was, but it's the way it should be. Interesting point about Ford's heroes being outsiders. Boetticher's were often the same.

I think one Ford film that is underrated is Drums Along the Mohawk. Why it's considered a Western is beyond me. (C'mon, it's set in the Revolutionary War Era!) Perhaps people call it that only because it has Ford's name on it.
I agree, "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" is a terrific film - isn't that the one where Wayne plays Nathan Biddles? Also, Henry Fonda is in it, if I'm not mistaken. Ford is interested, as was Hawks, in relationships between men and their communities. Oh, just a joy...
Wayne was Brittles in that film. He said that was his best performance. However, the one with him and Fonda was Fort Apache, a thinly disguised version of Custer. Ward Bond was marvelous in that. (Then again, when wasn't he?)
Of course, Fonda and Fort Apache!! Doah. I don't like Fonda. Ward Bond? A very controversial figure in US film because of his testimony in HUAC/McCarthy hearings. Wayne and Ford were loyal to him and he got parts (including "Wagon Train" on TV) but he was almost universally hated in the industry.


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