for John Ford
Nike hypervenom phantom fg firm ground soccer shoes nike cr7 mercurial john Ford is to America what Rudyard Kipling is to England: a constant reminder of our past sins and triumphs, a consummate craftsman and professional hack, a flagwaver who keeps nudging us, if not about the white man burden, then at least about our responsibilities as the masters of Manifest Destiny. George Orwell wrote that Kipling produced bad poems capable of giving true pleasure to people who can see clearly what is wrong with them. Orwell could have been writing about Ford films. I once asked the director Jim Sheridan what it was like to grow up in Ireland and watch nike hypervenom phantom fg firm ground soccer shoes Quiet Man on TV.
family would gather round the TV, said Sheridan, watch. We couldn watch the bloody thing without cringing. So what was the verdict? He shrugged. cringed. And we watched.
I can think of a more appropriate reaction to Ford oeuvre. How can an intelligent person be expected to react to the thick, rich blend of sentimentality, brutality, chauvinism and homilies in Ford films including, among the major titles, Informer, Along The Mohawk, Mr. Lincoln, Green Was My Valley, Darling Clementine, Were Expendable, Apache, Wore A Yellow Ribbon, Searchers and, of course, Quiet Man without cringing at least a little? Yet I don know how 20th century film can be studied without putting Ford up front. Who else could qualify as nostalgic poster boy for the Republican Party while also having been the favorite filmmaker of Joseph Stalin? How is it possible for us not to respond to the man that Orson Welles considered our greatest director?
John Martin Feeney he later claimed to have been born Sean Aloysius O in order to seem even more Irish, as if that were necessary was born in Maine in 1895. government stories that contained more fiction than his films. Ford broke into the movies in the silent era when many directors (William Desmond, Allan Dwan, William Wellman, Raoul Walsh) were Irish, but as Scott Eyman puts it, Ford was only one to play the professional Irishman. It was a role that lasted a lifetime.
That lifetime has now filled two massive volumes: Eyman the Legend (originally published to great critical acclaim by Simon Schuster two years ago and now available in paperback) and Joseph McBride For John Ford, just out from St. Martin Press. Both succeed as biography and criticism better than any book that has preceded them, but unfortunately they also contain much of the same information regarding Ford life and loves. (Both, for example, examine Ford legendary infatuation with the young Katharine Hepburn, and both shy away from actually declaring it a physical relationship). Eyman and McBride will tell you pretty much all you could want to know about the man, and both will make you glad you never had to work for him. Pandro S. Berman, a producer who worked with Ford, called him the meanest man I ever met. Part of his mercurial personality was to do something he knew was mean or mischievous, then try to justify it. His son Patrick probably summed Ford up best when he called him lousy father but a good movie director and a good American.
Both Eyman and McBride relate the story of a character actor named Frank Baker who came to Ford begging for money when his wife was in the hospital; Ford screamed at Baker, publicly humiliating him, and then punched him. Then he sent a man to see that Baker hospital bills were taken care of, proving once again that sentimentality is often found on the other side nike cr7 mercurial of the same counterfeit coin as brutality. (It would be a more satisfying story if Baker had come back and thrown the money in Ford face).
Ford favorite victim was John Wayne, who knew he had no career without Ford and so endured years of being derided as a draft dodger (which he was, for all intents and purposes; though legally exempt from conscription due to his age and marital status, Wayne repeatedly found excuses not to enlist because it would have hurt his career) and being told that he like a fairy. On more than one occasion, Ford actually sent the most popular male star and movie tough guy in history scurrying off the set in tears. (If you always hated Wayne, these stories alone are worth the price of the books.)
Politically, Ford was a man of violent contradictions, with the operative word being While having the guts to make the most popular leftleaning film of preWorld War II Hollywood, Grapes Of Wrath, and to defy his Commiehunting friend Cecil B. DeMille during the McCarthy era, Ford nonetheless embraced a rabid rightwing attitude in the and on through the Vietnam War era.
A monster, yes, and a monster of contradictions, but a fascinating character to read about. (Will any of today TVraised, film schoolbred directors make movies and lead lives interesting enough to inspire books like these?) McBride has had the terrible bad fortune to have been working on the same great idea at the same time as Eyman, and to have lost out in the Ford biography race by more than a year, but in truth, the Legend deserves the wider readership even if both books had been published at the same time. Eyman gets to the truth in a hurry and focuses on it; McBride, no doubt trying hard to justify the second enormous book on Ford in two years, pads.
There an awful lot of information in For John Ford, but some of it seems quite unnecessary and some of it seems forced and rushed. Corral, so I could better understand how Ford transformed the sordid reallife story of Wyatt Earp into the grandly romantic Western mythology of Darling Clementine. Why bother? Ford movie isn set in Tombstone but in Monument Valley in northern Arizona. Corral, nike cr7 mercurial and though he lists my own book, Wyatt Earp, in his bibliography, he does not appear to have read it.)
In his effort to distinguish his book, McBride has blurred the lines between biography and criticism to the advantage of neither. has been lacking in previous books about Ford, he writes, a bit too selfservingly, been a real understanding of how his life and work are interconnected. Discovering how Ford great films emerged from his jealously guarded inner life is the object of this biographical search.
But of course such an effort is doomed to failure, since no amount of nike cr7 mercurial research or psychological analysis can ever tell you why Ford and not a dozen other directors could take Bmovie material like and make it into one of the most watchable movies ever made. The idea that anyone life and work are at least to the degree that the life can explain the quality of the work, has long been discredited in literature. (Does anyone still believe that knowing the reallife counterpart of every character in a Fitzgerald or Faulkner novel really leads to a greater sense of artistic appreciation?) And it doesn help that McBride critical analyses of the films often end not in illumination but in hyperbole, as when he calls Ford closest equivalent we have had to a homegrown Shakespeare or when he claims that Ford constructed scenes a quasiBrechtian fashion, a phrase that should nike hypervenom phantom fg firm ground soccer shoes surely be struck down any and every place it appears.
If McBride sometimes lurches precariously between roles as biographer and critic, he fails completely to appreciate the line between critic and fan. For instance, in defending the appalling humor interludes in Ford films (invariably involving Victor McLaglen), McBride argues that same kind of humor is accepted in Shakespeare comic relief, so why not Ford The critic in him should have answered: in Shakespeare it funny, or, at the very least, love Shakespeare in spite of such things and not because of them. (Every time I see an example of Ford humor I remember Flann O remark about virulent outbreak of Paddyism.
And McBride, like all Ford apologists, wastes entirely too much time struggling with the question of how a man who could Indians to terrify viewers in could then have been so sympathetic to them in Autumn. is, in fact, he writes, simple answer to this question. I not so sure about that, and I like a crack at it. I think when Ford wanted to excite people with a spectacular chase scene he was happy to use Indians or anyone else without a qualm, and when he gave himself over to sincerity he was simplistic and sentimental about Indians and other minorities. I should also add that the exploitative Ford made much better movies than the one.
In the end, if we are going to read and try to enjoy books on filmmakers such as John Ford we must do so for what their scholarship can tell us about the nuts and bolts of how the movies were made and for the fun of glancing behind the scenes of films we seen dozens of times. On that score McBride does quite well indeed, showing, say, how the unrelenting giveandtake between Ford and producer Darryl F. Zanuck, lovingly recounted in, probably produced greater films than either man made separately.
For John Ford would be a much better book, though, if McBride didn try so relentlessly to reconcile and explain the seemingly contradictory forces in John Ford character and work. Better to simply adopt a Whitmanesque attitude towards the man. Did he contradict himself? Very well, then, he contradicted himself. So we cringe, and we watch. But we watch nike cr7 mercurial.