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Archive for the ‘John Ford’ Category

My-Darling-Clementine-Jaime-September-2013

John Ford’s shadow hangs over the Western to a huge degree. How huge? Well, My Darling Clementine (1946) is one of the finest Westerns ever made, yet I can think of several he made that I think are better.

But who cares what I think? Criterion is giving Ford’s tale of the O.K. Corral the treatment it deserves. It’s due in October on both DVD and Blu-ray. And that’s certainly something to hoot and holler about.

Thanks to Dick Vincent for the tip.

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Searchers screenng 1

Short notice, for sure. But certainly worth your while. And I’d be wasting my time to think I needed to tell you how great this film is.

Click on either image for ticket information.

Searchers screenng 2

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John Wayne
(born 
Marion Robert Morrison; May 26, 1907 – June 11, 1979)

Here’s a great shot of John Wayne, John Ford and the rest of the cast and crew shooting The Searchers (1956) near the Three Sisters in Monument Valley.

Maybe not the ideal picture for celebrating Wayne’s birth, but I figured you’d all wanna see it.

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Strange Lady HS

Mervyn LeRoy’s Strange Lady In Town (1955) is coming from Warner Archive. This big-budget CinemaScope Western warranted its own 100-acre set near Tucson, and was shut down for almost a month due to Greer Garson’s appendix. Dana Andrews’ drinking didn’t help much. During the downtime, LeRoy subbed for John Ford on Mister Roberts (1955).

Garson and Andrews are backed by a great supporting cast: Cameron Mitchell, Lois Smith, Robert Wilke, Russell Johnson, Douglas Kennedy and Nick Adams (as Billy The Kid).

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To me, this whole digital movie theater thing makes going to the Movies not feel like going to the Movies. It’s more like going to the home of someone who has a bigger, better TV than you do.

Or that’s the way I used to think. This week I saw The Searchers (1956) for maybe the 100th time. It was a DCP presentation at the Carolina Theater in Durham, and it really knocked me out.

One of my last 35mm-in-a-theater experiences was You Only Live Twice (1967) a year or so ago. It turned out to be a dye-transfer print complete with a loud (optical) monaural track and that short-lived, somewhat psychedelic United Artists logo. It was glorious. But I guess those days are gone.

I’d seen digital in a theater before and was always disappointed. Color, clarity, contrast — they were all lacking. Sometimes the removal of film grain had given faces a weird waxy look. With The Searchers, the only thing I missed was the change-over cues. The Carolina obviously has a nice set-up, and I know that Jim Carl, who books their series of older films, is determined to make everything look as good as it can possibly look.

So if this is how digital’s gonna look, I guess I’m OK with it. I guess.

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the-searchersJohn Ford’s The Searchers (1956) might be the finest film ever made, it’s almost certainly the greatest Western ever made, and it’s easily John Wayne’s best performance. All of which make it a great reason to head to Durham’s Carolina Theater this Friday, May 2.

At 7PM is John Boorman’s Deliverance (1972); The Searchers will start around 9:30. If you think you might make it out, let me know. It’d be fun to say hello.

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In a way, this is more a thank you note than a review.

Company Of Heroes: My Life As An Actor In The John Ford Stock Company by Harry Carey, Jr. is one of the best of the many books written about John Ford. I’ll even go so far as naming it one of the best books on making movies, period. To have it back in print, from Taylor Trade Publishing, is something to celebrate.

What makes it so good? Harry Carey, Jr. (or Ol’ Dobe, as he was called) was there. When he tells the John Ford stories we’ve heard before — the torture, the bullying, the hidden soft side, etc. — it’s with a depth that’s missing from all the other books (unless they quote from this one). His descriptions of Ford, from his dangling shirt sleeves to his body language, will ultimately add to your appreciation of his work.

Carey covers all the Ford films he appeared in, from 3 Godfathers (1948, shown below) to Cheyenne Autumn (1964), serving in Ford’s Navy film unit, and their personal relationship that spanned from Carey’s birth — Ford and Carey Sr. got drunk while Olive Carey was in labor — to Ford’s death in 1973. He pulls no punches, especially the ones aimed at himself, and relates everything in an easygoing style that feels like he’s telling you these things face-to-face. It’s very funny, often touching, a quick read — and I wish it was twice as long.

The new paperback edition has an prologue from Carey’s children. They seem as happy to have it back in print as I am. If you don’t have the 1992 Scarecrow edition, by all means get this one. Absolutely essential.

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On Facebook, Cricket White Green recently posted some old photographs of films being shot at White’s Ranch in Moab, Utah. Here’s a few showing location work for John Ford’s wonderful Wagon Master (1950).

H Worden Wagon Master set 1

That’s Hank Worden on the left.

H Worden W Bond Wagon Master 2

Left to right: Hank Worden, Charles Kemper and Ward Bond.1509048_10203213393519486_full

The crew and the wagon train. Looks like some reflectors on the right.

Thanks for letting me share these, Cricket!

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John Ford
(February 1, 1894 – August 31, 1973)

Here’s to one of the greats on the anniversary of his birth.

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