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Archive for the ‘John Ford’ Category

1 Liberty Ford

My wife and I watched John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) on our honeymoon. So as our anniversary rolls around, it usually comes to mind. And this seems like a good excuse to highlight yet another Ford masterpiece.

Liberty Valance Wayne hat

Here’s Wayne’s hat from the film. In black and white, it seems so much lighter.

Liberty Valance Marvin vest

Lee Marvin’s vest. After his years doing M Squad on TV, Liberty Valance helped Marvin transition from heavy to leading roles as he returned to features.

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One of Edith Head’s sketches for Vera Miles’ costumes.

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John Ford and his terrific cast break for tea. Judging from who’s present and how they’re dressed, they must’ve been shooting the dinner scene where Marvin makes Stewart drop Wayne’s steak — and Strother Martin gets kicked in the face.

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Jimmy Stewart punches John Wayne — with Ford and crew very very close.

Liberty Valance Marvin Martin Van Cleef

Jennifer and I often celebrate our anniversary by going out for steaks. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

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Directed by John Ford, Henry Hathaway and George Marshall
Starring Carroll Baker, Lee J. Cobb, Henry Fonda, Carolyn Jones, Karl Malden, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, Robert Preston, Debbie Reynolds, James Stewart, Eli Wallach, John Wayne and Richard Widmark. Walter Brennan, Andy Devine, Agnes Moorehead, Russ Tamblyn, Lee Van Cleef. Narrated by Spencer Tracy.

How The West Was Won (1962), the star-studded three-strip Cinerama blockbuster, is scheduled for the Century 16 Suncoast Theater in Las Vegas, January 25 and 28. Check for other theaters in the Cinemark chain. The screen won’t be curved, but at least it’ll be bigger than your television.

Of the epic’s many segments, I’ve always felt Ford’s Civil War segment was the best thing in the picture.

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Thanks to Noel for the tip.

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Marvin Donovans Reef

“And from the East came three wise men, three kings bearing gifts, to gaze upon the child and to kneel before him in adoration… the king of Polynesia… the emperor of China… the king of, the king of the Unites States Of America.”

That’s Lee Marvin as “Boats” Gilhooley in John Ford’s Donovan’s Reef (1963). John Wayne’s the guy watching over his shoulder. It’s a picture that if people’d quit complaining about how it’s not The Grapes Of Wrath (1940) or The Searchers (1956), they’d realize just how wonderful it is.

Here’s wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays.

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Here’s wishing you all a safe and happy Halloween. And while you’re here, I want to show off my daughter’s costume.

Her all-time favorite movie is Peter Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc? (1972). A great choice (where’d she get her exquisite taste in movies?). Anyway, for Halloween, she decided to be Madeline Kahn as Eunice Burns (Presley above, Madeline below). And yes, the plaid bag has igneous rocks in it.

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To tie this to 50s Westerns, let’s see — ever read Bogdanovich’s terrific books on John Ford and Allan Dwan?

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The Cary, a newly-renovated theater in downtown Cary (naturally), North Carolina, has put together a weekend of John Wayne pictures, which includes many of his best. If anybody’s planning on going to some of these, let me know.

All of a sudden, I’m kinda glad I live here.

The Searchers (1956)
Thursday, November 6, 7 PM

Donovan’s Reef (1963)
Thursday, November 6, 9:30 PM

Rio Bravo (1959)
Friday, November 7, 7 PM

Stagecoach (1939)
Friday, November 7, 9:30 PM

Red River (1948)
Saturday, November 8, 7 PM

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
Saturday, November 8, 9:30 PM

The Alamo (1960)
Sunday, November 9, 2 PM

The Cary outside view

The Cary
122 E. Chatham Street
Cary, NC 27511
(919) 462-2051

Thanks for the tip, Jennifer.

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Andrew Victor McLaglen
(28 July 28, 1920 – 30 August 2014)

Andrew V. McLaglen, the son of actor Victor McLaglen, was a prolific director who got the kind of apprenticeship any filmmaker would envy: after growing up on his dad’s movie sets, he was made assistant director on John Ford’s The Quiet Man (1952). McLaglen worked on a number of films from John Wayne’s Batjac (he co-produced Seven Men From Now) and got his first directing credit for the company’s Gun The Man Down (1956).

The late 50s and early 60s saw lots of TV work—including 116 episodes of Have Gun-Will Travel—with a feature from time to time. It was usually Westerns. McLintock! (1963). The Rare Breed (1966, above, with Maureen O’Hara). The Way West (1967). In the 70s, he was John Wayne’s director of choice.

Mr. McLaglen passed away at 94. He will probably be known for McLintock! and Shenandoah (1965), two films that showed what he was capable of.

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Produced and Directed by Mervyn LeRoy
Screenplay by Frank Butler
Cinematography by Harold Rosson
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin

CAST: Greer Garson (Dr. Julia Winslow Garth), Dana Andrews (Dr. Rourke O’Brien), Cameron Mitchell (Lt. David Garth), Lois Smith (Spurs O’Brien), Walter Hampden (Father Gabriel Mendoza), Pedro Gonzales Gonzales (Trooper Martinez Martinez), Robert J. Wilke (Karg)

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Strange Lady In Town (1955) is, well, a strange lady in town. An odd mixture of melodrama, romance, feminism and all the usual Western riding and shooting stuff, I didn’t know what to make of it at first. Watched it a second time a couple days later and decided I really did like it. Somehow it all seems to come together.

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While the picture itself is certainly interesting, and we’ll get to that in a bit, the story of its production has even more melodrama. Greer Garson had left MGM for Warner Bros. At a WB dinner party she told writer Frank Butler about her love of the Santa Fe area, and Butler put together a story of 1880 Santa Fe perfectly tailored for Garson.

Warner Bros. started construction of 34 new sets around Old Tucson and got to work on casting the picture. Dana Andrews was signed, along with Cameron Mitchell and Lois Smith (in a part Natalie Wood had tried out for). Smith had just appeared in East Of Eden (1954). Shooting began in August of 1954 in Old Tucson, with snakes having to be evicted from the sets each morning and temperatures climbing into the hundreds every afternoon. Then there were some health issues.

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Mervyn LeRoy (seen above with Greer Garson): “In those days, Andrews had a drinking problem… that made my life difficult… Possibly more serious was Greer Garson’s health. She isn’t the complaining sort, so when she said she felt poorly, I knew she must have felt rotten. We called the company doctor, and he got [four] doctors from the Tucson clinic for consultation. It was unanimous; she had appendicitis. The doctors agreed she really should have the appendectomy immediately. ‘No,’ Greer said, with her red-headed stubbornness. ‘I can’t do it now. There is an entire company depending on me. They’d have to shut down for a few weeks. It wouldn’t be fair to them.’ That’s what they used to call a trouper. Every night, they piled bags of ice on her abdomen. Every day, they fed her pills and the nurse was there, sticking a thermometer in her mouth between every scene.”

Back in Hollywood, Jack Warner was having a fit, as the picture went behind schedule and over budget. Finishing their Tucson work, the cast and crew headed back to California. In October, Greer Garson was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. Production was shut down for 27 days. During that time LeRoy filled in for an ailing/bingeing John Ford on Mister Roberts (1955).

Harry Carey, Jr.: “I don’t think he had an inkling of what Mister Roberts was, but he took over. In fact, he shares directorial credit with Ford.”

When Strange Lady In Town resumed production on Stage Two at Warner Bros., LeRoy was under pressure to get it done. Scenes taking place in Boston were struck to save time and money. The picture finally wrapped, and was previewed in February 1955. It premiered in Austin, Texas, on April 12. Greer Garson hit the road for the film, something she’d never done before. It seems to have worked. Strange Lady In Town earned back its $3 million cost and turned a healthy profit.

Strange Lady Andrews

Garson plays a doctor from Boston who, tired of being looked down on for being a woman, heads to Santa Fe in 1880 to be near her brother (Cameron Mitchell), a lieutenant in the cavalry. She quickly butts heads with the local doctor (Dana Andrews) over how to practice medicine—and about everything else. The picture packs in everything from glaucoma to bank robbery to domestic violence to Billy The Kid (Nick Adams)—and somehow it all works.

Dana Andrews, drunk or sober, is very good here. His extended fistfight with Robert J. Wilke is one of the best scenes in the film. This may be Wilke’s slimiest villain of them all, which is really saying something. Lois Smith is excellent; so is Cameron Mitchell (he never got his due). Nick Adams doesn’t have enough screen time to make much of an impression. He’d be a lot better in The Last Wagon (1956) and wonderful in Fury At Showdown (1957). Of course, this is Greer Garson’s movie, and she carries it with ease.

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Warner Archive has done it again, giving us an early CinemaScope picture exactly the way it ought to be seen: widescreen with its stereo intact. Old Tucson looks terrific (even in WarnerColor) and Dimitri Tiomkin’s score is full and rich. Strange Lady In Town is an offbeat Western, for sure. Maybe it’s not for all tastes. And though it took me a while to wrap my head around it, I came away really liking it.

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Sources: A Rose For Mrs. Miniver: The Life Of Greer Garson by Michael Troyan; Take One by Mervyn LeRoy; Company Of Heroes: My Life As An Actor In The John Ford Stock Company by Harry Carey, Jr.

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