Directed by John Ford (2006)
To sit and watch a montage of John Ford films is such a wonderful experience. Now sprinkle in some of the legendary names and stories from those who worked with him and it only gets better. Top that off with some of today’s most influential directors and you have an extremely enjoyable and at times emotional documentary on the man many called “Coach” from film historian/actor/director Peter Bogdanovich.
Originally released in 1971 the film has been reconstructed with the likes of Scorsese, Spielberg, Eastwood and Walter Hill added in to voice there praise on Ford and how his films have influenced them moving ahead. There is a wonderful story from Spielberg about meeting Ford as a young teenager and telling Ford of his desire to be a movie director.
There is plenty of footage carried over from the earlier film of Hollywood icons who worked with Ford. Front and center is the Duke, John Wayne. He talks of the early days when he was a prop man on the set for Ford and some of the gags Ford would pull on him. There are those that think Ford was cruel but Duke never seemed to mind.
Joining in on the discussions is vintage footage of Henry Fonda, James Stewart, and a very emotional scene of Maureen O’Hara reading a statement about “Mr. Ford”. If you love the films and actors as much as I do, it’s hard to keep a dry eye during this clip. New footage of character actor Harry Carey Jr. has been added in which seems fitting considering not only Carey Jr. but both his parents worked extensively with Ford throughout their carers.
Part of the film is narrated by Orson Welles which has been carried over from the earlier version of the film. Also turning up is Ford himself being interviewed by Bogdanovich. Talk about being uncooperative. Ford’s answers are basically one word as opposed to any thoughts put into sentence form. But still if you have read anything on Ford’s career and film shoots, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. There is no doubting he was a cantankerous old son of a bitch. But for the most part that doesn’t seem to effect the way he is looked upon and revered by those who worked with him.
O’Hara and the others talk of the “Ford luck”. Scenes like hers in How Green Was My Valley or his awakening to a Japanese air strike while being stationed on Midway during WW2 which he immediately began filming.
I never seem to tire of hearing or reading about the films of John Ford and the actors who made up the Ford stock company from top stars like Wayne and Fonda to his character actors like Ward Bond, John Qualen and Olive Carey.
This documentary is just one of the many things one can watch or read on Ford. If you love the films then they only add something extra to their enjoyment and if you haven’t looked into the bios or shows like this one, then give them a try.
I for one could never pick an absolute favorite but freely admit The Searchers gets better with every viewing as does John Wayne’s performance.
Thanks should also be extended to Bogdanovich for taking the time when plenty of these filmmakers were still alive to go around and interview them. So check this one out as it’s available on DVD and shows up occasionally on TCM.