Friday, May 28, 2010

1971 - THE AMERICAN WEST OF JOHN FORD, documentary by Ford's grandson

Another day another mediocre documentary on an old Hollywood director. This film was produced by John Ford's grandson, Daniel Patrick Ford. The American West of John Ford is a tightly scripted overview, of Ford's western films. It offers no new insights into Ford and the old director rehashes the same old war stories he has told before, for the camera.

John Wayne, James Stewart and Henry Fonda participate in the documentary and narrate different parts of it as well. On location in Monument Valley, Wayne pretend acts a scene supposedly being directed by Ford and sings his praises.

Back in Hollywood Stewart and Fonda sit with Ford and discuss the films they were involved in with him. James Stewart's films with Ford were disappointing for the most part. Ford and Fonda had a somewhat tense working relationship that ended with Ford hitting Fonda during the filming of Mr Roberts. None of this comes up since this isn't a film that examines Ford the filmmaker but more of a best hits tribute to a man who was 2 years away from dying at the time this film was made. Like most of his contemporaries such as Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks and Billy Wilder the older generation of filmmakers always seemed reluctant to speak about the artistic merits of their films.

This contrasts amusingly today with directors like Quentin Tarantino who can't shut up about their films.

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