Thursday, January 7, 2010

1966 - 7 WOMEN, John Ford's very interesting final film

Critics and the public completely dismissed this film when it came out in 1966.  The  acting was considered melodramatic and the film was shot for the most part on one set. It was the end of the line for John Ford's film career. The old filmmaker had finally lost touch with contemporary society.  It's hard to know what could have appealed to Ford about the story of a group of  Christian women running a mission in rural China and their conflict with the local warlord.

7 Women is an extremely subversive film,  it's anti religious, anti male, and anti American all overshadowed with a deep degree of pessimism about the human condition.  Almost all of the themes Ford had been celebrating in his previous films he was rejecting.  Ford seemed to direct a particular hate in this film at conservative Christian fundamentalism.  It was almost as if Ford viewed the female missionaries as repressing their true spiritual natures by deluding themselves into a religious belief which manifested itself as sexual hysteria.

Anne Bancroft was criticized for playing the "John Wayne" role in this film.  But most of the whining was directed at her costume with the leather coat, cowboy hat and boots.  Her character of the agnostic liberated woman was a much more complicated role than usual for a woman in a John Ford film.  Stuck in the middle of a bunch of crazy fundamentalist Christians, she turns out to be the only one who can take charge of their deteriorating situation.

The final stunning scene in 7 Women has a strong emotional impact, and was a memorable end to Ford's career

7 Women  can't compare to some of Ford's classics like The Searchers, The Grapes of Wrath or How Green Was My Valley but I would certainly rate it very high.

This film is a very impressive conclusion to his amazing career.

 87 minutes.

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