Posts Tagged ‘john ford’

The Searchers

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

The Searchers [Blu-ray]

Tagline – He Had To Find Her… He Had To Find Her!

Starring – John Wayne (Ethan Edwards), Jeffrey Hunter (Martin Pawley), Vera Miles (Laurie Jorgensen), Ward Bond (Rev. Capt. Samuel Johnston Clayton), Natalie Wood (Debbie Edwards).

Released – March, 1956

Directed By – John Ford

Produced By – Warner Brothers, C.V. Whitney Pictures

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – In 1868, Ethan Edwards returns from serving the Confederacy during the Civil War. He has been away for years and it is his hope to reunite with his brother Aaron and his family in West Texas.

Ethan’s background poses many questions as evidenced by the large quantity of gold he possesses, and a Mexican war medal that he gives to his niece Debbie.

Shortly after his return, his brother’s neighbor Lars Jorgensen has some cattle stolen from his ranch. It is believed that the Comanche may be responsible. Ethan joins Capt. Samuel Clayton and a group of Texas Rangers to search for the cattle.

By the time the group realizes that the theft was only a ploy by the Comanche to draw them away, it is too late. They return to find the Edwards homestead burning to the ground. Ethan’s brother Aaron, his wife Martha, and their son Ben are all dead. Debbie and her older sister Lucy have been taken by the Comanche.

A funeral for the family is held and the men again start out after the Comanche. The group find the Comanche camp and Ethan wants a direct attack. However, fearing for the girl’s safety, Capt. Clayton orders the men to sneak into the camp hoping to rescue the girl’s without too much bloodshed.

The camp is deserted and they immediately resume the chase. Once again the Comanche trick the group while almost catching them in a deadly trap. They manage to fight off the Indians and escape, but realize that they do not have enough men to successfully rescue the girl’s.

Capt. Clayton orders the posse to go back. Ethan refuses and, along with Lucy’s fiance Brad, and Debbie’s adopted brother Martin continue the search. As they approach the Comanche camp they find the brutally raped and murdered body of Lucy. Brad becomes enraged and rides recklessly into the Comanche camp where he is killed.

Ethan and Martin carefully follow the Comanche looking for an opportunity to save Debbie, but can only search until winter when they lose the trail. They return to the Jorgensen ranch where a letter awaits stating that Debbie has been taken by a Comanche chief named Scar.

Again the search begins lasting for years until a tip takes them to New Mexico and a Mexican leads them to where Scar is hiding out. They are able to contact Debbie (now a young woman) who secretly meets with Ethan and Martin. She tells them she is one of Scar’s wives and does not want to return with them.

Ethan now feels that there is no hope for Debbie as she has adopted the Comanche ways. His bias against the Indian fuels his sentiment that he would rather see Debbie dead than live as a Comanche.

Ethan now plans not to save Debbie, but to kill her.

NOTABLE: In 1989, The Searchers was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

In 2008, the American Film Institute named The Searchers the Greatest American Western of All Time.

In the scenes where Debbie Edwards is a young child she was played by Lana Wood, the younger sister of Natalie Wood.

Natalie Wood herself was quite young at the time of filming and still a student in high school. On several occasions both John Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter would pick her up from school to be on the set. Needless to say, this generated a great deal of excitement at the school.

John Wayne considered the role of Ethan Edwards to be the best character he ever had the pleasure to play. His respect for the part caused him to name one of his sons Ethan.

In a biography of John Ford there is a story of Ward Bond walking around naked in his motel room with the curtains open in an effort to attract the beautiful Vera Miles. It didn’t work.

In the summer of 1956 Buddy Holly and his band saw the film and were so impressed by Ethan’s (John Wayne) repeated use of the phrase “That’ll be the day” that it inspired the title for their Rock-and-Roll classic.

Personal Note: A personal favorite and one of the greatest Western’s ever. This is a classic John Ford western, as only he could have filmed it, with beautiful color photography, and a story you’re not likely to ever forget.

My Darling Clementine

Friday, February 10th, 2012

My Darling Clementine [Blu-ray]

Tagline – The Roaring West At Its Reckless Best!

Starring – Henry Fonda (Wyatt Earp), Linda Darnell (Chihuahua), Victor Mature (Dr. John ‘Doc’ Holliday), Cathy Downs (Clementine Carter), Walter Brennan (Old Man Clanton), Tim Holt (Virgil Earp), Ward Bond (Morgan Earp), John Ireland (Billy Clanton).

Released – December, 1946

Directed By – John Ford

Produced By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Distributed By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Description – The Earp brothers, Wyatt, Morgan, Virgil, and James, are driving their cattle across Arizona to California where they hope to make a profitable sale. On the trail, and looking for some rest in the nearest town, they meet Old Man Clanton and his son Ike.

The Clanton’s tell them the closest town is Tombstone and they offer to by the cattle from the Earp’s. Wyatt turns them down feeling their offer is to low and later that night the three older Earp’s head for Tombstone leaving James to watch the herd.

The Earp brothers find Tombstone to be a lawless town and after an incident with the drunken Indian Charlie where Wyatt subdues the badman he is offered the job of town marshal. Wyatt declines the offer and he and his brothers return to their camp.

Upon their arrival, they find their cattle gone and younger brother James dead. Determined to avenge James’ death, Wyatt returns to town and accepts the marshal’s job.

In the town saloon, Wyatt encounters gambler Doc Holliday who refuses to check his gun according to the new law. Holliday tries to provoke a fight with Wyatt, but backs off when he finds himself also facing Morgan and Virgil and ends up buying them all a drink.

As they share the drink, Wyatt learns a few things about Doc. First, he is very dangerous, second, he is a well-educated man, and lastly, that he is very sick. This evening is the beginning of a strong friendship between the two men.

One early morning a stagecoach arrives carrying an attractive and well-dressed passenger named Clementine Carter who has traveled from Boston. She is Doc’s former fiancee and pleads for him to return with her to Boston. He refuses and tells her to return home or he will leave town without her.

Upset over her arrival, Doc gets drunk and spoils for a fight. This forces Wyatt to knock him out and take him to his room before anything drastic happens. The following day, Doc’s current girlfriend, Chihuahua, tells Clementine about her relationship with Doc.

Clementine now plans to leave Tombstone and she and Wyatt meet as she is set to pay her hotel bill and return to Boston. He convinces her to stay awhile and invites her to a church fund-raising dance. After the dance the two have dinner and are seen by Doc who is furious that Clementine is still in town and he takes the next stage to Tucson.

This angers Chihuahua who had hoped Doc would go to Mexico with her and they would be married. She bursts into Clementine’s room to help her pack in order to get her out of town as fast as possible. Wyatt is also there and he spots a necklace on Chihuahua that his brother James was bringing to his girlfriend. She tells Wyatt that Doc gave her the necklace.

Wyatt immediately sets off to find Doc who claims to know nothing of the necklace. When they return to Tombstone and question Chihuahua she finally admits that she received the necklace from Billy Clanton.

Billy, who was waiting, and now hiding outside Chihuahua’s room hears her tell Wyatt and Doc about his gift. When they leave he shoots Chihuahua and runs. While Virgil sets out after Billy, Doc reluctantly agrees to operate on Chihuahua with the help of Clementine.

Virgil chases Billy all the way to the Clanton ranch where a fight ensues. Billy dies of his wounds and the Clanton’s kill Virgil.

The Clanton’s ride into Tombstone and drop the body of Virgil at Wyatt’s feet and declare that they will await the Earp’s at the O. K. Corral. Meanwhile, Chihuahua dies despite Doc’s efforts and he tells Wyatt that he will join them in the fight at the corral against the Clanton’s.

The stage is now set for one of the old west’s most famous gunfights.

NOTABLE: In 1991, My Darling Clementine was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Famed director Sam Peckinpah considered My Darling Clementine to be his favorite western.

This was actor Henry Fonda’s first film after returning from active duty in the U. S. Navy during World War II.

Both James Stewart and Vincent Price were considered for the role of Dr. John ‘Doc’ Holliday.

Personal Note: My Darling Clementine is one of a few Hollywood productions using the infamous gunfight at the O, K. Corral as its inspiration.

While there are many factual inaccuracies portrayed in this film, such as the fact that the real fight did not even take place in the corral, this is a well-acted, exciting, and very enjoyable western.

One of director Ford’s best and beautifully photographed by Joseph P. MacDonald. Henry Fonda provides a believable portrayal of Wyatt Earp and Walter Brennan fiendishly evil as Old Man Clanton (who, in reality, died two months before the gunfight). As for Doc Holliday, he was a dentist and not a surgeon as portrayed in this film.



A Brief Film History Timeline – The 1940’s

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Part 3 – The 1940’s 

This is the third of a four-part film history timeline highlighting some selective moments from the 1920’s through the 1950’s.

The 1940’s were a decade that brought with it the paranoid fear of communism, the beginning of the end of the “studio system,” a new film genre, and the threat of television to the motion picture industry.

1940From Great Novel to Great Motion Picture – John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” has been brought to the screen with brilliance by John Ford.

Set during the Great Depression this powerful story focuses on the life and hardships faced by migrant workers in, what can only be described as a life without a future. This film would stir up a great deal of controversy with its appeal for justice and freedom from oppression.

1941A New Film Genre Thanks To A Little Black Bird – The wonderfully dark and mysterious genre of Film Noir is created with the production of “The Maltese Falcon” directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart.

This first major work of Film Noir would permanently imprint the profile of the “hard-boiled detective,” and the genre that would captivate generations of film fans for all time.

1942Popular Actress Carole Lombard Killed – American actress Carole Lombard, most noted for her roles in classic 1930’s comedies, was killed in a plane crash at the age of 33.

She will be remembered as one of the greatest stars of all time and the highest-paid actress during the late 1930’s and was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in the classic comedy “My Man Godfrey.”

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3 Bad Men

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

3 Bad Men (1926) [Blu-ray]

Tagline – Civilization marches West – Homesteaders in search of gold, liberty and happiness.

Starring – George O’Brien (Dan O’Malley), Olive Borden (Lee Carlton), Lou Tellegen (Sheriff Layne Hunter), Tom Santschi (“Bull” Stanley), J. Farrell MacDonald (Mike Costigan), Frank Campeau (“Spade” Allen).

Released – August, 1926

Directed By – John Ford

Produced By – Fox Film Corporation

Distributed By – Fox Film Corporation

Description – It’s 1876, and Dan O’Malley has stopped to help fix a broken wagon wheel for Mr. Carleton and his daughter Lee. This chance meeting will change the lives of all.

The Carleton’s are on their way to Custer, Dakota to stake a claim for gold found, by Lee’s father, in Sioux territory and wait for President Grant to issue a proclamation authorizing exploration of the Indian lands.

Along the trail, they are attacked by horse thieves and Mr. Carleton is killed. Luckily, Lee and Dan are saved by an unlikely trio of outlaws, “Bull” Stanley, Mike Costigan, and “Spade” Allen. the outlaw’s, all wanted by the law from Mexico to Canada, are also on their way to join the anticipated gold rush.

Though they themselves are horse thieves, their sympathy for Lee’s loss of her father inspires them to protect the girl and her new found sweetheart.

In Custer, corrupt Sheriff Layne Hunter rules with a vicious hand and has his sights set on the gold claim that Lee and her father had wished to claim.

The unlikely trio of hero’s must protect Lee and Dan from Hunter and his henchmen so that they may stake the claim that rightfully belongs to Lee. This task won’t be an easy one as Sheriff Hunter and his men are ready and willing to kill for the claim.

NOTABLE: 3 Bad men is one of director John Ford’s earliest, and best silent films.

Location shooting was done in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the Mojave Desert, California.


Mister Roberts

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Mister Roberts

Tagline – All the Uproarious Fun of the Smash Broadway Play!

Starring – Henry Fonda (Lt. JG Douglas A. ‘Doug’ Roberts), James Cagney (Capt. Morton), William Powell (Lt. ‘Doc’), Jack Lemmon (Ens. Frank Thurlowe Pulver), Betsy Palmer (Lt. Ann Girard).

Released – July, 1955

Directed By – John Ford, Mervyn LeRoy

Produced By – Warner Brothers, Orange

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – Cargo officer Lt. JG Roberts is serving aboard the re-supply ship the USS Reluctant, in the Pacific, near the end of World War II. While the Germans have surrendered, and the war in Europe has ended, there is still a great deal of fighting in the Pacific.

Lt. Roberts has repeatedly requested a transfer in order to join the action, but Capt. Morton knows he has the best supply officer in the service and refuses to sign Robert’s transfer orders. While Roberts relationship with the captain is testy, he has an excellent relationship with the zany crew of the Reluctant.

Capt. Morgan has refused, for the past year, to allow his crew any shore leave, and Roberts in order to get some leave for the crew, agrees to never again request a transfer. It seems that Lt. Roberts excellent performance just may play a role in a promotion for the Captain.

While Roberts is all about hard-work and efficiency, there is another side to this crew. Take Ensign Pulver for example, who avoids work at every opportunity and runs a very successful black-market buying and selling operation.

The shore leave for the men looks like it may be a big mistake. Once on shore the men are off and running, getting drunk, starting fights, crashing an embassy party, and more often than not, having to be returned to the ship by the Army’s military police.

This is only the beginning as the theft of a motorcycle, the ship’s secretary, and even a goat belonging to the Admiral come into play. Why all the bad behavior by the crew? They think Lt. Roberts has been a little too friendly to their tyrant of a captain and this is a betrayal of their trust.

After Capt. Morgan is given a good tongue-lashing by the Admiral for the trouble and embarrassment to the Navy caused by the crews behavior, the Capt. is furious at Roberts and has him sent to the captains quarters.

While there Capt. Morgan angrily berates Roberts without realizing that a microphone is on and the entire crew can hear the conversation. The crew now realize that Lt. Roberts acted in their behalf in order to get them some shore leave…and comic revenge on the captain is now the order of the day.

NOTABLE: Mister Roberts won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jack Lemmon), and was also nominated for Best Picture, and Best Sound, Recording.

Henry Fonda was the choice of director John Ford for the role of Lt. JG ‘Doug’ Roberts. Warner Brothers originally wanted William Holden or Marlon Brando for the role believing Fonda to have been on stage and off the screen for too long to provide much box office appeal. But, it was Fonda who won a Tony Award for playing the role on stage.

John Ford, who could be a very difficult director, was replaced with Mervyn LeRoy after reportedly clashing with Henry Fonda and punching him in the jaw.

The filming of Mister Roberts was the beginning of a long-time friendship between James Cagney and Jack Lemmon which lasted until Cagney’s death.

Mister Roberts was the final film for popular actor William Powell who had begun to develop health issues that caused him great difficulty remembering his lines. The part of Doc was originally offered to Spencer Tracy who declined the role.

Personal Note: This is a very entertaining comedy-drama  with a sparkling performance by Jack Lemmon. One which would lead him on the road to stardom.