John Ford and the Western Genre.ppt by lovemacromastia


									AM213, Week 7
   Born to Irish immigrants in
    Portland, Maine
   First feature film was a western,
    Straight Shooting, starring Harry
    Carey (1917). He would make 130
    more films through the 1964
    Cheyenne Autumn and Seven
    Women (1966)
   An auteur in Hollywood even
    before French filmmakers and
    theorists popularised the term,
    Ford remained the industry’s
    most enduring director
   Unique vision of America centred
    on western history and set in
    Utah’s Monument Valley
    (Stagecoach, 1939; Fort Apache,
    1948; She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,
    1949; The Searchers, 1956)
   Influenced by Turner, Catlin,
   Called the ultimate historian of
    America’s West
   The Big Trail, 1930: failure of old epics during
   Cimarron, 1931: multiracial picture of new West
    (Oklahoma) very successful
   Many historical westerns like Annie Oakley (1935)
    and The Plainsman (1936) made throughout 1930s
   Historical westerns, serials, then return of John
    Ford to genre (Stagecoach, 1939). Critics argue this
    represents myth of West rather than standard
    historical western
   Westerns grow as staple during WWII
   Cold War westerns (High Noon, 1951) and
    questions of race (The Searchers, 1956—week 8-9)
   Violence as the American way of life (Wild Bunch,
    1969, connection with Vietnam, week 10)
        *Plays with Custer
   W   *Famed quote: “When
        history become
        legend, print the
        * many have taken this
        to mean Ford
        embraces mythology,
        but film and Ford
        show audiences the
        whole process of
        history and myth-
Ford’s cavalry trilogy (Fort Apache, She Wore
a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande) explore not
only the heroism, but the stupidity and
racism at the heart of the American military
   Turner:                                     Roosevelt:
   Westward Expansion and themes of            Focus on heroes
    democracy (Iron Horse, 1924;                Custer (Fort Apache), military and
    Stagecoach, Fort Apache, Liberty             patriotic themes
    Valance)                                    Violence as uniquely American
   Ethnic and Immigrant experience             Opposition to Native Americans
   Waves of frontier development                (She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Searchers)
    (Liberty Valance)                           Masculinity and racial conflict
   Farmers’ experiences/frontier
    communities (The Grapes of Wrath,
    1940; My Darling Clementine, 1946; The
   Sense of loss and nostalgia (Liberty
   Resistance to white assimilation and
    historical notions of progress
    (Stagecoach, Fort Apache, Liberty
   Stays in classical nineteenth-century
   Irish background (history of discrimination)
   Ethnic experience key to everything good in US culture (the
    margin/frontier is central)
   Mainstream America is corrupting influence
   Ford’s Native Americans are culturally cohesive, unlike settlers
   Linearity of narrative in Stagecoach becomes more complex as racial
    conflicts develop in Ford’s work (Fort Apache, Searchers)
   Multiracial characters played by Mexican/Native American actors
    (Sergeant Beaufort and Cochise in Fort Apache (Pedro Amendariz,
    Miguel Inclan)
   Militarism=patriotism, but also a leveling of class distinctions--
    whites have equal chance (Fort Apache) and blacks too (Sergeant
    Rutledge and Woody Strode
   First to pay Native American and African American actors the
    same wage as whites
   Women also have active role in West as pioneers (Drums Along
    the Mohawk, 1939), civilizers (My Darling Clementine, 1946),
    symbols of justice (Sergeant Rutledge), and as bridges between races
    (Two Rode Together, The Searchers)
With Woody Strode
   Geronimo, 1829-1909      Cochise, 1810-1874
Geronimo prepares to ambush the stage in Stagecoach (1939)
Ford’s populist view of West like Turner’s: camera sides with Dallas and Ringo in
dinner sequence (Brown) and throughout film—yet this shot is ironically from
With some exceptions, this first film
glorified the coming of the railroad, but
Liberty Valance self-consciously critiques
man-made progress
Unreliable text versus the truth in
cinematic flashbacks

                                      Public words versus private
   verum factum: Truth is
    verified through creation or
    invention, not observation
   The New Science (1725)
    Nations and society pass
    through three stages: Age of
    gods, heroes and men
   History is cyclical, not
    linear—never reaches
   Corruption in age of men
    brings society back to
    primitive state
   Heroic Age relies on
    metaphors, fables and
    myths, whereas age of men
    relies on reflection
   Influenced Marx,
    Collingwood and Joyce
   Liberty Valance about the
    conflict between age of
    heroes and age of men
   Tom (John Wayne)           Rance (James Stewart)
   Native Westerner           Easterner
   Stagecoach                 Railroad
   Horse                      Buggy
   Man of action              Man of words/reason
   Professional gun           Studies law
   Self-sufficient            Works for others
   Frontiersman               Politician
   Really shoots Liberty      Publicised as killer of
   Myth or key to true         Liberty
    version of western         Possessor and teacher of
    history?                    western history or the
                                creator of usable myths?

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