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John Ford
Born John Martin Feeney
February 1, 1894(1894-02-01)
Cape Elizabeth, Maine,
United States
Died August 31, 1973 (aged 79)[1]
Palm Desert, California,
United States
Occupation Film director/Film producer
Years active 1917–1966

John Ford (February 1, 1894 – August 31, 1973)[1] was an American film director of Irish heritage famous for both his westerns such as Stagecoach and The Searchers and adaptations of such classic 20th-century American novels as The Grapes of Wrath. His four Best Director Academy Awards (1935, 1940, 1941, 1952) is a record, although only one of those films, How Green Was My Valley, also won Best Picture.

In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Ford directed over 140 films (although nearly all of his silent films are now lost) and he is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers of his generation.[2] Ford's films and personality were held in high regard by his colleagues, with Ingmar Bergman and Orson Welles among those who have named him as one of the greatest directors of all time.

In particular, Ford was a pioneer of location shooting and the long shot which frames his characters against a vast, harsh and rugged natural terrain. Ford has further influenced directors as diverse as Akira Kurosawa, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Sam Peckinpah, Peter Bogdanovich, Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood, Wim Wenders, Pedro Costa, David Lean, Orson Welles, Ingmar Bergman, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Quentin Tarantino, John Milius, Satyajit Ray, François Truffaut, Lindsay Anderson and Jean-Luc Godard.

Contents

Feeney to Ford

Ford was born John Martin "Jack" Feeney (though he later often gave his given names as Sean Aloysius, sometimes with surname O'Feeny or O'Fearna; a Gaelic equivalent of Feeney) in Cape Elizabeth, Maine to John Augustine Feeney and Barbara "Abbey" Curran, on February 1, 1894 [3](though he occasionally said 1895 and that date is erroneously inscribed on his tombstone).[1] His father, John Augustine, was born in Spiddal,[4] County Galway, Ireland in 1854.[1] Barbara Curran had been born in the Aran Islands, in the town of Kilronan on the island of Inishmore (Inis Mór).[1] John A. Feeney's grandmother, Barbara Morris, was said to be a member of a local (impoverished) gentry family, the Morrises of Spiddal, headed at present by Lord Killanin.

John Augustine and Barbara Curran arrived in Boston and Portland respectively within a few days of each other in May and June 1872. They were married in 1875, and became American citizens five years later on September 11, 1880.[1] They had eleven children: Mamie (Mary Agnes), born 1876; Delia (Edith), 1878–1881; Patrick; Francis Ford, 1881–1953; Bridget, 1883–1884; Barbara, born and died 1888; Edward, born 1889; Josephine, born 1891; Hannah (Joanna), born and died 1892; John Martin, 1894–1973; and Daniel, born and died 1896 (or 1898).[1] John Augustine lived in the Munjoy Hill neighborhood of Portland, Maine with his family, and would try farming, fishing, working for the gas company, running a saloon, and being an alderman.[1]

Feeney attended Portland High School, Portland, Maine. He moved to California and began acting and working in film production for his older brother Francis in 1914, taking "Jack Ford" as a stage name. In addition to credited roles, he appeared uncredited as a Klansman in D.W. Griffith's 1915 classic, The Birth of a Nation, as the man who lifts up one side of his hood so he can see clearly. He married Mary McBryde Smith, on July 3, 1920, and they had two children, one a daughter who was married to singer and actor Ken Curtis from 1952-1964. The Ford marriage lasted until his death, although he had many extramarital relationships.[5]

Directing career

John Ford began his career in film after moving to California in July 1914. He followed in the footsteps of his multi-talented older brother Francis Ford, twelve years his senior, who had left home years earlier and had worked in vaudeville before becoming a movie actor. Francis played in hundreds of silent pictures for Thomas Edison, Georges Melies and Thomas Ince, eventually progressing to become a prominent Hollywood actor-writer-director with his own production company (101 Bison) at Universal.[6]

Jack Ford started out in his brother's films as an assistant, handyman, stuntman and occasional actor, frequently doubling for his brother, whom he closely resembled[7]. Francis gave his younger brother his first acting role in The Mysterious Rose (November 1914).[8] Despite an often combative relationship, within three years Jack had progressed to become Francis' chief assistant and often worked as his cameraman.[9] By the time Jack Ford was given his first break as a director, Francis' profile was declining and he ceased working as a director soon afterward.

One notable feature of John Ford's films is that he used a 'stock company' of actors, far more so than many directors. Many famous stars appeared in at least two or more Ford films, including Harry Carey, Sr. (the star of 25 Ford silents), Will Rogers, John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Maureen O'Hara, James Stewart, Woody Strode, Richard Widmark, Victor McLaglen, Vera Miles and Jeffrey Hunter. Many of his supporting actors appeared in multiple Ford films, often over a period of several decades, including Ben Johnson, Chill Wills, Andy Devine, Ward Bond, Grant Withers, Mae Marsh, Anna Lee, Harry Carey, Jr., Ken Curtis, Frank Baker, Dolores del Río, Pedro Armendariz, Hank Worden, John Qualen, Barry Fitzgerald, Arthur Shields, John Carradine, O.Z. Whitehead and Carleton Young. Core members of this extended 'troupe', including Ward Bond, John Carradine, Harry Carey, Jr., Mae Marsh, Frank Baker and Ben Johnson, were informally known as the John Ford Stock Company.

Likewise, Ford enjoyed extended working relationships with his production team, and many of his crew worked with him for decades. He made numerous films with the same major collaborators, including producer and business partner Merian C. Cooper, scriptwriters Nunnally Johnson, Dudley Nichols and Frank S. Nugent, and cinematographers Ben F. Reynolds, John W. Brown and George Schneiderman (who between them shot most of Ford's silent films), Joseph H. August, Gregg Toland, Winton Hoch, Charles Lawton Jr., Bert Glennon, Archie Stout and William H. Clothier.

Silent Era

During his first decade as a director Ford honed his craft on dozens of features (including many westerns) but fewer than a dozen of the more than sixty silent films he made between 1917 and 1928 have survived in any form[10] and only ten have survived in their entirety, although prints of several Ford 'silents' previously presumed lost have been rediscovered in foreign film archives over recent years.

Throughout his career Ford was one of the busiest directors in Hollywood, but he was extraordinarily productive in his first few years as a director—he made ten films in 1917, eight in 1918 and fifteen in 1919—and he directed a total of 62 shorts and features between 1917 and 1928, although he was not given a screen credit on most of his earliest films.

There is some uncertainty about the identity of Ford's first film as director—film writer Ephraim Katz notes that, Ford might have directed the four-part film Lucille the Waitress as early as 1914[11], but most sources cite his directorial debut as the silent two-reeler The Tornado, released in March 1917. According to Ford's own story, he was given the job by Universal boss Carl Laemmle who supposedly said, "Give Jack Ford the job—he yells good". The Tornado was quickly followed by a string of two-reeler and three-reeler "quickies" - The Trail of Hate, The Scrapper, The Soul Herder and Cheyenne's Pal; these were made over the space of a few months and each typically shot in just two or three days; all are now presumed lost. The Soul Herder is also notable as the beginning of Ford's four-year, 25-film association with veteran writer-actor Harry Carey,[12] who (with Ford's brother Francis) was a strong early influence on the young director, as well as being one of the major influences on the screen persona of Ford's protege John Wayne. Carey's son Harry "Dobe" Carey Jr, who also became an actor, was one of Ford's closest friends in later years and featured in many of his most celebrated westerns.

Ford's first feature-length production was Straight Shooting (August 1917), which is also his earliest complete surviving film as director, and one of only two survivors from his twenty-five film collaboration with Harry Carey. In making the film Ford and Carey ignored studio orders and turned in five reels instead of two, and it was only through the intervention of Carl Laemmle that the film escaped being cut for its first release, although it was subsequently edited down to two reels for re-release in the late 1920s.[13] Ford's last film of 1917, Bucking Broadway, was long thought to have been lost, but in 2002 the only known surviving print was discovered in the archives of the French National Center for Cinematography[14] and it has since been restored and digitized.

Ford directed around thirty-six films over three years for Universal before moving to the William Fox studio in 1920; his first film for them was Just Pals (1920). His 1923 feature Cameo Kirby, starring screen idol John Gilbert—another of the few surviving Ford silents—marked his first directing credit under the name "John Ford", rather than "Jack Ford", as he had previously been credited.

Ford's major success as a director was the historical drama The Iron Horse (1924), an epic account of the building of the First Transcontinental Railroad. It was a large, long and difficult production, filmed on location in the Sierra Nevada. The logistics were enormous—two entire towns were constructed, there were 5000 extras, 100 cooks, 2000 rail layers, a cavalry regiment, 800 Indians, 1300 buffalo, 2000 horses, 10,000 cattle and 50,000 properties, including the original stagecoach used by Horace Greeley, Wild Bill Hickok's derringer pistol and replicas of the "Jupiter" and "119" locomotives that met at Promontory Point when the two ends of the line were joined on 10 May 1869[15].

Ford's brother Eddie was a crew member and they fought constantly; on one occasion Eddie reportedly "went after the old man with a pick handle". There was only a short synopsis written when filming began and Ford wrote and shot the film day by day. Production fell behind schedule, delayed by constant bad weather and the intense cold, and Fox executives repeatedly demanded results, but Ford would either tear up the telegrams or hold them up and have stunt gunman Edward "Pardner" Jones shoot holes through the sender's name. Despite the pressure to halt the production, studio boss William Fox finally backed Ford and allowed him to finish the picture and his gamble paid off handsomely—The Iron Horse became one of the top-grossing films of the decade, taking over US$2 million worldwide, against a budget of $280,000.[15]

During the 1920s, Ford also served as president of the Motion Picture Directors Association, a forerunner to today's Directors Guild of America.

Talkies

Ford was one of the pioneer directors of sound films; he shot Fox's first song sung on screen, for his film Mother Machree (1928) of which only three of the original seven reels survive; this film is also notable as the first Ford film to feature the young John Wayne (as an uncredited extra) and he appeared in Ford's next two movies. Ford also directed Fox's first all-talking dramatic feature Napoleon's Barber (1928), a 3-reeler which is also now lost.

Ford made a wide range of films in this period, and he became well-known for his Western and 'frontier' pictures, but the genre rapidly lost its appeal for major studios in the late 1920s. Ford's last silent Western was 3 Bad Men (1926), set during the Dakota land rush and filmed at Jackson Hole, Wyoming and in the Mojave Desert. It would be thirteen years before he made his next Western, Stagecoach, in 1939.

Just before the studio converted to talkies, Fox gave a contract to the German director F. W. Murnau, and his film Sunrise (1927), still highly regarded by critics, had a powerful effect on Ford.[16] Murnau's influence can be seen in many of his films of the late 1920s and early 1930s — Ford's penultimate silent feature Four Sons (1928), starred Victor McLaglen and was filmed on some of the lavish sets left over from Murnau's production. His last silent feature Hangman's House (1928) is notable as one of the first credited screen appearances by John Wayne.

Napoleon's Barber was followed by Riley the Cop (1928) and Strong Boy (1929), starring Victor McLaglen, both of which are now lost (although Tag Gallagher's book records that the only surviving copy of Strong Boy, a 35 mm nitrate print, was rumored to be held in a private collection in Australia[17]). The Black Watch (1929), a colonial army adventure set in the Khyber Pass starring Victor McLaglen and Myrna Loy is Ford's first complete surviving talking picture; it was remade in 1954 by Henry King as King of the Khyber Rifles.

Ford's output was fairly constant from 1928 to the start of World War II; he made five features in 1928 and then made either two or three films every year from 1929-1942 inclusive. Three films were released in 1929 -- Strong Boy, The Black Watch and Salute. His three films of 1930 were Men Without Women, Born Reckless and Up the River, which is notable as the debut film for both Spencer Tracy and Humphrey Bogart, who were both signed to Fox on Ford's recommendation (but subsequently dropped). Ford's films in 1931 were Seas Beneath, The Brat and Arrowsmith; the last-named, adapted from the Sinclair Lewis novel and starring Ronald Colman and Helen Hayes, marked Ford's first Academy Awards recognition, with five nominations including Best Picture.

Ford's legendary efficiency and his ability to craft films combining artfulness with strong commercial appeal won him increasing renown and by 1940 he was acknowledged as one of the world's foremost movie directors[citation needed]. His growing prestige was reflected in his remuneration—in 1920, when he moved to Fox, he was being paid $300–600 per week, but as his career took off in the mid-Twenties his annual income significantly increased. He earned nearly $134,000 in 1929, and he made over $100,000 per annum every year from 1934 to 1941, earning a staggering $220,068 in 1938[18] - more than double the salary of the U.S. President at that time (although this was still less than half the income of Carole Lombard, Hollywood's highest-paid star of the 1930s, who was earning around $500,000 per year at the time).

With film production affected by the Depression, Ford made two films each in 1932 and 1933 - Airmail (made for Universal) with a young Ralph Bellamy and Flesh (for MGM) with Wallace Beery. In 1933, he returned to Fox for Pilgrimage and Doctor Bull, the first of his three films with Will Rogers.

The WWI desert drama The Lost Patrol (1934), based on the book Patrol by Philip MacDonald, was a superior remake of the 1929 silent film Lost Patrol. It starred Victor McLaglen as The Sergeant—the role played by his brother Cyril McLaglen in the earlier version—with Boris Karloff, Wallace Ford, Alan Hale and Reginald Denny (who went on to found a company that made radio-controlled target aircraft during WWII). It was one of Ford's first big hits of the sound era—it was rated by both the National Board of Review and The New York Times as one of the Top 10 films of that year and won an Oscar nomination for its stirring Max Steiner score.[19] It was followed later that year by The World Moves On with Madeleine Carroll and Franchot Tone, and the highly successful Judge Priest, his second film with Will Rogers, which became one of the top-grossing movies of the year.

Ford's first film of 1935 (made for Columbia) was the mistaken-identity comedy The Whole Town's Talking with Edward G. Robinson and Jean Arthur, released in the UK as Passport to Fame, and it drew critical praise. Steamboat Round The Bend was his third and final film with Will Rogers; it is probable they would have continued working together, but their collaboration was cut short by Rogers' untimely death in a plane crash in May 1935, which devastated Ford.

Ford confirmed his position in the top rank of American directors with the Murnau-influenced Irish Republican Army drama The Informer (1935), starring Victor McLaglen. It earned great critical praise, was nominated for Best Picture, won Ford his first Academy Award for Best Director, and was hailed at the time as one of the best films ever made, although its reputation has diminished considerably compared to other contenders like Citizen Kane,[20] or Ford's own later The Searchers (1956).

The politically charged The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936) -- which marked the debut with Ford of long-serving "Stock Company" player John Carradine -- explored the little-known story of Samuel Mudd, a physician who was caught up in the Abraham Lincoln assassination conspiracy and consigned to an offshore prison for treating the injured John Wilkes Booth. Other films of this period include the South Seas melodrama The Hurricane (1937) and the lighthearted Shirley Temple vehicle Wee Willie Winkie (1937), each of which had a first-year US gross of more than $1 million. The longer revised version of Directed by John Ford shown on Turner Classic Movies in November, 2006 features directors Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, and Martin Scorsese, who suggest that the string of classic films Ford directed during 1936 to 1941 was due in part to an intense six-month extra-marital affair with Katharine Hepburn, the star of Mary of Scotland (1936), an Elizabethan costume drama.

1939-1941

Stagecoach (1939) was Ford's first western since 3 Bad Men in 1926, and it was his first with sound. Reputedly Orson Welles watched Stagecoach forty times in preparation for making Citizen Kane. It remains one of the most admired and imitated of all Hollywood movies, not least for its climactic stagecoach chase and the hair-raising horse-jumping scene, performed by the stuntman Yakima Canutt.

The Dudley Nichols-Ben Hecht screenplay was based on an Ernest Haycox story that Ford had spotted in Collier's magazine and he purchased the screen rights for just $2500. Production chief Walter Wanger urged Ford to hire Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich for the lead roles, but eventually accepted Ford's decision to cast Claire Trevor as Dallas and a virtual unknown, his friend John Wayne, as Ringo; Wanger reportedly had little further influence over the production.[21]

In making Stagecoach Ford faced entrenched industry prejudice about the now-hackneyed genre which, ironically, he had helped to make so popular. Although low-budget western features and serials were still being churned out in large numbers by 'Poverty Row' studios, the genre had fallen out of favor with the big studios during the 1930s and they were regarded as B-grade 'pulp' movies at best. As a result, Ford shopped the project around Hollywood for almost a year, offering it unsuccessfully to both Joseph Kennedy and David O. Selznick before finally linking with Walter Wanger, an independent producer working through United Artists.

Stagecoach is significant for several reasons—it exploded industry prejudices by becoming both a critical and commercial hit, grossing over US$1 million in its first year (against a budget of just under $400,000), and its success singlehandedly revitalized the moribund genre, showing that Westerns could be "intelligent, artful, great entertainment -- and profitable".[22] It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and won two Oscars, for Best Supporting Actor (Thomas Mitchell) and Best Score. Stagecoach became the first in the series of seven classic Ford Westerns filmed on location in Monument Valley.[23]

John Wayne had good reason to be grateful for Ford's support, Stagecoach provided the actor with the career breakthrough that elevated him to international stardom. Over 35 years Wayne appeared in twenty-four of Ford's films (and three TV episodes). Ford is credited with playing a major role in shaping Wayne's screen image.

Stagecoach marked the beginning of the most consistently successful phase of Ford's career—in just two years between 1939 and 1941 he created a string of classics films that won numerous Academy Awards. Ford's next film, the biopic Young Mr Lincoln (1939) starring Henry Fonda, was less successful than Stagecoach, attracting little critical attention and winning no awards. It was not a major box-office hit although it had a respectable domestic first year gross of $750,000, but Ford scholar Tag Gallagher describes it as "a deeper, more multi-leveled work than Stagecoach .... (which) seems in retrospect one of the finest prewar pictures".[24]

Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) was a lavish frontier drama co-starring Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert; it was also Ford's first movie in color and included uncredited script contributions by William Faulkner. It was a big box-office success, grossing $1.25 million in its first year in the US and earning Edna May Oliver a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her performance.

Despite its uncompromising political stance, Ford's screen adaptation of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (scripted by Nunnally Johnson and photographed by Gregg Toland) was both a big box office hit and a major critical success, and it is still widely regarded as one of the best Hollywood films of the era. Noted critic Andrew Sarris described it as the movie that transformed Ford from "a storyteller of the screen into America's cinematic poet laureate"[25]. Ford's third movie in a year and his third consecutive film with Fonda, it grossed $1.1 million in the USA in its first year[26] and won two Academy Awards—Ford's second 'Best Director' Oscar, and 'Best Supporting Actress' for Jane Darwell's tour-de-force portrayal of Ma Joad.

The Grapes of Wrath was followed by two less successful and lesser known films. The Long Voyage Home (1940) was, like Stagecoach, made with Walter Wanger through United Artists. Adapted from four plays by Eugene O'Neill, it was scripted by Dudley Nichols and Ford, in consultation with O'Neill himself. Although not a significant box-office success (it grossed only $600,000 in its first year) it was critically praised and was nominated for seven Academy Awards—Best Picture, Best Screenplay, (Nichols), Best Music (Best Photography (Gregg Toland), Best Editing (Sherman Todd), Best Effects (Ray Binger & R.T. Layton), and Best Sound (Robert Parrish). It was one of Ford's personal favorites; stills from it decorated his home and O'Neill also reportedly loved the film and screened it periodically.[27]

Tobacco Road (1941) was a rural comedy scripted by Nunnally Johnson, adapted from the long-running Jack Kirkland stage version of the novel by Erskine Caldwell. It starred veteran actor Charley Grapewin and the supporting cast included Ford regulars Ward Bond and Mae Marsh, with Francis Ford in an uncredited bit part; it is also notable for early screen appearances by future stars Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews. Although not highly regarded by some critics (Tag Gallagher devotes only one short paragraph to it in his book on Ford[28]) it was fairly successful at the box office, grossing $900,000 in its first year. According to IMDb, the film was banned in Australia for unspecified reasons[29].

Ford's last feature before America entered World War II was his screen adaptation of How Green Was My Valley (1941), starring Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O'Hara and Roddy McDowell in his career-making role as Huw. The script was written by Philip Dunne from the best-selling novel by Robert Llewellyn. It was originally planned as a four-hour epic to rival Gone With The Wind -- the screen rights alone cost Fox $300,000—and was to have been filmed on location in Wales, but this was abandoned due the heavy German bombing of Britain, so it was shot at Fox's San Fernando Valley ranch instead; another reported factor was the nervousness of Fox executives about the pro-union tone of the story[30]. William Wyler was originally engaged to direct, but he left the project when Fox decided to film it in California; Ford was hired in his place and production was postponed for several months until he became available. Producer Darryl F. Zanuck had a strong influence over the movie and made several key decisions, including the idea of having the character of Huw narrate the film in voice-over (then a novel concept), and the decision that Huw's character should not age (Tyrone Power was originally slated to play the adult Huw).[31]

How Green Was My Valley became one of the biggest films of 1940. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards including Best Supporting Actress (Sara Allgood), Best Editing, Best Script, Best Music and Best Sound and it won five Oscars—Best Director, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Donald Crisp), Best B&W Cinematography (Arthur C. Miller) and Best Art Direction/Interior Decoration. It was a huge hit with audiences, coming in behind Sergeant York as the second-highest grossing film of the year in the USA and taking almost $3 million against its sizable budget of $1,250,000.[32] Ford was also named Best Director by the New York Film Critics, and this was one of the few awards of his career that he collected in person (he generally shunned the Oscar ceremony)[33].

War Years

During World War II, Commander John Ford, USNR, served in the United States Navy and made documentaries for the Navy Department. He won two more Academy Awards during this time, one for the semi-documentary The Battle of Midway (1942), and a second for the propaganda film December 7th (1943).[34][35][36]

Ford was present on Omaha Beach on D-Day. As head of the photographic unit for the Office of Strategic Services, he crossed the English Channel on the USS Plunkett (DD-431), anchored off Omaha Beach at 0600. He observed the first wave land on the beach from the ship, landing on the beach himself later with a team of US Coast Guard cameramen who filmed the battle from behind the beach obstacles, with Ford directing operations. The film was edited in London, but very little was released to the public. Ford explained in a 1964 interview that the US Government was "afraid to show so many American casualties on the screen", adding that all of the D-Day film "still exists in color in storage in Anacostia near Washington, D.C."[37] Thirty years later, historian Stephen E. Ambrose reported that the Eisenhower Center had been unable to find the film.[38] Ford eventually rose to become a top adviser to OSS head William Joseph Donovan. According to records released in 2008, Ford was cited by his superiors for bravery, taking a position to film one mission that was "an obvious and clear target". He survived "continuous attack and was wounded" while he continued filming, one commendation in his file states.[39]

Post-war career

After the war, Ford became a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy Reserve. His last wartime film was They Were Expendable (MGM, 1945), an account of America's disastrous defeat in The Philippines, told from the viewpoint of a torpedo squadron and its commander. Ford repeatedly declared that he disliked the film and had never watched it, complaining that he had been forced to make it,[40] although it was strongly championed by filmmaker Lindsay Anderson.[41] Released several months after the end of the war, it was among the year's top 20 box-office draws, although Tag Gallagher notes that many critics have incorrectly claimed that it lost money.[42]

Ford directed sixteen features and several documentaries in the decade between 1946 and 1956. As with his prewar career, his films alternated between (relative) box office flops and major successes, but most of his later films made a solid profit, and Fort Apache, The Quiet Man, Mogambo and The Searchers all ranked in the Top 20 box-office hits of their respective years[43].

Ford's first postwar movie My Darling Clementine (Fox, 1946) was a romanticized retelling of the primal Western legend of Wyatt Earp and the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, with exterior sequences filmed on location in the visually spectacular (but geographically inappropriate) Monument Valley. It reunited Ford with Henry Fonda (as Earp) and co-starred Victor Mature in one of his best roles[44] as the consumptive, Shakespeare-loving Doc Holliday, with Ward Bond and Tim Holt as the Earp brothers, Linda Darnell as sultry saloon girl Chihuahua, a strong performance by Walter Brennan (in a rare villainous role) as the venomous Old Man Clanton, with Jane Darwell and an early screen appearance by John Ireland as Billy Clanton. In contrast to the string of successes in 1939-41, it won no major American awards, although it was awarded a silver ribbon for Best Foreign Film in 1948 by the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists,[45] and it was a solid financial success, grossing $2.75 million in the USA and $1.75 million internationally in its first year of release[32].

The Argosy years

Refusing a lucrative contract offered by Zanuck at 20th Century Fox that would have guaranteed him $600,000 per year,[46] Ford launched himself as an independent director-producer and made many of his films in this period with Argosy Productions, a partnership between Ford and his old friend and colleague Merian C. Cooper. The Fugitive (1946), again starring Fonda, was the first project of the Argosy Productions enterprise. It was a loose adaptation of Grahame Greene's The Power and the Glory, which Ford had originally intended to make at Fox before the war, with Thomas Mitchell as the priest. Filmed on location in Mexico, it was photographed by distinguished Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa (who later worked with Luis Bunuel). The supporting cast included Dolores Del Rio, J. Carroll Naish, Ward Bond, Leo Carillo and Mel Ferrer (making his screen debut) and a cast of mainly Mexican extras. Ford reportedly considered this his best film[47] but it fared relatively poorly compared to its predecessor, grossing only $750,000 in its first year. It also caused a rift between Ford and scriptwriter Dudley Nichols that brought about the end of their highly successful collaboration. Greene himself had a particular dislike of this adaptation of his work[citation needed].

Fort Apache (Argosy/RKO, 1948) was the first part of Ford's so-called 'Cavalry Trilogy', all of which were based on stories by James Warner Bellah. It featured many of his 'Stock Company' of actors, including John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Ward Bond, Victor McLaglen, Mae Marsh, Francis Ford (as a bartender), Frank Baker, Ben Johnson and also featured Shirley Temple, in her final appearance for Ford and one of her last film appearances. It also marked the start of the long association between Ford and scriptwriter Frank S. Nugent, a former New York Times film critic who (like Dudley Nichols) had not written a movie script until hired by Ford[48]. It was a big commercial success, grossing nearly $5 million worldwide in its first year and ranking in the Top 20 box office hits of 1948[32].

During the year Ford also assisted his friend and colleague Howard Hawks, who was having problems with his current film Red River (which starred John Wayne) and Ford reportedly made numerous editing suggestions, including the use of a narrator.[49] Fort Apache was followed by another Western, 3 Godfathers, a remake of a 1916 silent film starring Harry Carey (to whom Ford's version was dedicated), which Ford had himself already remade in 1919 as Marked Men, also with Carey and thought lost. It starred John Wayne, Pedro Armendáriz and Harry "Dobe" Carey Jr (in one of his first major roles) as three outlaws who rescue a baby after his mother (Mildred Natwick) dies giving birth, with Ward Bond as the sheriff pursuing them.

In 1949 Ford briefly returned to Fox to direct Pinky. He prepared the project but worked only one day before being taken ill, supposedly with shingles, and Elia Kazan replaced him (although Tag Gallagher suggests that Ford's illness was a pretext for leaving the film, which Ford disliked[50]).

His only completed film of that year was the second installment of his Cavalry Trilogy, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (Argosy/RKO, 1949), starring John Wayne and Joanne Dru, with Victor McLaglen, John Agar, Ben Johnson, Mildred Natwick and Harry Carey Jr. Again filmed on location in Monument Valley, it was widely acclaimed for its stunning Technicolor cinematography (including the famous cavalry scene filmed in front of an oncoming storm); it won Winton Hoch the 1950 Academy Award for Best Color Cinematography and it did big business on its first release, grossing more than $5m worldwide. John Wayne, then 41, also received wide praise for his role as the 60-year-old Capt. Nathan Brittles.

1950s

Ford's first film of 1950 was the offbeat military comedy When Willie Comes Marching Home, starring Dan Dailey and Corinne Calvet, with William Demarest, from Preston Sturges 'stock company', and early (uncredited) screen appearances by Alan Hale Jr and Vera Miles. It was followed by Wagon Master, starring Ben Johnson and Harry Carey Jr, which is particularly noteworthy as the only Ford film since 1930 that he scripted himself. It was subsequently adapted into the long-running TV series Wagon Train (with Ward Bond reprising the title role until his sudden death in 1960). Although it did far smaller business than most of his other films in this period, Ford cited Wagon Master his personal favorite of all his films, telling Peter Bogdanovich that it "came closest to what I had hoped to achieve".

Rio Grande (Republic, 1950), the third part of the 'Cavalry Trilogy', co-starred John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, with Wayne's son Patrick Wayne making his screen debut (he appeared in several subsequent Ford pictures including The Searchers). It was made at the insistence of Republic Pictures who demanded a profitable Western as the condition of backing Ford's next project, The Quiet Man. A testament to Ford's legendary efficiency, Rio Grande was shot in just 32 days, with only 352 takes from 335 camera setups, and it was a solid success, grossing $2.25m in its first year.

Republic's anxiety was erased by the resounding success of The Quiet Man (Republic, 1952), a pet project which Ford had wanted to make since the 1930s (and almost did so in 1937 with an independent cooperative called Renowned Artists Company). It became his biggest grossing picture to date, taking nearly $4 million in the USA alone in its first year and ranking in the top 10 box office films of its year. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won Ford his fourth Oscar for Best Director, as well a second Best Cinematography Oscar for Winton Hoch. It was followed by What Price Glory? (1952), a World War I drama, the first of two films Ford made with James Cagney (Mister Roberts was the other) which also did good business at the box office ($2m).

The Sun Shines Bright (1953), Ford's first entry in the Cannes Film Festival, was a western comedy-drama with Charles Winninger reviving the Judge Priest role made famous by Will Rogers in the 1930s. Ford later referred to it as one of his favorites, but it was poorly received, and was drastically cut (from 90 mins to 65 mins) by Republic soon after its release, with some excised scenes now presumed lost. It fared poorly at the box office and its failure contributed to the subsequent collapse of Argosy Pictures.

Ford's next film was the romance-adventure Mogambo (MGM, 1953), a loose remake of the celebrated 1932 film Red Dust. Filmed on location in Africa, it was photographed by British cinematographer Freddie Young and starred Ford's old friend Clark Gable, with Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly (who replaced an ailing Gene Tierney) and Donald Sinden. Although the production was difficult (exacerbated by the irritating presence of Gardner's then husband Frank Sinatra), Mogamabo became one of the biggest commercial hits of Ford's career, with the highest domestic first-year gross of any of his films ($5.2m); it also revitalized Gable's waning career and earned Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominations for Gardner and Kelly (who was rumored to have had a brief affair with Gable during the making of the film).

In 1955, Ford made the lesser-known West Point drama The Long Gray Line for Columbia Pictures, the first of two Ford films to feature Tyrone Power, who had originally been slated to star as the adult Huw in How Green Was My Valley back in 1941. Later in 1955 Ford was hired by Warner Bros to direct the Naval comedy Mister Roberts, starring Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon, William Powell, and James Cagney, but there was conflict between Ford and Fonda, who had been playing the lead role on Broadway for the past seven years and had misgivings about Ford's direction. During a three-way meeting with producer Leland Heyward to try and iron out the problems, Ford became enraged and punched Fonda on the jaw, knocking him across the room, an action that created a lasting rift between them. After the incident Ford became increasingly morose, drinking heavily and eventually retreating to the Araner and refusing to eat or see anyone. Production was shut down for five days and Ford sobered up, but soon after he suffered a ruptured gallbladder, necessitating emergency surgery, and he was replaced by Mervyn LeRoy.

Ford also made his first forays into television in 1955, directing two half-hour dramas for network TV. In the summer of 1955 he made Rookie of the Year (Hal Roach Studios) for the TV series Studio Directors Playhouse; scripted by Frank S. Nugent, it featured Ford regulars John and Pat Wayne, Vera Miles and Ward Bond, with Ford himself appearing in the introduction. In November he made The Bamboo Cross (Lewman Ltd-Revue, 1955) for the Fireside Theatre series; it starred Jane Wyman with an Asian-American cast and Stock Company veterans Frank Baker and Pat O'Malley in minor roles.

Ford returned to the big screen with The Searchers (Warner Bros, 1956), the only Western he made between 1950 and 1959, which is now widely regarded as not only one of his best films, but also regarded by many as the greatest western ever made, and one of the best performances of John Wayne's career. Shot on location in Monument Valley, it tells of the embittered Civil War veteran Ethan Edwards who spends years tracking down his niece, kidnapped by Comanches as a young girl. The supporting cast included Jeffrey Hunter, Ward Bond, Vera Miles and rising star Natalie Wood (Hunter's first film for Ford). It was very successful upon its first release and became one of the top 20 films of the year, grossing $4.45m, although it received no Academy Award nominations. However its reputation has grown greatly over the intervening years—it was named the Greatest Western of all time by the American Film Institute in 2008 and also placed 12th on the Institute's 2007 list of the Top 100 greatest movies of all time.[51]. The Searchers has exerted a wide influence on film and popular culture—it has inspired (and been directly quoted by) many filmmakers including David Lean and George Lucas, Wayne's character's catchphrase "That'll be the day" inspired Buddy Holly to pen his famous hit song of the same name, and the British pop group The Searchers also took their name from the film.

The Searchers was accompanied by one of the first "making of" documentaries, a four-part promotional program created for the "Behind the Camera" segment of the weekly Warner Brothers Presents TV show, (the studio's first foray into TV) which aired on the ABC network in 1955-56. Presented by Gig Young, the four segments included interviews with Jeffrey Hunter and Natalie Wood and behind-the-scenes footage shot during the making of the film.

The Wings of Eagles (MGM, 1957) was a fictionalized biography of Ford's old friend, aviator-turned-scriptwriter Frank "Spig" Wead, who had scripted several of Ford's early sound films. It starred John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, with Ward Bond as John Dodge (a character based on Ford himself). It was followed by one of Ford's least known films, The Growler Story, a 29-minute dramatized documentary about the USS Growler. Made for the US Navy and filmed by the Pacific Fleet Command Combat Camera Group, it featured Ward Bond and Ken Curtis alongside real Navy personnel and their families.

Ford's next two films stand somewhat apart from the rest of his films in terms of production, and he notably took no salary for either job. The Rising of the Moon (Warner Bros, 1957) was a three-part 'omnibus' movie shot on location in Ireland and based on Irish short stories. It was made by Four Province Productions, a company established by British tycoon Lord Killanin, who had recently become Chair of the International Olympic Committee, and to whom Ford was distantly related. Killanin was also the actual (but uncredited) producer of The Quiet Man. The film failed to recoup its costs, earning less than half ($100k) its negative cost of just over $256,000 and it stirred up some controversy in Ireland.

Both of Ford's 1958 films were made for Columbia Pictures and both were significant departures from Ford's norm. Gideon's Day (titled Gideon of Scotland Yard in the USA) was adapted from the novel by British writer John Creasey. It is Ford's only police genre film, and one of the few Ford films set in the present day of the 1950s. It was shot in England with a British cast headed by Jack Hawkins, whom Ford (unusually) lauded as "the finest dramatic actor with whom I have worked".[52] It was poorly promoted by Columbia, who only distributed it in B&W, although it was shot in color,[52] and it too failed to make a profit in its first year, earning only $400,000 against its budget of $453,000.

The Last Hurrah, (Columbia, 1958), again set in present day of the '50s, starred Spencer Tracy, who had made his first film appearance in Ford's Up The River in 1930. Tracy plays an aging politician fighting his last campaign, with Jeffrey Hunter as his son. Katherine Hepburn reportedly facilitated a rapprochement between the two men, ending a long-running feud, and she convinced Tracy to take the lead role, which had originally been offered to Orson Welles (but was turned down by Welles' agent without his knowledge, much to his chagrin). It did considerably better business than either of Ford's two preceding films, grossing $950,000 in its first year[53] although cast member Anna Lee stated that Ford was "disappointed with the picture" and that Columbia had not permitted him to supervise the editing.

Korea: Battleground for Liberty (1959), Ford's second documentary on the Korean War, was made for the U.S. Department of Defense as an orientation film for US soldiers stationed there. It was followed by his next feature, The Horse Soldiers (Mirisch Company-United Artists, 1959), a Civil War story starring John Wayne and William Holden. Although Ford professed unhappiness with the project, it was a commercial success, ranking in the year's Top 20 box-office hits, grossing $3.6m in its first year, and earning Ford his highest-ever fee -- $375,000, plus 10% of the gross[53].

Last years, 1960-1973

In his last years Ford was dogged by declining health, largely the result of decades of heavy drinking and smoking, and exacerbated by the wounds he suffered during the Battle of Midway. His vision in particular began to deteriorate rapidly and at one point he briefly lost his sight entirely; his prodigious memory also began to falter, making it necessary to rely more and more on assistants. His work was also restricted by the new regime in Hollywood, and he found it hard to get many projects made — by the 1960s he had been pigeonholed as a Western director and complained that he now found it almost impossible to get backing for projects in other genres.

Sergeant Rutledge, (Ford Productions-Warner Bros, 1960) was Ford's last cavalry film. Set in the 1880s it tells the story of an African-American cavalryman (played by Woody Strode) who is wrongfully accused of raping and murdering a white girl. It was erroneously marketed as a suspense film by Warners and was not a commercial success. During the year Ford made his third TV production, The Colter Craven Story, a one-hour episode of the network TV show Wagon Train, which included footage from Ford's Wagon Master (on which the series was based). He also visited the set of The Alamo, produced, directed by and starring John Wayne, where his interference caused Wayne to send him out to film second-unit scenes which were never used (nor intended to be used) in the film.[54]

Two Rode Together (Ford Productions-Columbia, 1961) co-starred James Stewart and Richard Widmark, with Shirley Jones and Stock Company regulars Andy Devine, Henry Brandon, Harry Carey Jr, Anna Lee, Woody Strode, Mae Marsh and Frank Baker, with an early screen appearance by Linda Cristal, who went on to star in the Western TV series The High Chaparral. It was a fair commercial success, grossing $1.6m in its first year.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Ford Productions-Paramount, 1962) is frequently cited as the last great film of Ford's career. It co-starred John Wayne and James Stewart, with Vera Miles, Edmund O'Brien, Andy Devine as the inept marshal, Denver Pyle, John Carradine and Lee Marvin in one of his first major roles as the brutal Valance, with and Lee Van Cleef and Strother Martin as his henchmen. It is also notable as the film in which Wayne first used his trademark phrase "Pilgrim" (his nickname for James Stewart's character). It was very successful, grossing over $3m in its first year, although the lead casting stretched credibility—the characters played by Stewart (then 53) and Wayne (then 54) were meant to be in their early 20s, and Ford reportedly considered casting a younger actor in Stewart's role but feared it would highlight Wayne's age. Budget constraints meant that most of the film was shot on sets on the Paramount lot, although it was still one of Ford's most expensive films at US$3.2 million.

After completing Liberty Valance, Ford was hired to direct the Civil War section of MGM's epic How The West Was Won, the first non-documentary film to use the Cinerama wide-screen process. Ford's segment featured George Peppard, with Andy Devine, Russ Tamblyn, Harry Morgan as Ulysses S. Grant and John Wayne as William Tecumseh Sherman. Also in 1962, Ford directed his fourth and last TV production, Flashing Spikes, a baseball story made for the Alcoa Premiere series and starring James Stewart, Jack Warden, Patrick Wayne and Tige Andrews, with Harry Carey, Jr.

Donovan's Reef (Paramount, 1963) was Ford's last film with John Wayne. Filmed on location on the Hawaiian island of Kauai (doubling for a fictional island in French Polynesia), it was a morality play disguised as an action-comedy, which subtly but sharply engaged with issues of racial bigotry, corporate connivance, greed and American beliefs of societal superiority. The supporting cast included Elizabeth Allen, Lee Marvin, Jack Warden, Dorothy Lamour, and Cesar Romero. It was also Ford's last commercial success, grossing $3.3m against a budget of $2.6m.

Cheyenne Autumn (Warner Bros, 1964) was Ford's epic farewell to the West, which he publicly declared to be an elegy to the Native American. It was his last Western, his longest film and the most expensive movie of his career ($4.2m), but it failed to recoup its costs at the box office and lost about $1m on its first release. The all-star cast was headed by Richard Widmark, with Carroll Baker, Karl Malden, Dolores del Rio, Ricardo Montalban, Gilbert Roland, Sal Mineo, James Stewart as Wyatt Earp, Arthur Kennedy as Doc Holliday, Edward G. Robinson, Patrick Wayne, Elizabeth Allen, Mike Mazurki and many of Ford's faithful Stock Company, including John Carradine, Ken Curtis, Willis Bouchey, James Flavin, Danny Borzage, Harry Carey Jr, Chuck Hayward, Ben Johnson, Mae Marsh and Denver Pyle. William Clothier was nominated for a Best Cinematography Oscar and Gilbert Roland was nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Cheyenne elder Dull Knife.

In 1965 Ford began work on Young Cassidy (MGM), a biographical drama based upon the life of Irish playwright Sean O'Casey, but he fell ill early in the production and was replaced by Jack Cardiff.

Ford's last completed feature film was 7 Women (MGM, 1966), a drama about missionary women in China ca. 1935 trying to protect themselves from the advances of a barbaric Mongolian warlord. Anne Bancroft took over the lead role from Patricia Neal, who suffered a near-fatal stroke two days into shooting. The supporting cast included Margaret Leighton, Flora Robson, Sue Lyon, Mildred Dunnock, Anna Lee, Eddie Albert, Mike Mazurki and Woody Strode, with music by Elmer Bernstein. Unfortunately it was a commercial flop, grossing only about half of its $2.3m budget. Unusually for Ford it was shot in continuity for the sake of the performances and he therefore exposed about four times as much film as he usually shot. Anna Lee recalled that Ford was "absolutely charming" to everyone, and that the only major blow-up came when Flora Robson complained that the sign on her dressing room door did not include her title ("Dame") and as a result Robson was "absolutely shredded" by Ford in front of the cast and crew.

Ford's next project, The Miracle of Merriford was scrapped by MGM less than a week before shooting was to have begun. His last completed work was Chesty: A Tribute to a Legend, a documentary on the most decorated U.S. Marine, General Lewis B. Puller, with narration by John Wayne, which was made in 1970 but not released until 1976, three years after Ford's death.

Ford's health deteriorated rapidly in the early 1970s; he suffered a broken hip in 1970 which put him in a wheelchair, and had to move from his Bel Air home to a single-level house in Palm Desert, near Eisenhower Medical Center, where he was being treated for cancer. In October 1972 the Screen Directors Guild staged a tribute to Ford and in March 1973 the American Film Institute honored him with its first Lifetime Achievement Award at a ceremony which was telecast nationwide, with President Richard Nixon promoting Ford to full Admiral and presenting him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Ford died on 31 August 1973 at Palm Desert, California, and his funeral was held on 5 September at Hollywood's Church of the Blessed Sacrament. He was interred in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Personality and directing style

Personality

Ford was renowned for his intense personality and his many idiosyncrasies and eccentricities. From the early Thirties onwards, he always wore dark glasses and a patch over his left eye, which was only partly to protect his poor eyesight. He was an inveterate pipe-smoker and while he was shooting he would chew on a linen handkerchief—each morning his wife would give him a dozen fresh handkerchiefs, but by the end of a day's filming the corners of all of them would be chewed to shreds. He always had music played on the set and would routinely break for tea (Earl Grey) at mid-afternoon every day during filming. He discouraged chatter and disliked bad language on set; its use—especially in front of a woman—would typically result in the offender being thrown off the production. He rarely drank during the making of a film, but when a production wrapped he would often lock himself in his study, wrapped only in a sheet, and go on a solitary drinking binge for several days, followed by routine contrition and a vow never to drink again. He was extremely sensitive to criticism and was always particularly angered by any comparison between his work and that of his older brother Francis. He almost never attended premieres or award ceremonies, although his Oscars and other awards were proudly displayed on the mantle in his home.

He was famously untidy, and his study was always littered with books, papers and clothes. He bought a brand new Rolls Royce in the 1930s, but never rode in it because his wife Mary would not let him smoke in it. His own car, a battered Ford roadster, was so dilapidated and messy that he was once late for a studio meeting because the guard at the studio gate did not believe that he was John Ford the famous director, and refused to let him in. He was also notorious for his antipathy towards studio executives — on one early film for Fox he is said to have ordered a guard to keep studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck off the set, and on another occasion he brought an executive in front of the crew, stood him in profile and announced, "This is an associate producer - take a good look because you won't be seeing him on this picture again".

His pride and joy was his yacht, Araner, which he bought in 1934 and on which he lavished hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs and improvements over the years; it became his chief retreat between films and a meeting place for his circle of close (male) friends, including John Wayne and Ward Bond.

Ford was highly intelligent, erudite, sensitive and sentimental, but to protect himself in the cutthroat atmosphere of Hollywood he cultivated the image of a "tough, two-fisted, hard-drinking Irish sonofabitch" (Harry "Dobe" Carey Jr).[55] One famous event, witnessed by Ford's friend actor Frank Baker, strikingly illustrates the tension between the public persona and the private man. During the Depression, Ford — by then a very wealthy man — was accosted outside his office by a former Universal actor who was destitute and needed $200 for an operation for his wife. As the man related his misfortunes, Ford appeared to become enraged and then, to the horror of onlookers, he launched himself at the man, knocked him to the floor and shouted "How dare you come here like this? Who do think you are to talk to me this way?" before storming out of the room. However, as the shaken old man left the building, Frank Baker saw Ford's business manager Fred Totman meet him at the door, where he handed the man a cheque for $1,000 and instructed Ford's chauffeur to drive him home. There, an ambulance was waiting to take the man's wife to the hospital where a specialist, flown in from San Francisco at Ford's expense, performed the operation. Some time later, Ford purchased a house for the couple and pensioned them for life. When Baker related the story to Francis Ford, he declared it the key to his brother's personality:

"Any moment, if that old actor had kept talking, people would have realized what a softy Jack is. He couldn't have stood through that sad story without breaking down. He's built this whole legend of toughness around himself to protect his softness."[56]

Although Ford had many affairs with women, there were occasional rumors about his sexual preferences,[55] and in her 2004 autobiography 'Tis Herself, Maureen O'Hara recalled seeing Ford kissing a famous male actor (whom she did not name) in his office at Columbia Studios.

Directing style

Ford had many distinctive stylistic 'trademarks' and a suite of thematic preoccupations and visual and aural motifs recurs throughout his work as a director. Film journalist Ephraim Katz summarised some of the keynote features of Ford's work in his Collins Film Enclopedia entry:

"Of all American directors, Ford probably had the clearest personal vision and the most consistent visual style. His ideas and his characters are, like many things branded "American", deceptively simple. His heroes .... may appear simply to be loners, outsiders to established society, who generally speak through action rather than words. But their conflict with society embodies larger themes in the American experience."
"Ford's films, particularly the Westerns, express a deep aesthetic sensibility for the American past and the spirit of the frontier ... his compositions have a classic strength in which masses of people and their natural surroundings are beautifully juxtaposed, often in breathtaking long shots. The movement of men and horses in his Westerns has rarely been surpassed for regal serenity and evocative power. The musical score, often variations on folk themes, plays a more important part than dialogue in many Ford films."
"Ford also championed the value and force of the group, as evidenced in his many military dramas ... (he) expressed a similar sentiment for camaraderie through his repeated use of certain actors in the lead and supprting roles ... he also felt an allegiance to places ..."[57]

In contrast to his contemporary Alfred Hitchcock, Ford never used storyboards, composing his pictures entirely in his head, without any written or graphic outline of the shots he would use[58]. Script development could be intense but, once approved, his screenplays were rarely rewritten; he was also one of the first filmmakers to encourage his writers and actors to prepare a full back story for their characters. He hated long expository scenes and was famous for tearing pages out of a script to cut dialogue. During the making of one film, when challenged by a studio executive about falling behind schedule, Ford responded by tearing an entire scene out of the script and declaring "There, now we're all caught up!", and indeed he never filmed the scene. While making Drums Along the Mohawk, Ford neatly sidestepped the challenge of shooting a large and expensive battle scene—he had Henry Fonda improvise a monologue while firing questions from behind the camera about the course of the battle (a subject on which Fonda was well-versed) and then simply editing out the questions.

He was relatively sparing in his use of camera movements and close-ups, preferring static medium or long shots, with his players framed against dramatic vistas or interiors lit in an Expressionistic style, although he often used panning shots and sometimes used a dramatic zoom-in (e.g. John Wayne's first appearance in Stagecoach). Ford is justly famous for his exciting tracking shots, such as the chase sequence in Stagecoach or the attack on the Comanche camp in The Searchers.

Recurring visual motifs include trains and wagons—many Ford films begin and end with a linking vehicle such as a train or wagon arriving and leaving—doorways, roads, flowers, rivers, gatherings (parades, dances, meetings, bar scenes, etc); he also employed gestural motifs in many films, notably the throwing of objects and the lighting of lamps, matches or cigarettes[59]. If a doomed character was shown playing poker (such as Liberty Valance or gunman Tom Tyler in Stagecoach), the last hand he plays is the "death hand"—two eights and two aces, one of them the ace of spades—so-called because Wild Bill Hickok is said to have held this hand when he was murdered. Many of his sound films include renditions or quotations of his favorite hymn, "Shall We Gather at the River?", such as its parodic use to underscore the opening scenes of Stagecoach, when the prostitute Dallas is being run out of town by local matrons. Character names also recur in many Ford films — the name Quincannon, for example, is used in several films including The Lost Patrol, Rio Grande, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon and Fort Apache.

Ford was legendary for his discipline and efficiency on-set[60] and was notorious for being extremely tough on his actors, frequently mocking, yelling and bullying them; he was also infamous for his sometimes sadistic practical jokes. Any actor foolish enough to demand star treatment would receive the full force of his relentless scorn and sarcasm. He once referred to John Wayne as a "big idiot" and even punched Henry Fonda. Henry Brandon (who played Chief Scar from The Searchers) once referred to Ford as: "The only man who could make John Wayne cry."[citation needed]. He likewise belittled Victor McLaglen, on one occasion reportedly bellowing through the megaphone: "D'ya known, McLaglen, that Fox are paying you $1200 a week to do things that I could get any child off the street to do better?"[61]. Stock Company veteran Ward Bond was reportedly one of the few actors who was impervious to Ford's taunting and sarcasms.

Ford usually gave his actors little explicit direction, although on occasion he would casually walk through a scene himself, and actors were expected to note every subtle action or mannerism; if they did not, Ford would make them repeat the scene until they got it right, and he would often berate and belittle those who failed to achieve his desired performance. On The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Ford ran through a scene with Edmund O'Brien and ended by drooping his hand over a railing. O'Brien noticed this but deliberately ignored it, placing his hand on the railing instead; Ford would not explicitly correct him and he reportedly made O'Brien play the scene forty-two times before the actor relented and did it Ford's way.

Despite his often difficult and demanding personality, many actors who worked with Ford acknowledged that he brought out the best in them. John Wayne remarked that "Nobody could handle actors and crew like Jack."[62] and Dobe Carey stated that "He had a quality that made everyone almost kill themselves to please him. Upon arriving on the set, you would feel right away that something special was going to happen. You would feel spiritually awakened all of a sudden."[63] Carey credits Ford with the inspiration of Carey's final film, Comanche Stallion (2005).

Ford's favorite location for his Western films was southern Utah's Monument Valley. Although not generally appropriate geographically as a setting for his plots, the expressive visual impact of the area enabled Ford to define images of the American West with some of the most beautiful and powerful cinematography ever shot, in such films as Stagecoach, The Searchers, Fort Apache. A notable example is the famous scene in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon in which the cavalry troop is photographed against an oncoming storm. The influence on the films of classic Western artists such as Frederic Remington and others has been examined.[64] Ford's evocative use of the territory for his Westerns has defined the images of the American West so powerfully that Orson Welles once said that other film-makers refused to shoot in the region out of fears of plagiarism.[65]

Ford typically shot only the footage he needed and often filmed in sequence, minimizing the job of his film editors[66]. In the opinion of Joseph McBride [67], Ford's technique of cutting in the camera enabled him to retain creative control in a period where directors often had little say on the final editing of their films. Ford noted:

"I don’t give ‘em a lot of film to play with. In fact, Eastman used to complain that I exposed so little film. I do cut in the camera. Otherwise, if you give them a lot of film ‘the committee’ takes over. They start juggling scenes around and taking out this and putting in that. They can’t do it with my pictures. I cut in the camera and that's it. There's not a lot of film left on the floor when I’m finished."[68]

In making The Grapes of Wrath (which runs 128 mins) Ford reportedly exposed just 40,000 feet of film, which equates to the remarkably low shooting ratio of 4:1[69]. The shooting ratio for feature films typically ranges from 6:1 to 10:1 or more and, by comparison, it is reported that Kevin Costner shot almost 1 million feet of film in the making of Dances With Wolves (which runs 180 mins)[70]

Awards and honors

Ford won a total of six Academy Awards. Four of these were for Best Director for The Informer (1935), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941), and The Quiet Man (1952) - none of them Westerns (also starring in the last two was Maureen O'Hara, "his favorite actress"). He was also nominated as Best Director for Stagecoach (1939). He won two Oscars for Best Documentary for The Battle of Midway and December 7th. To this day Ford holds the record for winning the most Best Director Oscars, having won the award on four occasions. William Wyler and Frank Capra come in second having won the award three times. Ford was the first director to win consecutive Best Director awards, in 1940 and 1941. This feat was later matched by Joseph L. Mankiewicz exactly ten years later, when he won consecutive awards for Best Director in 1950 and 1951. As a producer he received nominations for Best Picture for The Quiet Man and The Long Voyage Home. He was the first recipient of the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award in 1973. Also in that year, Ford was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon.

In 2007, Twentieth Century Fox released "Ford at Fox", a DVD boxed set of 24 of Ford's films. Time magazine's Richard Corliss named it one of the "Top 10 DVDs of 2007", ranking it at #1. [71] A statue of Ford in Portland, Maine depicts him sitting in a director's chair.

Academy Awards

Year Awards Film Won
1932 Outstanding Production Arrowsmith Irving G. Thalberg (Grand Hotel)
1935 Outstanding Production The Informer Irving G. Thalberg (Mutiny on the Bounty)
1935 Best Director The Informer Yes check.svgY
1939 Best Director Stagecoach Victor Fleming (Gone with the Wind)
1940 Outstanding Production The Long Voyage Home David O. Selznick (Rebecca)
1940 Best Director The Grapes of Wrath Yes check.svgY
1941 Best Director How Green Was My Valley Yes check.svgY
1942 Best Documentary The Battle of Midway Yes check.svgY
1943 Best Documentary, Short Subjects December 7th Yes check.svgY
1952 Best Motion Picture The Quiet Man Cecil B. DeMille (The Greatest Show on Earth)
1952 Best Director The Quiet Man Yes check.svgY
John Ford with portrait and Oscar, circa 1946

Politics

Ford's politics were conventionally progressive; his favorite presidents were Democrats Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy and Republican Abraham Lincoln.[72] But despite these leanings, many thought[73][74] he was a Republican because of his long association with actors John Wayne, James Stewart, Maureen O'Hara and Ward Bond. Time magazine editor Whittaker Chambers wrote a harsh review of The Grapes of Wrath as left-wing propaganda, assuming Steinbeck, the author, and Ford to be of that political stripe.

Ford's attitude to McCarthyism in Hollywood is expressed by a story told by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. A faction of the Directors Guild of America led by Cecil B. DeMille had tried to make it mandatory for every member to sign a loyalty oath. A whispering campaign was being conducted against Mankiewicz, then President of the Guild, alleging he had communist sympathies. At a crucial meeting of the Guild, DeMille's faction spoke for four hours until Ford spoke against DeMille and proposed a vote of confidence in Mankiewicz, which was passed. His words were recorded by a court stenographer:

"My name's John Ford. I make Westerns. I don't think there's anyone in this room who knows more about what the American public wants than Cecil B. DeMille — and he certainly knows how to give it to them.... [looking at DeMille] But I don't like you, C.B. I don't like what you stand for and I don't like what you've been saying here tonight."[75]

As time went on, however, Ford became more publicly allied with the Republican Party, declaring himself a 'Maine Republican' in 1947. He voted for Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Richard Nixon in 1968 and became a supporter of the Vietnam War. In 1973, he was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Nixon, whose campaign he had publicly supported.[76]

Ford scholar Tag Gallagher asserts that Ford was "essentially apolitical", although he also notes that the director became an ardent supporter of the Irish Republican Army after his first visit to Ireland in the 1920s and that he channelled funds to the IRA for the rest of his career.

Filmography

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Eyman, Scott. Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford. New York: Simon & Schuster. 1999. ISBN 0684811618 (excerpt c/o New York Times)
  2. ^ Gallagher, Tag John Ford: The Man and his Films (University of California Press, 1984), 'Preface'
  3. ^ 1900 Census report Feb 1894 birthdate provided
  4. ^ Probably better known at the time by its Gaelic name An Spidéal.
  5. ^ Gallagher, Tag John Ford: The Man and his Films (University of California Press 1984) p.380
  6. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p.6
  7. ^ Ephraim Katz, The Film Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition (Harper-Collins, New York, 2005), p.490
  8. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p.13
  9. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p.15
  10. ^ Gallagher, 1986, pp.502-546
  11. ^ Ephraim Katz, The Film Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition (2005, Harper Collins, New York, ISBN 0060742143)
  12. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p.17
  13. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p.19
  14. ^ "Progressive Silent Film List: Bucking Broadway". Silent Era. http://www.silentera.com/PSFL/data/B/BuckingBroadway1917.html. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  15. ^ a b Gallagher, 1986, p.31
  16. ^ Gallagher, 1986, pp.49-61
  17. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p.519
  18. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p.498-99
  19. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p.97
  20. ^ Jon C. Hopwood - IMDb mini-biography of John Ford
  21. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p.146
  22. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p.145
  23. ^ The other Ford westerns with location work shot in Monument Valley were My Darling Clementine (1946), Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), The Searchers (1956), Sergeant Rutledge (1960), and Cheyenne Autumn (1964).
  24. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p.162
  25. ^ Quoted in Joseph McBride, "The Searchers", Sight & Sound, Spring 1972, p. 212
  26. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p. 499
  27. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p. 182
  28. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p.183
  29. ^ IMDb - Tobacco Road - Trivia
  30. ^ IMDb - "How Green Was My Valley - Trivia
  31. ^ Gallagher, 1986, pp.184-185
  32. ^ a b c Gallagher, 1986, p.499
  33. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p.184
  34. ^ John Ford - at IMDb
  35. ^ Biography of Rear Admiral John Ford; U.S. Naval Reserve - at Naval Historical Center
  36. ^ "Oral History - Battle of Midway:Recollections of Commander John Ford" - at Naval Historical Center
  37. ^ Martin, Pete, "We Shot D-Day on Omaha Beach (An Interview With John Ford)", The American Legion Magazine, June 1964 from thefilmjournal.com, retrieved 14 February 2007
  38. ^ Ambrose, Stephen E. D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II. New York: Simon & Schuster. 1994. pp 395-397. ISBN 0-671-67334-3
  39. ^ "Spy Tales: a TV Chef, Oscar Winner, JFK Adviser," BRETT J. BLACKLEDGE and RANDY HERSCHAFT, The Associated Press
  40. ^ Anderson, 2004, p446-47
  41. ^ Anderson, 1981 [1999], p101-8
  42. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p. 225
  43. ^ Gallagher, 1986, pp.499-500
  44. ^ IMDB - Victor Mature - bio
  45. ^ IMDb - My Darling Clementine - Awards
  46. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p.454
  47. ^ CinemaForever.com - The Fugitive - review by James Travers
  48. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p. 247
  49. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p.531
  50. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p.346)
  51. ^ AFI's website listing Top 100 films
  52. ^ a b Gallagher, 1986, p.359
  53. ^ a b Gallagher, 1986, p.500
  54. ^ Clark, Donald, & Christopher P. Andersen. John Wayne's The Alamo: The Making of the Epic Film (New York: Carol Publishing Group, 1995) ISBN 0-8065-1625-9
  55. ^ a b Gallagher, 1986, p.381
  56. ^ Gallagher, 1986, pp.40-41
  57. ^ Ephraim Katz, The Film Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition (2005, Harper-Collins, New York; ISBN 0060742143), p.490
  58. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p.464
  59. ^ Shigehiko Hasumi, John Ford, or The Eloquence of Gesture
  60. ^ Gallagher, 1986, op.cit., p.38
  61. ^ Gallagher, 1986, p.38
  62. ^ Eyman, Scott, Print The Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford, see below
  63. ^ Carey, Harry Jr. Company of Heroes: My Life as an Actor in the John Ford Stock Company
  64. ^ Peter Cowie, see below
  65. ^ Welles' narration for the film Directed by John Ford
  66. ^ BBC Radio 4 programme 10:30am 29 September 2007
  67. ^ McBride, Joseph, Searching For John Ford: A Life, see below
  68. ^ Gallagher, Tag, John Ford: The Man and His Films, see below
  69. ^ Franklin, Richard John Ford (essay)
  70. ^ IMDb - Dances With Wolves, trivia
  71. ^ Corliss, Richard, "Top 10 DVDs", Time magazine, retrieved from time.com, 14 February 2008
  72. ^ Peter Bogdanovich, John Ford, See below, pp 18-19.
  73. ^ Interview with Sam Pollard about Ford and Wayne from pbs.org
  74. ^ Roger Ebert, "The Grapes of Wrath", 30 March 2002, from rogerebert.com
  75. ^ Parrish, Robert (1996). "John Ford to the Rescue". Growing up in Hollywood. in Silvester, Christopher (2002), The Grove Book of Hollywood, Grove Press. p. 418. ISBN 0802138780. http://books.google.com/books?id=RnpzQrwB-FIC&pg=PA418&lpg=PA418&dq=Mankiewicz+My+name's+John+Ford.+I+make+Westerns.&source=web&ots=vo44chNJYs&sig=cE-0OvpSZiMfesfvVzVzkEk7Qbk&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=5&ct=result#PPA418,M1. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  76. ^ McBride, Joseph "The Convoluted Politics of John Ford" Los Angeles Times 3 June 2001 [1]

References

  • Lindsay Anderson, Never Apologise: The Collected Writings, London: Plexus, 2004. Republication of "Meeting in Dublin with John Ford: The Quiet Man", Sequence 14, 1952.
  • Lindsay Anderson, About John Ford, London: Plexus, 1981, 1999 edition.
  • Peter Bogdanovich, John Ford, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967, revised 1978.
  • Peter Cowie, John Ford and the American West, New York: Harry Abrams Inc., 2004.
  • Serge Daney, “John Ford”, in Dictionnaire du cinéma, Paris, Éditions universitaires, 1966, ripubblicato in Serge Daney, La Maison cinéma et le monde, 1. Le Temps des Cahiers, 1962–1982, Paris: P.O.L., 2001.
  • Scott Eyman, Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford, New York, 1999.
  • Dan Ford, The Unquiet Man: The Life of John Ford, London: Kimber. 1982 (1979).
  • Tag Gallagher. John Ford: The Man and His Films. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.
  • «La furia umana», n. 3, 2010, Special about John Ford, texts (in French, Italian, English, Portuguese) by Julio Bressane, Paul Vecchiali, Raymond Bellour, Art Redding, Toni D'Angela, Juan Gorostidi Munguia, Tag Gallagher, Joseph McBride, Jacques Aumont, John Zorn, Barry Gifford, Giulio Giorello, Alberto Abruzzese, Eva Truffaut and others; http://www.lafuriaumana.it/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=25&Itemid=27
  • Jean Mitry, John Ford, Paris, 1954.
  • Joseph McBride, Searching for John Ford: A Life, New York: St. Martin's Press, 2001.
  • Patrice Rollet and Nicolás Saada, John Ford, Paris: Editions de l'Etoile/Cahiers du cinéma, 1990.
  • Andrew Sinclair, John Ford, New York: Dial Press/J. Wade, 1979.
  • «Trafic», n. 56, 2005.

External links

Awards and achievements
Academy Awards
Preceded by
Frank Capra
for It Happened One Night
Best Director
John Ford

1935
for The Informer
Succeeded by
Frank Capra
for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
Academy Awards
Preceded by
Victor Fleming
for Gone with the Wind
Best Director
John Ford

1940
for The Grapes of Wrath
1941
for How Green Was My Valley
Succeeded by
William Wyler
for Mrs. Miniver
Academy Awards
Preceded by
George Stevens
for A Place in the Sun
Best Director
John Ford

1952
for The Quiet Man
Succeeded by
Fred Zinnemann
for From Here to Eternity
American Film Institute
Preceded by
Ford first recipient
AFI Life Achievement Award
John Ford

1973
Succeeded by
James Cagney

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

JOHN FORD (1586 - c.1640), English dramatist, was baptized on the 17th of April 1586 at Ilsington in north Devon. He came of a good family; his father was in the commission of the peace and his mother was a sister of Sir John Popham, successively attorney-general and lord chief justice. The name of John Ford appears in the university register of Oxford as matriculating at Exeter College in 1601. Like a cousin and namesake (to whom, with other members of the society of Gray's Inn, he dedicated his play of The Lover's Melancholy), the future dramatist entered the profession of the law, being admitted of the Middle Temple in 1602; but he seems never to have been called to the bar. Four years afterwards he made his first appearance as an author with an elegy called Fame's Memorial, or the Earl of Devonshire deceased, and dedicated to the widow of the earl (Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, "coronized," to use Ford's expression, by King James in 1603 for his services in Ireland) - a lady who would have been no unfitting heroine for one of his own tragedies of lawless passion, the famous Penelope, formerly Lady Rich. This panegyric, which is accompanied by a series of epitaphs and is composed in a strain of fearless extravagance, was, as the author declares, written "unfee'd"; it shows that Ford sympathized, as Shakespeare himself is supposed to have done, with the "awkward fate" of the countess's brother, the earl of Essex. Who the "flint-hearted Lycia" may be, to whom the poet seems to allude as his own disdainful mistress, is unknown; indeed, the record of Ford's private life is little better than a blank. To judge, however, from the dedications, prologues and epilogues of his various plays, he seems to have enjoyed the patronage of the earl, afterwards duke, of Newcastle, "himself a muse" after a fashion, and Lord Craven, the supposed husband of the ex-queen of Bohemia. Ford's tract of Honor Triumphant, or the Peeres Challenge (printed 1606 and reprinted by the Shakespeare Society with the Line of Life, in 1843), and the simultaneously published verses The Monarches Meeting, or the King of Denmarkes Welcome into England, exhibit him as occasionally meeting the festive demands of court and nobility; and a kind of moral essay by him, entitled A Line of Life (printed 1620), which contains references to Raleigh, ends with a climax of fulsome praise to the address of King James I. Yet at least one of Ford's plays (The Broken Heart, iii. 4) contains an implied protest against the absolute system of government generally accepted by the dramatists of the early Stuart reigns. Of his relations with his brother-authors little is known; it was natural that he should exchange complimentary verses with James Shirley, and that he should join in the chorus of laments over the death of Ben Jonson. It is more interesting to notice an epigram in honour of Ford by Richard Crashaw, morbidly passionate in one direction as Ford was in another. The lines run: "Thou cheat'st us, Ford; mak'st one seem two by art: What is Love's Sacrifice but the Broken Heart ?" It has been concluded that in the latter part of his life he gratified the tendency to seclusion for which he was ridiculed in The Time Poets (Choice Drollery, 1656) by withdrawing from business and from literary life in London, to his native place; but nothing is known as to the date of his death. His career as a dramatist very probably began by collaboration with other authors. With Thomas Dekker he wrote The Fairy Knight and The Bristowe Merchant (licensed in 1624, but both unpublished), with John Webster A late Murther of the Sonne upon the Mother (licensed in 1624). A play entitled An ill Beginning has a good End, brought on the stage as early as 1613 and attributed to Ford, was (if his) his earliest acted play; whether Sir Thomas Overbury's Life and untimely Death (1615) was a play is extremely doubtful; some lines of indignant regret by Ford on the same subject are still preserved. He is also said to have written, at dates unknown, The London Merchant (which, however, was an earlier name for Beaumont and Fletcher's Knight of the Burning Pestle) and The Royal Combat; a tragedy by him, Beauty in a Trance, was entered in the Stationers' Register in 1653, but never printed. These three (or four) plays were among those destroyed by Warburton's cook. The Queen, or the Excellency of the Sea, a play of inverted passion, containing some fine sensuous lines, printed in 1653 by Alexander Singhe for private performance, has been recently edited by W. Bang (Materialien zur Kunde d. dlteren engl. Dramas, 13, Louvain, 1906), and is by him on internal evidence confidently claimed as Ford's. Of the plays by Ford preserved to us the dates span little more than a decade - the earliest, The Lover's Melancholy, having been acted in 1628 and printed in 1629, the latest, The Lady's Trial, acted in 1638 and printed in 1639.

When writing The Lover's Melancholy, it would seem that Ford had not yet become fully aware of the bent of his own dramatic genius, although he was already master of his powers of poetic expression. He was attracted towards domestic tragedy by an irresistible desire to sound the depths of abnormal conflicts between passion and circumstances, to romantic comedy by a strong though not widely varied imaginative faculty, and by a delusion that he was possessed of abundant comic humour. In his next two works, undoubtedly those most characteristically expressive of his peculiar strength, 'Tis Pity she's a Whore (acted c. 1626) and The Broken Heart (acted c. 1629), both printed in 1633 with the anogram of his name Fide Honor, he had found horrible situations which required dramatic explanation by intensely powerful motives. Ford by no means stood alone among English dramatists in his love of abnormal subjects; but few were so capable of treating them sympathetically, and yet without that reckless grossness or extravagance of expression which renders the morally repulsive aesthetically intolerable, or converts the horrible into the grotesque. For in Ford's genius there was real refinement, except when the "suprasensually sensual" impulse or the humbler self-delusion referred to came into play. In a third tragedy, Love's Sacrifice (acted c. 1630; printed in 1633), he again worked on similar materials; but this time he unfortunately essayed to base the interest of his plot upon an unendurably unnatural possibility - doing homage to virtue after a fashion which is in itself an insult. In Perkin Warbeck (printed 1634; probably acted a year later) he chose an historical subject of great dramatic promise and psychological interest, and sought to emulate the glory of the great series of Shakespeare's national histories. The effort is one of the most laudable, as it was by no means one of the least successful, in the dramatic literature of this period. The Fancies Chaste and Noble (acted before 1636, printed 1638), though it includes scenes of real force and feeling, is dramatically a failure, of which the main idea is almost provokingly slight and feeble; and The Lady's Trial (acted 1638, printed 1639) is only redeemed from utter wearisomeness by an unusually even pleasingness of form. There remain two other dramatic works, of very different kinds, in which Ford co-operated with other writers, the mask of The Sun's Darling (acted 1624, printed 1657), hardly to be placed in the first rank of early compositions, and The Witch of Edmonton (printed 1658, but probably acted about 1621), in which we see Ford as a joint writer with Dekker and Rowley of one of the most powerful domestic dramas of the English or any other stage.

A few notes may be added on some of the more remarkable of the plays enumerated. A wholly baseless anecdote, condensed into a stinging epigram by Endymion Porter, asserted that The Lover's Melancholy was stolen by Ford from Shakespeare's papers. Undoubtedly, the madness of the hero of this play of Ford's occasionally recalls Hamlet, while the heroine is one of the many, and at the same time one of the most pleasing, parallels to Viola. But neither of them is a copy, as Friar Bonaventura in Ford's second play may be said to be a copy of Friar Lawrence, whose kindly pliability he disagreeably exaggerates, or as D'Avolos in Love's Sacrifice is clearly modelled on Iago. The plot of The Lover's Melancholy, which is ineffective because it leaves no room for suspense in the mind of X. 21 the reader, seems original; in the dialogue, on the other hand, a justly famous passage in Act i. (the beautiful version of the story of the nightingale's death) is translated from Strada; while the scheme of the tedious interlude exhibiting the various forms of madness is avowedly taken, together with sundry comments, from Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. Already in this play Ford exhibits the singular force of his pathos; the despondent misery of the aged Meleander, and the sweetness of the last scene, in which his daughter comes back to him, alike go to the heart. A situation - hazardous in spite of its comic substratum - between Thaumasta and the pretended Parthenophil is conducted, as Gifford points out, with real delicacy; but the comic scenes are merely stagy, notwithstanding, or by reason of, the effort expended on them by the author.

'Tis Pity she's a Whore has been justly recognized as a tragedy of extraordinary power. Mr Swinburne, in his eloquent essay on Ford, has rightly shown what is the meaning of this tragedy, and has at the same time indicated wherein consists its poison. He dwells with great force upon the different treatment applied by Ford to the characters of the two miserable lovers - brother and sister. "The sin once committed, there is no more wavering or flinching possible to him, who has fought so hard against the demoniac possession; while she who resigned body and soul to the tempter, almost at a word, remains liable to the influences of religion and remorse." This different treatment shows the feeling of the poet - the feeling for which he seeks to evoke our inmost sympathy - to oscillate between the belief that an awful crime brings with it its awful punishment (and it is sickening to observe how the argument by which the Friar persuades Annabella to forsake her evil courses mainly appeals to the physical terrors of retribution), and the notion that there is something fatal, something irresistible, and therefore in a sense self-justified, in so dominant a passion. The key-note to the conduct of Giovanni lies in his words at the close of the first scene "All this I'll do, to free me from the rod Of vengeance; else I'll swear my fate's my god." Thus there is no solution of the conflict between passion on the one side, and law, duty and religion on the other; and passion triumphs, in the dying words of "the student struck blind and mad by passion" - "0, I bleed fast!

Death, thou'rt a guest long look'd for; I embrace Thee and thy wounds: 0, my last minute comes! Where'er I go, let me enjoy this grace Freely to view my Annabella's face." It has been observed by J. A. Symonds that "English poets have given us the right key to the Italian temperament... The love of Giovanni and Annabella is rightly depicted as more imaginative than sensual." It is difficult to allow the appositeness of this special illustration; on the other hand, Ford has even in this case shown his art of depicting sensual passion without grossness of expression; for the exception in Annabella's language to Soranzo seems to have a special intention, and is true to the pressure of the situation and the revulsion produced by it in a naturally weak and yielding mind. The entire atmosphere, so to speak, of the play is stifling, and is not rendered less so by the underplot with Hippolita.

'Tis Pity she's a Whore was translated into French by Maurice Maeterlinck under the title of Annabella, and represented at the Theatre de l'Ouvre in 1894. The translator prefixes to the version an eloquent appreciation of Ford's genius, especially in his portraits of women, whose fate it is to live "dans les tenebres, les craintes et les larmes." Like this tragedy, The Broken Heart was probably founded upon some Italian or other novel of the day; but since in the latter instance there is nothing revolting in the main idea of the subject, the play commends itself as the most enjoyable, while, in respect of many excellences, an unsurpassed specimen of Ford's dramatic genius. The complicated plot is constructed with greater skill than is usual with this dramatist, and the pathos of particular situations, and of the entire character of Penthea - a woman doomed to hopeless misery, but capable of seeking to obtain for her brother a happiness which his cruelty has condemned her to forego - has an intensity and a depth which are all Ford's own. Even the lesser characters are more pleasing than usual, and some beautiful lyrics are interspersed in the play.

Of the other plays written by Ford alone, only The Chronicle Historie of Perkin Warbeck. A Strange Truth, appears to call for special attention. A repeated perusal of this drama suggests the judgment that it is overpraised when ranked at no great distance from Shakespeare's national dramas. Historical truth need not be taken into consideration in the matter; and if, notwithstanding James Gairdner's essay appended to his Life and Reign of Richard III., there are still credulous persons left to think and assert that Perkin was not an impostor, they will derive little satisfaction from Ford's play, which with really surprising skill avoids the slightest indication as to the poet's own belief on the subject. That this tragedy should have been reprinted in 1714 and acted in 1745 only shows that the public, as is often the case, had an eye to the catastrophe rather than to the development of the action. The dramatic capabilities of the subject are, however, great, and it afterwards attracted Schiller, who, however, seems to have abandoned it in favour of the similar theme of the Russian Demetrius. Had Shakespeare treated it, he would hardly have contented himself with investing the hero with the nobility given by Ford to this personage of his play, - for it is hardly possible to speak of a personage as a character when the clue to his conduct is intentionally withheld. Nor could Shakespeare have failed to bring out with greater variety and distinctness the dramatic features in Henry VII., whom Ford depicts with sufficient distinctness to give some degree of individuality to the figure, but still with a tenderness of touch which would have been much to the credit of the dramatist's skill had he been writing in the Tudor age. The play is, however, founded on Bacon's Life, of which the text is used by Ford with admirable discretion, and on Thomas Gainsford's True and Wonderful History of Perkin Warbeck (1618). The minor characters of the honest old Huntley, whom the Scottish king obliges to bestow his daughter's hand upon Warbeck, and of her lover the faithful "Dalyell," are most effectively drawn; even "the men of judgment," the adventurers who surround the chief adventurer, are spirited sketches, and the Irishman among them has actually some humour; while the style of the play is, as befits a "Chronicle History," so clear and straightforward as to make it easy as well as interesting to read.

The Witch of Edmonton was attributed by its publisher to William Rowley, Dekker, Ford, "&c.," but the body of the play has been generally held to be ascribable to Ford and Dekker only. The subject of the play was no doubt suggested by the case of the reported witch, Elizabeth Sawyer, who was executed in 1621. Swinburne agrees with Gifford in thinking Ford the author of the whole of the first act; and he is most assuredly right in considering that "there is no more admirable exposition of a play on the English stage." Supposing Dekker to be chiefly responsible for the scenes dealing with the unfortunate old woman whom persecution as a witch actually drives to become one, and Ford for the domestic tragedy of the bigamist murderer, it cannot be denied that both divisions of the subject are effectively treated, while the more important part of the task fell to the share of Ford. Yet it may be doubted whether any such division can be safely assumed; and it may suffice to repeat that no domestic tragedy has ever taught with more effective simplicity and thrilling truthfulness the homely double lesson of the folly of selfishness and the mad rashness of crime.

With Dekker Ford also wrote the mask of The Sun's Darling; or, as seems most probable, they founded this production upon Phaeton, an earlier mask, of which Dekker had been sole author. Gifford holds that Dekker's hand is perpetually traceable in the first three acts of The Sun's Darling, and through the whole of its comic part, but that the last two acts are mainly Ford's. If so, he is the author of the rather forced occasional tribute on the accession of King Charles I., of which the last act largely consists. This mask, which furnished abundant opportunities for the decorators, musicians and dancers, in showing forth how the seasons and their delights are successively exhausted by a "wanton darling," Raybright the grandchild of the Sun, is said to have been very popular. It is at the same time commonplace enough in conception; but there is much that is charming in the descriptions, Jonson and Lyly being respectively laid under contribution in the course of the dialogue, and in one of the incidental lyrics.

Ford owes his position among English dramatists to the intensity of his passion, in particular scenes and passages where the character, the author and the reader are alike lost in the situation and in the sentiment evoked by it; and this gift is a supreme dramatic gift. But his plays - with the exception of The Witch of Edmonton, in which he doubtless had a prominent share - too often disturb the mind like a bad drel n which ends as an unsolved dissonance; and this defect is a sup <?me dramatic defect. It is not the rigid or the stolid who have the most reason to complain of the insufficiency of tragic poetry such as Ford's; nor is it that morality only which, as Ithocles says in The Broken Heart, " is formed of books and school-traditions," which has a right to protest against the final effect of the most powerful creations of his genius. There is a morality which both "Keeps the soul in tune, At whose sweet music all our actions dance," and is able to physic "The sickness of a mind Broken with griefs." Of that morality - or of that deference to the binding power within man and the ruling power above him - tragedy is the truest expounder, even when it illustrates by contrasts; but the tragic poet who merely places the problem before us, and bids us stand aghast with him at its cruelty, is not to be reckoned among the great masters of a divine art.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The best edition of Ford is that by Gifford, with notes and introduction, revised with additions to both text and notes by Alexander Dyce (1869). An edition of the Dramatic Works of Massinger and Ford appeared in 1840, with an introduction by Hartley Coleridge. The Best Plays of Ford were edited for the "Mermaid Series" in 1888, with an introduction by W. H. Havelock Ellis, and reissued in 1903. A. C. Swinburne's "Essay on Ford" is reprinted among his Essays and Studies (1875). Perkin Warbeck and 'Tis Pity were translated into German by F. Bodenstedt in 1860; and the latter again by F. Blei in 1904. The probable sources of the various plays are discussed in Emil Koeppel's Quellenstudien zu den Dramen George Chapman' s, Philip Massinger's and John Ford's (1897). (A. W. W.)


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