IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Director John Ford

“I simply direct pictures, and if I had my way, every morning of my life I’d be behind that camera at nine o’clock waiting for the boys to roll ’em, because that’s the only thing I really like to do.” – John Ford

john-fordWhile researching endless hours at my desk, I’ve half-watched and listened to a documentary about the film director, John Ford.

John Martin Feeney was born February 1, 1894, and died August 31, 1973 at age 79.

I’ve been a fan of his work: 

  • MARY OF SCOTLAND (1936)
  • STAGECOACH (1939)
  • YOUNG MR. LINCOLN (1939)
  • DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK (1939)
  • THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940)
  • HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941)
  • MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946)
  • SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949)
  • THE QUIET MAN (1952) my absolute favorite
  • MR. ROBERTS (1955) this was originally directed on Broadway and co-written by my mentor, Joshua Logan
  • THE ALAMO (1960)
  • THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (1962)
  • HOW THE WEST WAS WON (1962)
  • CHEYENNE AUTUMN (1964)

Ford won two Oscars for war-time propaganda films after securing permission from President Franklin Roosevelt to use actual USA military footage for THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY and DECEMBER 7TH.

Mr. Ford directed over 140 films in a span of more than fifty years, beginning during the silent film era.  He received a considerable amount of nods from the Academy of Motion Pictures, winning seven Oscars, four of which were for Best Director and the remaining as Best Film.

One of the more amusing stories was when John Ford, during a time when he was directing multiple movies and even stepping in for other directors. He was filming a scene with an older man and younger woman, and requested, multiple times, that the couple be more enthusiastic about their kiss.  Finally, Ford yelled, “just grab her tight in your arms and kiss the hell out of her.”  The actor turned and said, “but Mr. Ford, I am playing her father in this movie.”

Filming on location in the Southwest gave John Ford the opportunity to see Native Americans up close.  He became especially fond of the Navajo Nation and worked on their behalf for better treatment and conditions on their reservations.  They, too, adored John Ford.

“A script is a skeleton that you can work on. If it’s a good script, you do it verbatim. If it’s not, then you get a script that you can do verbatim.”  – John Ford

 

 

About Wright Flyer Guy

Darin is a single adoptive father, a teacher, playwright, and musical theatre director from Kettering, Ohio.
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