Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

No film has ever deserved its reputation less than How Green Was My Valley, an adaptation by Philip Dunne of Richard Llewellyn’s 1939 novel that carefully balances gooey nostalgic sentiment and troubling clarity, is one of the most beautifully-shot films of the 1940s, and represents one of the highest achievements of John Ford’s career-long fascination […]

1935’s The Whole Town’s Talking is a weird movie. All the weirder still, because it doesn’t in the slightest bit act like it’s weird. But here’s what we’ve got: a variation of The Prince and the Pauper set inside of a ’30s gangster picture, that spends its first act looking for all the world like […]

Straight Shooting offers up a twofer for the the historically-inclined fan of director John Ford. Made in 1917, the year that the 23-year-old (years away from swapping out the name “Jack”) began making movies with The Tornado, it is the first feature-length project of his career, after five shorts. And with all of those presently […]

John Ford – renowned cinema icon, director’s director, master American mythologist, and prime destroyer of those selfsame myths. The man who created and cemented the image of John Wayne as all-around conservative hero, and who then spent most of their best-loved and best-known collaborations tweaking and twitting that image. A sentimentalist with a pronounced dislike […]

In a monstrously prolific career spanning over a hundred films across five decades, John Ford produced greater films than Young Mr. Lincoln, but perhaps not a single one that was more perfect or more Fordian: none of the others saw the same combination of the director’s fervent love of his country, his cynical humanist view […]

The first image we see of John Wayne, nΓ© Marion Morrison, in Stagecoach is inarguably one of the most iconic character introductions in all of cinema. You’ve probably seen it, even you haven’t seen the movie itself (and shame on you, if that’s so): some time after the titular vehicle rattles out of an unnamed […]

On the afternoon of October 26, 1881, in Tombstone, AZ, Marshal Virgil Earp, his brothers Wyatt and Morgan, and their friend John “Doc” Holliday engaged in a gunfight at the O.K. Corral with Ike and Billy Clanton, Frank and Tom McLaury, and Billy Claiborne, an event that quickly became one of the most legendary true […]

After the Second World War, John Ford’s relationship with 20th Century Fox was at its low ebb; the director had never been more than tersely professional with studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck, and the latter man’s interference with Ford’s 1946 My Darling Clementine led to an insoluble break between the two. Ford would only shoot […]

The Antagony & Ecstasy John Ford Marathon continues as promised with a foray into a pair of the director’s stranger exercises. In this case, the pairing of one of Hollywood’s hottest directors, who had in March of 1936 won his first Best Director Oscar for The Informer, with the biggest star at 20th Century Fox. […]

Tobacco Road is a bizarre, schizophrenic little bit of a movie. Coming at a place in John Ford’s canon right after The Grapes of Wrath and The Long Voyage Home, and right before How Green Was My Valley and his war-related hiatus from studio filmmaking, Tobacco Road would seem to fit comfortably in that line […]

Four years after arriving at Fox with Just Pals, Jack Ford had begun to call himself “John,” to go along with the much more serious dramas that he’d begun directing for William Fox. The young director, not yet thirty years old, was on the very verge of greatness, and the studio mogul started to formulate […]

When the January film doldrums hit and there’s just nothing to see, I’ve made sort of a habit, or at least this year makes it a habit, of filling the cold winter nights with whatever sexy box set I got for my birthday/Christmas. This year, that role has been oh-so-ably filled by the magnificent (and […]