Dir. John Ford
Screenplay by Dudley Nichols, based on the short story “The Stage at Lordsburg” by Ernest Haycox
Starring John Wayne, Thomas Mitchell, John Carradine, Andy Devine and Claire Trevor
I resist John Wayne. I always have and make no bones about why — he’s a rat bastard red-baiting jingoist war-monger and to this common-sense liberal, he’s repulsive. And such is my repulsion that I can barely separate John Wayne the man from the characters John Wayne plays to such a degree I suspect he could play Ralph Nader and the only thing I’d think is, “My, it’s strange how conservative Ralph Nader is.” To me, John Wayne’s a racist old grandpa we should be embarrassed about, not building films around.
Under the circumstances, it’s no surprise I’ve only seen three John Wayne films and have varying attitudes to them all:
- True Grit
- The Quiet Man
- The Searchers
The Searchers, thought to be a classic, hardly registers with me beyond being racist in story and casting. (Ironically, Gone With The Wind plays a similar game with it’s racial elements and yet, I don’t brush it off the same as I do The Searchers. Rather, I’m apologetic of those elements to the point I’ve had to come to grips with being a massive hypocrite.) Continue reading
Directed by Cecil B. DeMille
Screenplay by Fredric M. Frank & Barré Lyndon & Theodore St. John, story by Fredric M. Frank & Theodore St. John & Frank Cavett
Starring Charlton Heston,
It’s a fact: sit around and talk to anybody about the Oscars long enough and eventually you’ll get around to arguing over which was the worst Best Picture Winner – that I s, which was the worst film to win in a given year. Inevitably, people in my generation, or at least those with no sense of history, will make strong arguments for Crash, Shakespeare in Love or maybe Titanic being the worst choices in recent memory. Those with any real sense of history will instead bandy about two other choices:
- Citizen Kane, one of which is arguably the greatest film of all time, being bested by How Green Was My Valley, a film that isn’t even one of the five best films by its own director – for John Ford, his best films obviously include The Grapes of Wrath, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Quiet Man, The Searchers, and one of about ten other films not named How Green Was My Valley.
- The Greatest Show On Earth winning Best Picture over Ford’s own The Quiet Man and a little Gary Cooper movie called High Noon.
Recently, my wife and I took our kids to a drive-in theater about an hour from my house. As I kid I remember going to the drive-in several times, seeing such classics as Jaws 3:D and Kenny Rogers/Diane Lane/Erin Gray vehicle Six Pack, but my kids had never had the experience. We saw Brave, which was substandard Pixar, and The Avengers, which was slightly better than all right. Anyway, in honor of the event it seemed like a fun idea to look back at the ten most memorable Drive-In scenes in the movies – at least memorable to me. Continue reading
Directed By John Ford
Produced By Darryl F. Zanuck
Starring Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O’Hara, Donald Crisp, Roddy McDowall and Barry Fitzgerald
Any discussion of the Best Picture for 1941 must begin with a discussion of Citizen Kane. After all, it was in 1941 that Orson Welles unleashed his masterpiece upon the world, altering the landscape of movies forever. It was nominated for 9 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, but for all its accomplishments – the amazing cinematography of Gregg Toland, with those deep-focus shots, Bernard Herrmann’s lively score, Robert Wise’s magnificent editing, the elliptical telling of the tale – it won but one Oscar, for Original Screenplay, an Award that was actually hissed at the time because of some pretty intense hatred of Welles. If he hadn’t been nominated with Herman Mankiewicz, it’s doubtful it would have even won that. Continue reading