It would be hard to overstate the impact of the importation to the West, and particularly to America, of Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 film Rashomon Read more
Posts tagged ‘John Ford’
These notes accompany screenings of John Ford’s The Searchers on October 17, 18, and 19 in Theater 3.
The Searchers and [The Man Who Shot] Liberty Valance are the two masterpieces within Ford’s later project of disclosing the dark underbelly of the American West’s progress from wilderness to civilization Read more
By 1941, John Ford (1894–1973) had attained the peak of the Hollywood studio system. Aside from a few of his later Westerns, How Green Was My Valley remains unchallenged as his best film. It beat out Citizen Kane for the Oscar (partially due to industry antipathy toward Orson Welles), but it also stands head-and-shoulders above any other film that Hollywood, in its collective wisdom, ever managed to choose for its top award. Read more
Orson Welles once told Peter Bogdanovich, “John Ford knows what the earth is made of.” Although Welles probably did not intend this to be a cryptic observation, it does lend itself to several interpretations. It could have certain geologic connotations, referring perhaps to the Paleocene epoch, when complex life began to form. It could also refer to the even more complex development that came after—those troublesome bipeds that became us. If all this sounds a bit pompous for a director who spent much of his early career making mostly mindless two-reel westerns, so be it. Read more
John Ford (1894–1973) is the greatest film director America has ever had (or ever will), and is quite possibly the country’s greatest artist. His usual reaction to such views was that of a snarlingly sarcastic sonofabitch. He was also a man who could be quite cruel, evenly violently so, to people who loved him. Ford, like his predecessor Walt Whitman, was a poet of genius and contradictions. Read more
These notes accompany screenings of Raoul Walsh’s The Big Trail, August 11, 12, and 13 in Theater 1.
We last crossed paths with Raoul Walsh (1887–1980) when we looked at his early gangster film, Regeneration. Walsh, like Howard Hawks, was eclectic in his choice of genres and retained some of the same aura of robust masculinity that Hawks affected. With rare exceptions, however, Walsh’s films lacked the gravitas and profundity of great art. By saying this, I don’t want to appear dismissive. Read more
Like his friendly rival John Ford, Howard Hawks (1896–1977) began work as a Hollywood property man (in Hawks’s case, while still attending school). He received a degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell, and his films reflect both the precision this implies and the erudition of a college boy. (Ford, by contrast, spent about two minutes in college.) After a stint in the Army Air Corps and a job designing airplanes, Hawks wound up directing his first film at the Fox studio—where Ford was also under contract—in 1926. Read more
These notes accompany the screening of Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, which screens on March 24, 25, and 26 in Theater 3.
After the international success of Der Letzte Mann (The Last Laugh), the film cognoscenti could legitimately argue that F. W. Murnau (1888–1931) deserved to be recognized as the most important filmmaker in the world; D. W. Griffith was coming off several interesting but unprofitable films and was about to lose his independence, Erich von Stroheim was fighting to salvage Greed, and Charles Chaplin had yet to make The Gold Rush. Sergei Eisenstein and Josef von Sternberg were still on the horizon. Murnau followed up with two additional Emil Jannings vehicles, adapted from Molière (Tartüff) and Goethe (Faust). Both films continued to utilize the vast resources of the Ufa studio, and the latter film was especially spectacular. The eminent film historian, Lotte Eisner, wrote “No other director…ever succeeded in conjuring up the supernatural as masterfully as this.” Hollywood took note. Read more