The Three Godfathers

John Wayne in a Christmas movie?  Yep, The Three Godfathers in 1948!   Another fruitful John Ford and John Wayne collaboration, the film was released in December 1948.  Three bank robbers, John Wayne, Pedro Armedariz and Harry Carey, Jr.,  stumble across a dying woman and her newborn son in a desert in the American Southwest.  The three outlaws, although they are attempting to elude a posse, promise the dying woman to look after her son. (more…)

Published in: on December 1, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Three Godfathers  
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John Ford’s Midway


My bride and I and our son saw Midway (2019) yesterday.  Full review to follow later in the week.  It is a great film which makes a priority of historical accuracy, at least as accurate as a film dramatization can be.  One of the vignettes in the film was of director John Ford, who was making a film about the battle as a Navy Commander while the battle was raging.  That film is above.  Privately Ford made a film tribute for the families of Torpedo Squadron 8 from the USS Hornet.  Their sacrificial unescorted torpedo run, in which they were all shot down, against the Japanese carriers at Midway paved the way for the devastatingly successful Navy dive-bomber attacks on the Japanese flattops.  Ensign George Gay was the only survivor among the pilots of the squadron. Japanese observers at the time noted the heroism of the attack of Torpedo Squadron 8 which reminded them of the best tales of Samurai self sacrifice.


Published in: on November 20, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on John Ford’s Midway  
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Video Clip Worth Watching: Lincoln Calms a Lynch Mob

Henry Fonda didn’t resemble Abraham Lincoln, but in his folksy mannerisms and stump speech oratory, he conjures up well the spirit of Lincoln the prairie lawyer in John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln (1939).   Fonda didn’t want to take the role at first, feeling himself inadequate to play the Great Emancipator.  Ford called him up, and in a profanity laced tirade told Fonda that he would not be portraying President Lincoln, but rather Lincoln as a wet behind the ears attorney.  Fonda took the role.

Four years later, Fonda would star in the great anti-lynching movie, the Ox Bow Incident (1943): (more…)

Published in: on January 5, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Video Clip Worth Watching: Lincoln Calms a Lynch Mob  
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December 7th

Directed by John Ford and produced by the US Navy, this is a stunningly good film on the attack on Pearl Harbor, winning an academy award.  Released in 1943, the film asks hard questions about why Pearl Harbor was so unprepared and expresses sympathy for the Japanese-Americans in Hawaii and the suspicion they found themselves under after the attack.  Fifty minutes of the film was cut as a result, and for decades only a truncated 32 minute version was available.

Published in: on December 7, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on December 7th  
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Tribute to Torpedo Squadron 8

And how can man die better than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his gods?

Thomas Babington Macaulay

Director John Ford served in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II making films.  Here is a film that he made as a tribute to the men of Torpedo Squadron Eight from the Hornet, who, as noted last week in a post on Midway, which may be read here, played a pivotal role, along with Torpedo Squadron 6 from the Enterprise, by their sacrificial heroism in attacking the well guarded Japanese carriers, knowing that they would almost certainly not survive.  The film was originally intended only for the families of those gallant men, all but one of whom died in their attack on the Japanese carriers on June 4th. (more…)

Published in: on June 14, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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The Fugitive (1947)

A Fugitive: I have a question, Lieutenant. When did you lose your faith?

A Lieutenant of Police: When I found a better one.

The film For Greater Glory has reminded me of director John Ford’s forgotten The Fugitive (1947).  Very loosely based on Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory (no priest in an American film in 1947 was going to have the moral failings of Greene’s whiskey priest) the film did poorly at the box office and soon fell into oblivion, except among film critics who regard it as one of Ford’s more interesting works.  Ford said it was  his favorite film.

The film is set in a nameless country, obviously Mexico where the movie was filmed, where religion has been abolished by the government.  Henry Fonda is the last priest hunted by a police lieutenant, played maniacally by Pedro Armendáriz.  Armendariz is a whole-hearted convert to atheism, and views the capture of Fonda as a noble task.

Henry Fonda is executed at the end, betrayed by a police informer who summons him to provide the last rites to a dying man.  The police lieutenant who has pursued him throughout the film cannot bring himself to view his execution.  The people of the village react with profound grief at the death of the last priest, and it is obvious that the execution has done nothing to kill their faith in God.  A new priest arrives immediately after the execution, which has killed a man but not the Church. (more…)

Published in: on June 5, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Fugitive (1947)  
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Captain Buffalo

Something for the weekend.  The song “Captain Buffalo” from the 1960 movie Sergeant Rutledge (1960), John Ford’s salute to the regular army black soldiers who fought in the West in post Civil War America.  Called Buffalo Soldiers, the black troops made up the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry regiments.  While confronting the extreme prejudice of that time, the troops earned accolades for their courage and professionalism.  (more…)

The Horse Soldiers

In 1959 John Ford and John Wayne, in the last of their “cavalry collaborations”, made the Horse Soldiers, a film based on Harold Sinclair’s novel of the same name, which is a wonderful fictionalized account of Grierson’s Raid April 17-May 2 1863 during Grant’s Vicksburg campaign where 1700 Union troopers, under Colonel Benjamin Grierson, a music teacher and band leader from Jacksonville, Illinois turned soldier, rode 600 miles through Confederate territory from southern Tennessee to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, providing a diversion as Grant moved on Vicksburg. The video above shows an interview done of Harold Sinclair during the making of the film.  Go here to read a note by Sinclair at the beginning of the novel in which he describes the liberties taken in the novel from the historical events. (more…)

Published in: on February 17, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Horse Soldiers  
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