Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sort Of Western Wednesday...!

Today let's discuss one man that made the western film popular again and raised the standard of such films.

Once considered mostly grade "B" films,  many folks found the western to be quality  entertainment in large part to film directors like John Ford!
Dec 19, 1964: 
John Ford's Cheyenne Autumn released


Offered in the guise of a Western film, John Ford's Cheyenne Autumn, one of the best post-war critiques of American society, is released by Warner Brothers.

John Ford was born Sean O'Feeny in 1894. He moved to Hollywood from Maine in 1913 and soon began picking up bit parts in several films, including D.W. Griffith's influential Birth of a Nation. He learned the movie-making trade and directed his first film in 1917--a silent Western starring Harry Carey. He followed that effort by directing at least 30 others during the next four years. By the 1930s, he had earned a reputation as a talented director and began to produce a number of more "serious" films, including the The Grapes of Wrath and The Informer.

Despite his success with other themes, Ford always returned to Western movies, continually pushing the boundaries of the genre so that it could be a vehicle for studying larger social and political issues. His 1939 film, Stagecoach, set the standard for other western films to follow, raising the genre above its usual B-grade status with first-rate directing and acting (John Wayne played the lead) and Ford's masterful use of the haunting western landscape of Monument Valley, Arizona. The director-actor Orson Welles claimed to have watched Stagecoach more than 40 times before he made Citizen Kane, and when asked to name three directors he considered his superior, Welles replied, "John Ford, John Ford, and John Ford."

In the post-World War II period, Ford's Westerns became noticeably darker and more pessimistic. Having spent the first half of his career creating movies that celebrated a mythic West of brave heroes and grand adventure, Ford began undermining this perspective by creating the first "anti-Westerns," films that emphasized the negative side of America's frontier experience. Rejecting the formulaic plots in which the "good guys" always won out over the outlaws and Indians, films like She Wore a Yellow Ribbon(1949) offered a brutal vision of the West in which warfare between settlers and Indians produced much tragedy but no clear victors. In his 1956 film, The Searchers, Ford created one of the first western anti-heroes, a fanatical racist played by John Wayne who believes a white woman kidnapped by Indians deserves to die simply because she would rather stay with the tribe than return to "civilization."

Deeply moved by the Civil Rights movement and troubled by the racism of his own earlier films, Ford's 1964 Cheyenne Autumn emphasized the tragic fate of the American Indian and tried to rectify the racist stereotypes he had once propagated. The last of Ford's great Westerns, it strongly condemned the U.S. treatment of the Cheyenne that forced them into intolerable living conditions and then violently suppressed any rebellion. Foreshadowing the even more pointed critiques of later films like Little Big Man and Soldier Blue, Cheyenne Autumn featured the Indians as the heroes of the film and the army as the force for evil, completely reversing the roles his earlier films had developed.

John Ford died on August 31, 1973.

I think that the modern western offers a much more realistic view of how things more than likely were than ever before. Though often used to make some political statement, today's Westerns are truly in a class by themselves!

Coffee on the patio this morning! It looks like Spring, and I have fresh sugar cookies to share!


Phyllis (N/W Jersey) said...

Going to watch Cheyenne Autumn again. Probably haven't seen it for 50 years!
Coffee and cookies outside sounds great. It's 37 here and breezy - at least the rain has finally stopped.

Randall said...

Ford should be credited with bringing many a up and coming actors to the forefront, Henry Fonda,Ward Bond, and of course John Wayne. He is well remembered for his stunning cinematography. Having said that I've never been a huge fan, although you have to respect his body of work. I'm more of a Clint Eastwood fan. Blue sky and warm today.very unusual december weather.Coffee's got cold with my rambling. : )

linda m said...

I agree with you about modern westerns bringing a more realistic view to the screen. Coffee inside here - it snowed here yesterday.

JO said...

Very interesting. I remember some of the titles but don't remember him as the writer. thank you I will look the man up.

We have sun right now but I guess not for long. So coffee at your place sounds pretty good.

HermitJim said...

Hey Phyllis...
Good movie, in my opinion!

You'll probably get a totally different message from watching it this time around!

Warm right now, but with a cold front moving in, the 30's are expected tomorrow!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Randall...
I have to admit that Ford made some of the best use of the western landscape that any director could imagine!

Indeed many actors owe him their best works!

Pretty warm right now, but change is coming!

Thanks for dropping by today!

Hey Linda...
Gotta love the modern, more truthful stories as they make us look at ourselves!

Guess we forget that Winter really is here, even in the South!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Jo...
He was a great director, without a doubt. Made some really good Westerns.

Thanks, sweetie, for coming over today!

Sixbears said...

The Ford/John Wayne team created some of my favortie westerns. They did their best work together.

Anonymous said...

Secondly, if your figure will be thin and tall, selecting a warm-colored jacket can cause you to arrive strong.In addition, as choosing and buying other apparel, when scouting for and buying a [URL=]north face sale clearance[/URL] , it's also advisable to pay attention to its size and high quality. Usually, [URL=]north face sale clearance[/URL] is shorter than suit. The size of the jacket is where your own wrist reaches when you endure with natural posture.