The Westerns and War Films of John Ford

The Westerns and War Films of John Ford

by Sue Matheson


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Responsible for some of the greatest films of the 20th century—The Grapes of Wrath, How Green Was My Valley, and The Quiet Man among others—John Ford was best known for motion pictures that defined the American West and the face of wartime military. A Hollywood celebrity, Ford lived his life against the background that Twentieth Century-Fox fashioned for him. As he did, the facts of his life merged with—and became inseparable from—his multifaceted legend, fostered by Hollywood’s studio culture and his own imagination.

In The Westerns and War Films of John Ford Sue Matheson offers an engaging look at one of America’s greatest directors and the two genres of films that solidified his reputation.
Drawing on previously unreleased material, this volume explores the man, the filmmaker, the veteran, and the legend—and the ways in which all of those roles shaped Ford’s view of America, national character, and his creative output. Among the films discussed here in depth are Ford’s early productions, such as The Iron Horse and Drums along the Mohawk, his military films, such as Submarine Patrol, The Battle of Midway, and They Were Expendable, and his Westerns, including Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Searchers, and Cheyenne Autumn.

Ford imbued many of his creations with a point of view that represented his ideals, and the films discussed here illustrate their director’s distinct vision of American life on the frontier and in service of the country. That vision—Ford’s idealization of the American Character—would, in turn, shape the worldview of several generations. The Westerns and War Films of John Ford will appeal to critics and scholars, but also to any fan of this iconic filmmaker’s work.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442261051
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 02/18/2016
Series: Film and History Series
Pages: 378
Sales rank: 595,984
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Sue Matheson is associate professor, University College of the North. She is the editor of Love in Western Film and Television (2013).

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction xiii

1 A Career Man 1

2 Early Days in the Hollywood West: From Straight Shooting to The Iron Horse 29

3 The Heroic West: From 3 Bad Men to Drums along the Mohawk 49

4 Not for Self but for Country: From Salute to Submarine Patrol 75

5 In The Navy: The Battle of Midway 97

6 War Stories: They Were Expendable 119

7 Critiquing Combat Culture: Fort Apache 143

8 Keeping the Faith: She Wore a Yellow Ribbon 163

9 The War at Florne: Rio Grande 185

10 Veterans' Affairs: The Searchers 201

11 A House Divided: The Horse Soldiers 215

12 The Nurture of One's Service: Sergeant Rutledge 231

13 Deconstructing the Legend: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 251

14 Questions of Just Conduct: Cheyenne Autumn 265

Aftermath 283

Notes 293

Index 329

About the Author 339

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