Directed by John Ford (1971/2006)

“‘Directed by John Ford’: what do those words really mean, anyway?”

Directed by John Ford Poster

Synopsis:
Peter Bogdanovich analyzes John Ford’s rich cinematic oeuvre.

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Review:
Peter Bogdanovich’s adulatory look at iconic American director John Ford features movie clips from many of Ford’s most well-known films, a resonant voiceover narration by Ford-fan Orson Welles, and fascinating interviews with several of Ford’s key actors (including Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, and Henry Fonda). While Bogdanovich’s interview with Ford himself is less informative (he didn’t have much to say), it provides both unintentional comic relief and a revealing glimpse of Ford’s notoriously “difficult” personality. The original version of this documentary has been unavailable for viewing since its release in 1971, so Bogdanovich’s updated iteration is especially welcome; but the original footage ultimately remains much more interesting than the later additions.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Bogdanovich’s interview with the laconic Ford in Monument Valley
  • Fascinating interview clips with Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, and John Wayne

Must See?
Yes. This documentary is indispensable viewing for any true film fanatic.

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One Response to “Directed by John Ford (1971/2006)”

  1. A must, perhaps…perhaps…if you are a young ff and know next to nothing about John Ford and his work.

    Otherwise, ffs who come to this late in their viewing life need not put everything on hold to watch this.

    The bulk of the doc is film clips, many of them lengthy. You may just wish you were watching one of the whole films instead.

    I don’t find most of the things those interviewed say about him to be wildly insightful. Much is related about how great he was, or how awful he was, or how awful he could purposely be for a higher purpose.

    Director Walter Hill comes off best, granted, and is delightfully analytical. Martin Scorsese – who, in other docs, tends to overflow with fascinating facts, etc. – here has, one would think, been edited down.

    It mostly felt a bit long to me. But then, I know Ford’s work very well – so didn’t find a whole lot here that was particularly new or necessary. More to the point, perhaps: I’m guessing that what needs to be known about Ford – and what could be said about him that is of real importance – is already in his films.

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