The Western is arguably the most popular and enduring form in cinematic history, and the acknowledged master of that genre was John Ford. His Westerns, including The Searchers, Stagecoach, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, have had an enormous influence on contemporary U.S. films, from Star Wars to Taxi Driver.
In John Ford Made Westerns, nine major essays by prominent scholars of Hollywood film situate the sound-era Westerns of John Ford within contemporary critical contexts and regard them from fresh perspectives. These range from examining Ford's relation to other art forms (most notably literature, painting, and music) to exploring the development of the director's reputation as a director of Westerns. While giving attention to film style and structure, the volume also treats the ways in which these much-loved films engage with notions of masculinity and gender roles, capitalism and community, as well as racial, sexual, and national identity.
Contributors include Charles Ramirez Berg, Matthew Bernstein, Edward Buscombe, Joan Dagle, Barry Keith Grant, Kathryn Kalinak, Peter Lehman, Charles J. Maland, Gaylyn Studlar, and Robin Wood.
About the Authors:
Gaylyn Studlar is Director and Professor of Film Studies and English at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She has published widely on issues of gender in Hollywood cinema. She is coeditor (with Matthew Bernstein) of Visions of the East: Orientalism in Film.
Matthew Bernstein, Associate Professor of Film Studies at Emory University, is author of Walter Wanger, Hollywood Independent.
"My name's John Ford. I make Westerns." Ford preferred to let his work speak for itself, and his abrasive encounters with film scholars have become legendary. In fact, "Pappy" Ford, who fancied himself a journeyman director, would probably have been perplexed by these two recent additions to the rapidly growing library of Ford film criticism. Arriving hard on the heels of Scott Eyman's comprehensive Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford (LJ 10/1/99), McBride's weighty tome, several decades in preparation, paints a similar portrait: Ford was an insecure alcoholic whose gruff, even sadistic treatment of family, friends, cast, and crew masked his sensitive, sentimental nature. Complex and contradictory like many of his films Ford was a man who stood up to McCarthyite blacklisters but later churned out crude propaganda in support of the Vietnam war. He celebrated tradition, family, and community but was a miserable failure as husband and father. As Eyman did, McBride (Frank Capra; Steven Spielberg) draws on exhaustive research and interviews, but he has the advantage of a few memorably brief meetings with the Great Man himself. Ford left an impressive if uneven body of work, and McBride does it justice, examining each film in illuminating detail. Still, although McBride's book is very deserving, public and academic libraries that cannot collect both biographies should stick to Eyman's more streamlined telling. Studlar (film and English, Univ. of Michigan) and Bernstein (film, Emory Univ.) take readers into academic territory, offering nine essays on the work plus a "dossier" of articles on the man and filmmaker. Robin Wood leads off with a classic critique, questioning whether Ford's late films measure up to his early work. Other essays discuss the role of women and religion in Ford's film universe, and the hotly disputed controversy about whether his last epic Cheyenne Autumn was a "mea culpa" for previous insensitive portrayals of the American Indian. Westerns is recommended for academic collections. Stephen F. Rees, Levittown Regional Lib., PA. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.