John Ford: Hollywood's Old Master

Ronald L. Davis, Author
Ronald L. Davis, Author University of Oklahoma Press $29.95 (383p) ISBN 978-0-8061-2708-8
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-8061-2916-7
Hardcover - 395 pages - 978-0-585-16545-5
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During a career that spanned more than 50 years, Ford (1895-1973) directed 136 films and established himself as a creative genius. Davis, a history professor at Southern Methodist, presents a lively and well-researched study of Ford's life and work. Although best known for directing westerns that emphasized visual beauty, action and mood rather than dialogue--Stagecoach (1939), Fort Apache (1948)--Ford won six academy awards for non-westerns, including The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and How Green Was My Valley (1941), which dealt with social themes. Davis draws on the recollections of the actors who worked frequently with Ford, including John Wayne, Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara, to document Ford's tyranny on the set, which intimidated his cast but wrung brilliant performances from them. Although he married and had two children, Ford was most comfortable with men, according to Davis, and masked his deep emotional insecurities by abusing alcohol. Illustrations. (Apr.)
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