Searching for John Ford: A Life

Joseph McBride, Author St. Martin's Press $40 (838p) ISBN 978-0-312-24232-9
After being called the ""greatest poet of the Western saga,"" film director Ford responded, ""I am not a poet, and I don't know what a Western saga is. I would say that is bullshit."" Yet FordDwho made such classic westerns as Stagecoach, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and The Man Who Shot Liberty ValanceDhelped define the idea of the western as a quintessential American story for audiences around the world. This first full-length critical biography presents a complex, fascinating portrait of a troubled and conflicted artist and man. Born John Feeney, he was an Irish outsider in Yankee New England. He began working in the film industry in 1914 as a studio ditch digger, but was soon acting in films and, a few years later, directing them. By the early 1930s, he had achieved considerable artistic and commercial fame with The Informer. McBride (Frank Capra) elegantly and cogently weaves Ford's personal life into the fabric of his career. He is at his best describing how Ford's political sentiments emerged in his work (especially the antiracism of Steamboat Round the Bend and The Searchers) as well as the director's move from liberal to conservative politics during Hollywood's red-baiting years and the HUAC hearings. He gives an equally astute delineation of Ford's emotional lifeDa tempestuous marriage, a possible affair with Katharine Hepburn, his reputation as a tough guy and his alcoholism. Drawing upon a wealth of critical material plus more than 125 interviews with Ford's colleagues, family and friends, McBride has produced a fine, long-needed biography of a pivotal American artist. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 06/01/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 880 pages - 978-0-312-31011-0
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 848 pages - 978-1-60473-468-3
Paperback - 838 pages - 978-1-60473-467-6
Hardcover - 838 pages - 978-0-571-20075-7
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