Wayne and Ford: The Films, the Friendship, and the Forging of an American Hero

Nancy Schoenberger. Doubleday/Talese, $27.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-53485-7
Schoenberger (Furious Love) has tremendous affection for her subjects here, John Ford and John Wayne, who made seven major westerns together. Her book focuses equally on their individual career trajectories and director Ford’s mentoring of the actor who was shaped into “the ideal of the American hero.” While Schoenberger addresses some relevant themes—boys becoming men, codes of masculinity, and feminized men—there is more recounting of plots and quoting of published source material than analysis of the films. The sections on Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance are adequate but not overly illuminating. Schoenberger has an unfortunate tendency to repeat herself, yet she fails to emphasize her points. What is of interest here are some of the more gossipy tidbits: rumors that Ford was gay, stories about his tormenting of actors and irascible nature on set, or an account of Wayne stepping into the director’s chair on The Alamo and relegating Ford to second-camera duties. The photos, of the young Wayne especially, are good, but overall this appreciation of the careers of these legendary men is underwhelming. Agent: David Kuhn, Kuhn Projects. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2017
Release date: 10/24/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-307-74415-9
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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