Tag: John Ford

Liberty Valance and the Cactus Rose

 

So a friend sends me news from the desert! This picture reminded me of the cactus rose in Liberty Valance, a contender for the greatest movie made in America–or anywhere, John Ford’s finest statement on the arrival of the Declaration of Independence, of justice, the laws, and a lawyer (Jimmy Stewart) who teaches a girl (Vera Miles) to read (her Bible, to begin with), to dream of real roses, and to choose the future. But in the past, there’s this other man (John Wayne), who knows she loves the cactus rose–a hardy growth which is beautiful over against the sublime desert–deadly, indifferent to man, eternal. There’s always that lingering memory of nature. The beauty of the vast wild American West reminds us always of freedom.

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Great Character Actors: Ward Bond

 

There’s no real point to this post other than to briefly discuss and celebrate the career of one of the great character actors of all time — Ward Bond (1903-1960). First, I have to admit I don’t know much more about Bond’s life than that presented in his Wikipedia biography.

Let’s see … I did know that he’d played football at the University of Southern California along with John Wayne and that he and Wayne began their acting careers when they and other USC footballers were hired by director John Ford to appear in “Salute,” a 1929 movie about football. I also knew about the drinking and the conservative politics (among other things he was an early and proud member of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals). I didn’t know about the B.S. degree in engineering nor did I know that he suffered from epilepsy.

Bond and Wayne, who would remain lifelong friends, had somewhat similar career paths although with widely divergent trajectories. Wayne, after a decade or so, would rise to the peaks of stardom, while Bond, after a decade or so, would establish himself as a solid, highly sought-after character actor. Bond appeared in over 200 movies in his career, including some of the best ever made. It’s likely most moviegoers of the time would not have recognized his name although they would have recognized him as soon as he appeared on screen. In any event, Bond made every movie he was in just a little bit better than it otherwise would’ve been.

ACF#39 The Wild Bunch

 

This has been a summer of Westerns on the ACF podcast and we are now talking about one of the last great ones: The Wild Bunch, Sam Peckinpah’s answer to John Ford. Peckinpah answers to the epic with tragedy, to foundations with collapse, to the respectability of the railroad that carries The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance with the railroad that carries Gen. Pershing’s men and which the Wild Bunch robs. The Civil War song We will gather at the river, Ford’s favorite Western song, is sung during a terrible, bloody shootout. Agony is Peckinpah’s mood and he displays violence in all its ugliness to give all the moral seriousness of our mortality. His movies are about choosing a noble death.

ACF #35: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

 

The Great Western series continues. Prof. Marini and I move from the sacred law of the family–The Searchers–to the law of the city: Liberty Valance. We talk about love and law, nature and progress, the desert and the railroad, and the rest of the symbols and structures that stand out in John Ford’s best movie. Listen to our conversation, friends, and please share the podcast. If you prefer iTunes, go here, and please leave us a review/rating. You can also find us on stitcher and on pocketcasts.

ACF#34: The Searchers

 

Today, I am joined by Prof. John Marini for the first in a series of podcasts on Great Westerns. We start with The Searchers, John Ford’s thematic treatment of the sacred law of the family. American freedom out West and the nature-civilization conflict are treated in parallel in a story that blends comedy and tragedy with an eye to Homer. This is John Wayne’s greatest role and it is an education about human things wrapped into one. Listen and share, friends!

Member Post

 

Akira Kurosawa is the most famous of the Japanese directors & one of the directors with an acknowledged, plausible claim to title, greatest director. This is a difficult thing to decide. We have to consider that & why he admired John Ford. If people who admire Kurosawa are right about him, that would suggest John Ford […]

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Member Post

 

It is a vulgar things in Americans who boast an education that they’re educated to be snobs. That’s literally how they know they’re educated. I’m not naming names, but it’s also how they learn what the word literally literally means. American snobs are usually derived from European snobs. They see in some way that American splendor, including the White […]

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Member Post

 

America is a weird place. In America it’s one generation from liberals like Henry Fonda joining up to serve the country in war–like everyone else, at one in heart & mind with their conservative friends, like Jimmy Stewart–to liberals like Jane Fonda running off to Vietnam to help out some of the most atrocious murderers available at the […]

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Save or Kill – Ricochet Edition

 

save or killThis past weekend, I did a pop-culture post based on a game Collider uses on its website called “Save or Kill.” The premise is that you are presented with two icons, both threatened with being wiped from existence forever, and must choose which of the two to save; you cannot save both. The game works best when you really love both icons, so it becomes a real Sophie’s Choice.

That first post didn’t get as many responses as I’d hoped — though my thanks to those who did participate, and there’s still time to jump in! — so I’m tailoring the game in this post with options better-suited to the interests of the Ricochetti.

So, read the list of the choices below and — in the comments — post which of the two icons you’d save for each of the ten choices. There’s no obligation to explain your reasoning, but I think it’ll be more fun with it. The criteria you use for judging is entirely up to you: you can do this based exclusively on personal preference, or on which option you feel is more important to society. Also, if you’re not familiar with both options in a scenario, feel free to abstain from that particular scenario.