Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Directed by John Ford

Fans of John Ford’s Western panache know the unique flourishes of his movie landscape: As magnificent silhouettes ride horseback across a desolate horizon—their heroic forms outlined with the gorgeous palette of a setting sun, their cadences set to a glorified soundtrack—he creates a fantastical vision of the American frontier. Peter Bogdanovich’s documentary, Directed by John Ford, extracts this aesthetic from the director’s half-century career, essentially making clip-show pornography. You couldn’t ask for a better subject. Ford’s movies speak for themselves as relics of sincerity from a forgotten age; the ’70s introduced us to Clint Eastwood’s lone rider, and the genre began a slow decline toward self-parody and cynicism. The regular faces that populate Ford’s oeuvre—particularly John “Duke” Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda—battled to uphold a moral system in a world suffering from disrepair. They weren’t always successful (“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend,” a steely-eyed reporter retorts to Stewart in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance), but the messages were unmistakable.

Read the rest of the review in the New York Press:


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