In 1971, Peter Bogdanovich was, perhaps, America's most promising young filmmaker, having directed the remarkable "Targets" (1968) and "The Last Picture Show" (1971) earning him an Academy Award nomination for the latter. At this point, he chose to make a documentary about legendary film director John Ford. The result was a documentary that drew excellent reviews, following a screening at the 1971 New York Film Festival and a television broadcast. It was later withdrawn from circulation because of legal rights. It was only in early 2006 that Bogdanovich - who was reportedly never totally happy with the 1971 version - went back and revamped the documentary to his satisfaction. He recorded totally new interviews with Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg and incorporated a rare audio recording of Ford and his rumored 'significant other' Katharine Hepburn. He has integrated these new elements alongside the strongest sections from the first version - including extended ... Written by
This is one of the best director bios I've ever seen, and I'm not even a huge John Ford fan. Personally, I've taken a dislike to the man himself after reading all the stories about his brutal treatment of people on the sets of his films. JOHN WAYNE and JAMES STEWART talk about some of the humiliating moments they suffered on Ford's sets and how he manipulated them into very embarrassing moments. Seems someone always had to be the fall guy on a Ford set. The JOHN AGAR incident during FORT APACHE is never mentioned, but Ford was notoriously unkind to the fledgling actor, addressing him on the set as "Mr. Temple."
As JAMES STEWART says: "A Ford set was never a relaxed set." And as HARRY CAREY, JR. says: "He told me I'd hate him by the time the film was over. He was wrong. I hated him after that first day." MAUREEN O'HARA has her own take on Ford, praising him for the work he accomplished but adding that he "could be the most aggravating man" and "mean and vindictive" during one of his moods.
The only thing they all agreed on: he was a master movie-maker. "He's a painter. A great painter," says Steven Spielberg who had a rather uncomfortable first meeting with Ford when Spielberg was a youngster telling the great man that some day he'd like to be a director.
The man who made over 135 films, won six Oscars and four New York Film Critics awards is certainly not an easy man to know, as anyone who has interviewed him finds out. Much can be traced to the unhappy family life in his background.
All of the incisive remarks on Ford's movie-making experiences, as related by stars and directors, are followed by clips illustrating the points they make. In fact, there's a very generous assortment of film clips from all his major films and even some from the lesser known works. All together, it's a fully rounded portrait of the man.
Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in what has to go on behind the camera, with insightful contributions from Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, especially.
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