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This film is based on true events about Henry Ford's(Cliff Robertson)life.His marriage with Clara(Hope Lange),his tempestuous relationship with his son(R.H.Thomson),lover(Heather Thomas)and helper(Michael Ironside) but specially his hardship way to the success.At the beginning he worked as mechanic but he early designed his own prototypes(Daimler and Benz had invented some of them too).The firm was founded in 1903 at Dearborn and named ¨Ford Motor Company¨ with the model Ford T for the consumer society and the bourgeois family, appearing the XX century cars civilization, achieving a selling of fifteen millions.The working system consisted in a production line by means of an assembly line work which reduced costs and revolutionized the enterprise,being its center the city of Detroit .The employees received a wage of five dollars a day and they bought their own Ford cars. Henry Ford got a big time,however he failed in peaceable campaign about First World War(1914-1918) and he discredit himself in anti-Jewish advertising in the 20s and the confrontation against the trade unions in the 30s. The film is well directed by Allan Eastman,an usual director of television movies .
Cliff Robertson gives one of his best performances in Ford: The Man And
The Machine. In Henry Ford's case the machine he invented truly
dominated the man, causing son Edsel to seriously question whether his
father truly loved his family more than that automobile that made him a
hero in his early years. I think you'll figure out the answer as you
watch the film.
Henry Ford the farm kid with a genius for mechanical invention proved to be a shrewder businessman than his original partners thought. He ended up with 100% of the stock of the Ford Motor Company and for years would not trade on the stock market as did his rivals General Motors and Chrysler and a smattering of smaller fry did. But that left him in a dominant position. It was only in the Fifties that grandson Henry Ford II opened up the company for trading. In Henry Ford's time the Ford Motor Corporation was the largest Mom and Pop operation ever conceived in the mind of man.
Robertson as Ford is no different than a lot of millionaires who think that making money in their field makes them omnicompetent. Ford never held with higher education and in his life intellectually was still a Michigan farm kid with some really strange ideas. Those ideas like anti-Semitism embarrass the family to this day.
As a father and husband he leaves a lot to be desired. He cheats on Hope Lange who is an unaffected rural girl as his wife with stenographer Heather Thomas. Like Charles II did and other monarchs he married off his mistress to one of the plant workers. He was Lord and Master in his factory as well as his house.
Son Edsel played here by R.H. Thomson never got out from under his domination. The scenes with Robertson and Thomson are quite poignant as Ford just can't let go and give the young man his head.
A man to this day reviled by organized labor as well he should is Michael Ironside as Harry Bennett. A former boxer and Navy seaman, Bennett became Ford's own private Iago as head of security in the corporation where he ran a private goon squad to enforce company will. The Ford Motor Company in that famous incident at the River Rouge Plant where striking workers were shot down by Bennett's thugs left a forever blot on the company and Henry Ford.
One thing that was not included is Ford's unsuccessful run for the US Senate from Michigan in 1918 as a Democrat. I wish it had been it's quite a fascinating story.
A controversial figure to this day, Robertson captures all the best and worst of Henry Ford who personified the notion of the omnicompetent millionaire. One of the best made for TV films ever done, don't miss it if it is ever broadcast.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Note: Only very mild spoilers in here if at all.
I ran across this title the other day and it looked interesting so I went out and found it. I love historical dramas and documentaries. It's nice to learn something (hopefully) and be entertained at the same time.
As I write this, this movie as about 25 years old already (although I remember the 80's quite well). This movie was pleasantly and surprisingly good!
First of all I'm no Ford history expert. But I have watched at least one non-dramatic documentary et al, so I know little tidbits here and there. One doesn't have to travel far to see a Ford car, often seeing classic Model-A and Model-Ts around town too. I couldn't say how much is drama and how much was actual fact.
I do understand Henry Ford was quite shrewd, and that he had anti- semitic views (at least at some time), etc. Here is probably where the movie was a probably a bit overly dramatic at times. It's kind of to be expected for the typical movie drama where there the creators mix in a good batch of exploitation here and there.
Henry might have been a tough S.O.B., but then it probably took that to push through all that he did and accomplish so much. And I'm sure the people working in his factory were glad to have a job at the time (at least once there were better labor conditions anyhow), plus all the people happy to buy affordable Ford cars and help expand the commerce of the country using Ford trucks and what not.
Plus a man is entitled to their own opinion, who am I, or anyone else to say he was wrong. And apparently (at least by the movie story) he was actually a bit of a pioneer in racial equality. The point is beside a lot of the bad stuff, he did a hell of a lot of good too.
Also a pleasant but unexpected surprise was a few spicy scenes with the beautiful Heather Thomas that you won't want to miss if your a male.
The continuity of the movie, the set designs, locations, and in particular the acting performances were all great.
If you want to see a nice historical drama and learn about Henry Ford and the early days of Ford motors, give this movie a go!
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