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John Ford Goes to War (2002)

 -  Documentary | Biography | War
6.2
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 91 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 1 critic

When World War II broke out, John Ford, in his forties, commissioned in the Naval Reserve, was put in charge of the Field Photographic Unit by Bill Donavan, director of the soon-to-be-OSS. ... See full summary »

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F.X. Feeney ...
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Dan Ford ...
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Kathleen Parrish ...
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Bob Thomas ...
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When World War II broke out, John Ford, in his forties, commissioned in the Naval Reserve, was put in charge of the Field Photographic Unit by Bill Donavan, director of the soon-to-be-OSS. During the war, Field Photo made at least 87 documentaries, many with Ford's signature attention to heroism and loss, and many from the point of view of the fighting soldier and sailor. Talking heads discuss Ford's life and personality, the ways that the war gave him fulfillment, and the ways that his war films embodied the same values and conflicts that his Hollywood films did. Among the films profiled are "Battle of Midway," "Torpedo Squadron," "Sexual Hygiene," and "December 7." Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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A different side of John Ford.
25 December 2011 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

John Ford was a great filmmaker--that cannot be denied. He had a knack for creating a very sentimental view of life that was very appealing and he received several Oscars for this work. However, I also know from some documentaries on the guy that although he was talented, he also could be a complete son of a .....well, you know what I mean. At times, he seemed to take delight in bullying some of his actors for kicks and often mistreated actors to get great performances. As a human being, he seemed to be quite lacking at times--yet others have described him as being gruff but sweet. I am not sure who the man really was--I suspect he was indeed a little of each. However, one aspect of his life that is just glossed over is his involvement with the US Naval Reserves--not just during WWII but in the years that followed. This film makes up for that omission and discusses this very interesting part of his life. And, in the process made me respect and appreciate Ford as a human being...at least more than I had.

The film is made up of lots of archival clips, clips of Ford's propaganda documentaries for the Navy and various interviews--most of which seem second-hand since the film was made so many years after Ford's death. In fact, this is the biggest weakness of the film--had it been made decades earlier, it could have featured more interviews with folks who actually knew Ford well. Still, it's well worth seeing.


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