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John Ford Goes to War (2002)

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 »


Tom Thurman


Tom Marksbury

On Disc

at Amazon




Credited cast:
Peter Bogdanovich ... Himself
Ward Bond ... Himself (archive footage)
Michael Curtiz ... Himself (archive footage)
Jane Darwell ... (voice) (archive footage)
Harry Davenport ... (archive footage)
F.X. Feeney F.X. Feeney ... Himself
Dan Ford Dan Ford ... Himself
John Ford ... Himself (archive footage)
George Hjorth George Hjorth ... Himself
Kris Kristofferson ... Narrator (voice)
Gavin Lambert ... Himself
Leonard Maltin ... Himself
Arthur Meehan Arthur Meehan ... Himself
Kathleen Parrish Kathleen Parrish ... Herself
Robert Parrish Robert Parrish ... Himself (archive footage)


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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Also Known As:

O John Ford ston polemo See more »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Features The Battle of Midway (1942) See more »

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User Reviews

Just okay, a disappointment
16 March 2006 | by HEFILMSee all my reviews

You do get to hear Oliver Stone trash John Ford for being a government shill. That and an overabundance of talking heads who talk and talk but sometimes don't say much slow this down. You finish the film thinking, I didn't really see much of what Ford actually did on film during the war and what you do see leaves you with the impression that if this is the best stuff from those films maybe you don't need to see anymore. It's kind of impressive the people they got to interview but what they chose either to ask or to use from what they said is not impressive--and mostly impersonal.

It's great they made this film but the writing assumes too much in some cases, making a case that John Ford was a drunken bastard wanna be as a personality, but not letting us appreciate the war films or understand just how it (the war) affected him. Though the voice over says it changed him there is no answer as to how.

Most interesting footage is home movie footage of the elusive Ford on his boat and at some vet functions. You get to watch him guzzle a beer and flip off the camera. Kris Kristopherson offers his own, last stool at the end of the bar, style narration that seemed to fit the Sam Peckinpah documentary more than it fits this. Again though the fault may mostly be with the writing here.

Some of the other most interesting footage is that cut out of the December 7th movie, cut by Ford. The long version of the film, Dec 7 that is, looks like a strange curio in deed and I didn't know that Greg Toland the DP really wanted to direct--though it seems the relative failure of this wartime film helped stop that from happening.

Peter Bogdanavich adds a funny and revealing story (and impersonation) about Ford during the end credits. Too little too late.

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