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John Ford and the Western
15 March 2012 | by See all my reviews

American Cinema: The Western (1995)

*** (out of 4)

Clint Eastwood, John Sturges, James Coburn, Budd Boetticher, Lindsay Anderson, Elmore Leonard and Arthur Penn are among the people interviewed in this fourth episode of the American Cinema series. The Western genre gets the spotlight here as the majority of the running time is devoted to the like of John Ford and John Wayne. Both men are heard from via archival interviews as they talk about why they make films in the genre. We see clips from dozens of their films from Wayne's early "B" pictures to STAGECOACH and of course THE SEARCHERS. Those interviewed discuss what made Ford so special and there's a nice little debate on THE SEARCHERS and why such a film and subject matter could only be told in a Western. The second portion of the episode takes a look at the fact, fiction and myths of the genre in regards to what they show. There's talk about how certain people like Billy the Kid were shown and why history wasn't always the number one goal for a director. There's also a talk about why the genre never really goes away and we also cover some of the films from the 70s that helped bring it back. Overall this is another good episode but once again I'm curious why the producers really paid no attention to the silent era. We get a couple quick clips of William S. Hart but his name is never mentioned nor are any other actors from this period. With that said, fans of cinema should still enjoy the film as well as the interviews.


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