The John Ford collection is a set of vintage Ford films,without John Wayne while and I would NOT have included Mary of Scotland,and would have preferred either The Plough and the Stars,or The Fugitive (Henry Fonda)or the underrated Two Rode Together,this is still a very good film set.There is a separate Ford-Wayne collection,which I will review latter.The five films,in this collection are: The Lost Patrol;The Informer;Cheyenne Autumn:Mary of Scotland:Sergeant Rutledge: The following are my reviews of each individul film.
1.THE LOST PATROL-TENSE ANTI-WAR CLASSIC!*****
A British army Patrol,during the time of WW1, in the Mesopotamian desert gets lost,after their commander is killed,and he has left no notes or orders,in regard to their mission or exact location.With
their leader dead the small group's command falls to Sergeant Victor McLaglen.After a journey of unknown length,the patrol finds an oasis,and it is here where most of the action takes place as they are pinned down by (mostly unseen) Arab fighters.It is here where we really get to meet the men and get to know their hopes and fears.The other men include J.M.Kerrigan(as Quincannn-probably the most frequently used name in a Ford film!),Reginald Denny (Brown),Wallace Ford( excellent as Moretti),Boris Karloff,(,outstanding as Sanders-a religious fanatic),and Douglas Walton,as callow youth,who when he leaves for the service he relates that that was the ONLY time he saw his mother cry.This is (to me) one of the dramtic highlight so the film,when we see 19 year old Walton(about 25,in real life) pours his heart out to McLaglen.This scene,even more so than others shows the futility of war. Great direction,a great screenplay(Dudley Nichols,Ford's favorote writer,at the time-THE INFORMER-STAGECOACH),a fine Max Steiner score,and an excellent DVD transfer. A GREAT ANTI-WAR AND(mildly) ANTI-IMPERIALIST FILM,AND A MUST SEE!
MARY OF SCOTLAND:KATHERINE HEPBURN-FREDRIC MARCH **1/2
Katherine Hepburn,in her only Ford film,is Mary, Queens of Scots.This motion picture is derived from a Maxwell Anderson Play,and a screenplay by Dudley Nichols.To me of what I've seen of Ford's thirties films,"Mary of Scotland" it is Ford's least-good films of the period.Watchable,but forgettable.Two and one half stars.
THE INFORMER:VICTOR MCLAGLEN'S FINEST HOUR *****
The story of "the troubles",in Ireland, in told in a very somber way in the John Ford classic "The Informer",with Victor McLaglen(a Ford regular)giving an AA winning performance in the title role.McLaglen plays Gypo Nolan,a down and out Dubliner,who is without money,and because of this and having been recently "dismissed" from the IRA(Irish Republican Army'freedom fighters,hoping to obtain a united and totally free Ireland,with no British ties whatsoever) and because he is also in jeopardy of losing his girlfried Margot Grahame,(outstanding)as he is in a greatly strained emotional state,and when wondering the streets comes upon a reward poster for "IRA murderer"Frankie McPhillip(Wallace Ford-no relation to the director).The reward is worth enough so that both Gypo and his girl can get passage to America.A short while latter Gypo accidentally runs into Frankie,an old friend,and they have a short conversion about Frankie being on the run,how Frankes's mother is,and the reasons why Gypo was "sacked" from the(in this coversion a "Quincannon" is mentioned) IRA,after the conversion ends the wheels start to turn in Gypo's head and he wonders over to the "Black and Tans"station(the Black and Tans,so-called becuse of their uniforms,are special British militiary(police)men assigned to Ireland when "the troubles" are at their height,""Up the Irish" or in this film,"Up the Rebels" types may look at the B&T's as THE REAL TERRORISTS,but that's for another discussion)and reluctanly tells the "Brits" that Frankie will be at his mother's.After Frankie is killed in a shoot-out,Gypo is given disdainfully(even the B&T's don"t like Informers) his money and goes.Drinking,fighting,and partying are on the night's program for Gypo,but his drining is only a mask,to hide his emotional breakdown from his wicked deed.The IRA figures out what went on,in regard to Frankie's death, and Gypo is a doomed man!
Other supporting members of the cast are very good to excellent,J.M.Kerrigan,Preston Foster,Donald Meek,Joseph (then Sauers)Sawyer,and Una'Connor as Frankie's mother who is a bite "over the top" early in the film,but comes through poignanly at the coclusion.From a LiamO'Flaherty story,an excellent Dudley Nichols screenplay,with a haunting Max Steiner musical score,and a very crisp and clear DVD transfer.The ONLY MINUS NO DVD COMMETARY-A MUST SEE!!
CHEYENNE AUTUMN-DESPITE FLAWS ALMOST A CLASSIC ****
Ignoring "Fort Apache",and the anti-racism of "The Searchers",many critics (falsely) claim that John Ford set an anti-Native American(Indian) tone in films that increased racism in America.Well, whatever truth there is to either side of the argument is,in this film John Ford,in his last Western,is FIRMLY on the Indians side.But is was still (somewhat justified)critised fom casting,in VERY IMPORTANT roles none-Idians,especially The Victor Jory,Gilbert Roland,Richardo Montalban,Dolores Del Reo,and Sal Mineo(!)roles.
This motion picture tells the true story of the Cheyenne's plight at the hand of "THE GREAT FATHER" and their trek,and persuit(by U.S.troops) back to their Yellowstone homeland.
On the minus side is the appearrance of Carroll Baker(miscast) as a Quaker school marm) and Karl Malden,with an"over the top performance" as a muderous,racist American(German born) General.The screenplay by James Webb(Pork Chop Hill,The Big Country,Cape Fear) is lacklustre,and the comic interlude of Jimmy Stewart(as Wyatt Earp) with Arthur KennedyI"Doc" Holliday) and John Carradine(a dishonest gambler) and a bunch of hooligian ,led by Ken Curtis is out of place,and NOT VERY FUNNYI did lke Elizebeth Allen,was a damsel of ill-repute.This is a heart-felt film by John Ford with good performances by Richard Widmark as a "liberal" U.S. "horse soldier",and LaBaker's love interest,and in a cameo Edward G.Robinson.The musical score by Alex North is OK,but I would have preferred Elmer Bernstein.An An excellent DVD transfer.Despite my misgivings,4 stars.
SERGEANT RUTLEDGE-ANTI RACIST CLASSIC WESTERN *****
In this unheralded John Ford anti-racist Western, set in 1881,Sergeant Braxton Rutledge(Woody Stode) is accussed of rape and murder,and mostly in flashbacks the events of his accusation,his fleeing,and trial are told.The pace is perfect and acting and direction excellent.In his third Ford film Jeffery Hunter proves again that he was a very underrated actor.His performance is excellent,also good are Constance Towers,as Hunter's love interest and Braxton sympathizer,Willis Bouchey(a Ford grouchy regular),Juano Hernandez,Routledge's fellow "Buffalo Soldier",and sort of "father figure".for the rest of the black soldier's,and Charleton Young(another Ford regular) as the intentially racist prosecutor.But it is Strode(a Ford regular,in support roles) who carries the film.His pride and dignity are evident, in every scene in which he appears.There re two ways to look at this film,or more properly to look at Hollywood,either this film was way ahead of its time or Hollywood took to long to look at U.S. race relations,in any meaning manner.The anti-racists films,of Hollywood, did not really start to make an appearance until the late 1940's,with films such as "PINKY" and the 1950 film debut of Sidney Poitier in "NO WAY OUT"(see my review)My opinion is "so-called liberal Hollywood"(remember the blacklist) was and is always interested IN PROFITS,and NOT PREACHING!.
A GREAT FILM by "AMERICA'S GREATEST DIRECTOR!!
Excellent DVD transfer,but no commetary.5-stars!!