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September 13, 2008


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Here's Atkinson's head-smacking review of My Darling Clementine (in which he does recognize Grapes), and the reason I no longer read him: http://www.tcm.com/thismonth/article.jsp?cid=182379&mainArticleId=184253. Good way for TCM to preserve classic movies...


"I'm a liberal democrat." -- John Ford, 1966.


In the previous interview there are mentions of Balzac and Remington, this--

"I hate the spirit of the South and I can't talk about it..."


"What do you talk about with your friends?"
"Baseball and sex. Mostly baseball."


"I hate Hemingway. Faulkner isn't bad."

--and so on. The later films provide an easy rebuttal too. The Horse Soldiers, Liberty Valance (which doesn't exactly "disguise" the legend), Seven Women...How is Ethan Edwards accepted by anyone, except momentarily as a necessary evil? Hell, Ford's characters barely accept themselves...

Aaron Aradillas

I've always resisted Thomson's Biographical Dictionary of Film.

More than Sarris and his "Notes on the Auteur Theory," Thomson's organization of Film (not movies) always struck me as so rigid that it flew in the face of critical analysis and discussion.

Sarris has always been willing to admit there are exceptions to everything. Not Thomson.


I read that passage and honestly I can refute it with two words:

"The Searchers."

Tom Carson

Glenn, I think you overlooked one signal of concern-troll bad faith in the quote from Thomson's Ford entry -- namely, the implication that "endorsements of the military" are enough in and of themselves to put a filmmaker beyond the pale. I think it's unquestionable that Ford had a fascination with the military life: its codes, its protocols, its status as a subculture misunderstood by the public at large (see especially She Wore. . . for that). But partly because no other American filmmaker was so interested in figuring out how it worked (leaving aside the Preminger of In Harm's Way), that's one of the things I value in him. So sue me.

Miguel Marías

Really, I've never understood why anyone ever read Thomson. Just check almost whoever in his Dictionary, from Ford to Nick Ray, or whatever, old or new, American or European. At best, it's a useless blurb.
Miguel Marías

Herman Scobie

No sexuality in Ford? Wayne's embrace of O'Hara in the storm in QUIET MAN is one of the most erotic moments in the American films of the studio era.

Tom Carson

Don't forget their love scenes in RIO GRANDE either, which are about as drenched in thwarted, middle-aged marital lust as it gets. Not to mention how blatantly sexualized Ethan's pathology is in THE SEARCHERS -- maybe not a great advertisement for Eros, but not sexless by a long shot.

Hot bodybuilders unite

I like how, in bringing up The Quiet Man, Thomson avoids the actually valid complaint (it's a rather laughably sexist retooling of Bill Shakespeare's already-sexist Taming of the Shrew), and opts for some nonsense offhand remark about the IRA. I actually love Ford's vision of an idyllic/cartoony Ireland that never existed, though I have to slap my forehead and tug my collar at the dated gender politics. The Quiet Man is beautiful in a number of ways but it's the only major Ford film that, in this hot bodybuilder's opinion, has not aged well at all.

Also, re: MDC, "nostalgia for a world and a code that never existed" ... well, yes. That's kind of the whole fucking point, ain't it? Ford was a world-builder. If Thomson doesn't want to hang out in those worlds, it's his loss.


I love reading the Biographical Dictionary. Agreeing with it is entirely beside the point.

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