Tag Archives: John Ford

The Set of 400: #170 – My Favorite Meal on the Cuff

Today! Because courage can be purchased at yon’ tavern –

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

Directed by John Ford (x2)

Starring James Stewart (x2), John Wayne (x2), Lee Marvin, Vera Miles, Edmond O’Brien (x2), Andy Devine, Ken Murray, Woody Strode, John Carradine (x3), John Qualen, Jeanette Nolan, Lee Van Cleef, Strother Martin (x2), Denver Pyle, Carleton Young, Paul Birch, Joseph Hoover

In concocting this list, I realized that many of the movies I considered my favorites came to me because they were clearly the favorite of someone around me first. Hell, my little sister watched Strictly Ballroom so many times that I’ve committed lots of its dialogue to memory, and it nearly fought its way on here (Strictly Ballroom is great, by the way). My older sister had a poster for Moonstruck hanging up in their room for years, and it had all the glitz and glow of an Oscar winner, even for eight-year-old Joe, that even now I’m like “Yeah! Moonstruck! That movie’s great!” even though I have no recollection of what that movie is about. Does Nicolas Cage only have one hand in it? Is that right?

Jeez, what the hell was that movie about?

But the handful of John Wayne movies on this list I can attribute directly to my old man. Many of them blend together into one Indian massacre of a film that I can’t precisely distinguish, but a few others stand out pretty well. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is at the top of this western list. John Wayne is John Wayne as always (here, one Tom Doniphon), and Jimmy Stewart is the tenderfoot bookworm come to town, just as elections and the east are infiltrating old west life. The movie starts at the end, with Stewart’s Ransom Stoddard returning to Shinbone (the town is named Shinbone!) for a funeral, then jumps back to his initial arrival – and all the drama connected to Lee Marvin’s odious Liberty Valance. Along for the ride are a wonderful bunch of great comic turns – an odd staple of the best John Ford films – including Andy Devine’s hilarious Link Appleyard and Edmond O’Brien’s drunken, raging publisher Dutton Peabody. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: Gadzooks! The Third in a Multi-Part Series

Man, how many list mistakes did this moron make? Quite a few, junior! Some of these additional movies didn’t occur to me last summer, and some did but I hadn’t seen them in a while and didn’t rewatch them with the multiple dozen other films I saw in preparation for this undertaking. And so here we are, unspooling on weekends like badly supervised dads with court-ordered visitation rights! These films need their days in the sun, too! And so –

The Rising of the Moon (1957)

History largely disagrees with the poster’s declaration of this being John Ford’s finest film, but that is not to takeaway from this marvelously charming picture. Very much a companion piece to Ford’s The Quiet Man, this collection of Irish vignettes has a light, fun touch, featuring similarly good natured characters in mildly comic situations. While the capping sequence deals a condemned revolutionary’s attempts to escape his doom – replete with disguises and ballads galore – and is the obvious one to close the picture, the real highlight is the film’s middle section – the terrific “One Minute Wait,” dealing with a myriad of delayed train passengers. And as a bonus – movie star Tyrone Power introducing the segments!

It should come as no surprise that this was a favorite of my old man, and for years the only version I saw was a dingy VHS copy from television. In fact, The Rising of the Moon is the direct reason I ultimately got a burner – to copy this movie from television onto a disc, as it had never been properly released on DVD. I felt wholly accomplished and heroic in this move – even though it did get the modern home video release mere months later. Ah well! I tried!

Had it occurred to me, this movie would probably place around where we are now – maybe back a few days. I could see this residing around #353, just ahead of Jaws 2. Sorry, John Ford!

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The Set of 400: #364 – My Favorite Monument Valley Shoot ‘Em Up

Today! Because laddie, I’ve never gone any place peaceably in my life –

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)

Directed by John Ford

Starring John Wayne, Joanne Dru, Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr. Victor McLaglen, Jon Agar, Mildred Natwick, George O’Brien, Arthur Shields, Chief John Big Tree, Noble Johnson, Francis Ford

This one is an outlier for a few different reasons. First, I don’t have a ton of westerns on this list. As a cinematic art form, they’re in the back of the bin with war movies, original movie musicals, silents, and Christopher Columbus biopics. I’ve got a handful – and at least one pretty high on the list – but overall, not too many. Second, John Wayne westerns in particular are so old school – and largely so interchangeable – as to barely have any resonance with a modern audience. Lastly, we are yet to score any film as my favorite of a particular year, but this one came pretty close, as there are only two other ’49s on the list. Continue reading

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