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Robert Anderson

Ford reminds me of Vince Lombardi- An italian American who was a liberal and strongly supported the Kennedys. He hated racism and that quality was a key to his success- he treated everybody the same. But in the 60's, Vince became quite outspoken against draft resisters and the counterculter, often sounding like a flagwaving reactionary. I guess people were a lot more complicated back then.

I don't like to mix politics with sports or art. I'm as liberal as they come, but Ford, Vince, and yes even the Duke, are three of my heros.

Sown Eye

Ford's Horse Soldiers unwatchable? Rubbish. Most people likely don't appreciate is that it is based on an actual raid, one which Grant himself did set in motion, as the movie depicts. The raid had a profound effect upon military actions of the confederate leadership, and proved instrumental to the success of his campaign that led to the fall of Vicksburg. In the film's broadest outlines, Ford accurately portrayed the cav's strategy and tactics, too.

As to the comment that Vince Lombardi "..treated everybody the same": during the Pack's glory years, Paul Hornung(?) was asked if that was indeed true. Referring to the players, he famously replied, "Yeah, like dogs".

Sovereign Eye

You refuse to watch Jaws? What the hell?

I went and saw it after it had been out a few months, entering the theatre with a real "show me this better be good" attitude. Well, it did, and from the gitgo, too. What on earth prompts your pig-headed refusal to enjoy an enjoyable film?

Now, Jaws 2 I would definitely understand. Even Michael Caine is embarassed by that one. When asked if he had seen it, he replied, "No, but I live in the house it paid for".


I have a soft spot for the Horse Soldiers. I also have a soft spot for Donovan's Reef. I think that might have been the first grown up movie I ever saw. I stayed up late to watch it and it affected me profoundly. I still can't believe I don't live on an island and own a bar.

No movie with William Holden or Lee Marvin is unwatchable.

No sharks. I don't care how good the movie is. In fact a good movie about sharks is even worse!


How about Titanic, Lance? Have you seen that one? hehe.

Sovereign Eye

Hmmm. ".. can't believe I don't live on an island...".

Surely/Shirley, that island would also be surrounded by sharks. Intriguing. Disturbingly so, but genuinely interesting.

You really oughtta lie down, smoke a big cigar, and think that one through.


Ford an ultraconservative? That's just nuts. Rob Farley is way off base, he must be thinking of Ward Bond. You can make a case that Ford became a conservative later in life, but to call him an ultra-conservative can only be done if you don't know what "ultra" means. Farley also doesn't understand the revolutionary aspect of The Searchers as an indictment of America racism.

In general Ford was very complex/contradictory. He was pro New Deal, pro FDR, pro-Loyalist during the Spanish Civil War--how does that man who holds those positions and directed Grapes of Wrath get considered an ultra-conservative?
He definitely did move the right. He voted for JFK and then voted for Goldwater the next time. I think he was personal friends with Goldwater and that may be a consideration. If Bobby Kennedy lived, would he have voted for him? It's a very interesting question. I would think Yes with his sense of Irish identity and his pulling for the underdog. In Joseph McBride's book he talks about the famous Screen Director's Guild meeting where Ford ended the debate about the loyalty oath by coming down on the side of the Liberal (and immigrant) directors and criticizing DeMille for attempting impose a blacklist. Joseph Mankiewicz who was the leader of the liberal faction (and he was a Republican, not a left-winger) said he was watching Ford when DeMille used the term blacklist and Ford nearly jumped out of his seat when he heard the term. He was not happy. McBride also points out that Ford then wrote DeMille a conciliatory letter and that Ford was part of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals which was the engine of the blacklist. Wayne and Bond were forces behind the Alliance and McBride says Ford was more of a moderating influence in the alliance. Ford thought both of them and their politics a bit dumb. Ford used to make fun of Wayne all the time for not having served in the military. Ford thought that Wayne's cartoonish patriotism was a result of insecurity that (and Ford's ribbing about it.) McBride also says that Ford may have good reasons to worry that his earlier films and pro-socialist positions might come back to haught him and that he did hedge his bets.

Here's is an interesting back and forth about Ford and Blacklist from the London Review of Books letters page. The first link is from a blacklistee defending Ford.



Ultra-conservative was actually my word, not Rob's. Rob calls him a reactionary, and I don't think that's off base. One other thing that makes it difficult to pin labels on Ford is that an artist's politics off the set, out of the studio, or away from the desk may be different from the political views that get expressed in their art. Then there's the whole problem of defining "politics."

Thanks for the links.


He probably was a reactionary if only think in terms of late 60's counterculture and the changing roles of women in society. He definitely did react to that, but hell he was an old man by then.

But he was not a reactionary if you think in terms of social/economic justice and the civil rights movement and few others. But he was outspoken against Joseph McCarthy and thought that he was a scoundrel. He probably remembered when the KKK burned crosses along the route of Al Smith's train because he was Catholic.

One of my favorite political anecdotes and what I think of when I think of a reactionary is there was a story during FDR's presidency (in Chicago I think) where a wealthy businessman who pay the newsboy a dime, look at the headlines and then hand the paper back to the newsboy everyday. The newsboy finally asked him why he did that. He said he was only interested in the obituaries. The kid said the obituaries were inside the paper. The businessman replied the sonofabitch I'm thinking of will be on the front page.

harry near indy

lance, i first saw donovan's reef when i was nine years old. it was the best movie i had seen up til then, bypassing spartacus, which i saw when i was six or seven.

i watched donovan's reef against about two or three years ago when it was on amc. parts were unwatchable, but still -- it's still has some quality.

basically, it's a cartoon for adults and intelligent slapstick -- smarter than the three stooges, but not as smart as laurel and hardy.

i'll mention some other actors in donovan's reef who made some fine performances -- mike mazursky, jack warden, cesar romero and DOROTHY LAMOUR (hubba hubba).

as for ford's anti-racism, remember that warden hid his children with the island queen from his all white boston brahmin daughter from his first marriage, but she accepted them in the end.

and remember when wayne put her over his knee and spanked her by the fountain in the town square? that would never pass nowadays.

Robert Anderson

"As to the comment that Vince Lombardi "..treated everybody the same": during the Pack's glory years, Paul Hornung(?) was asked if that was indeed true. Referring to the players, he famously replied, "Yeah, like dogs"."

Actually it was Hall Of Fame tackle Henry Jordan who said it. Jordan also said: "When Coach Lombardi tells me to sit down, I don't look for a chair"

Sown Eye

R.A.-- Thanks for the Henry Jordan reference. Man, that name is a blast from the past. And the "don't look for a chair" crack. Beautiful! I'd never that one before.

Robert Anderson

What Paul Hornung said was "Coach Lombardi was in bed with his wife Marie. Marie said "God, your feet are cold." Coach Lombardi said "When we're alone, you can call me Vince".

The Golden Boy was/is a real class act. I lived a few miles from Green Bay (obviously I'm a cheese head) and Paul would often be paid a few hundred bucks to come speak before the Rotary or the Jaycees. Each time he came, he would bring one of the Packer's rookies or subs with him, usually some black kid, have him say a few words, and then split his fee with him. Paul could have come alone and kept the whole thing. He's a good guy. Lombardi always said that over most of the field Hornung was just an average player, but once the Pack got inside the 20 yard line, he was "the greatest running back who ever lived".

Steve Paradis

Ford can be maddening. If he liked the cavalry so much, how could he show a megalomaniac like Thursday rise to command it?
Or portray the Washita massacre and aftermath in "The Searchers"? (A scene in which Ethan remarks to Custer that most of the dead he saw weren't warriors was cut--it showed Ethan acknowledging a limit to Indian-hating.) Then there's the anti-"Searchers", "Two Rode Together", in which the captives are shown to be better off with the Comanches, and the cavalrymen and their wives are a bunch of snobs and bigots.
If nothing else, re-watch "The Searchers" and note the "redeemed" captives in the Army camp, crazed maniacs all, and compare them to the eventual revelation of Debbie in Scar's tent--not crazed, not maniacal, but composed and comely; to all extents happy and contented in her new life, an impression that lasts even to the end--her entry into the house sees fearful and strained. It was Ford who made those scenes.

Edgy DC

For another peek into Ford's outsized, but complex character, check out Darcy O'Brien's "Jack Ford and George O'Brien," a memoir of his father's relationship with Ford (naturally), focusing on the strange fandango that ended up severing their relationship.

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