In another of his classic Westerns, John Ford again reflects upon the advance of civilization on the receding frontier, recounting the events leading up to and including the legendary gunfight at the O.K. Corral. As they drive their cattle toward California, Wyatt Earp (Henry Fonda) and his brothers, Morgan (Ward Bond), Virgil (Tim Holt), and young James (Don Garner), stop outside Tombstone, Arizona, where they refuse an offer for their stock made by Old Man Clanton (Walter Brennan) and his son, Ike (Grant Withers). The three older brothers ride into town, and, after Wyatt subdues a drunk, return to the wagons to find James dead and their cattle stolen. With little doubt about who the perpetrators are, Wyatt decides to accept the offer to be marshal of Tombstone that he had just recently refused. Despite Wyatt’s tense first encounter with melancholy gambler and gunslinger Doc Holliday (Victor Mature), a wary, tacit friendship grows between the two men, which is soon complicated by the arrival of Doc’s former love, the demure Clementine Carter (Cathy Downs). –Twentieth Century Fox
Maine-born John Ford (born Sean Aloysius O’Fearna) originally went to Hollywood in the shadow of his older brother, Francis, an actor/writer/director who had worked on Broadway. Originally a laborer, propman’s assistant, and occasional stuntman for his brother, he rose to became an assistant director and supporting actor before turning to directing in 1917. Ford became best known for his Westerns, of which he made dozens through the 1920s, but he didn’t achieve status as a major director until the mid-‘30s, when his films for RKO (The Lost Patrol 1934, The Informer 1935), 20th Century Fox (Young Mr. Lincoln 1939, The Grapes of Wrath 1940), and Walter Wanger (Stagecoach 1939), won over the public, the critics, and earned various Oscars and Academy nominations. His 1940s films included one military-produced documentary co-directed by Ford and cinematographer Gregg Toland, December 7th (1943), which creaks badly today (especially compared with… read more
I'm so fickle with action movies of the past 3 decades but Ford's movies that have similar sequences keep my attention.
I really love the tone of Ford's films, this one is no exception, and Fonda excels!
A film of such intimate emotion and expansive humanity, of such rapturous beauty and petty ugliness, of such wondrous amazement it's a mystery why they decided to continue making pictures after it. A silent reverie who's greatest sorrow is that it must end and one is thrust awoke again to a world of chaotic imperfection.
Also: Hoberman on It’s Halftime in America and the prospects for “an Obama-inflected Hollywood cinema.”