Two young drifters guide a Mormon wagon train to the San Juan Valley and encounter cutthroats, Indians, geography, and moral challenges on the journey. —IMDb
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
What starts off as a dusty, innocuous Western slowly unfurls into an intertwining mural of society, kinship and myopia - in equal measures epic and intimate, fleet and encompassing, jovial and acute; a pilgrimage of discovery as much of the sundry inhabitants themselves as of the frontier. Trust someone of Ford’s calibre to turn such a disparate genre digestible into a newly enriched one.
A western filmed in chiaroscuro lighting. Ford proves himself to be the Giotto of the cinematic medium in this film, seamlessly combining the quotidian with the universal: "The Chuckawalla Swing" and the religious pilgrimage which pervades nearly every culture's history.