Legendary Western director John Ford takes a sabbatical from the sagebrush and helms this World War I drama about two American doughboys (James Cagney and Dan Dailey) in France who both fall in love with the same innkeeper’s daughter (Corinne Calvet). Question is, will they kill each other before they even get to the Germans? Based on the Broadway play by Maxwell Anderson.
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
The first 30 minutes are up there with the best Ford. Then it descends into incomprehensible madness.