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Films of Sergio Leone => Other Films => Topic started by: Groggy on January 05, 2006, 05:58:50 PM



Title: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: Groggy on January 05, 2006, 05:58:50 PM
I was able to watch, for the first time in years, John Ford's "Fort Apache", generally accepted to be Henry Fonda's "rehearsal" of sorts for his role as Frank in OUATITW.

First off, if you don't like Ford, you're not going to like this film.  It's got a lot of his trademark burlesque humor, and all of his typical stock actors (Victor McLaglen, Jack Pennick, Hank Worden, etc.) are all in attendence.  Just as a warning to those who haven't seen it.

That being said, Ford is (as most of you know) one of my favorite directors and I thought this was an excellent movie.  It isn't on a level with "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (my favorite of his works) but it has an interestingly done plot and characterization.  Wayne was good despite having a smaller part than usual, and the whole supporting cast - yes, even Shirley Temple - was fun to watch.  Now, on to Fonda.

I don't honestly see a lot of Frank in Colonel Thursday.  Thursday is an obnoxious, egotistical, glory-seeking prick who reminded me more of Charlton Heston in "Major Dundee" than of Frank.  His character is not a villain in the traditional sense, he is a conflicted man who does have some good qualities but overall his overinflated sense of self does him in.  He did redeem himself by refusing to stay with Captain York after being rescued and returning to die with his men, and he does care about his men, even if he does look down them.

Still, Fonda gave a fabulous performance, and I do see how Leone could've used Thursday as an influence for Frank - I just don't think he was the basis for him.  It's also a very good movie, and the best of the Cavalry Trilogy (though "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" is a close second). 

Any other thoughts?


Title: Re: Fort Apache
Post by: Tim on January 06, 2006, 11:40:58 PM
I like your comparison with Fonda's Thursday and Heston's Major Dundee. I never thought of it that way, but it fits really well.

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is my favorite of the Ford cavalry trilogy, followed closely by Fort Apache. I've never been a huge fan of Rio Grande although I love Ben Johnson as Tyree.

I've been waiting for Fort Apache to come out on DVD because its one movie I'd definitely like to add to my collection. That and Wagon Master, which I've never seen but it sounds good.


Title: Re: Fort Apache
Post by: Leone Admirer on January 10, 2006, 05:58:20 AM
Rio Grande is a good film but not as good as the other two films in the unplanned trilogy.


Title: Re: Fort Apache
Post by: Groggy on January 22, 2006, 07:52:37 AM
I'm not overly fond of "Rio Grande" either.  I liked Maureen O'Hara in it, and the Duke, Victor McLaglen, and Ben Johnson are always fun to watch, but otherwise it's rather blah and contrived.


Title: Re: Fort Apache
Post by: Tim on January 23, 2006, 07:36:19 PM
  Ben Johnson and Harry Carey JR are the main reasons I can watch this movie.  The two of them are great together.  John Ford seemed to bring out the best in Johnson as he gives amazing performances in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, another favorite of mine, and Rio Grande.

  I've yet to see Wagon Master, but it's one I'd be interested in picking up.  Johnson, Carey, and Ward Bond headlining a film with John Ford at the helm, how can you go wrong?


Title: Re: Fort Apache
Post by: titoli on February 23, 2009, 07:28:19 AM
Watched the dvd:


(http://giotto.internetbookshop.it/cop/copdjc.asp?e=8013123956200)

after having watched it dubbed (and probably cut) a couple of times. It has only a great weakness, the missing colours. It is very fair towards indians (not the paternalism of Cheyenne Autumn), it is choral (Wayne and Fonda are primi inter pares, rather than protagonists) and the usual Ford irksome ceremonies (dances, drinkings, comedy: Bond and McLaglen are tolerable) are kept under control, as it is all the movie. The score is not its greater asset, as it is the photography (but the scene of the restitution of the regiment flag is memorable).


Title: Re: Fort Apache
Post by: drinkanddestroy on February 09, 2011, 04:26:56 PM
This is a great movie; if I ever actualy decided to sit down and write a list of my favorite movies, Fort Apache would probably be one of my Top 10 AW's

One of the great things I live about Ford's cavalry trilogy is all the wonderful military music. (I am not sure how much of it are authentic military marches and how much, if any, was composed for the films). I can enjoy even bad movies that constantly play the military marches.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 08, 2012, 12:21:45 PM
On Blu, 21 Feb.: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0067YF0BM/ref=nosim?


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: stanton on January 08, 2012, 01:00:08 PM
One of Ford's best, together with My Darling Clementine and Wagonmaster. All 9/10

Somehow I prefer these 3 to the Searchers


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 08, 2012, 03:30:00 PM
Somehow I prefer these 3 to the Searchers
Promote yourself to "Super Bounty Killer."


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 08, 2012, 03:52:00 PM
I never liked The Searchers much; Fort Apache is one of my all-time favorite AW's. 9/10


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: dave jenkins on February 08, 2012, 05:32:36 PM
Beaver: http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film3/blu-ray_reviews56/fort_apache_blu-ray.htm


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: dave jenkins on February 16, 2012, 11:12:23 AM
http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Fort-Apache-Blu-ray/33581/#Review


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: Groggy on March 03, 2012, 07:53:35 PM
Savant weighs in:
http://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s3809apac.html (http://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s3809apac.html)

Two issues: a) he refers to Fonda's character as Thursby instead of Thursday; b) he seems to have misunderstood one scene towards the end. I sent him an e-mail picking said nits.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 03, 2012, 11:20:18 PM
Savant weighs in:
http://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s3809apac.html (http://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s3809apac.html)

Two issues: a) he refers to Fonda's character as Thursby instead of Thursday; b) he seems to have misunderstood one scene towards the end. I sent him an e-mail picking said nits.

haha I love how when Savant refers to The Grapes of Wrath, he says "some say Leftist." As is there was any other interpretation of that movie  ;D


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 04, 2012, 12:46:10 AM


I think Savant totally misses the point with this paragraph:

"Fort Apache's acknowledgement of the tainted roots of military glory is almost schizophrenic. After two hours showing him to be a terrible detriment to the cavalry, Thursby's ignominious blunder is publicized as the corps' finest hour, an inspiration (and justification) for more Indian wars to come. We've just been shown otherwise, yet Ford presents the contradiction without irony: it just is. Thursby was a man of honor, and that's all that matters."

It's true that in general Ford does glamorize the military even while showing its contradictions, mistakes, arrogance, mistreatment of Indians, etc.

But unless I am wrong, Savant misinterpret that scene toward the end (is it the final scene?) where York and some others see the picture of Thursday and are discussing Thursday's legacy and say he was a great man, etc. The point the movis is making is NOT that Thursday was indeed an honorable man. Rather, it's making a cynical point about military legacies, how though Thursday was arrogant, mistreated the Indians, and led his men to suicide, he will be remembered as a great military leader; and that in fact, who knows how many people we consider to be great military men were actually no better than Colonel Thursday? So this scene is the height of cynicism, a cynicism in the vein of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance -- when the legend becomes fact, print the legend. (Though Thursday may, in some weird racist way be be somewhat well-intentioned and not a classic "bad guy,") this movie does not view him as an honorable man; rather, it is making a cynical statement on what we consider "heroes," and how forevermore, only "the legend" will be printed about Thursday, and he will be remembered as an honorable man, although he was actually far from it.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: Groggy on March 04, 2012, 07:05:00 AM
True, it seems like a variant on Liberty Valance's print the legend speech. On the other hand, the military is shown as such a perfect unit that Thursday can be viewed as an aberration.

Then again, you do see York imitating Thursday's dress in the final scene. Maybe Savant's reading isn't completely off.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 04, 2012, 09:27:25 AM
True, it seems like a variant on Liberty Valance's print the legend speech. On the other hand, the military is shown as such a perfect unit that Thursday can be viewed as an aberration.

Then again, you do see York imitating Thursday's dress in the final scene. Maybe Savant's reading isn't completely off.

It may well be that it was a criticism of the Thursday character and how we memorialize "heroes" rather than a criticism of the military as a whole. Still, I think Savant's review is a gross misinterpretation of the movie's attitude toward the Thursday character.

At the end, when York is asked something like, "Thursday was a great man," and he says "yes," I don't think really believes it in any way. Mybe he just feels it is his duty to maintain the good name of the Army, or the good name of his predecessor, or not ruin the people's views of the hero, etc. (As I recall, isn't Agar in that last scene? And/or Temple? If so, maybe he just doesn't want to destroy their memories of their father/father in law, and does whatever he could do allow them to keep their positive memories of him. But ultimately, the way I read the movie, it is certainly some sort of variant on the "print the legend" theme, but perhaps in a manner even more cynical than  in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance."

Although Ford definitely had all sorts of shtick with square dances and community events and the hopes and optimism of the pioneers, I think his films have a greater degree of cynicism than some people would have you believe. For every Wagon Master and My Darling Clementine, there is a Fort Apache, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and Cheyenne Autumn. And even within the generally positive movies, there is often a dark side as well. (eg. Ethan Edwards -- his most famous hero, other than possibly Fonda's Earp -- is no optimist's embodiment of the purity of the American Dream).


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: Groggy on March 04, 2012, 11:13:10 AM
Your last paragraph is spot-on, and would be even more valid if you include The Grapes of Wrath. :D

That said, I think Savant's basic analysis isn't wrong. Ford certainly views the military as an idealized perfect community, where everyone (including immigrants, ex-Rebels and minorities) can find a place in American society. On the other hand, he's frequently critical of the Indian Wars and social inequity. Ford, as an immigrant, mixes a fierce patriotism and optimism with progressive politics. One can view them as "contradictory" as Savant does, but I don't think they need be mutually exclusive.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 04, 2012, 11:24:18 AM
Your last paragraph is spot-on, and would be even more valid if you include The Grapes of Wrath. :D

That said, I think Savant's basic analysis isn't wrong. Ford certainly views the military as an idealized perfect community, where everyone (including immigrants, ex-Rebels and minorities) can find a place in American society. On the other hand, he's frequently critical of the Indian Wars and social inequity. Ford, as an immigrant, mixes a fierce patriotism and optimism with progressive politics. One can view them as "contradictory" as Savant does, but I don't think they need be mutually exclusive.

I had briefly considered mentioning The Grapes of Wrath, but decided not to address that cuz  A) this discussion had been about Westerns; B)  cuz i can't stand the commie TGOR. C) With that said, TGOR does end on a very optimistic note (as opposed to the book), so I don't think is a very good example of Ford's cynicism. Ending a sad movie (based on a sad book) with a scene of great hope certainly doesn't provide ammunition to those who argue that Ford was more cynical than he is often given credit for.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: dave jenkins on March 04, 2012, 05:42:12 PM
Here's Savant's weirdest paragraph from that review:
Quote
Thursday remains a mystery. Although he runs his command honestly (his attack on Cochise is sincere) he has the completely unrealistic notion that manic charges against unknown hostiles are a matter of pride and honor, not human lives. Sure, it's honorable for men to ride to their deaths without flinching ... if we're talking about the 17th or 18th century. Thursday is a prime candidate to get shot in the back by his own men, for the good of all.

So, soldiers were fundamentally different in the 17th and 18th centuries than the way they were in the 19th (where, apparently, the concept of fragging-your-officer was first developed)?

Also, it's nice to be reassured that Thursday's "attack on Cochise is sincere." It would be awful if soldiers tried to kill their opponents for frivilous or impure motives.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: dave jenkins on March 04, 2012, 05:49:18 PM
Ford, as an immigrant, mixes a fierce patriotism and optimism with progressive politics. One can view them as "contradictory" as Savant does, but I don't think they need be mutually exclusive.
O0


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: Groggy on March 04, 2012, 06:36:48 PM
Here's Savant's weirdest paragraph from that review:
So, soldiers were fundamentally different in the 17th and 18th centuries than the way they were in the 19th (where, apparently, the concept of fragging-your-officer was first developed)?

I don't understand that comment either. The distinction is between textbook soldiering and Indian fighting, two very different kinds of warfare, not any question of "centuries." Surely Thursday's actions would be as foolhardy fighting Indians in 1780 as 1880.

Quote
Also, it's nice to be reassured that Thursday's "attack on Cochise is sincere." It would be awful if soldiers tried to kill their opponents for frivilous or impure motives.

What's more baffling is that (as Savant himself notes) Thursday provokes the confrontation so he can have the glory of being "the Man Who Brought in Cochise." Not sure that's the notion of "sincerity" Mr. Erickson's implying.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: dave jenkins on March 05, 2012, 06:17:33 AM
At the end, when York is asked something like, "Thursday was a great man," and he says "yes," I don't think really believes it in any way.
Be careful here. I don't remember the exact formulation, but the question is couched in such a way that York's response may be valid. He's responding to the fact that Thursday died bravely--he had the chance to flee, but returned to his men to die with them. The scene where York has to give up his horse and sabre to the returning Thursday ends with York's "No questions" remark (a meme that runs throughout the picture and acquires ever greater resonance each time it's used) and a look that shows respect. York knew that for all his faults, Thursday was no coward.

Note also that the newsmen have already developed their story. York stays mute about most of it--no good can come to the regiment by trying to set the record straight, apparently. He only offers comment on that specific question asked about Thursday's bravery or whatever it is.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 05, 2012, 06:32:11 AM
just looked on YouTube and found that scene; it's at 4:40 of this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tW0_O_R4W6A
(I was wrong about Thursday's daughter and son in law being in the room at the time). But the part when the reporter describes "Thursday's Charge," and York says "Correct in every detail," does he really believe that?


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: dave jenkins on March 05, 2012, 09:20:54 AM
No, he doesn't believe that, he's just allowing the reporters to proceed with the official line. But a few moments earlier he says what he really feels about Thursday: "No man died more gallantly. Or achieved more glory for his regiment." York respects a noble death; he also prizes the honor of the regiment above all things. And Ford himself is sympathetic to both positions.

Btw, this is actually somewhat unAmerican, as it elevates military service over the purpose of such service. War is not an end in itself, it is a means of ensuring the perpetuation of a country and its traditions. In fact, even the idea of a warrior class is contrary to America's citizen-soldier ethic. Citizens are supposed to serve militarily as needed, and then return to civilian life. Even most of our professional soldiers retire by the time they hit 40 (and begin second careers as civilians); those who don't, who continue to rise in the ranks, become, in effect, politicians.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 05, 2012, 09:43:42 AM
No, he doesn't believe that, he's just allowing the reporters to proceed with the official line. But a few moments earlier he says what he really feels about Thursday: "No man died more gallantly. Or achieved more glory for his regiment." York respects a noble death; he also prizes the honor of the regiment above all things. And Ford himself is sympathetic to both positions.

Btw, this is actually somewhat unAmerican, as it elevates military service over the purpose of such service. War is not an end in itself, it is a means of ensuring the perpetuation of a country and its traditions. In fact, even the idea of a warrior class is contrary to America's citizen-soldier ethic. Citizens are supposed to serve militarily as needed, and then return to civilian life. Even most of our professional soldiers retire by the time they hit 40 (and begin second careers as civilians); those who don't, who continue to rise in the ranks, become, in effect, politicians.

Yes, I can believe that York respects the fact that Thursday chose to be with his regiment (at the very beginning of that video clip), even though he knew it was almost certain suicide to do so. But other than that one point, I don't think York could really believe any of that stuff about Thursday, for he saw what an arrogant and stubborn man Thursday was, who broke an agreement that York had made with the Apaches, making York seem like a double-crosser; rebuffed Indian attempts at peace; led his men on a suicide mission, caused by a stubborn belief in his military invincibility and his hatred of the Indians. So while York may  have admired Thursday's devotion to the military, and may indeed believe that, as he says, the regiment was left in better shape than it was before Thursday got there, ultimately I think that Thursday was a pretty bad character, and York believes so  as well. And his comments to the press are basically along the lines of "when the legend becomes fact, print the legend." So I think there is a lot of cynicism there about how heroes and legacies really are made.

With that said, the closing lines about the regiment do seem to be very "patriotic" and admiring of the military, showing the regiment, with the military music playing in the background, etc. So the movie seems to be very cynical about legends vs. facts and trying to show how Thursday has essentially built an unwarranted legacy, while at the same time very pro-military in general. I've only seen Fort Apache once, and it was about 2 years ago, and all my comments on this thread were based on that one viewing. But after watching this clip, I am leaning toward actually agreeing with Savant's comment (which I criticized earlier), that this movie indeed seems to be somewhat schizophrenic about its view of the military. On the one hand, Thursday is a double-crossing Indian killer and stubborn leader who led his men to suicide, but has a good legacy, indicating a cynicism on legends vs. facts. On the other hand, there really does seem to be an admiration for the military in general.

So maybe this movie is less cynical than I'd initially believed and written; specifically, the cynicism is directed at the individual legends, rather than the overall ideals of the military, ie. the movie is saying that individual legends are often bullshit and not always based on fact; but overall, as a whole, it believes in the ideals of patriotism and the greatness of America and its military.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 22, 2012, 09:37:26 PM
No, he doesn't believe that, he's just allowing the reporters to proceed with the official line. But a few moments earlier he says what he really feels about Thursday: "No man died more gallantly. Or achieved more glory for his regiment." York respects a noble death; he also prizes the honor of the regiment above all things. And Ford himself is sympathetic to both positions.

Btw, this is actually somewhat unAmerican, as it elevates military service over the purpose of such service. War is not an end in itself, it is a means of ensuring the perpetuation of a country and its traditions. In fact, even the idea of a warrior class is contrary to America's citizen-soldier ethic. Citizens are supposed to serve militarily as needed, and then return to civilian life. Even most of our professional soldiers retire by the time they hit 40 (and begin second careers as civilians); those who don't, who continue to rise in the ranks, become, in effect, politicians.

I always love it when people use the term "unAmerican," as if there was any one thing that is clearly "American." (Not a knock on you; this is a general point). I've heard so many people use the term "unAmerican" to criticize whatever specific ideals are important to him/her. Personally, I agree with much of what you said about military service, but I'm sure there are many Americans who don't  ;)

(eg. I'd argue that the "House Un-American Activities Committee" was itself the most unAmerican thing imaginable, for it was a terrible violation of the fundamental American ideals of freedom of speech, expression, and beliefs -- ideals which, though prominent in our founding documents, are all too often disregarded).


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 22, 2012, 09:38:08 PM
Just saw this review of Fort Apache in the NY Times, from 3/23/12

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/movies/homevideo/john-fords-fort-apache-on-blu-ray-from-warner-home-video.html?ref=homevideo


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on June 18, 2012, 06:13:45 PM
the movie just played on TCM, saw the final 2/3 of it. (I only saw it once previously, and I loved it; one of my Top 5 AW's. After this partial viewing, it definitely stays on the list  ;))

Shirley Temple doesn't look a day older than the day she had animal crackers in her soup.  She was 20 at the time of the movie, but could have passed for 12. She was real good though.

As for our previous discussion on Fonda's character Col. Thursday: He seems to have this real belief in "officialdom": no matter how detestable he finds the Indian representative, he insists that he be given due respect since he is a representative of the US Government, etc. So Thursday really cares about official stuff, symbols, that you respect must be given to a man based on who that man represents, rather than based on his own merit. That is definitely part of the criticism of Thursday.

Then, with that final speech at the end by York, (4:11 of this clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tW0_O_R4W6A ) which as we discussed seems somewhat contradictory. Firstly, he praises Thursday endlessly. The newspapermen talk about how Thursday was such a great hero, they already have mythological tales of his Last Stand ("when the legend becomes fact..."?) When the writer describes the legend of the Last Stand, York responds, deadly serious, "correct in every detail -- he insists on "printing the legend." Does he really believe it? He was there and saw how Thursday led his men into suicide. Yes. in some military sense, he died with honor, didn't abandon his men, fought till the death, etc. But York knows that the whole operation was a farce, from tricking the Apache to leading this suicidal charge. There is no way he really believes that the legend is "correct in every detail."  Yet when he gives his speech about Thursday ( "No man died more gallantly, or earned more honor for his regiment...") he seems completely serious.
Is Wayne just playing it that way -- acting as if he believes it, never winking to the audience to let on that he knows he is bullshitting to create a legend -- or does he really believe in what he is saying? Does he really believe that despite all the arrogance, trickery, and leading his men to the slaughter, that Thursday was really such a great man? That he earned honor for his regiment, who got their asses whupped after double crossing the Indians? I can't believe that. Yet York does seem deadly serious -- in the way that John Wayne gets serious when talking about something he loves, like patriotism or the military.

Even if he recognized that Thursday did have some honor in him, there is no way he can believe that he was as great as he is saying. On the other hand, York goes on to say how Thursday's greatness is reflected in the platoon. Maybe, despite recognizing Thursday's serious faults, he also recognizes that Thursday made this into a great regiment, and that they are benefiting now from the discipline and training that he instilled in them, and for that, Thursday should be commended, despite everything else.

I get that Ford/Wayne were into patriotism and the military, but this may be taking it too far -- essentially ignoring Thursday's terrible faults, just because he succeeded in the areas of patriotism/military? And if you say this is just an early manifestation of "... print the legend" and York does not believe what he is saying, well then why does he look so serious when he says it, like he believes it? is this a bad acting job, or is that the genius of it, that you don't know what he really thinks -- which is the way it often is, with history. (I have a theory that Wayne was supposed to read the lines as if he knows it's bullshit, but he couldn't help himself and got all serious as he does when speaking about patriotism/military heroism  ;))

Either way, I do not believe the viewer is actually supposed to admire Thursday in the way York seems to be doing. Either this is an early manifestation of "... print the legend", or maybe, I just thought of this, the point is to be critical of York -- that as bad as Thursday is, York really believes what he is saying, and the point is that we need to be careful about hero worship; that despite witnessing Thursday's terrible behavior, York has himself bought into the legend?





Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: dave jenkins on June 19, 2012, 02:13:49 PM
Quote
I do not believe the viewer is actually supposed to admire Thursday in the way York seems to be doing.
Of course not. You're supposed to admire York, the way he's using Thursday's death to acquire honor for the regiment. Individuals are not important. The regiment is what matters. Did you learn nothing from Starship Troopers?


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on June 19, 2012, 08:16:31 PM
Of course not. You're supposed to admire York, the way he's using Thursday's death to acquire honor for the regiment. Individuals are not important. The regiment is what matters. Did you learn nothing from Starship Troopers?

So York is pretending to believe that the legend about Thursday is fact, because by printing the legend making Thursday seem like a great man, it brings honor to the regiment?

Interesting. I never thought of that.

(The writers obviously don't know or care about the individuals -- as we saw they didn't even know the correct name of Collingwood. So maybe York realized the only way to get them to write admiringly about the regiment is to give them a "hero.")


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on June 20, 2012, 07:45:23 AM
I think this movie would have benefited greatly if it was shot in color. The landscapes of Monument Valley are used extensively here, and IMO you simply can't enjoy its beauty in black and white in the same way as you would in color. I can only recall feeling this way, this strongly, about My Darling Clementine. The set of "Tombstone," with Monument Valley in the background, would have been much more beautiful. I've always said that if I could go back in time, and choose any two b/w films in history for which I could instead have done in color, it would be Fort Apache and My Darling Clementine.

Of course, directors often specifically chose to shoot a movie in b/w cuz they felt it was more appropriate for the movie. But many times it was simply done because it was cheaper to shoot in b/w. (And while I don't have year-by-year statistics of what percentage of Hollywood of movies were shot in color, I'd guess that during the period of '46-'48 when these two films were made, no more than 10% of all Hollywood movies were made in color). So I'd have to guess that the reason those 2 movies were shot in b/w is that color was expensive and rare during that time, and not because Ford specifically wanted b/w cuz he thought it was more appropriate for the movie -- unless someone can show me a source that says Ford specifically wanted to do those films in b/w (if that's the case,  it would make me very happy; cuz then I'd stop feeling bad that it was done in b/w!).

If only FA and MDC had been made a decade later, I'm sure they would have been done in color. Imagine a film like FA or MDC with the majestic beauty of Sergeant Rutledge; that would have just blown my mind!  Oh well, all I can do is dream...  ;)


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: Groggy on June 25, 2012, 10:02:03 AM
Colorized versions of Fort Apache and Rio Grande exist. TNT used to run them frequently, back when they showed decent movies. Looked good to me.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on June 25, 2012, 10:35:26 AM
Colorized versions of Fort Apache and Rio Grande exist. TNT used to run them frequently, back when they showed decent movies. Looked good to me.

Colorized versions of a black and white movies are as illegitimate as is the Ladd Co.'s version of OUATIA.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: Groggy on June 25, 2012, 10:50:56 AM
I do not claim they are "legitimate." I say if you want a gander at what the cavalry films look like in color, these versions exist.

I definitely would not want My Darling Clementine in color, since the B&W photography is such an integral part of the movie.

Presumably budget had nothing to do with it. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon was shot in between the other two cavalry films in glorious Technicolor.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: stanton on June 25, 2012, 11:54:25 AM
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon looks quite good with its color photography, but generally I think that up to the late 50s b/w films are often much more atmospheric than color films.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: Groggy on June 25, 2012, 01:04:56 PM
True in a lot of cases, but I wouldn't apply it universally. It seems the whole point of Yellow Ribbon though is to showcase the incredible beauty of Monument Valley - an approach which works marvelously. Certainly the movie doesn't lack for atmosphere, it's positively dripping with it.

On the other hand, I don't think Fort Apache especially lacks for color. One could argue that since it's more story and character-driven, an eye-popping landscape is less important than Yellow Ribbon, where the landscape is the focus. This is an oversimplification of course, but I never watched the movie thinking it would look better in Technicolor. The setting serves its function without vivid splashes of color. And since it's not the focus as in the later movie, I don't miss it.

Rio Grande isn't an especially beautiful film anyway, so I don't care to argue that one. Color, B&W, whatever.  It's still mediocre.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: stanton on June 25, 2012, 01:14:32 PM
Rio Grande is a lesser film, yes, but I like it more now and give it a 6/10. Of his westerns only Sgt Rutledge is weaker.

And when I re-watched it last year I also liked some of the photography.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on June 25, 2012, 02:10:15 PM
I do not claim they are "legitimate." I say if you want a gander at what the cavalry films look like in color, these versions exist.

I definitely would not want My Darling Clementine in color, since the B&W photography is such an integral part of the movie.

Presumably budget had nothing to do with it. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon was shot in between the other two cavalry films in glorious Technicolor.

I do not want a gander at what the cavalry films look like in color. I wish they had been shot in color. But once they are shot in b/w, I want a gander at their colorized version as much as I want a gander at the Ladd Co's version of OUATIA. (But I appreciate the info O0)

GENERALLY, I think that most films would look better in color. If color film had been cheaply available 100 years ago, I am sure that very few movies would have specifically used B/W. Some films gain from b/w -- most notably Films Noir. Otherwise, IMO,  most movies -- though certainly not all --  would look better in color. (As proof of that, b/w was almost entirely phased out by the 1970's, as I guess audiences demanded color [and perhaps color film became less expensive])? Of course, there are so many great films that aren't necessarily "hurt" by being in B/W. But there are a few specific great films that I particularly felt that I just wish they were shot in color, cuz it would have added so much: Fort Apache and My Darling Clementine. Though they are both largely town-bound (Tombstone for MDC, the fort for FA), but Monument Valley comes into play significantly. The Tombstone of MDC is actually a town built in Monument Valley -- you can see the buttes and mesas just off in the distance! And FA has many scenes of riding out in the desert. There's just no way that Monument Valley can look as beautiful in b/w as it does in color. Sometimes the point isn't the beauty but that it's MENACING. Such as in Stagecoach, where the desert is not meant to be enjoyed, but a place to get through hopefully safely on the way to your destination -- like a city street in a film noir.
So in that film, the B/W doesn't bother me at all. (Although in 1939, I'd bet that 95% of movies were being made in B/W, so Ison't know whether Ford even considered color at all, based on economic concerns).

And even in the scenes on the military bases in FA, wouldn't it have been more beautiful and given it a better feel if it had been in color? The beautiful kersey blue uniforms, the flowing gowns the women wore at the beautiful dance at FA (easily the best dance in any Ford western)? And how MDC,  wouldn't the town of Tombstone been more beautiful if it had been in color?

Again, I must emphasize: if the director specifically intended to shoot in B/W for aesthetic reasons, that was his decision and that is it! {eg. I wouldn't say RE: the Mona Lisa:  da Vinci should have used a red paint stroke in this spot rather than black." No way! He painted what he chose was best and I must accept it as is. I wouldn't say that I prefer he did this stroke rather than that.
However, let's say I knew that red paint was unavailable to him at the time or was very expensive, and so he may have chose black as a second best option, well then yes, I think I am allowed to wonder, what if he had indeed had all the options available to him cheaply, what would he have done if he had all those options.

Similarly: in the mid-40's, color films were still not very common, cuz film stock was very expensive. So I think there is a reasonable possibility that fact that FA and MDC were shot in BW was because at that time, very few films were in color cuz the processing was expensive -- similar to da Vinci. I Ford specifically thought the films would look better in B/W, then that is settled. But if he did it cuz color was too expensive -- and therefore  had they been shooting it 20 years later (when color was less expensive) they woulda done it in color -- then I think it is reasonable to dream about how FA and MDC would have looked in color.



btw, Sergeant Rutledge is a silly story, but sooo beautiful to watch: Monument Valley is breathtaking; the kersey blues of the US Cavalry, (and some nice sets that I liked). Though the story was ridiculous, at the time I saw the movie I wrote something like "I am a sucker for color movies involving the Cavalry's Kersey Blues, and Monument Valley." Whatever rating that film gets is due to its LOOK -- which wouldn't have been half as beautiful in black and white.

Beautiful color landscapes (and other nice visuals like the kersey blue of the cavalry), has made many a bad Western enjoyable to watch (eg. Sergeant Rutledge, Saddle the Wind, greatly enhanced an already classic movie (eg. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Searchers). and IMO could have had the same effect on FA and MDC -- made movies that are already classics, even more beautiful.



Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: Groggy on June 25, 2012, 05:04:04 PM
Wrong.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: dave jenkins on June 25, 2012, 06:05:54 PM
As I sought to demonstrate with screen caps in the MDC thread (http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=1205.0 ), Ford and Joe MacDonald purposely chose B&W to give Clementine a noir look. Picturesque views of Monument Valley was not what either was interested in for this project.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on June 26, 2012, 02:52:45 AM
As I sought to demonstrate with screen caps in the MDC thread (http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=1205.0 ), Ford and Joe MacDonald purposely chose B&W to give Clementine a noir look. Picturesque views of Monument Valley was not what either was interested in for this project.

Thanks for that.  Knowing that it was specifically intended for b/w, not for financial reasons, makes me happier.

Speaking of which, I gotta watch the theatrical version of MDC one of these days. I bought the Fox Studio Classics dvd with both the "Pre-release version" and the theatrical version, but I've so far only seen the pre-release. (For some reason, this dvd takes a very long time to load and still the menu doesn't come up; I have to press PLAY a few times till it finally works. So ultimately it works but it takes some effort. When one side didn't work, I flipped it over, and saw only the pre-release version without knowing it). The next movie I watch will be the theatrical version of MDC. (Though I've seen the pre-release version so long ago that I don't remember it scene-by-scene to compare).


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: Groggy on June 26, 2012, 05:10:10 AM
As I sought to demonstrate with screen caps in the MDC thread (http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=1205.0 ), Ford and Joe MacDonald purposely chose B&W to give Clementine a noir look. Picturesque views of Monument Valley was not what either was interested in for this project.

Thanks for that Jinkies, saves me an argument. That movie's all rough-hewn interiors and moody shadows - Monument Valley's almost an afterthought in Clementine.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on June 26, 2012, 05:23:30 AM
with B/W movies while we can't know for certain in every case whether it was done specifically for artistic reasons or just for financial reasons, there is absolutely no doubt that in at least some cases it was done for financial reasons.

For example, I specifically remember the following story from the bonus features of The Quiet Man: Ford had been looking for some time for a production company to produce that movie. He finally got a small company called Republic Pictures to do so. But he insisted that it be shot in color; Republic had a cheaper and subpar color process called Tru Color, but Ford insisted that they use the more expensive and better Technicolor. Republic was so certain that they'd lose money on that movie, that they made a deal with Ford: if he would do a Western for them in B/W, then they'd agree to produce TQM in Technicolor.  The Western turned out to be Rio Grande , with the same leads -- John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara --  as TQM; (I don't remember whether or not Republic insisted that Wayne and O'Hara be used). Republic figured that a B/W Western with Ford was a sure money-maker, and that would compensate for what they expected to be a loss with TQM And of course, TQM turned out to be a huge hit. But the point is that Rio Grande was specifically done cuz they figured a Western with Ford/Wayne/O'Hara done in cheaper B/W, would be easy money. So while I can't know in each instance whether B/W was used for artistic or financial reasons, it was used for financial reasons in at least some instances.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on June 26, 2012, 05:36:00 AM
just watched MDC. Yeah, I can definitely see the noir-like aspects, so I can dsee how B/W was used specifically. While it's nice to see a town built right in Monument Valley, it's really only a background. Thanks for that, dj.


But I still feel that Fort Apache would have looked better in color. It's not just Monument Valley, but the army base set and the uniforms, I just think it would have looked nicer in color. Unless I see some source that says Ford chose B/W specifically for artistic reasons.
Either way, it's one of my 5 favorite AW's  :)


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: Groggy on June 26, 2012, 06:38:10 AM
I'm sure most directors of the '40s and '50s would have used CGI had it existed. I don't see why that should factor into the discussion.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on June 26, 2012, 07:17:52 AM
I'm sure most directors of the '40s and '50s would have used CGI had it existed. I don't see why that should factor into the discussion.

To say that the film would have looked better in color -- that shouldn't factor into the discussion? Do we always have to accept every decision a director makes, and can't say "This movie was great, but IMO it would have been even better with X instead of Y?" (And it's not like color didn't exist in 1948. It did exist, but it was expensive and rarely used).


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: Groggy on June 26, 2012, 08:17:21 AM
You're entitled to your opinion but in this case it doesn't seem worth harping on. To be fair, Fort Apache looks nice in color (granting that post-facto colorization is not the same as shooting in color), but it's not really essential to the movie.

I certainly wouldn't agree with your broader sentiment that most B&W movies would benefit from color. Again, this is too case-dependent, and your specific argument borders on non-sequitur. A lot movies would have been shot or scripted differently if the Hayes Code didn't exist or if technological advancements were available earlier. Silent movies would have had sound if it had been available sooner. It doesn't mean a) extant films in B&W would have been better, b) it detracts from the extant films. Good filmmakers found ways around censorship and technical limitations that arguably made them more creative. Maybe if you restrict yourself to banal studio products but even then it's at best subjective.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on June 26, 2012, 08:25:06 AM
You're entitled to your opinion but in this case it doesn't seem worth harping on. To be fair, Fort Apache looks nice in color (granting that post-facto colorization is not the same as shooting in color), but it's not really essential to the movie.

I certainly wouldn't agree with your broader sentiment that most B&W movies would benefit from color. Again, this is too case-dependent, and your specific argument borders on non-sequitur. A lot movies would have been shot or scripted differently if the Hayes Code didn't exist or if technological advancements were available earlier. Silent movies would have had sound if it had been available sooner. It doesn't mean a) extant films in B&W would have been better, b) it detracts from the extant films. Good filmmakers found ways around censorship and technical limitations that arguably made them more creative. Maybe if you restrict yourself to banal studio products but even then it's at best subjective.


It's true, we can't re-write movie history.

As far as whether movies generally would have looked better in color: I think that's the case specifically with Westerns, cuz in many cases, landscapes are a big part of the movie. Though definitely not always.

There's no doubt that B/W did contribute in many ways, eg. there wouldn't have been film noir without B/W.

As for the Production Code, what's interesting is that in certain ways it helped: so many movies from the 40's and 50's are considered great and groundbreaking cuz it's like "Look what they were able to do during a time of censorship!" Once censorship was gone, nobody cares anymore how much sex or violence was "snuck into" a movie. So as much as I disagree with censorship, I guess that's one positive side effect


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: cigar joe on June 26, 2012, 03:21:01 PM
The deal with B&W, for me anyways, as regards to Westerns, War Films, Gangster Films, Film Noir, and Historical Dramas, is that it fits with the early photographic records, All our early photographic images are B&W, so we have a plethora of images of the opening of the West, the Civil War, the Indian Wars, the Depression, all the way up to the post WWII years that are all predominantly in black and white, so films that deal with those subjects between the early daguerreotypes and the advent of widespread color photography fit nicely in that B&W niche. 

I know this may sound ridiculous but WWII always looks more correct in B&W as do most gangster flics, with Westerns its "comme ci, comme ca" either way.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: titoli on June 27, 2012, 03:30:53 AM
I know this may sound ridiculous but WWII always looks more correct in B&W as do most gangster flics, with Westerns its "comme ci, comme ca" either way.

I don't know about that. Watching those early colour documentary movies made from 1939 on made during III Reich or WWII is thrilling. And once you've seen them maybe you're more ready to accept colour features about those times.

About gangster movies, that's strange. I feel the flamboyancy of gangsters lifestyles is suited better to a colour rendition.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: Cusser on June 27, 2012, 06:53:11 AM
As to color fims, don't ever miss the opportunity to see Adventures of Robin Hood on the big screen.  It looks like brand new, amazing.  1938.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on June 27, 2012, 07:57:31 AM
I just wanna say one thing to be clear about the previous discussion: I'd never say a blanket statement that color is preferable to b/w. Depends on the situation; e.g. film noir never would have happened if not for b/w.

all I am saying is that there are instances where b/w was used not to achieve a specific look, but only cuz it was cheaper. And in some of those instances, particularly Westerns with beautiful landscapes, I sometimes say, this would have looked so much more beautiful in color.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 18, 2014, 02:44:12 AM
we had some discussion previously about why the Wayne character talks up the Fonda character after his death.

re-reading parts of STDWD recently, Frayling quotes Ford (not sure if he was talking specifically about FA or not, but he well may have been) how Ford believes it's good for the nation to have heroes to look up to - even though many people that are considered heroes, you know damn well they weren't. So that's why Wayne was talking up Fonda at the end.

As to whether this is an early version of "print the legend" - maybe in FA, Ford had a partial cynicism but still wasn't a complete cynic, whereas by the time he reached TMWS Liberty Valance, he was completely pessimistic  :)


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: stanton on May 18, 2014, 03:09:19 AM
No, Ford was never a pessimist, never a real one, and TMWSLV is far away from being a pessimistic film. It is only a less naive version of Ford's usual optimism. And is not more intelligent than Fort Apache, which explored already a similar theme.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 18, 2014, 05:29:15 AM
(My main point for the previous post was basically that earlier in the thread, I wrote about being confused as to why the Wayne character would talk up the Fonda character at the end of FA; but now, after reading Ford's comments, I understand it  :) )

------------------

Anyway, for anyone who is interested and hasn't read it already, here are the quotes; all italics are copied from the book)

p. 258 of STDWD, Frayling quotes Leone, talking about Ford:

"John Ford is a film-maker whose work I admired enormously, more than any other director of Westerns. I could almost say that it was thanks to him that I even considered making Westerns myself. I was very influenced by Ford's honesty and directness. Because he was an Irish immigrant who was full of gratitude to the United States of America, Ford was also full of optimism. His main characters usually look forward to a rosy future. If he sometimes de-mythologizes the West, as I had tried to do on the Dollars films, it is always with a certain romanticism, which is his greatness but which also takes him a long way away from historical truth (although less so than most of his contemporary directors of Westerns). Ford was full of optimism, whereas I on the contrary am full of pessimism." (the footnote after this quote cites Frayling's interview with Leone, and pp. 100-101 and 143-144 in Simsolo's book, so I guess this long quote is actually cobbled together from several different statements by Leone.)

Frayling goes on to quote Leone discussing TMWSLV:

"The Ford film I like most of all because we are getting nearer to shared values is also the least sentimental, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. We certainly watched that when we were preparing Once Upon a Time in the West. Why? Because Ford finally, at the age of almost sixty-five, finally understood what pessimism is all about. In fact, with that film Ford succeeded in eating up all his previous words about the West the entire discourse he had been promoting from the very beginning of his career. Because Liberty Valance shows the conflict between political forces and the single, solitary hero of the West ... He loved the West and with that film at last he understood it. Someone pointed out to me that Liberty Valance also has a "triello" like the ones in my stories a three-way duel between Stewart, Wayne, and Marvin." (the footnote for this quote cites only Frayling's interview with Leone)

Frayling continues, from the last line of p. 258 and onto p. 259:

Of his Fort Apache (1948), Ford had remarked, "It's good for the country to have heroes to look up to." But by the time he directed The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, its newspaper editor's famous line "This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend evidenced a much darker outlook. Senator Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) has made a political career out of the fact that he was the man who shot the vicious outlaw Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) and thus helped to tame the wild frontier. What actually happened was that "solitary hero" Tom Doniphan (John Wayne) shot Valance while hiding in the shadows during the climactic duel between Ransom and Liberty. Throughout the film, which is constructed around one long flashback interrupted by the duel, Ford seems to be nostalgic about the old days even while celebrating the arrival of law and order in the West. It begins with an iron horse pulling in to the town of Shinbone, belching black smoke, and ends with that same iron horse going back East; with Stoddard on board, musing about a new irrigatio bill which will transform the landscape. His wife Hallie (Vera Miles) says, "Once it was a wilderness. Now it's a garden. Aren't you proud?" When asked about why his vision of the West had become increasingly pessimistic over the years, John Ford replied, "If our ancestors could see us now, they would be bitterly ashamed." But Leone was wrong to suggest that this disillusionment had suddenly and inexplicably surfaced in Liberty Valance. It had been present since The Searchers (in 1956), if not before, and seemed to mirror Ford's increasing depression about the whole business of film-making. (the footnote here says, "See, among man other sources, Dan Ford: The Unquiet Man (William Kimber, London, 1979) ).


-------------------

Personally, I'm not sure I agree with Frayling that this sort of disillusionment is present in The Searchers: (while the main character, Ethan Edwards, is a very dark character who can't live in civilization), I don't think that movie displays a pessimism about America, how the country was built, as it does in TMWSLV. I recall that one point, one Jorgensen, in talking about their son/brother (played by Harry Carey, Jr.) being killed, says something like, "It was this country that killed him," and then another Jorgensen argues that point. I don't remember the exchange exactly, The Searchers is not one of my favorites and I haven't seen it many times, but I don't believe it has the sort of pessimism about the nation that, as we've been discussing, is evident in TMWSLV and possibly to some extent in Fort Apache.



Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: stanton on May 18, 2014, 05:34:24 AM
Still, neither FA nor TMWSLV are pessimistic. Not the films themselves, not about the country.

If Stoddard had used the lie for selfish motives and had become a dubious man who misused his power, than it would be a pessimistic film about the west.

Pessimistic films were made by other directors.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 18, 2014, 05:50:52 AM
Still, neither FA nor TMWSLV are pessimistic. Not the films themselves, not about the country.

If Stoddard had used the lie for selfish motives and had become a dubious man who misused his power, than it would be a pessimistic film about the west.

Pessimistic films were made by other directors.

yeah, to me, Stoddard is not trying to use the lie; in fact, when the train conductor tells him that nothing is too good for the man who shot Liberty Valance, you see Stoddard sigh, as if he is upset that he is known as "the man who shot Liberty Valance." Still, he never tried to publicly deny shooting Valance; he could have openly proclaimed that he never shot him, but he didn't - even if he isn't dishonest cuz he didn't claim he shot Valance, he doesn't protest when others assume that he did shoot Valance. So, he's not exactly complaining that he got all this unwarranted political success..... Also, even if you set that aside and say Stoddard himself is completely positive and not trying to exploit a lie, the point is that as a people, we have all this faith and trust in what turns out to be a lie; we elect leaders based on what is really bullshit.

RE: Fort Apache, Ford was saying that even though there are plenty of "heroes" that you know damn well aren't deserving of it, it is still good for the country to have heroes to look up to.
So, in a way, perhaps the message at the end of FA is the exact opposite of the message at the end of TMWSLV: Both are "printing the legend," but in FA, he is saying that since the country should have heroes to look up to, it's good to just "print the legend"; while in TMWSLV, it is portrayed as a negative, it is cynical about how we "print the legend" and build up undeserved heroes.
So, maybe Ford changed his mind on whether it was smart to build a society with bullshit heroes  ;)


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: Groggy on May 18, 2014, 07:13:46 AM
Ford's quote actually came from a discussion on Liberty Valance with Peter Bogdanovich. Frayling's presentation of it is misleading, implying Ford believed in the noble lie early in his career and later abandoned the idea. The actual context is quite different; Ford believed that still, years after he had retired from directing.

I don't consider The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance especially pessimistic. It reveals Stoddard's career based on a lie, but as Stanton says it served a good purpose so it's justified. Thursday's in Fort Apache, maybe not, aside from preserving the Army's honor.

And sorry but SL's idea that it's unsentimental is, frankly, ridiculous; if anything the opposite is true.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 18, 2014, 08:26:37 AM
Ford's quote actually came from a discussion on Liberty Valance with Peter Bogdanovich. Frayling's presentation of it is misleading, implying Ford believed in the noble lie early in his career and later abandoned the idea. The actual context is quite different; Ford believed that still, years after he had retired from directing.

I don't consider The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance especially pessimistic. It reveals Stoddard's career based on a lie, but as Stanton says it served a good purpose so it's justified. Thursday's in Fort Apache, maybe not, aside from preserving the Army's honor.

And sorry but SL's idea that it's unsentimental is, frankly, ridiculous; if anything the opposite is true.

RE: your first paragraph: which Ford quote are you talking about? The one about how it's good for the country to have heroes to look up to? Just because he gave that quote to Bogdanovich late in his life doesn't mean that it's wrong to say that TMWSLV evoked a much darker outlook than did FA. It could be that Ford still believed that it's good for the country to have heroes to look up to even if they are bullshit heroes, but at the same time was upset that our heroes really were bullshit heroes and not true heroes, like in his statement that our forefathers would be ashamed of us now.... So, IMO the fact that he made that statement, about it good for us to have heroes to look up to, later in his life doesn't mean Frayling is wrong to say that TMWSLV evokes a darker outlook than FA. "Evoking a darker outlook" doesn't necessarily mean completely rejecting the beliefs in FA.



RE: your second paragraph: are you saying that because Stoddard (perhaps) was a decent, rather than a corrupt, politician, that justifies his career being kickstarted on a lie?

sorry, but that's a very dangerous idea. Just about every politician will tell you he is doing what's best for society, he thinks his policies are good, so by your standards, basically the end justifies the means, it's okay for you to do whatever is necessary to get to office because ultimately society will be better off if you are in office, right?

I don't doubt that that's what most politicians believe, but that is an awfully immoral and dangerous idea. A politician (just like anyone else) has the duty to be honest, and if the electorate won't vote him into office based on his true resume', then he doesn't deserve to be in office, period.



RE: your third paragraph, maybe not unsentimental, but maybe less sentimental. There's definitely more cynicism and less of that optimism-of-the-immigrant-in-love-with-America.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: Groggy on May 18, 2014, 08:35:09 AM
Quote
Just because he gave that quote to Bogdanovich late in his life doesn't mean that it's wrong to say that TMWSLV evoked a much darker outlook than did FA.

Sure, but Bogdanovich and Ford were referring to Liberty Valance in the first place, specifically the "print the legend" quote, not Fort Apache.

Quote
that's a very dangerous idea. Just about every politician will tell you he is doing what's best for society, he thinks his policies are good, so by your standards, basically the end justifies the means, it's okay for you to do whatever is necessary to get to office because ultimately society will be better off if you are in office, right?

Who exactly is hurt by Stoddard's accepting responsibility for Valance's death? Tom Doniphon maybe, but he's willing to along with it. Whether or not he actually killed Valance, Stoddard had the courage to face him in a gunfight at the time everyone else was running scared. It's only a lie on a forensic level, and Stoddard didn't (at first) knowingly perpetrate it.

Quote
less sentimental.


Than what? Stagecoach or The Quiet Man, sure. The Grapes of Wrath or Two Rode Together, not really. You need to take a director's entire career into account before making sweeping statements.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 18, 2014, 08:41:51 AM
Still, neither FA nor TMWSLV are pessimistic. Not the films themselves, not about the country.

If Stoddard had used the lie for selfish motives and had become a dubious man who misused his power, than it would be a pessimistic film about the west.

Pessimistic films were made by other directors.


BTW, to the extent that TMWSLV is pessimistic, it's not merely "a pessimistic film about the west," it's really a pessimistic film about America. True, maybe the West was the most mythologized place the place where the newspapers printed the most legends and therefore it is appropriate to have this message delivered in a Western. But ultimately, whatever pessimism or cynicism is in this movie, it's really about America in general, how heroes/politicians/leaders etc. are built on lies.
And note that the man whose career is built on a legend is a politician who pushed for the taming of the West and not e.g. an outlaw like Jesse James: so I think that this theme is actually about society in general, or heroes in general, and not about the West specifically (and come to think of it, you can probably say the same thing about many of Ford's other Westerns, how their ideas are really reflective of Ford's views about society and America, and not the West specifically. And come to think of it, you can probably say something similar about Leone's... and I guess it's appropriate that the Western a truly American art form is used as a metaphor for a filmmaker's ideas about America  ;)


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 18, 2014, 08:51:09 AM

Who exactly is hurt by Stoddard's accepting responsibility for Valance's death? Tom Doniphon maybe, but he's willing to along with it. Whether or not he actually killed Valance, Stoddard had the courage to face him in a gunfight at the time everyone else was running scared. It's only a lie on a forensic level, and Stoddard didn't (at first) knowingly perpetrate it.

If Stoddard got into office through a lie, then the people who got hurt by that are his political opponents not just the politicians themselves, but all the voters who voted for other candidates.

Everyone has a different opinion RE: what is a "right" or "wrong" policy. So, if e.g. a politician gets into office through a lie, then everyone who disagrees with his policies and would prefer another candidate win is being hurt unjustly.

The ends do not justify the means - even if a politician is truly well-intentioned and moral and good and decent, it doesn't justify him using a lie to get into office.

In the case of this movie, of course, it's questionable if Stoddard actually used the lie as I said earlier, it could be that he is even frustrated by this lie and isn't trying to perpetuate it. In that case, even if he has no moral culpability for perpetuating a lie, I think the pessimistic message still remains: that we look up to certain people, consider them heroes or leaders or whatever, and we really have no idea what these people are all about, we are sometimes worshiping empty suits. So, it may not be a criticism of Stoddard himself, but about society.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 18, 2014, 09:03:06 AM

 

Than what? Stagecoach or The Quiet Man, sure. The Grapes of Wrath or Two Rode Together, not really. You need to take a director's entire career into account before making sweeping statements.

I think he is probably talking about the Westerns specifically. I have not seen Two Rode Together, but I've seen all the others, and can you tell me any that are less sentimental about society than TMWSLV? Any that have less optimism/hope/belief in the good of society? It's definitely not purely cynical like a Leone movie (after all, they succeeded in turning the desert into a garden). But how did they do it? Is it based on a lie? You can argue about whether or not it is entirely unsentimental, but I think it is less sentimental than any of his other Westerns that I've seen.
There ain't no square dance in TMWSLV  ;)

(I hope Two Rode Together will play on on TCM sometime soon. That movie was never available on Region 1 DVD; a few months ago,it was just released by TCM Vault Collection as part of this boxset http://shop.tcm.com/detail.php?p=465963&SESSID=a52851a0baf72546b5cf27187fb7b7e9 I am definitely not getting a $50 boxset of movies I have never seen before definitely not unless someone can tell me that at least 2 or 3 of the movies in that set are really good.... I'm sure I'll see it eventually somehow  ;) )




Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: Groggy on May 18, 2014, 12:22:51 PM
If Stoddard got into office through a lie, then the people who got hurt by that are his political opponents not just the politicians themselves, but all the voters who voted for other candidates.

Since it's implied that Stoddard's political opponents were paying off Liberty in the first place, can't say that bothers me much.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 18, 2014, 09:39:10 PM
Since it's implied that Stoddard's political opponents were paying off Liberty in the first place, can't say that bothers me much.

yes, in the particular instance of his first political gig, Stoddard was probably a better choice than his opponent. But Stoddard built a whole career many more electoral victories out of the lie. And anyway, even if it's good that he won that first election cuz the other candidate was a really bad guy, I don't think that changes the fact that his political success was fueled by a lie, and the deeper point that some people who are so admired by society are really a bunch of empty suits. (and if the empty suit is preferable to his opponents, that just makes it even sadder - the fact that a guy whose career is built on a lie is actually the best of the candidates, the lesser of the evils.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 18, 2014, 10:03:14 PM
There's discussion about Fort Apache (specifically, whether or not Thursday is a villain) here http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=11717.msg170477#msg170477


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: Groggy on October 26, 2014, 05:44:30 PM
Short but nice article I found surfing the 'net.

http://invisibleworkfilmwritings.wordpress.com/2014/04/26/fort-apache-1948-dir-john-ford/ (http://invisibleworkfilmwritings.wordpress.com/2014/04/26/fort-apache-1948-dir-john-ford/)


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 26, 2014, 05:56:22 PM
Short but nice article I found surfing the 'net.

http://invisibleworkfilmwritings.wordpress.com/2014/04/26/fort-apache-1948-dir-john-ford/ (http://invisibleworkfilmwritings.wordpress.com/2014/04/26/fort-apache-1948-dir-john-ford/)

I don't agree with this guy. I love Fort Apache beginning to end, I love the scenes of military life on the fort; somehow I enjoyed all the humor, the endless jokes about drinking, I just love watching Victor McLaglen. To me, this is one of the all-time greatest AW's from beginning to end.

what I found most interesting about this article was the poster ... I assume that's the Italian title, "The Massacre at Fort Apache"? I see also that Fonda got first billing. In the American movie, Wayne was first-billed, Fonda second. (Surprising, I'd have thought that Fonda was a bigger, more established star in 1948.)


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: stanton on October 27, 2014, 02:37:48 AM
(Surprising, I'd have thought that Fonda was a bigger, more established star in 1948.)

That surprised me too.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 27, 2014, 03:28:30 AM
and the Fonda character IMO is clearly the lead character in the movie; feels like he has much more screen time than Wayne does.

And Fonda had played t the lead in the most recent Ford Western, My Darling Clementine (surprising to me that Ford didn't even use Wayne there in the Victor Mature role), so now, to jump Wayne to first billing is really surprising IMO. But maybe it indicates that Ford was warming to Wayne and souring on Fonda, cuz after this movie he never used Fonda in a Western again (I think the only movie he ever used Fonda in again was Mister Roberts, which had lots of problems).


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: stanton on October 27, 2014, 06:35:35 AM
Fonda took after Fort Apache a 6 or 7 years break from cinema. Mr Roberts, in which he starred on the stage, was his comeback, and indeed his long and fruitful work with Ford came to an abrupt end with this movie.

And it was also Fort Apache which marked the real beginning of Wayne becoming Ford's favourite actor. Even if it already was their 4th film together. Not counting some minor appearances at the beginnig of Wayne's career.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 27, 2014, 07:52:51 AM
Fonda took after Fort Apache a 6 or 7 years break from cinema. Mr Roberts, in which he starred on the stage, was his comeback, and indeed his long and fruitful work with Ford came to an abrupt end with this movie.

And it was also Fort Apache which marked the real beginning of Wayne becoming Ford's favourite actor. Even if it already was their 4th film together. Not counting some minor appearances at the beginnig of Wayne's career.

yes, there's the famous quote of Ford saying, after seeing Wayne in Red River (shot in 1946 but not released until 1948), "I never knew the big son of a bitch could act!" I've always wondered if seeing this performance is what convinced Ford that Wayne could be The star of a Ford Western. (In Stagecoach, Wayne was lead male, but Claire Trevor was first-billed and it really was an ensemble cast, no one Star dominates the movie.)
I assume Ford cast Wayne in Fort Apache before he saw Red River, but who knows when the billing order was decided, and either way Fonda was in the movie, so  Wayne was not clear-cut star of a Ford Western until She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.

Ford was well-known to be jealous about Wayne doing other stuff (supposedly that's why he didn't cast him in any of his movies after Wayne "cheated on him" by doing The Big Trail). But Peter Bogdanovich says that maybe after seeing the great performance by Wayne as the older man in Red River, Ford decided to top THAT by casting him as an even older man in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon!

You are right, stanton, I'd forgotten that Henry Fonda never appeared in a feature between Fort Apache and Mister Roberts, when he had a falling out with Ford. So maybe Ford never made a conscious decision to drop Fonda until after the Mister Roberts fiasco ... maybe it was some combination of Fonda being off on Broadway and Wayne having shown was he he was gonna be in Red River that finally convinced Ford to cast him as The lead in a Western, for She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Who knows ...


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: stanton on October 27, 2014, 03:50:29 PM
But Wayne plays a very different type than Fonda in Ford's films. Hard to imagine him playing any of Fonda's roles. And vice versa.

Stagecoach: For me Wayne is the clear lead. He's the hero in every respect. The others are an ensemble of supporting characters.

The Big Trail: How I know the story is that it was Ford who recommended Wayne as a lead to Walsh.


Title: Re: Fort Apache (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 27, 2014, 04:13:36 PM
But Wayne plays a very different type than Fonda in Ford's films. Hard to imagine him playing any of Fonda's roles. And vice versa.



I think Fonda could have done Wayne's role in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon or Rio Grande. But that's all speculation; Fonda wasn't doing movies then.