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Author Topic: Fort Apache (1948)  (Read 14094 times)
drinkanddestroy
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« Reply #60 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.

« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 08:32:12 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #61 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.

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« Reply #62 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  Wink

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« Reply #63 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.

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« Reply #64 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  Wink

(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  Wink )



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« Reply #65 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.

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« Reply #66 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.

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« Reply #67 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

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« Reply #68 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/

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« Reply #69 on: October 26, 2014, 05:56:22 PM »


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.)

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« Reply #70 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.

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« Reply #71 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).

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« Reply #72 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.

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« Reply #73 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 ...

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« Reply #74 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.

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