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Author Topic: Fort Apache (1948)  (Read 14553 times)
drinkanddestroy
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« Reply #45 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  Smiley

« Last Edit: June 26, 2012, 05:38:05 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #46 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.

« Last Edit: June 26, 2012, 06:41:06 AM by Groggy » Logged


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« Reply #47 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).

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« Reply #48 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.

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« Reply #49 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

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« Reply #50 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.

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« Reply #51 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.

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« Reply #52 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.

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« Reply #53 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.

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« Reply #54 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  Smiley

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« Reply #55 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.

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« Reply #56 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  Smiley )

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

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.


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« Reply #57 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.

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« Reply #58 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  Wink

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« Reply #59 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.

« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 07:15:07 AM by Groggy » Logged


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