Tag Archives: John Ford

The Informer (1935)

“Isn’t there a man here who can tell me why I did it?” Set in Dublin in 1920, during the Irish War of Independence, John Ford’s early masterpiece tells the story of the last night of an insignificant little traitor. Gypo Nolan, played by the ex-boxer Victor McLaglen, is down on his luck. Thrown out […]

Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

If young Mr. Lincoln has been forgotten in favor of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, which was also released in 1939, it might have something to do with the complex, understated quality of its screenplay. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a crowd pleasing film about an idealistic young populist going up against a corrupt […]

Sergeant Rutledge (1960)

That Sergeant Rutledge somehow manages to be both anti-racist and pro-genocide testifies not only to John Ford’s myopia about the Plains Indians, but to his genius. Even in his old age, he still had his finger on the pulse of the American people. There was no American Indian Movement in 1960. The occupation of Alcatraz […]

The Plow that Broke the Plains (1936) The Wizard of Oz (1939) The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

The Dust Bowl is a well-known, man-made environmental catastrophe. In the 1930s a severe drought struck the Great Plains. Topsoil, which had become more vulnerable to wind erosion by the failure to apply dry land farming methods, was lifted into the air, and scattered for hundreds of miles. The “Black Sunday” dust storm that took […]

The Horse Soldiers (1959)

Grierson’s Raid, which ran from April 17 to May 2, 1863,  was the dry run for Sherman’s March to the Sea. In April of 1863, the United States Civil War was at a stalemate. Back in December, the Union Army had received a bloody repulse at the Battle of Fredericksburg. In the west, Ulysses Grant had […]

Killer of Sheep (1977)

In John Ford’s great cinematic rendering of The Grapes of Wrath, the old truck that carries the Joad family from Oklahoma to Southern California becomes more more than a truck. Overloaded, off balance, constantly breaking down or running out of gas, the Joadmobile is one of the iconic characters in film history, the embodiment of […]