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Directed by John Ford

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Editorial Reviews

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For years, Peter Bogdanovich's 1971 documentary Directed by John Ford stood as an impeccable work of auteurist enthusiasm: Bogdanovich, before his own directing career hit its early peak, assembled a loving tribute to the American cinema's towering figure. In 2006, Bogdanovich re-imagined the film for Turner Classic Movies, adding new interview footage with, among others, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, and himself. The result is something of a hybrid (and a curious experience for fans of the 1971 picture): the meat of the original film--complete with narration by Orson Welles--remains, but garnished with newish shot-on-video comments from a more distant perspective. Bogdanovich's own hilariously frustrated interview with John Ford is still prominently featured, with the sly Ford avoiding/denying his interlocutor's earnest questions. The superbly chosen clips have room to illustrate the uncanny poetry of Ford's art (such a pleasure to watch among the quick-cut tribute montages of the present day), and Bogdanovich highlights the emphasis on rituals in Ford's work and his many treatments of American history. Among the new interviewees is Steven Spielberg, who offers a marvelous anecdote about a youthful meeting with Ford (the old director's advice is priceless and extremely smart). Bogdanovich also includes a somewhat voyeuristic audiotape of a final meeting between Katharine Hepburn and the sickly Ford, strongly implying that she may have been the love of the director's life. The best stories come from Ford's old guard, notably John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and James Stewart, all of whom seem to take particular pleasure in telling Ford tales--and acting them out. By most accounts (including theirs) John Ford could be difficult, cruel, exasperating. And they're all utterly devoted to him. --Robert Horton


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Product Details

  • Actors: John Ford, Peter Bogdanovich, Orson Welles, Ward Bond, Harry Carey
  • Directors: Peter Bogdanovich
  • Writers: Peter Bogdanovich
  • Producers: Frank Marshall, George Stevens Jr., Gregg Taylor, James R. Silke, Melissa Roller
  • Format: Color, Black & White, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: September 15, 2009
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002945DVG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,996 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Directed by John Ford" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Brock Stevens on June 22, 2009
Format: DVD
I thought this was a great documentary, originally released in 1971, directed by Peter Bogdanovich, and Narrated by Orson Welles. This documentary aired on TCM in 2006 and the viewers went CRAZY, it was #5 or #6 on their list of films most requested to be on DVD. I recorded it on VHS back in '06, and will be buying this commercial release in September. This documentary has interviews with John Ford (Of Coarse), John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg... (Eastwood, Scorsese, and Speilberg's interviews were added in 2006 when Bogdanovich re-cut it, along with some other footage that was not in the original 1971 release.) I don't suggest this documentary for everyone, if you are an avid movie fan (Like Me) who enjoys seeing people reflect on their careers and other stars telling stories about things that happened on movie sets then you'll love it as I do, but if you aren't interested in such types of documentaries than this is not for you. Also, if you are a HUGE John Ford fan seek out Mr. Ford's AFI Salute (Only on VHS at this time).
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By William Shriver on September 14, 2009
Format: DVD
I last saw this film 30 years ago, and it left such an impression on me, it has been at the top of my "Why isn't this on video?" list ever since. In a way, I'm glad I missed seeing it on TCM--on DVD, the re-edit of the original plus the improved quality of the clips makes it like meeting an old love and finding her more beautiful than ever.

The interview material added since 1971 (particularly Maureen O'Hara's 1992 contribution) really helps to explain why Ford was so hilariously contrarian in his original contact with Bogdonovich. There is a much fuller sense of John Ford as a person than in the original film. Spielberg, Eastwood, Scorsese and others help place his work in an artistic context.

But the real thrill of the film is in the clips themselves. Bogdonovich had just done his first feature, a B-movie starring Boris Karloff, and would go on to make three masterpieces in a row. DIRECTED BY JOHN FORD, falling in the midst of this progression, is really like a piece of found art, in which he lovingly assembles pieces of Ford's films to make something entirely his own. The talking head portions are beautifully shot on 35mm, and fit seamlessly into the material of the clips. Also, to listen to Fonda, Stewart, and Wayne is to appreciate how skilled they all are as raconteurs.

DIRECTED BY JOHN FORD calls attention to the irony that is so easily overlooked in Ford's films, and makes a point of showing Ford to be not so much a chronicler of American History as an archivist of the myths and rituals of American History.

Even for those not fully convinced of Ford's genius, this documentary is a valuable primer on how to understand film art. It is also a gorgeous example of film art in its own right.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By C. C. Clark III on July 20, 2009
Format: DVD
Anyone who loves feature films, especially Ford films, should see this documentary. Although made in the early 70's, it has been updated. Bogdanovich managed to befriend many of the greats of Hollywood's Golden Era, and thankfully has put on record his conversations and rememberances. In this film there are many priceless moments; the one that comes to mind first is John Wayne's telling of his first encounter with Ford. Duke appears very relaxed in his interview, which Bogdanovich conducted on John Wayne's patio overlooking Newport Beach. The film is narrated by Orson Welles, another friend of Bogdanovich, who called Ford "the old master." Great stuff is found within; get it now!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Richardson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 15, 2009
Format: DVD
WOW...
what a great job they have done updating this documentary. Most documentaries from several years back , much less 30 feature "talking heads" hopelessly faded and poorly lit and in general dating the project. Well...this documentary ..or this version opens with current day interviews with Clint Eastwood and Spielberg and Walter Hill and when it moves to the interviews with Henry Fonda, James Stewart and John Wayne....there is NO drop off in the image quality in fact the older interviews appear to be on film, lit by a pro cinematographer and are a revelation for the open and frank discussions these folks engage in with Mr Bogdonavich. Most all of the footage from the films discussed seems to be current re-mastered digital prints so I'd say this is the singular best example of updating a classic documentary I've ever enjoyed and I love documentaries. Mr Bogdonavich knows the territory and is a brilliant director himself...as well as author and actor. This is a couple of hours I will watch over and over and over. ANY film fan, or fan of John Ford (pretty much the same thing) absolutely MUST own this startlingly wonderful DVD!

PS..the footage of John Ford himself...I have seen but as the rest its presented for the first time in brilliantly saturated color and clarity...this is my favorite of the John Ford docs and a perfect partner for the more linear and career spanning historical "Becoming John Ford" which I also recommend.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John A on June 25, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I first saw this film at the US Information Service in NZ in 1973, when the US was providing "information" to allies during Vietnam.
I sat engrossed watching a 16mm version. I seem to remember a sequence where Ford discussed briefly his use of music, and this is no longer in the version now available. Apart from that, it is still an absorbing evaluation of the man's work, made more relevant by the contributions of the next generation. A modern retrospective of the influence of Ford could be more appropriately titled "Stolen from John Ford", so great is his influence. "Superman Returns" reminds me of Ford, particularly the Man Alone, and also the use of doors barring Superman from the world of the family.
Spielberg,as he acknowledges, is a Ford disciple, as anyone watching "ET" will quickly see. Tarantino is another.
Ford's influence on other 1950s moviegoers must have been similarly profound, and I recall watching many examples in the local "fleapit" as a child. The impact was both direct (cap guns and cowboy games) and indirect (the morality tale)
John Wayne, Henry Fonda, James Stewart et al all come across as likeable guys, grown to full promise under the sometimes harsh light of Ford. Watching this again was like meeting old friends, met first as a child, then again as an adult, and finally as "elder statesmen"
Finally, I was left with a feeling of nostalgic sadness. I miss the depth, the passion, and the universality of Ford. Johhny, we hardly knew you.
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