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The John Ford Film Collection (The Informer / Mary of Scotland / The Lost Patrol / Cheyenne Autumn / Sergeant Rutledge)

3.9 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product Description

John Ford Film Collection, The (DVD) (5-Pack)

WHV celebrates on of the true masters of American cinema with the release of The John Ford Collection. Four-time Academy Award Winning director John Ford is perhaps best known for his Westerns and collaborations with John Wayne, however, this Ford collection runs the gamut of genres and shows the diversity and genius of John Ford at his most impressive. Featured here will be the DVD debuts of five classic titles - all will be exclusive to the five-disc boxed set.


John Ford remains the consensus choice as America's greatest director, and his critical eminence dates from two films in this set. By 1934 he had been directing for 17 years, building a solid reputation as a Hollywood professional with maybe the best eye in the movie business. With The Lost Patrol (1934) and The Informer (1935)--made for RKO rather than his accustomed studio base, Fox--he took a decisive step toward establishing himself as a personal, at least semi-independent artist. Both films were stark dramas free of box-office compromise, glib heroics, or any expectation of facile happy endings. They were also more relentlessly stylized than anything Ford had done before ... which both distinguished them in their day and left them vulnerable to dating when some of their experimentation proved rather dead-ended.

The Lost Patrol began Ford's association with producer Merian C. Cooper, a partnership that would lead to the independent production company Argosy and the making of such fine, ultrapersonal films as The Quiet Man, The Searchers, and Ford's celebrated cavalry trilogy. The story, by Philip MacDonald, concerns a handful of British soldiers cornered at an oasis in the Mesopotamian Desert (now Iraq) during World War I and slowly decimated by an unseen enemy. The strong visuals--baking sun, the undulating vastness of the dunes, the drift of ghostly mirages--befit a crucible of character-testing, with an unnamed Sergeant (Victor McLaglen) striving to keep at least one man alive as desperation, madness, and implacable Arab snipers take their toll. This DVD release restores six minutes of footage cut for a 1949 rerelease and rarely seen since.

Ford won the first of his four best-director Oscars for The Informer, an intense tale of "one night in strife-torn Dublin, 1922" when a slow-witted I.R.A. strongman named Gypo Nolan sells out his best friend for 20 British pounds. On a budget that obliged him to obscure canvas sets with deep shadows and a persistent fog that underscores Gypo's mental and spiritual confusion, Ford created a visual world akin to the German Expressionist classics of the 1920s. But the film's inventive use of sound and an ambitious music score (by Max Steiner) commingling leitmotifs for half a dozen key characters also encouraged '30s critics to hail it as the first classic of the sound era. That was overstating it (and more than a little amnesiac on the critics' part!). Overstated, too, was Ford's relentless Christ symbolism paralleling Gypo's betrayal to that of Judas. Still, Victor McLaglen's portrayal of the title character remains a triumph (McLaglen won an Oscar as well), and the film abounds in brilliant strokes: the silhouette of a British soldier shining his flashlight on the wanted poster of Gypo's friend, while Gypo lurks just outside the beam; the giant Nolan forever knocking his head on hanging signs or seeming to be crushed by low ceilings; the cacophony of cries and gunfire, and then crashing silence, as the Black and Tan raid the I.R.A. rebel's home. Initially overrated, then relegated to museum status, The Informer awaits rediscovery as a dynamic motion picture.

The John Ford Collection includes one more mid-'30s RKO endeavor, Mary of Scotland (1936). Although handsome, this adaptation of a Maxwell Anderson blank-verse play about Queen Elizabeth's northern rival never finds credible footing as a movie. Andrew Sarris is dead right in lamenting Ford's version of Mary, Queen of Scots, as "a madonna of the Scottish moors"--Katharine Hepburn, inevitably. The most interesting thing about the production is the offscreen story, that Ford and Hepburn fell passionately in love, yet (perhaps) resisted becoming lovers.

From there we leap to the 1960s and two Westerns made under the aegis of Warner Bros. (Warner now owns the RKO library, hence this rather arbitrary set.) Sergeant Rutledge (1960) has markedly improved with age, with what once seemed creaky dramaturgy now playing as bold stylization. Using a jagged flashback structure occasioned by a court-martial at a Southwest outpost, Ford took an unflinching look at the legacy of race in America. The then-unknown black actor Woody Strode has a showcase role as a magnificent "Buffalo soldier" accused of the rape-murder of his commanding officer's blond, white daughter and the murder of the commandant himself. Unfortunately, Ford's once-masterly handling of character actors had grown lax, and he indulged some tedious bombast from Willis Bouchey and Carleton Young as the presiding judge and prosecutor, respectively; and Jeffrey Hunter, however effective in The Searchers, made a weak protagonist as Rutledge's defense counsel. But the veteran cameraman Bert Glennon almost winds things back to Stagecoach days, occasionally turning the film's Technicolor to very nearly black and white.

Another debt to race relations is addressed in Cheyenne Autumn (1964), a beautiful title to grace John Ford's final Western. The film has moments of grandeur as Ford attempts at long last to "tell the story from the Indians' point of view," and it's a pleasure to report that William H. Clothier's majestic Technicolor compositions have been restored to their Panavision dimensions on the DVD. Ford is unambiguously supportive of the Cheyennes' resolve to bolt their reservation in the desert Southwest and trek north to their ancestral lands. By contrast, most of white society, the military, the bureaucracy, and the sensationalist press are portrayed as insensitive, foolish, or hateful. However, the Cheyenne are nobly wooden, with all key roles played by non-Indians: Ricardo Montalban, Gilbert Roland, Sal Mineo, Victor Jory, and Dolores Del Rio (breathtakingly beautiful as ever). As for point of view, it's sympathetic cavalry officer Richard Widmark and Quaker missionary Carroll Baker through whose eyes most of the epic narrative unfolds. --Richard T. Jameson

Special Features

  • Box Set Includes:
  • The Lost Patrol (full screen, 1.33)
  • The Informer (full screen, 1.33)
  • New Featurette: "The Informer: Out of the Fog"
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Mary of Scotland (full screen, 1.33)
  • Sergeant Rutledge (letterboxed)
  • Cheyenne Autumn (letterboxed)
  • New digital transfer from restored roadshow length picture and audio elements
  • Vintage featurette "Autumn Trail"
  • Commentary by Ford biographer Joseph McBride

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 6, 2006
  • Run Time: 518 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000F0UUHS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,800 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The John Ford Film Collection (The Informer / Mary of Scotland / The Lost Patrol / Cheyenne Autumn / Sergeant Rutledge)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The John Ford collection is a set of vintage Ford films,without John Wayne while and I would NOT have included Mary of Scotland,and would have preferred either The Plough and the Stars,or The Fugitive (Henry Fonda)or the underrated Two Rode Together,this is still a very good film set.There is a separate Ford-Wayne collection,which I will review latter.The five films,in this collection are: The Lost Patrol;The Informer;Cheyenne Autumn:Mary of Scotland:Sergeant Rutledge: The following are my reviews of each individul film.


A British army Patrol,during the time of WW1, in the Mesopotamian desert gets lost,after their commander is killed,and he has left no notes or orders,in regard to their mission or exact location.With

their leader dead the small group's command falls to Sergeant Victor McLaglen.After a journey of unknown length,the patrol finds an oasis,and it is here where most of the action takes place as they are pinned down by (mostly unseen) Arab fighters.It is here where we really get to meet the men and get to know their hopes and fears.The other men include J.M.Kerrigan(as Quincannn-probably the most frequently used name in a Ford film!),Reginald Denny (Brown),Wallace Ford( excellent as Moretti),Boris Karloff,(,outstanding as Sanders-a religious fanatic),and Douglas Walton,as callow youth,who when he leaves for the service he relates that that was the ONLY time he saw his mother cry.This is (to me) one of the dramtic highlight so the film,when we see 19 year old Walton(about 25,in real life) pours his heart out to McLaglen.This scene,even more so than others shows the futility of war.
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This collection is of hard to find films. The Informer, Mary of Scotland and SGT Rutledge are impossible to see other than on TMC. Cheyanne Autumn is a frequent flyer on the Western Channel. If you are a Ford film collector, this grouping is a must. Movies then and now are not history and are entertainment and a cinematic view of director,writer, cinemetographer and editor. Not to mention the cast of thousands like actors and grips etc. Movies are great because for a couple of hours, they launch you into entertainment on all levels and unlike a book which is almost always the author as the main conductor of entertainment. Movies take a ton of different talents and blend them into the film. the director is just that and compiles these talents. This, tempered withj the studio system, mad movies then. Now, who knows, few are going to be on the TCMs of the future. Holly wood takes old miovies ideas and revamps them to modern standards because,I think, they are running out of ideas. Remember the line "Actors had faces"! Now they are just computer images! Soon the entire Hollywood movie industry will be in one building on a bunch of computers. John Ford and his compatriots from the B and C movies, serials and newsreels, the Black Film industry brought us the spirit of movies.
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This is certainly not the definitive John Ford Collection but it has a couple of goodies that make it worthwhile. The collection contains five films, The Informer / Mary of Scotland / The Lost Patrol / Cheyenne Autumn / Sergeant Rutledge.
The Informer is one of Victor McLaglan's finest performances, an Oscar winner for both Ford & McLaglan and well worth the purchase price of the set in and of itself. Mary of Scotland gives us an opportunity to watch the very young Katherine Hepburn in an iconic role and one that more than shows her incredible talent as an actress who understands who and what she is playing. Sergeant Rutledge has long been one of my favorite films for a few reasons. Woody Strode stars in it and it is about the terrible time American whites had with people of color. It shows the assumptions that were made purely due to skin color and involves the murder of Sgt. Rutledge's commanding officer and his daughter and the alleged assault of another white woman. It is an early film on a terrible topic, that period of time in our history and the film is rarely broadcast! Another treatise on "race" is depicted in Cheyenne Autumn but this time it involves our brothers and sisters...our Native Americans. For me The Lost Patrol is the throw-away because it is so very dated but the collection is a fine addenda to Ford's fine work as a purely American director.
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Great box combines some classic Ford films with the obscure. The Informer depicts an epic night in Dublin, Lost Patrol an epic few nights in the Sahara, Mary Queen Of Scotland gives Kate Hepburn a chance to strut her stuff in a minor Ford effort, Sargeant Rutledge compels in a courtrrom setting while Cheyenne Autumn provides an epic sweep to a less than stellar script.
All Ford, all the time, I love it for the price and odd pairing. Fills in a huge gap in my Ford collection, just right for a few entries from early 30s and early 60s.
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For fans of John Ford this will be a long-awaited set of previously unreleased films made by the great between spanning a period between the 30's till the 60's. Titles included are a great choice, personally I would have liked to see 'The Hurricane' in this one or another title starring Dorothy Lamour with whom he worked on several films, but that's just my opinion!

As usual, the price for the whole collection is reasonable, much more so than just buying the individual titles.
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