- Paperback: 206 pages
- Publisher: Lexington Books (June 16, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0739135635
- ISBN-13: 978-0739135631
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
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- #571 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Public Affairs & Policy > Cultural Policy
- #2588 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Specific Topics > Civics & Citizenship
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Print the Legend: Politics, Culture, and Civic Virtue in the Films of John Ford
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As we are on the threshold today of what may prove to be revolutionary changes in the American regime, it is entirely fitting that Sidney Pearson calls our attention back to the cultural revolution of the 1960s, by way of looking to the director whose films most effectively and artfully probed the issues at stake in America's cultural revolution from the perspective of heroic America. It is also fitting that Pearson approaches the films of such a great director with such a talented lineup of essayists, including some of our most interesting commentators on political philosophy and culture. For all who admire Ford's work, and especially for those of us who draw on it in our courses, this is an important and compelling collection. (Ronald J. Pestritto, Hillsdale College)
Although the marriage of political philosophy and film seems like a dubious exercise at best, these deftly crafted and persuasively argued essays show that the films of John Ford are as much entertainment as they are profound meditations on the nature and the meaning of the American experiment in self-government. One should go farther to say that in the absence of a keen understanding of American culture and political philosophy each of these authors bring their their analyses, we might never adequately appreciate and understand Ford's accomplishments. Ford's creations emerge at a critical time in American history, just as the cultural revolution of the 1960s gathered steam, when the meaning of America may have been indelibly transformed. These essays invite us to ponder, as Ford himself seems to have done, whether that transformation is in accord with our best hopes or our worst fears. (Eduardo Velásquez, Washington and Lee University)
About the Author
Sidney A. Pearson, Jr. is professor emeritus of political science at Radford University and editor of The Constitutional Polity: Essays on the Founding Principles of American Politics.
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The sub-title of Pearson's book - POLITICS, CULTURE AND CIVIC VIRTUE IN THE FILMS OF JOHN FORD - should alert film buffs and other interested readers to the nature of PRINT THE LEGEND. Popular film criticism it is not. Rather it is a very scholarly examination of nine Ford films. It consists of ten essays originally produced for a panel on John Ford at the 2007 American Political Science Association meeting! The essays were designed to "understand the American polity independent of Ford but illuminated by his contributions." Well, OK.
The contributors were almost all university professors of Political Science, English, Communication, etc. Consequently, the chapters have titles like 'Modernity and the Destruction of Boundaries: John Ford's THE GRAPES OF WRATH' and 'Heroic Virtue and the Limits of Democracy in John Ford's THE SEARCHERS.' What results from all those high-falutin' phrases is a book most of us will find hard slogging. While some of the descriptive material is interesting, references to "modern Hegelian overtones," Aeschylus' ORESTEIA, etc. will probably leave most casual film buffs scratching their heads.
In his introduction to PRINT THE LEGEND, PEARSON states that the book is trying to "give the lover of Ford films something to think about as they sit back...and watch a film like THE SEARCHERS for the umpteenth time." While that's commendable, perhaps he and his contributors should have remembered the simplicity and directness with which Ford presented his storylines and themes in those classic films.
Bottom line: College/university film students may enjoy PRINT THE LEGEND. I'm not sure about the rest of humanity.