Stagecoach (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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Two devout Fordians make personal contributions to the Criterion disk: Peter Bogdanovich with amusing character portraits of Ford and John Wayne, and Tag Gallagher with a video essay, "Dreaming of Jeannie." Gallagher sketches Stagecoach's aptness as a reflection of post-Depression America and then, with acute sensitivity to the particulars of Ford's style, analyzes key passages. He illuminates the director's genius for exploring inner reality through spatial dynamics, and persuasively demonstrates that "Ford wants us to empathize with people, not to ally against them … to see without intolerance." Ford himself is heard from in a 72-minute interview conducted at his home in 1968 by BBC interviewer Philip Jenkinson; this is fascinating, though less for information and insights imparted than as a chapter in Ford's career-long history of being cantankerous with interviewers. His grandson and biographer Dan Ford presents a quarter-hour of home movies of the director with trusted colleagues aboard his yacht Araner, a home-away-from-home and means of escape from Hollywood … yet often Dudley Nichols would be turning out script pages somewhere on board. Stagecoach made Monument Valley "John Ford country," so it's right that the set should include a short history of the Goulding family, who operated a trading post there, and their relationship with Ford and the Navajo. There are also a (rather disappointing) tribute to Yakima Canutt, the fabled stuntman who played such a big part in executing the movie's famous chase across the salt flats; a 1949 radio dramatization of Stagecoach with Wayne and Trevor re-creating their roles; a theatrical trailer; and a print essay by David Cairns.
And yet the most exciting component apart from the Stagecoach restoration itself is something else by John Ford: a 54-minute silent comedy-Western from 1917, Bucking Broadway. This was made the year Ford started directing (at age 23), yet the work is both fresh with discovery and remarkably assured. Already it has the look of a Ford picture, as in an early sequence of horsemen gathering, surging up hillsides, crossing a creek, and then (anticipating the first shot of Stagecoach!) breaking into view from behind a roll of land we didn't even realize was there. The playing is relaxed, natural; there's hardly anything "silent movie" about it except that you can't hear their voices. Ford even kids about sentimentality (something he would often be charged with in later years) with a scene of crusty cowpokes getting blubbery over the song "Home Sweet Home." And in the final reel, as hero Cheyenne Harry (Harry Carey) arrives in New York City on a mission to rescue his girl, one shot is sublime: the off-center framing of the Westerner, with saddle thrown over his shoulder, striding into the tall, baronial lobby of a Broadway hotel as concierge and bellhops look warily on. Picture-man John Ford had arrived, ready for work. --Richard T. Jameson
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Also included on this disc is a trailer.
Disc two starts off with "Bucking Broadway," a 54-minute silent film from 1917 that stars John Ford favorite Harry Carey as a cowboy whose true love is taken away by a big city type. It features many of the themes and conventions that Ford would explore again and again in later films.
There is a 1968 interview with Ford by British journalist and television presenter Philip Jenkinson. Running over an hour, the filmmaker talks about his childhood, how he got his start as a director, working with John Wayne, and, of course, Stagecoach. Ford comes across as a no-nonsense man and plain-spoken, refusing to romanticize his past despite the interviewer's best attempts.
Filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich offers his thoughts on Stagecoach and praises the strong script and solid ensemble cast. He analyzes Wayne's performance and how he reacts to the things that happen around him. Bogdanovich also offers his impressions of Ford and Wayne, having met both of them.
"Dreaming of Jeanie" is a video essay that examines Ford's visual style in Stagecoach.Read more ›
Produced in the magical year of 1939 "Stagecoach" more than holds its own with all the other great classics produced in that year. Honoured with two Academy Awards for its musical score and the beautiful performance by Thomas Mitchell as the drunken doctor travelling on the stagecoach the film tells a very simple story of the intertwined lives of a group of people travelling through dangerous Indian territory on a stagecoach and how each effects the others lives in different ways. Ford assembled a sterling cast of performers here and apart from Wayne as the wrongly convicted outlaw the Ringo Kid we have the before mentioned Thomas Mitchell (in the same year that he played Scarlett O'Hara's father in "Gone With The Wind"), as the drunken doctor who is forced to deliver a baby on route, Claire Trevor in a superb performance as the "scarlett lady" Dallas, run out of town for her morals who forms an attachment to Wayne's character , Andy Devine as the coach driver and John Carradine as the shady gambler Hatfield. Donald Meek also registers as the fumbling spirits salesman who keeps having his samples raided by Mitchell.Read more ›
Made in 1939, the Year of the Motion Picture, John Ford's STAGECOACH is pretty much everything you want or need in a western. Nominated for a slew of Academy Awards, it took one home when Thomas Mitchell won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor as the shrewd, whiskey-loving physician. In 1995 it was placed on the National Film Registry by the National Film Preservation Board.
Well, this is the first film Ford shot in Monument Valley, and it looks great. It's also one of the first big-movie breaks for Wayne. Check out the first Wayne shot - the camera eagerly rushes up to him and holds him in a wide-eyed close-up for a couple of seconds. An entrance worthy of an icon, even if Ford was a couple of decades premature. And the always reliable, underrated Claire Trevor looks great as... well, I'm not quite sure what she is, though she dresses well and the respectable folks drive her away when they can, shun her when they can't. In fact, the only thing that doesn't look all that marvelous on the Warners' 1997-released dvd is the print itself, which is scratchy in some spots and muddy and murky in others. Not terribly so, but c'mon, Warner Brothers.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Its a John Ford Classic, but the acting is a bit cheesy and it is in black and white. It really doesnt live up to its billing.Published 11 days ago by Johnnie L Sullivan
WORTH EVERY PENNY JUST FOR BUCKING BROADWAY DISC TWO 1917 HARRY CAREY JOHN FORD ONLY PLACE ITS AVAILABLEPublished 14 days ago by Robin Clayton
This is a combination of the perfect cast, the perfect director, and a great story. It’s a classic.
A diverse group of passengers set out on the road through hell. Read more
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