- Audible Audiobook
- Listening Length: 7 hours and 43 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Random House Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: October 24, 2017
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0769Y392G
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Wayne and Ford: The Films, the Friendship, and the Forging of an American Hero Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Rating 2 out of 5 stars
Nancy Schoenberger offers readers a double biography of two of Hollywood most famous men, John Ford and John Wayne, that come across as a bit odd: one minute seemingly biographical and another stating facts one can find available on any movie description site.
I was both dreading and excited to read this book given its subject. Both of the men featured are two of my favorites from movies growing up and I hoped that it would be both fair and informative while also bringing in unbeknownst tidbits from the sets of the movies they worked together. It seems I was to be most disappointed as this book was not as I had hoped. Obviously I knew I would have some bias going in as I was raised on Wayne/Ford movies given that both my grandfathers watched little else and my paternal grandfather greatly resembled John Wayne in my eyes. Saturday mornings at my Grandparents house when I was little and even at home when I was older meant “Saturdays with the Duke”. But I was saddened to find that while Ms. Schoenberger included quite a bit of what happened on the sets, she presented this book with little feeling or focus on the real relationship between the two men. I know she wasn’t able to actually talk to either of them as they are deceased but it seemed to me that she relied more on the letters Dan Ford (John Ford’s son) had in his home and what she had read in other biographies to paint their picture. While this is a good back up for research, I think she could have done better if she had gone about finding more people who had known or worked with them. And her oft referenced insistence that John Ford was a closet homosexual was a bit annoying as it was written in at the oddest spots. While it might have had a bit to do with how John Ford directed the men in his movies I would have rather had her focus her time on Ford’s directive style which was barely acknowledged beyond his tendency to be harsh taskmaster. Ms. Schoenberger should have talked more about his process of making a film rather than frequently discussing how cruel and dictating Ford was all actors – a given for most directors back then as they were entirely responsible to shareholders for how a movie turned out. I could tell she really didn’t like John Ford as a person and it showed in her writing about him. John Wayne on the other hand seemed to be her underdog hero who persevered in spite of everyone being against him. I agree that he had much to prove in a career field so dominated by capable and strong actors, but Ms. Schoenberger also seemed determined to make Wayne out to be a repressed man who just couldn’t win at life or in his career. According to his children, he enjoyed his work and was honored to present the roles he was hired to complete. Wayne felt it was his job to make sure people knew that the characters he portrayed were real, honest, and had to work hard to succeed at life – giving audiences a way to identify. As to Ms. Schenberger’s descriptions of the movies that Ford and Wayne made, I believe this is where her writing could have been the best but fell rather flat. It seemed to me that her descriptions of the story lines and basics of what happened on set came from a movie site. The style of writing changed at these parts of the book, becoming more coldly factual than warm storytelling which made it hard for me to feel like I needed the information to follow the more biographical parts of the book. Granted, I loved these parts as it was fun to see a little “behind the scenes” about the actors involved but it just didn’t gel with the rest of Ms. Schoeberger’s writing. It was because of these “behind the scenes” passages that I gave this book more than one star – the rest of the book didn’t really warrant a higher rating. I believe Ms. Schoenberger needs to work a bit harder on her research to include more references and create a more cohesive book that will help readers want to find out what happens next. I will recommend this book to someone only if they have read all other biographies of Wayne and Ford and would like one more to read. Otherwise I would advise readers to find a more in depth book that offers greater insight into two of Hollywood’s most iconic men.
I received this E-book free of charge from Doubleday Books via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.
I requested this book as I have been a fan of John Wayne movies and in particular the ones directed by John Ford. I have not read any biographies on either of them. It is the first book by the Nancy Scnoenberger that I have read.
The subtitle of the book: The Films, The Friendship, and the Forging of an American Hero pretty much describes the detail in the book. That said I felt that the book itself could have been much better. The author's writing style, while okay, is not overly engaging that does not make this a book that one can't walk away from and resume at a later time.
She spends a great deal of time detailing what a pain in the a** John Ford is and how he humiliated Wayne throughout their interactions, but Wayne saw him as a father figure and put up with it. As far as the descriptions of the movies, you would be better off just watching as the author makes most of them sound less interesting than they really are.
My recommendation is to watch the movies and skip the book.
My question is how much did Ford and Wayne really shape our views on masculinity and how much did society at the time shape theirs?
I've always believed they were both nothing more than 19th century romantics. Lots of time is spent on the "Searchers" While I agree it is one of Wayne's best movies, I must admit I don't believe it to be as great as it has become of late. I believe some of it's recent greatness is based on political correctness. She shuffles off Shane as a one dimensional character. Of course he was, he was supposed to be. You can't fairly judge a movie versus another movie by comparing two characters who were entirely different!
Finally she made much to do about Wayne's various characters being nurturers. I think the reason quite often was that Wayne was older and wasn't the handsome leading man any more and nurturing a younger man or boy was a good focal point.
Not a bad book, but for me, it didn't ring any bells.