How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

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How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby AlamoAaron on Wed Apr 06, 2016 3:51 pm

We all know that Duke Wayne starred, directed and produced this movie. But how much did John Ford really direct?
Here is what I've heard from various sources.

~It Do's Death
~Emile Sande's death
~Wayne's fight with Sande's cronies
~cannon rolling backwards off parapet.
~The Texians escape back to Alamo after blowing up the cannon
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby NefariousNed on Wed Apr 06, 2016 5:46 pm

According to the story, Ford just showed up on the set one day and took over production. Wayne was in a pickle. It was his picture and he was the director. But what could he do in order to not hurt Pappy's feeling? As the story is supposed to go, Wayne finally allowed Ford to do some second unit work with river crossing scenes and soldiers marching. But, as you've noted above, Ford seems to have done a bit more than Wayne wanted to let on.

In the Huberman documentary, Linda Cristal says that Ford was present during her balcony scene with Wayne. As Wayne is leaving Flaca's room, we see him silhouetted in the lantern light. Very Fordsian. Then, as Wayne is walking away in the scene, Cristal says that Ford told her to place her hand along the side of her face, which she does.

But then John Farkis should rightly be offering up these details. They're in his book. ;)
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby SantaClaus on Wed Apr 06, 2016 6:05 pm

A fine book. Not Tinklin...Just Rememberin :lol:
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby RLC-GTT on Wed Apr 06, 2016 7:15 pm

You will find that John Farkis has narrowed it down to as fine a picture as we can get at this late date regarding Ford's directing portions of THE ALAMO. He has determined how many days Ford was on the set -- and this was far above and beyond the two weeks or so in the original publicity. I firmly believe at this point that the tale Ned correctly presents in synopsis form above was totally a myth created for the press by and agreed to by Wayne, Ford, Clothier and other key members of the team and bears no resemblance to the truth. It is also the "story" that Ford himself told Peter Bogdanovich in his interview for the AFI documentary Dircted by John Ford in the early seventies when he said he only shot some 2nd Unit action footage that was "all cut out."

I believe Michael Wayne was also in on this "for the masses" myth. In the Huberman doc, he says that his dad told him "not to let Pappy talk to any of the principles." The idea behind this is solid. On a feature film, the principles should listen to NOBODY other than the director. The good director creates a concept (a plan) for each character as well as for the film itself that only he really knows and understands. It is often deadly for an actor to listen to anybody other than the director with regard to his/her character subtext and thrust. ONLY THE DIRECTOR UNDERSTANDS WHAT THE DIRECTOR WANTS. So Michael Wayne was simply saying what every filmmaker knows.

With Wayne and Ford, it was different. They worked as a team for many years. Ford, of course, was dominant in the relationship, but they were both still pros at what they did, and I think they had a tacit agreement to collaborate on the film. John points out in his book that Ford actually had money invested in the film, and we know that he and Wayne were collaborating on its development for many years. JOHN FORD WAS PART OF THE PROJECT and not just an annoying visitor to the set.

It is also clear from latter-day interviews with the leads that Ford DID "talk to the principles" and in fact directed them. Linda Cristal was clear about this. Richard Widmark wrote Ford a letter afterwords thanking him. Frankie Avolon complained about Ford making him deliver the movie's dumbest line: "I've got to get back to the Alamo," when Frankie actually had a much more realistic interpretation of the scene in mind. These were all clear indications that John Ford directed principle scenes in THE ALAMO.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby RLC-GTT on Wed Apr 06, 2016 7:23 pm

The potential problem facing them if they were to tell the probable truth, that John Ford helped Duke direct the movie, was that the press would run with and exaggerate this detail. Headlines like "John Ford Directs John Wayne's Directorial Debut" and "Duke Didn't Direct; Pappy Ford Did" would be selling papers and magazines all over the country in days! They couldn't allow that to happen. It would be more of a lie than the lie they would create. So it is credible to me that the key people would have agreed to a cover story -- and stuck to it. ;)
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby AlamoAaron on Wed Apr 06, 2016 8:17 pm

I heard that when Tombstone was made in 1993, that Kurt Russell directed more of the film that was given him credit. Maybe the same thing was true with Ford and Wayne. :?:
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby RLC-GTT on Wed Apr 06, 2016 8:48 pm

Happens all the time, actually.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby MUSTANG on Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:01 pm

I agree.
1) Kurt Russell did direct significant portions of "Tombstone" and has just about said as much innumerous interviews given over the years. While he won't come out and directly say, "I DID!!!', his refusal to deny it strikes me of the Ford/Wayne scenario Rich details.
2). Supposedly, there is a ton of film that has yet to see the light of day regarding Russell's involvement. I heard from a reliable source that Kurt has cans and cans of stuff squirreled away.

Hummmmm? Sounds like there's another book here. :lol: :lol:

As for Ford and Wayne, evidence supports Rich's statement. As much time as Ford spent on location, you know he wasn't there for the cuisine.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby AlamoAaron on Thu Apr 07, 2016 12:36 am

Well, I guess that's honorable yet a tad deceptive for Russell to give all the credit to Jarre and Casmatos.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby TexianAtHeartII on Thu Apr 07, 2016 2:38 am

Don't wish to get too off topic, but I read a couple of times, one of them in True West Magazine, that Kevin Jarre was fired as director of Tombstone because he wasn't moving fast enough or something in getting the movie made. And the original script was quite a bit different than what we saw onscreen. For instance, Robert Mitchum was supposed to play Old Man Clanton and scenes were filmed, but after Jarre was fired that and other scenes were totally scrapped and Mitchum was given the job of narrator. Russell then re-wrote a great deal of the script and even directed a great deal of the movie and told new director George Cosmatos, to just follow what he(Russell), wrote and that he would get full credit as director and that he(Russell) would never tell how things really were till after Cosmatos had passed on. All this came out after Cosmatos died, Russell kept his word. There's a website, whose name I can't recall where you can read the scripts to a great many movies and it has the original Tombstone script on it. I have read it and it is quite interesting to see what would've been seen if Kevin Jarre had remained as director.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby DukeCrockett93 on Thu Apr 07, 2016 1:04 pm

I have "Tombstone" on DVD and when watching the featurettes, they're really good at making it seem as if the director, George P. Cosmatos is in charge of everything. Something similar happened with him when filming "Cobra", apparently Stallone took over the project himself even though Cosmatos is listed as the director. He just might be everyone's go to ghost director.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby DukeCrockett93 on Thu Apr 07, 2016 1:08 pm

I think if Ford did direct the film he would've definitely handed the material with a hell of a lot more subtlety which might not necessarily be better or worse. Despite Ford being one of my favourite directors, I liked that "The Alamo" was bit more overt because for me it really is a larger than life story and it required that sort of overt approach whilst having a lot of subtle moments sprinkled throughout. Ford may have also included more of his signature vignettes with a lot more singing and dancing which may have dragged the film out even longer! Although I will say that the scene where Crockett is leaving Flaca's room whilst he's covered in shadow definitely has the Fordian touch which I loved.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby RLC-GTT on Thu Apr 07, 2016 5:02 pm

Ford directed that scene. Linda Cristal said he even told her how to make her hand an extension of her thoughts as she stood in the doorway. However, I would be more inclined to believe that the wonderful use of silhouette on Duke and his facial profile was Bill Clothier's contribution.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby MUSTANG on Thu Apr 07, 2016 8:46 pm

Read the book!!!! Better yet, buy the book , then read it!!!!!! :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby RLC-GTT on Thu Apr 07, 2016 10:28 pm

He's waiting until they make it into a movie. ;)
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby MUSTANG on Thu Apr 07, 2016 11:57 pm

We're in negotiations but after the last Alamo movie, it may be some time before it hits the screen. :(
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby AlamoAaron on Fri Apr 08, 2016 1:29 am

What would also be interesting is if they did what the did in "How the West Was Won." Have three different directors. Maybe Wayne, Hawks and Ford. :shock:
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby RLC-GTT on Fri Apr 08, 2016 2:34 am

AlamoAaron wrote:Have three different directors. Maybe Wayne, Hawks and Ford. :shock:

They're all dead. Hard to get a good film out of them anymore.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby DukeCrockett93 on Fri Apr 08, 2016 8:31 am

RLC-GTT wrote:Ford directed that scene. Linda Cristal said he even told her how to make her hand an extension of her thoughts as she stood in the doorway. However, I would be more inclined to believe that the wonderful use of silhouette on Duke and his facial profile was Bill Clothier's contribution.

I remember reading about it in John's book, especially the way he told her to slide her hand down her face. I still really want to see some of the stuff he shot with the second unit where the cannons are loaded with whatever the soldiers could find once they ran out of ammunition.

AlamoAaron wrote:What would also be interesting is if they did what the did in "How the West Was Won." Have three different directors. Maybe Wayne, Hawks and Ford. :shock:

I'd pay good money to see that! Maybe have Ford begin the film with the first third, Hawks continue on with the second third and Wayne running with the rest of it until the final credits roll. Which segments would you assign to each director?
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby AlamoAaron on Fri Apr 08, 2016 3:39 pm

RLC-GTT wrote:
AlamoAaron wrote:Have three different directors. Maybe Wayne, Hawks and Ford. :shock:

They're all dead. Hard to get a good film out of them anymore.


Hard to get good films now days period. :cry:
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby DukeCrockett93 on Sat Apr 09, 2016 1:17 am

AlamoAaron wrote:
RLC-GTT wrote:
AlamoAaron wrote:Have three different directors. Maybe Wayne, Hawks and Ford. :shock:

They're all dead. Hard to get a good film out of them anymore.


Hard to get good films now days period. :cry:

It's always been hard to make a good film. Hawks once said that a good film has three good scenes and no bad ones. It sounds easy but there's so much that has to go into those scenes in order to make them good.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby RLC-GTT on Sat Apr 09, 2016 2:01 am

Good directors make good films -- as long as they have a good script and a green light. ;)
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby DukeCrockett93 on Sat Apr 09, 2016 5:49 am

Don't forget good actors!
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby RLC-GTT on Sat Apr 09, 2016 6:47 am

Yes, of course.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby DukeCrockett93 on Sat Apr 09, 2016 9:38 am

RLC-GTT wrote:Yes, of course.

...and maybe throw in a brilliant composer for good measure.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby RLC-GTT on Sat Apr 09, 2016 5:20 pm

Yes yes. Indeed. Tiomkin is my all-time favorite -- although John Williams is now really beginning to replace him.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby RLC-GTT on Sat Apr 09, 2016 5:30 pm

All these artists contribute to the "collaborative art" of film. I was speaking about the captain of the ship. If you wish to talk about his creative team, it is the screenwriter, production designer, director of photography, sound designer, film editor, and composer. And now add to that visual effects supervisor.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby ConnieFromHaiti on Sat Apr 09, 2016 10:46 pm

RLC-GTT wrote:... John Williams is now really beginning to replace him.


Wow! That's saying something, from you!
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby AlamoAaron on Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:19 am

I forget who said it, but some famed Hollywood director said "...I relieve myself from the duties of directing by casting all the right people."
Very true.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby DukeCrockett93 on Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:42 am

I think that was John Huston.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby DukeCrockett93 on Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:45 am

RLC-GTT wrote:Yes yes. Indeed. Tiomkin is my all-time favorite -- although John Williams is now really beginning to replace him.

In a way, Williams is the modern day Tiomkin. Both are very old-school and classical in their approach to film scores. Either way, I love both of them. They can be grand when they need to be, haunting when they need to be and emotional when they need to be. Sometimes they can combine all three.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby RLC-GTT on Sun Apr 10, 2016 1:01 am

DukeCrockett93 wrote:
RLC-GTT wrote:Yes yes. Indeed. Tiomkin is my all-time favorite -- although John Williams is now really beginning to replace him.

In a way, Williams is the modern day Tiomkin. Both are very old-school and classical in their approach to film scores. Either way, I love both of them. They can be grand when they need to be, haunting when they need to be and emotional when they need to be. Sometimes they can combine all three.

Yes. The link between them is definitely there. Most of the early film composers were based in classical music form. The first to step away from it (that I'm aware of) was the incomparable Alex North. He was jazz motivated even though he was doing large orchestral scores (Spartacus, Cleopatra, The Wonderful Country). His rhythms and dissonant chords were very unique and avant-guard for motion picture scores, and I love these scores in a very different way than those of Tiomkin, Steiner and Bernstein.

My issue -- that John Williams solved -- was when film scores sort of came to a dead stop during the late sixties and seventies. Suddenly, there were few orchestral scores. Movies often stooped to the bottom with scores (to wit: thinking that Bob Dillon could provide a score for Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid just by playing a guitar). Rock musicians (Hey, I love post-50's rock) providing music for films succeeded only in setting the style of the movie and not interpreting and underscoring mood, thought and action -- the role of good film music, IMO. Then John Williams brought it all back with increasingly subtle scores: The Cowboys, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, E.T., Schindler's List, The Patriot, and his new phenomenal Star Wars: The Force Awakens. A master musician, composer, director, nurturer, music historian and educator!
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby DukeCrockett93 on Sun Apr 10, 2016 2:58 am

I've always loved big orchestral scores and lately I've been listening to Maurice Jarre's untouchable score for "Lawrence Of Arabia" which is just beyond majestic.

I think my favourite John Williams score might be for "Superman" and I'm not just talking about the iconic main theme. I also love how he injected a sense of sweeping adventure into the horror/thriller elements of the "Jaws" soundtrack, which is another favourite of mine. In that soundtrack, I always find myself going to back to "Father and Son", especially the first thirty seconds. No matter how many times I've seen the film [which is an embarrassing number of times because it's one of my favourite films], that part of the score never fails to evoke an emotion in me. If you listen to it, there's something very sad and defeated and yet very dignified about it. That, coupled with Chief Brody walking away from Alex Kintner's mother just makes for a very moving scene. I remember Spielberg saying that half of the success of the film was due to the score. Same with Richard Donner who said "Superman" wouldn't have worked as well as it did without the score. I think this is John Williams' gift as a composer in that not only is he able to do have many emotions and feelings in a single piece of music - just like Tiomkin, but the music becomes an inseparable part of the story, rather than a condiment to be added.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby RLC-GTT on Sun Apr 10, 2016 5:57 am

Excellent evaluation of John Williams' contribution to films. He indeed has bolstered all the films he has scored. I remember some interview of Spielberg where he said in no uncertain terms that Williams taught him why music was so important in a film. George Lucas would not have had the success he did with the first Star Wars had it not been for that rousing score. And just think of the specific music cues that have enhanced unique scenes, like the Ewok Theme, E.T.'s flying theme, Yoda's theme, Rey's theme, the Force's Theme -- and motifs like the one for the Crusade knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade or the one for the shark attacks in Jaws -- just TWO NOTES! The man's a living genius! And it never gets old.
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby RLC-GTT on Sun Apr 10, 2016 5:59 am

Hahahaha! I had to go up to the top to see what this thread is about! Whoooops! The Nef monster is going to excommunicate us. :lol:

O.K., we're back on track: John Ford directed The Alamo!
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby DukeCrockett93 on Sun Apr 10, 2016 6:03 am

Haha, I just realised that too!

So, anyway, back to how much of "The Alamo" John Ford directed...
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby DukeCrockett93 on Sun Apr 10, 2016 6:07 am

RLC-GTT wrote:Hahahaha! I had to go up to the top to see what this thread is about! Whoooops! The Nef monster is going to excommunicate us. :lol:

O.K., we're back on track: John Ford directed The Alamo!

He did? That's great! I also like that he has the same first name as one of my favourite composers...
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby RLC-GTT on Sun Apr 10, 2016 3:47 pm

JOHN WILLIAMS! I just love John Williams! Let me tell you about him . . . . . . . . :lol:
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby NefariousNed on Sun Apr 10, 2016 4:41 pm

RLC-GTT wrote:JOHN WILLIAMS! I just love John Williams! Let me tell you about him . . . . . . . . :lol:

Is he known to wear an eye patch and have a hanky hanging out of his mouth most of the time?
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Re: How Much Did John Ford Actually Direct?

Postby DukeCrockett93 on Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:24 am

That's the one! He also frequently works with Steven Spielberg...I better stop now.
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