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Friday, July 31, 2009

Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)

"[...] The visual contrast of claustrophobic interior spaces [...] with the expanse of Monument Valley provides a vivid physical correlative to the film's thematic push for freedom, and the linear plot has a captivating metaphorical quality [...]"
- Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

"...one of Ford's finest films." [click through for a visual study of this and other Fords]
- Mike Grost

"Nichols and Ford and the cast make them fresh by letting them bounce off one another in surprising ways. Character change elevates Stagecoach [...] The religious overtones tie in with the film’s mythic side: the archetypal characters who carry with them the backstories of a thousand western yarns, the fantasy landscape evoking a time of legend[...]"
- David Cairns (via the Criterion Collection), Shadowplay

Selected works in print:
- Lindsay Anderson, Never Apologise: The Collected Writings, London: Plexus, 2004. Republication of "Meeting in Dublin with John Ford: The Quiet Man", Sequence 14, 1952.
- Lindsay Anderson, About John Ford, London: Plexus, 1981, 1999 edition.
Peter Bogdanovich, John Ford, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967, revised 1978.
- Tag Gallagher. John Ford: The Man and His Films. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.
- Joseph McBride, Searching for John Ford: A Life, New York: St. Martin's Press, 2001

Top Tier, 1939

That Orson Welles told an interviewer that he screening this Ford forty times in order to prepare for Citizen Kane is likely an overstatement, but Welles's boasts had polemic value - you could learn to make a film by watching Stagecoach: a film about newspapers, about anything. You could also learn to see films, as well - films that play off a gallery of distinctive eyes and various classes of acting (Wayne's newly-tested charisma; Devine's comic tap-dancing spasms; Mitchell's classical manipulation of space; Bancroft scaling back the powderkeg thesping that made him a silent titan; Carradine's serpentine nobility; Churchill's unchecked hysteria; and, most strikingly of all, Claire Trevor, who is luminescent and heartrending in her closeups), and an object lesson in seamlessly layering location shooting, soundstages, and rear projection.
- Jaime N. Christley, Curator

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