John Ford’s Westerns

A Thematic Analysis, with a Filmography


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About the Book

John Ford’s early Westerns reflect an optimistic view of society and individual capacity; as his thematic vision evolved, he became more resigned to the limitations of humanity. His thematic evolution was evident in other films, but was best shown in his Westerns, with their stark depictions of the human condition. Ford’s sound Westerns and his major silent films are compared in this work, revealing how his creative genius changed over time. A complete filmography of Ford’s Westerns is also provided.

About the Author(s)

William Darby professes English in Detroit. He is also the author of Deconstructing Major League Baseball, 1991–2004 (2006).

Bibliographic Details

William Darby
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 317
Bibliographic Info: 22 photos, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2006 [1996]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2954-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0752-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction     1

1. Ford and the Filming of the West     5
2. Straight Shooting, The Iron Horse, and Three Bad Men     16
3. Thematic and Narrative Continuities: Drums Along the Mohawk and How the West Was Won     22
4. The Horse Soldiers     38
5. Ford’s Western Literary Sources and Their Adaptations     56
6. Fort Apache and Rio Grande     82
7. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Sergeant Rutledge     118
8. My Darling Clementine and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance     147
9. Wagonmaster and Two Rode Together     185
10. Three Godfathers and The Searchers     216
11. Stagecoach and Cheyenne Autumn     249

Conclusion     279
Notes     283
Bibliography     287
Filmography: Ford’s Westerns     289
Index     298

Book Reviews & Awards

“the author explores [Ford’s great] achievement and provides detailed lists of Ford’s themes”—Choice; “worthwhile”—Western Clippings; “enough depth and detail to satisfy even the most devoted Ford fan. Darby brings the tools of a literary critic to bear on the films, exhaustively cataloging and extensively analyzing plot devices, characters, thematic elements, and musical motifs as well as strictly cinematic elements such as framing, camera angles, and pacing. Darby’s analysis is sure-footed…wide-ranging, fine-grained analysis”—Film and History; “a must”—Wrangler’s Roost; “detailed”—Canyon News; “directs our attention to many things we may have forgotten or overlooked…worthy”—Cult Movies; “readable and accessible…a rewarding book”—Past Times.