Download The Westerns and War Films of John Ford PDF

TitleThe Westerns and War Films of John Ford
PublisherRowman & Littlefield Publishers
ISBN 139781442261051
CategoryArts - Film
File Size3.8 MB
Total Pages379
Table of Contents
1 A Career Man
2 Early Days in the Hollywood West
3 The Heroic West
4 Not for Self but for Country
5 In The Navy
6 War Stories
7 Critiquing Combat Culture
8 Keeping the Faith
9 The War at Home
10 Veterans’ Affairs
11 A House Divided
12 The Nature of One’s Service
13 Deconstructing the Legend
14 Questions of Just Conduct
About the Author
Document Text Contents
Page 189


Page 190


Unfortunately for the men under his command, Thursday’s luck
does not hold. Being a product of West Point, Thursday’s arrogance and
sense of entitlement make it impossible for him to accept his frontier
posting (“Blast an ungrateful war department that sends a man to a post
out here”). Like Custer, Thursday is an ambitious, career-oriented offi-
cer to whom posting in the West implies demotion. In order to be
promoted, enjoy preferment, and return to Washington, he must attract
the attention of the Eastern newspapers and therefore attempts to be-
come “the man who brought Cochise back.” Trained in Clausewitz’s
theories, Thursday is a Western military thinker, regarding war as an
instrument used in a struggle between opposing wills. Ford heightens
his viewer’s awareness of Thursday’s Eurocentricity by composing the
landscapes through which Thursday and his regiment ride to meet with
Cochise (Miguel Inclán) very differently from those that contain Co-
chise and his warriors. Landscapes associated with Thursday are shot
according to the principles of the picturesque in which the viewer’s eye
is directed inward toward a distant horizon. When Cochise arrives with
his band on horseback, Ford further emphasizes the difference be-
tween these two men’s points of view. Shots composed behind Thurs-
day continue to contain the picturesque, but those that foreground
Cochise are composed from his point of view and express another aes-

The following morning, as Thursday and his cavalrymen line up
against Archie Stout’s startlingly brilliant clouds (created by Ford and
Stout’s unusual choice of infrared film stock for the outdoor shots in
Monument Valley), there is no evidence of the picturesque, only hori-
zontal planes that allow for motion through the frame. As Thursday
charges, the frame remains unrestricted by flanking objects that direct
the eye toward the picture’s horizon. These shots encourage instead the
movement of the running horses in and out of the picture’s unre-
stricted, lateral edges, suggesting freedom of movement and a wide
expanse of space, which contrasts sharply with the imposing frames
created by the canyon into which they soon ride. Like the cavalrymen,
the viewer’s eye is constricted and directed down the canyon and into
the killing field that is its floor.

Before the charge begins, Ford uses the dramatic effects of infrared
film to their full advantage. Foregrounded and shot from low angles
against bold streaks of sweeping clouds, Thursday and his waiting col-

Page 378


Wukovitz, John F., 188
Wurtzel, Sol, 38

, 71
Yates, Herbert, 185
Young, Colin, 232
Young, Edward, 116

, 283
, 16, 19, 88, 236, 259

Zanuck, Darryl F., xix, 10, 16–25, 56, 62,
67, 71, 72, 73, 89, 118, 119, 144, 145,

Zanuck, Virginia, 22

Page 379



is an associate professor of English literature at the
University College of the North in Manitoba, Canada. She teaches in
the areas of American film and popular culture, Canadian literature,
children’s literature, and detective film. Western film is one of her
specializations. Her interests in film, culture, and literature may be
found in more than forty essays published in a wide range of books and
scholarly journals. She is the editor of Love in Western Film and Televi-
sion: Lonely Hearts and Happy Trails (2013) and is also the founder
and coeditor of the quint: an interdisciplinary quarterly from the north.
Additionally, she serves as the book review editor of the Journal of
Popular Film and Television.

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