2. The article, John Ford, by Lloyd Eby in World & I talks about the early life of John Ford and he became "The American Old Master" of film making. John Ford was born as Sean Aloysius Feeney on February 1, 1895 in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. He was the youngest son of Irish immigrants, Sean Feeney and Barbara Curran. He knew he wanted to go to go Hollywood through his brother. Francis already started to act in films and took the name France Ford, which is how "Sean" got his name. John went to Los Angeles in 1914 to work as his brother's assistant. John started to play small parts, did stunts, and built sets. He learned to work with horses, explosives, and cameras. Ford became Griffith's assistant director and handle the extras and cowboys. Many directors said that "Ford was a leader and he could handle men". He was a natural director who had specific pieces of business in mind for actors, like "you there, when you ride over the hill, throw your hat up in the air". When he was twenty two, Ford signed a contract with Universal.
Ford's style was shooting quickly with stationary cameras and simple shots. He rarely used close-ups or moved the camera. John Ford knew how to frame and pace his stories. He also liked to film a close-knit group of actors in remote isolated locations. His films would be set in the time when horses were the main transportation and there was a frontier being conquered. He was best know for visual symbols rather than talking symbols. As themes go, Ford would have western heroes who would despise authority, but wind up accepting the authority of family, religion, and tradition. Another reoccurring theme is individual duties, honor, "manly" virtues, family, community, piety, and patriotism. On the other hand, some critics say that Ford had a taste for "stupid and bawdy humor that tends to appear in even his best films". Feminists did not like how Ford handled women and their relationships to men. They said he would have strong women in his films, but their lives would be expressed with their relationship to their children, lovers, and husbands.
3. This film is an example of Ford's natural talent for directing. He knew how to place people in specific spots and had visions of what the characters needed to do. For example, when the Apaches start to attach the stagecoach, each Apache Indian is shown either falling off their horse, being shot, or preparing to shoot their gun. They all didn't do the same exact thing. In Stagecoach, there was always simple shots. The camera mostly stayed stationary. The camera panned twice: when Dallas was walking with Ringo to her house in Lordsburg and in the beginning of the movie when the town is being shown. There was a couple close ups of the banker and a Native American too. Ford like to use a close- knit group of actors, which is a great example in Stagecoach. There were nine characters and none of them were minor roles. They all had a long journey ahead of them and kind of portrayed a "family". There was a banker, a sheriff, an outlaw, a prostitute, a doctor, a wife, a salesman, a gambler, and a stage driver. Also the film was in an isolated location. The setting is in Arizona and New Mexico, which is mostly dessert with no civilization. The visual symbol in Stagecoach was the frontier representing the American spirit, instead of the characters expressing it. As for the two women in the film, John Ford did not handle them the right way, like the article said. The wife was strong to have enough a baby and live, but her life was expressed with her relationship to her military husbands. Dallas is just known for being a prostitute and having multiple lovers. The character, Ringo Kid defies authority by breaking out jail to get revenge, but accepts that he must go back.
4. Stagecoach, to me, is a great western. The early 1940's, was the greatest period American movie making. But when John Ford filmed this, it wasn't the greatest idea. During this time period, Westerns were not popular. He took a big risk making this film. He was even told that Stagecoach would ruin his career and even producers objected his idea. The overall directing by Ford was clean cut and to the point. All of the characters and the plot were introduced right away. This helps the viewer "jump" into the story right away without having to figure out what is going on. As for the script, there was not a lot of dialogue used. Since sound in film came about not too long ago, I thought he would use more. On the other hand, a lot of the visual symbols helped convey messages. He used a lot of one shots, so you the viewer could see what was going on with each character, specifically their emotions. There were a lot of cross fades and no fade to black, which hinted that the story line was continuos. The camera throughout the film did not have a lot of secondary movement, except for a few parts. John Ford truly made the starting point for great Westerns to come.