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John Ford Essay

2908 words - 12 pages

John Ford

John Ford was an American motion-picture director. Winner of four Academy Awards, and is known as one of America’s great film directors. He began his career in the film industry around 1913. According to Ellis, Ford’s style is evident in both the themes he is drawn toward and the visual treatment of those themes, in his direction of the camera and in what’s in front of it. Although he began his career in the silent film area and continued to work fruitfully for decades after the thirties, Ford reached creative maturity in the thirties. Ford, unlike other directors continued to do some of his finest work after the nineteen thirties. Nevertheless, he shaped his art into personal and full expression during those precedent-setting years. (Pg.200)

Ford directed more than two hundred movies throughout his career. Following in his brother’s foot steps; Ford produced, directed, and wrote many films. Throughout his career, which spanned nearly fifty years, he worked for such studios as Universal, Fox Film Corporation, RKO, United Artists, 20th Century Fox, Republic Pictures, and Warner Brothers. John Ford was born to Irish immigrants on February 1, 1894 or 1895, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. His birth name was Sean Aloysius O’Fearna (Feeney). He changed his name when he began his career in the film industry. John’s brother, Frances Ford took him under his wing and showed him the ropes. He started out in Hollywood by doing stunt work, camera work, and film editing. In addition, Ford performed in such movies as Lucille Love, Girl of Mystery (1914), The Mysterious Rose (1914), The Broken Coin (1915), The Hidden City (1915), The Bandit’s Wager (1916), The Lumber Yard Gang (1916), and Chicken-Hearted Jim (1916). He even played one of the Klansman extras in D.W. Griffith’s historical epic, The Birth of a Nation (1915). Ford also performed and was assistant director in the film The Doorway of Destruction (1915). However, by 1917, he was working almost entirely as a director.

According to MacIntyre, the first studio John directed for was Universal Studios. During his early days in cinema, many of his films were short Westerns. His first film with Universal in 1917 was, The Soul Herder starring Harry Carey Sr. Carey would become a lifelong friend of Ford. Most of his early films were short Westerns, many of them starring Carey and occasionally Hoot Gibson. During the next couple of years 1917-1921, Ford would direct a number of Westerns for Universal Studios. In addition, he wrote, directed, and starred in at least three of the films The Trail of Hate (1917), The Tornado (1917), and The Scrapper (1917). However, the majority of his time with Universal was spent directing. (Pg. 1 of web pg.)

In 1921, John moved to Fox Film Corporation and directed such stars as John Gilbert, Tom Mix, Madge Bellamy, Henry B. Walthall, Janet Gaynor, and George O’Brien. In addition, Ford discovered O’Brien. Through the 1920’s, he began...

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