Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Top Ranked Films of John Ford

These are all the films of John Ford’s that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls. He had ten this time, down from 14 in 2009. [Photos courtesy of Fanpix.net]

Long considered the 'iconic' American director, he made the most revered westerns of all time, and practically defined the genre by himself. Yet, some of his best films are outside that genre.

My favorite Ford film is The Grapes of Wrath (1940), from John Steinbeck's Pulitzer-winning novel, and a story that got them all branded 'Commies' by the McCarthy-run HUAC; it's simply a humane story about every person deserving some dignity, justice, and work in life.

Next I prefer his best western, The Searchers (though She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is also a great one in spite of the title), then non-westerns missing from the top 1000, The Informer (1935, about IRA terrorists, for which Ford favorite Victor McLaglen won his only acting Oscar), and Mister Roberts (1955, a comedy about a naval supply ship during WW2, he shared directing credit with Mervyn Leroy). It’s good to see the underrated My Darling Clementine rising over time, it’s the one about the gunfight at the O.K. corral, with Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the Clancy Brothers; it may be Ford's finest b&w western.

They Were Expendable (1945) is also an underrated war film, about the PT boats and their crews. It was his first film after making war propaganda films for the government’s war effort from 1941-1945, and he used that experience to make a taut, realistic and often overlooked war film about a little known part of the Pacific war, that of the U.S. patrol boats, which were mobile but small and vulnerable, hence the title.

1. Searchers, The (1956) #65
2. Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The (1962) #107
3. Grapes of Wrath, The (1940) #144
4. Stagecoach (1939) #283
5. My Darling Clementine (1946) #315
6. Quiet Man, The (1952) #425
7. How Green Was My Valley (1941) #528
8. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) #765
9. They Were Expendable (1945) #782
10. Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) #865

Wayne's own favorite performance
was in this Ford cavalry film,
about a retiring colonel, tired of
all the Indian wars. It could be
his most affable western character.

The other cavalry film, Fort Apache, should also be on this list - it's ranked 1998th this time. I'm always bored by Stagecoach, The Quiet Man, and How Green Was My Valley, but they're still all finely crafted - but "that's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (Dennis Miller).

As always: your results may vary, void where prohibited, not responsible for accidents

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

1 comment:

Jim Beaver said...

Ford, while a liberal Democrat most of his life, wasn't targeted by HUAC (and Joe McCarthy was in the Senate, not the House, and had nothing direct to do with the HUAC mess; he created his own correlative messes with his senate committee, but not with Hollywood).