Last night and for no particular reason I re-watched Peter Bogdanovich‘s Directed by John Ford, which came out on DVD in ’09. It’s a valentine, a journey, a meditation. Eight years ago I did a phoner with Bogdanovich about the doc. I gave it a fresh listen this morning, and I was moderately impressed. It’s a reasonably decent discussion as these things tend to go.
Here’s a portion of the 11.6.06 article that contained the mp3: “I’ve tried and it’s impossible — there’s no feeling just one way about John Ford. His movies have been wowing and infuriating me all my life, and after seeing Peter Bogdanovich‘s Directed by John Ford — an expanded, unexpectedly touching documentary about the legendary helmer that will show twice on Turner Classic Movies Tuesday evening — the muddle is still there.
“Bogdanovich’s film gives you a feeling — one that seems clear and genuine — that you’ve gotten to know the old coot better than ever before, that you’ve really and truly seen past the bluster and the scowl and the cigar, beyond the scrappy Irish machismo and into some intimate realm. After many years of saying ‘Ford sure made some great films but what a snappy old prick he was,’ I’ve finally come to like the guy. And I feel I owe Bogdanovich a debt for that.
“I tried to say this during my Monday afternoon phone chat with Bogdanovich. We spoke for 25 or 30 minutes. And I never quite said what I felt the film had taught me about Ford, which is that he was a shameless softie who used a snarly exterior manner to keep people from getting inside and discovering who he really was. But of course, his films made that pretty clear on their own.
“Directed by John Ford is really and truly one of Bogdanovich’s best films. It’s right up there with The Last Picture Show, They All Laughed, Targets, Saint Jack and Paper Moon.
“It reminds us once again that the director of The Grapes of Wrath, The Informer, How Green Was My Valley, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Horse Soldiers, Drums Along the Mohawk and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance was a superb visual composer and one of Hollywood’s most economical story-tellers bar none. His films were always layered and understated with sub-currents that never flowed in one simple direction. His films always seemed fairly obvious and sometimes sentimental…at first. Then you’d watch them again and reconsider, and they always seemed to be about a lot more.”