Tuesday, 3 March 2009

FS6, Section C - Notes, articles and essays on John Ford's "Stagecoach"

"My name is John Ford.  I am a director of westerns." 

This was Ford's much misquoted self-introduction to a meeting of the Director's Guild in October 1950. Ford has his reasons for stating this. He said it in the eye of the political storm provoked by Senator McCarthy and his HUAC hearings against suspected communists and their liberal sympathisers. As a "director of westerns" he was probably placing himself beyond reproach by identifying himself with such a deeply patriotic American genre; a genre which focused on frontier and foundation myths embedded in what it then meant to be an American. The truth is around 60% of Ford's films were made in other genres. He simply made more westerns than films in other genres.

Use your knowledge of the other films that you have studied by Ford to consider John Ford as an the auteur of "Stagecoach".

Focus on Ford as "a maker of the western": his themes, motifs and stylistic traits that places Ford's stamp on this film. His fondness for using particular actors including John Wayne. His film as a representation of America and its ideological discourses on American life. His auteurial signatures of humour and the repeated backdrop of Monument Valley.

There are several valuable essays on Ford's film on the PDF file from the link below. They should prove useful for studying the western as a genre and for Ford as an auteur.

A summary of the film and its characters.
An earlier post of mine on the characters and their "types" in "Stagecoach"

An Auteur project with notes and links

An in-depth overview which touches on Ford's style from Senses of Cinema.

"John Ford Made Westerns:
Filming the Legend in the Sound Era" from Senses of Cinema

An analysis of "Stagecoach"

Another fascinating analysis of the film which focuses on its music. Remember to click to page two at the bottom of its page one.

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