Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Bizarre? Not at all, at least it now seems to me as natural as my general interest in and liking of things American. I've loved Ford from way, way back - this is long before I went to the States - and I remain an ardent admirer of his works: pictures like How Green Was My Valley, or The Searchers, or The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance are wonderful, full of cinematic wonders. And then I came to like the unmistakable Irish element in him, a good combination with Western flair. In America I discovered that he was famous more for films like The Grapes of Wrath, which to me aren't nearly so impressive as some of his Western work.

But you know I love the Western. Now, there weren't too many Hollywood directors then who would have agreed, and even less critics. I remember when Ford made his famous pronouncement: 'My name's John Ford. I make Westerns,' this caused perplexity in Hollywood. It was the first time people there started to think about the Western as a medium worthy of great attention, except as a solid, ever-saleable piece of merchandise. There was no understanding of the place of the Western in the American cinema, or of the place of pictures in American culture. Ford's remark set off a big discussion: people were so surprised that the great John Ford had chosen to categorize himself like that. They couldn't understand it. They would have rather expected him to step forward as the creator of The Grapes of Wrath. But any appreciation of the American cinema, I think, involves an appreciation of the Western and also of the melodrama, and you can achieve this via a specifically cinema criticism. As someone who started out as a theatre man, and a director of mostly highly literary plays, I'd like to go emphatically on the record with that."

- Douglas Sirk on John Ford

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