Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

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domino harvey
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#101 Post by domino harvey » Thu Oct 11, 2018 3:59 pm

You are both nuts. I'll just leave this here
domino harvey wrote:
Mon May 09, 2011 8:19 pm
the Horse Soldiers (John Ford 1959) Well, Sgt Rutledge was, like Gentleman's Agreement, a well-made but stupid film, but this a poorly-made stupid one. John Wayne has rallied against some crazy things in his films, but really, doctors? We're really gonna sit here and watch the Duke say ignorant shit about doctors for a couple hours? And though Ford's women are never as easily pegged as Hawks', God only knows what he saw in Constance Towers that led him to cast her back to back here (same question goes for Fuller, sorry).

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#102 Post by knives » Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:37 pm

Like I said, totally sympthetic though I didn't take the film as being anti-doctor.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#103 Post by Rayon Vert » Thu Oct 11, 2018 7:58 pm

Is it me or is there a doctor in every single Ford film? Feels like it anyway...

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#104 Post by knives » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:11 pm

There are dozens without though as an occupation it is weirdly common.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#105 Post by domino harvey » Thu Oct 11, 2018 11:47 pm

Surprisingly, the only Ford movie without a doctor in it is Doctor Bull

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#106 Post by movielocke » Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:19 pm

deeply disappointed in my revisit of Prisoner of Shark Island which has a good prologue and a fantastic escape sequence with striking photography and editing, but I just couldn't get past the full throated endorsement/enforcement of white supremacy in putting down the "mutiny" nor the overall odor of confederate apologia that celebrating Mudd entails (not to mention the radical lying involved in misrepresenting him as a wronged man), tumbled out of my top ten and off my list.

pleasantly surprised by my revisit of The Informer which I remembered mostly as a rip-off of M, but is far more nuanced than that. Seeing a major hollywood production like this film in the mid thirties really is completely remarkable compared to most other A-list Hollywood work, even that from Ford (Arrowsmith anyone?). The film is absurdly beautiful, foggy, inky every moment just stunning to watch. And it is so sad and and simultaneously big hearted, Gypo's celebratory downfall contrasted against the grim-ness of the titular crime and the brutal necessities of the IRA reacting to it. I was most surprised at how realist the film feels in having compassion for Gypo while also laying out all the economic background driving him to that initial decision, the film is steeped in poverty and is totally aware of it. That makes it so unique feeling, because it's an expressionist film with a realist bent and just really remarkable to enjoy. Even the church is no solace here, because Gypo receives no absolution from the church, only from a fellow impoverished victim.

Riffing off that church moment, I'm trying to think of examples with priests in Ford films, and for all that catholicism is a constant presence in Ford's films, it's fairly uncommon to ever have any priests, or a voice-of-the-church within the film, the catholicism of the characters and the societies they live in are the ways in which catholicism manifests itself.

I also managed to choke down a repeat viewing of How the West Was Won finally watching that smilebox version on the bluray (very cool effect that works incredibly well, particularly upscaled to 4K, it creates an incredible illusion of depth), and boy it is a turgid mess of a film. The first story with Malden and Stewart is far and away the best, but Ford's short and sweet (four scenes total I think?) Civil War segment is also pretty good (and very Ford like in the performances, the only sad and downbeat elements in an otherwise celebratory film). The other three segments are more different levels of bad, rarely rising above the mediocre, in spite of frequently excellent visuals. The fording of the stream by the covered wagons in particular is fairly meh and a good point of comparison, Ford made the fording sequence in Wagon Train so superb and stunning in how memorable it was, and here it's just a blah bit in passing.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#107 Post by knives » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:36 pm

I think it is a real stretch to say that the film full throatedly endorses or enforces white supremacy. Obviously given the nature of the crime it skirts with the civil war, but that's about it.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#108 Post by movielocke » Mon Oct 15, 2018 5:59 pm

Really? A white prisoner (former slave-lord) is under the authority of black prison guards, yet the white prisoner is taken out of solitary confinement and given authority over the prison guards, with the instructions to get them in line. and he does so by asserting his supremacy over them and threatening them with murder and torture etc. The black prison guards are universally portrayed as ignorant and childlike, enthusiastic to set themselves back into their rightful place of subservience and glad to have a master's hand to show them the way. "that's a southern man right there, he means it" one of them says.

And just the general monstrosity that in a situation with black prison guards over white prisoners... it is the ?prison guards? that revolt and must be put down? what? that is to say that literally our society will contort narrative by any means necessary to put black characters in the wrong. Heads I win, tails you lose.

It's the film's signature scene, and watching it a second time, it was clear it was all about Mudd's supremacy over the guards and reasserting the "natural" order of things.

Later on in the film he also is pretty nasty when forcing the black prison guards to fire cannon on union supply ships at anchor... to force the ships to land? what?

None of it makes any sense, because it is ideological, rather than logical.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#109 Post by domino harvey » Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:05 pm

I guess I would ask you the same thing I'd ask one of my students when they to go this route: your assessment is fair in that it's based on the evidence in the text, but are you being charitable in your approach? You have a long history now of focusing on notions of white supremacy in studio films, which seems like such a losing angle anyways (are you really expecting heightened racial volition in the 30s, the era before the NAACP and other groups reached an agreement with studios to improve representation in return for a move away from racially-segregated film industries), but does it have to be the worst possible reading every time?

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#110 Post by movielocke » Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:49 pm

No it doesn't have to be the worst possible reading, but the scene came across particularly nasty to me during this viewing. When I watched it a dozen years ago, it made no impression, I didn't even remember that it existed. But this is a particularly bad scene, the power dynamics and its placement in the film: his bringing the black prison guards to heel is meant to be a climactic triumphant character moment: when the hero brought low is back on top.

I think it's important to frankly explicate these issues, because they are issues that in so dissecting the text, we can start to understand the mechanisms by which our society creates and enforces certain expectations and norms. In other words, I'm enthusiastic to interrogate the "common sense" of the status quo.

But if I wanted to go the worst possible reading all the time, I'd take something like the representations of Donna Reed's character in They Were Expendable and have a fit saying it ruins the whole film, but that would be wildly off base. Sure there is cultural baggage in the way women are represented as prizes, or are represented as desirable only when they perform femininity in a socially approved ways, but that would also be discarding the possibility that Donna Reed's character has agency within the world of the film. And we would not want to dismiss that agency in order to persue an ideological argument. And that sort of reading would be wildly wrong for the film, taking small characteristics of a minor subplot and blowing it way out of proportion while ignoring the rest of the text.

With Prisoner of Shark Island, I'm calling out a crucial scene not a small subplot: the hero uses his experience as a slavelord to assert his dominance over the prison guards which is also the climax of his character arc throughout the film. And within the rest of the text is a film that is actively participating in the postwar confederate campaign that rewrites history, in this particular instance attempting to rehabilitate the image of one of Booth's co conspirators with the false representation of the trials: establishing the confederate assassins as victims lacking any real due process (kinda like the recent howling re Kavanaugh). the film also portrays the ante-bellum south as happy (former) slaves contented to loyally serve their plantation master, and that is never a good look. All this is to say that on this viewing, I found race and race relations to undergird the entire film, much as I thought poverty undergirds how I understand The Informer.

Now I do not actually think the film or any writers or film makers were malicious in what they wrought, rather what I'm trying to communicate is that the mechanisms they used, reflect and reinforced a cultural "common sense" that is often invisible to those presenting it and those receiving it.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#111 Post by Shrew » Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:28 pm

Prisoner of Shark Island endorsing white supremacy is a stretch, but confederate apologia is dead on. The film isn’t arguing for racial/biological superiority, but the mutiny scene fits together with the former slave who can’t quit his old master and the early scene of Mudd winning the attention of his former slaves from a rabble-rousing carpet bagger trying to convince them to vote. It supposes a hierarchy where blacks need good white men to tell them what to do. Like movielocke, I liked the opening (the scenes of Baxter and Stuart’s married bliss in particular) and the escape sequence. I’d also praise the hanging sequence. But the way the film jumps around through the imprisonment makes the pacing feel slack, or maybe it’s that the big setpieces so dominate the film that everything else just seems dull. Either way, the film didn’t do much for me, and the racial/confederate stuff didn’t help.

Maybe I’m just sensitive due to watching so many Fords sympathizing with the South so close together. This came after the Rogers films and repeated grievances about burning Atlanta and Shenandoah in the later films, so I was admittedly fed up with it. Most of this is the genre and historical feelings of the time more than anything from Ford though. One of my favorite things about Stagecoach is the critique of Southern chivalry in the form of Hatfield. The great climax of that film isn’t just the fight with the Apaches, it’s that shot of Hatfield’s gun next to the oblivious Mrs. Mallory. It recalls the climax of Birth of a Nation, but while Griffith portrays the act of killing a woman to save her from another race as some grand tragic sacrifice, Ford’s version reads as nothing but horror.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#112 Post by movielocke » Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:59 pm

In skimming through the ford at Fox thread I was reminded that there is a hidden cache at the bottom of the box with becoming john Ford in a keepcase and the wwii shorts as extras on that disc. Torpedo squadron is just an in memorium piece, and December 7th is the 34 minute version, that was nice to watch as it excised pretty much all the vile material from the original edit.

And in having to deal with the giant ford at Fox set repeatedly over the last couple weeks I am even leas inclined to get the Bergman mega set than I already was. Just too much hassle to deal with all the packaging crap and weight and stupid disc pages.

Having zoomed through repeat viewings of the will rogers trio, none will make my list. Judge priest is intensely problematic on multiple levels, and the other two less so, on the other hand, Judge Priest is in some ways better (story, characters, charm) while steamboat round the bend is probably the funniest. Doctor bull remains slightly my favorite because I like the more cantankerous character Rogers has over his more Andy Griffith role in the other films.

Wee willie Winkie might make the bottom of my list: charming good performances, the over the top absurdity of solving the problems of colonialism with the magic serum of childlike innocence. And of course McLaglen, who manages to be the perfect comic match for temple, stealing the film in many respects. And of course there is the incredible single take of auld Lang syne with probably the best acting of temples child career. I watched the tinted version this time around, very nice effect. the restoration demonstration on the disc gives a ton of information on how they came about making the tinted version.

Long Voyage Home is a beautiful looking film, and just a very fine piece that is virtually overwhelmed by the background characters. Very enjoyable revisit for a film I did not remember whatsoever

As alluded to above They Were Expendable is one of Ford's best films, fantastic performances from the leads, flawless editing, with incredible set pieces sprinkled throughout the film, and a downbeat storyline of continual defeats (though we really only experience success in the set pieces we wee). The only real flaw is that the romantic subplot really is shoe-horned in and feels incredibly out of place in the body of the rest of the film. But it's not especially bad in an of itself.

Pilgrimage still completely works for me from beginning to end, one of Ford's purest spiritual journies and anchored by such a good performance from Henrietta Crossman. It's interesting watching these all back to back just how often Ford's thirties films push back against upper class prejudice against the poor. What we have here isn't quite that, it is more Faulknerian, with Crossman's not-quite-as-poor-as-a-sharecropper exerting intense class prejudice against those on the ladder rung of poverty right below them.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#113 Post by domino harvey » Fri Oct 19, 2018 3:55 pm

And then he rings in the early forties with a movie that seemingly highlights every negative perception of the poor with grating precision!

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#114 Post by movielocke » Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:04 pm

domino harvey wrote:And then he rings in the early forties with a movie that seemingly highlights every negative perception of the poor with grating precision!
Yeah not sure I can stomach a Tobacco Road revisit

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#115 Post by movielocke » Mon Oct 22, 2018 1:55 pm

The Rising of the Moon was totally charming, if a bit fairy tale romanticized Ireland (which is fine), and given my love for Ford's background characters an entire film of nothing but was a pure delight.

Men Without women how amazing we can just rent this hyper obscurity from a streaming service and just watch it, when for years it was only available to watch for scholars who visited DC! What a world we live in. Really good trapped-at-the-bottom-of-the-sea film. not making my list for Ford, but very enjoyable nonetheless. I would love to hear about the restoration that resulted in this hybrid talkie/silent surviving piece.

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon I remembered exactly two things from this film from my first viewing fifteen years ago: John Wayne talking to his wife and children's graves drenched in gorgeous expressionist red lighting, and John Wayne receiving a retirement watch with the sentiment (takes out glasses) "Lest we Forget". And I remembered those two moments as consecutive, yet they're separated by at least 80 minutes of film, and yet, in a way, those two moments are the entire film condensed to its character essence. If there were not the thrice damned narrator, this would probably be a top ten Ford film for me. Wayne gives a superb performance.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#116 Post by domino harvey » Mon Oct 22, 2018 3:38 pm

Reminder that lists are due in a week. In case anyone is curious, other than the upcoming Oscar lists where it makes sense to be concurrent, we are never ever doing this again. Shoutout to the small crew who kept it going, though!

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#117 Post by movielocke » Wed Oct 24, 2018 1:51 pm

Three Bad Men is Ford's best silent film, I think. An amazing series of standoffs ending, and the sheer scale of the land stealing rush is staggering. I like the reversal the titular trio undergo, even though its underwritten and somewhat unconvinving.

The Quiet Man I like more each time I see it. I was fascinated this go round at the dowry's presence in the film, how it's a fulcrum for how the plot handles the culture clash, and becomes a mechanism that gives Wayne's character an arc in how he treats women, and gives Ohara's character an arc in how much she's willing to trust a man. Very tidily handled but disappointing in that it reduces the safety net aspect of a dowry to a petty sort of materialism. Damn the film is gorgeous too, Olive's signature bluray is really stunning, finally a home video comparable to the 35mm I've seen.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#118 Post by movielocke » Fri Oct 26, 2018 12:31 pm

Welp, other than a repeat viewing of How Green was my Valley tonight, I'm not going to be watching any Ford films for a while as I panic watch as much as possible from my Filmstruck queue. :-/ I had planned on continuing with the Ford binge for the next few weeks, wrapping up with rentals the various unseen ones and maybe trying to allocate time for The Iron Horse, guess I'll have to stop after thirty-seven consecutive Ford films.

Drums along the Mohawk is a film I did not remember whatsoever, and that's a shame because it's a pretty good film with great supporting performances from Edna May Oliver and Ward Bond. Fonda is terrific, particularly in his long shell shocked soliloquy. Colbert is also good, but does not have a lot to do. The Indian representation is wildly off base. It's rather fun seeing a frontier Revolutionary war "western" and it's extremely nice to have a Ford film that isn't in Monument Valley. The DVD looks stunning, but apparently no one making the DVD knew what Day for Night shooting is, as all of the many many DfN scenes are presented wrong on the DVD, digitally corrected to try to make them look bright and trying to get the skies back to a day like blue, it looks completely awful.

some stats for this project:
Godard watched: 0 (did most of them last year for the FNW mini list)
Renoir watched: 7, 4 revisits, 3 new, but just watched the Stage and Spectacle films last year.
Ford watched: 37, 22 revisits, 15 new

the only film in my Ford top twenty list I didn't get rewatched was Two Rode Together, and the only one I didn't get rewatched for Renoir was Crime of Monsieur Lange.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#119 Post by domino harvey » Sun Oct 28, 2018 3:56 pm

Lists are due by the end of the day tomorrow. HOWEVER, submissions so far have been pitifully low, so there is a good chance none of these three popular, well-seen and discussed directors will even have enough ballots to tabulate... which is disheartening, to say the least

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#120 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Oct 28, 2018 8:41 pm

Yeah that sure is

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#121 Post by domino harvey » Sun Oct 28, 2018 11:08 pm

Every category needs at least ten ballots for me to start counting. Ballot tallies as of right now:

Ford: 9
Godard, features: 7
Godard, shorts: 3
Renoir: 8

Remember, even if you have not participated in this thread, you can submit a list to me via PM. You have until the end of Monday, which really means Tuesday morning when I wake up... but I'll be in a meeting til 11 AM EST on Oct 30, so let's call that the final submission deadline

Also, it's my fault because I didn't do eligibility, but Letter to Jane is a feature, not a short

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#122 Post by Shrew » Mon Oct 29, 2018 12:28 am

Some quick thought on several Ford films.

3 Bad Men—Fun, and a whole lot more impressive than I expected going in. Also, the courtship between the young man and young woman might be the only thing John Ford ever filmed I’d describe as sexy.

Up the River—Shambolic but charming. Who can resist baby-faced Bogart, or already booze-cragged Spencer Tracy walking back into prison so he can help the penal baseball team win the big game. Also, remember a time when prison was about reform and the warden’s daughter would be tutored by a convict (this time may never have existed)?

Sergeant Rutledge—Yes, the ending outdoes Young Mr. Lincoln in extralegal courtroom stupidity, but the first ¾ are pretty good, and there’s a pretty amazing 30 mins in the middle, from the Lieutenant shackling Rutledge to Rutledge and the dying black officer, to the great climax of Rutledge on the stand. I’ll even defend the Ford comedy that follows: what’s a better illustration of institutional racism than a bunch of old white men going to a back room to play poker as they decide the fate of a black man. Plus, the film gives Rutledge agency, if not the most complex of motivations, which already puts it above To Kill a Mockingbird and its ilk.

The Last Hurrah—Elegiac salute to Roosevelt-esque politics, with some but not enough warts. Tracy charms, but so much that I kept expecting the other shoe to drop and reveal him as corrupt phony—the film plays like he’s manipulating the nephew/audience even when he’s not. It’s an interesting tension, but perhaps one I’m bringing from numerous cynical political films more than anything in the movie itself. The troublesome dog of the rival “TV” candidate feels like a swipe at Nixon and his Checkers speech. I ultimately liked this a good deal, but it goes on far too long and fails to make the case for how its climax plays out.

Doctor Bull—As movielocke mentioned, it’s nice to see Rogers as something other than a font of Southern Wisdom. Also, one of the main subplots is basically a loose adaptation of Enemy of the People.

Born Reckless—Shambolic but less charming. Interesting for some early, cliché sound depictions of Italian Americans, and as a dry run for The Roaring Twenties. Also real weird ending that looks like the protagonist’s death but sounds from the dialogue like a copout.

Cheyenne Autumn—So long and so Hollywood 1960s (overtures!). The Dodge City segment feels like some proto-Little Big Man attack on Western myth, only more broad.

The Hurricane—Didn’t expect this to be Prisoner of Shark Island 2. Though Massey’s misguided administrator also makes this Fort Apache ½.

What Price Glory? —I’d never seen any post-White Heat Cagney prior to this list, but based on this and Mister Roberts, ignorance is bliss.

When Willie Comes Marching Home—Wait, Dan Dailey was a crooner with a mug like that? There’s a lot of nothing going on in this How I Won the War story, including some shoehorned musical numbers, but I do like how Ford films the French Resistance like Indians in his westerns.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#123 Post by domino harvey » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:00 am

Voting closed. All lists save the Godard shorts were saved

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#124 Post by swo17 » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:03 am

Well I'm curious how the few others voted there, because that was actually the list I was most sure about:

01 Origins of the 21st Century
02 Schick After Shave
03 Une histoire d'eau
04 Une catastrophe
05 All the Boys Are Called Patrick

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#125 Post by knives » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:26 am

Mine was
1 Liberty and Homeland
2 A Story of Water
3 Armide (from Aria)
4 Film-Tract No. 1968
5 Love (from Love and Anger)
6 Je vous salue, Sarajevo
7 Une femme coquette
8 The Kids Play Russian
9 All the Boys are Called Patrick

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