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Fort Apache Review


Extraordinary
Fort Apache is a John Wayne vehicle often mentioned on the short list of best westerns (The Ox-Bow Incident, Shane, The Wild Bunch, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and High Noon lead the posse). Typical of John Ford westerns, but more adventurous than most of them, Fort Apache offers Ford's trademark mix of solid entertainment, soap, occasional shoot-'em-ups, and reverie.

In this one, the Duke is a cavalry officer stationed in Apache territory who is sympathetic to the Indians' plight. He is forced to choose between challenging the Apaches and disobeying his commanding officer, a hapless Northeasterner (Henry Fonda). The straight-arrow role arguably fits Wayne better than the conflicted heroes and bad guys he played in The Searchers, Red River, and other films.

Continue reading: Fort Apache Review

It's a Wonderful Life Review


Excellent
Come now, what on earth am I going to say about one of the most beloved films ever made? Something about how it was originally coined on a Christmas Card? About how a clerical error resulted in it not being copyrighted and contributing to its ubiquity on television -- since it was royalty-free? Or should I just go ahead and tell the few people on earth who haven't seen it what it's all about.

Okay kids, if you don't have a TV, It's a Wonderful Life tells us about George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), who lives and loves his small town of Bedford Falls so much he'd die for it. And sure enough, when his tiny Building & Loan (aka bank) starts to fail -- thanks to the malicious influence of the local tycoon (Lionel Barrymore) -- George heads for his local bridge to end it all.

Continue reading: It's a Wonderful Life Review

Fort Apache Review


Extraordinary
Fort Apache is a John Wayne vehicle often mentioned on the short list of best westerns (The Ox-Bow Incident, Shane, The Wild Bunch, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and High Noon lead the posse). Typical of John Ford westerns, but more adventurous than most of them, Fort Apache offers Ford's trademark mix of solid entertainment, soap, occasional shoot-'em-ups, and reverie.

In this one, the Duke is a cavalry officer stationed in Apache territory who is sympathetic to the Indians' plight. He is forced to choose between challenging the Apaches and disobeying his commanding officer, a hapless Northeasterner (Henry Fonda). The straight-arrow role arguably fits Wayne better than the conflicted heroes and bad guys he played in The Searchers, Red River, and other films.

Continue reading: Fort Apache Review

My Darling Clementine Review


Excellent
John Ford's 1946 classic My Darling Clementine is finally on DVD -- and it's the next best thing to watching a restored print on the big-screen. Ford, who died in 1973, began his career as a stuntman in D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation and went on to make Hollywood history as a world- renowned, movie-director icon. Everybody wanted to make movies as good as his. They still do.

He's also remembered as a patch-eyed, hard-drinking sentimentalist. He regularly chewed his handkerchief and, depressed from his binges, needed long recovery periods before being able to work. But his genius with moving images made his movies a part of our collective cinema psyches. This DVD gives us a chance to join Ford at his own level, where the sharp blacks and whites are as he originally intended, dialogue and plot are minor, and image means everything.

Continue reading: My Darling Clementine Review

Rio Bravo Review


Good
Dean Martin as "Dude the Drunk," eh? Why not -- it works in Rio Bravo a favorite among Western enthusiasts that nonetheless is far too long, spending too long setting up the story before getting to the powerful finale. Wayne is good, but Dean-o steals the show along with Walter Brennan's crusty jailkeeper, who owns every scene he's in. A definitive piece of Americana by way of Howard Hawks, Rio Bravo is what the late 1950s studio system was all about.

Mister Roberts Review


Good
A universally overrated diversion, Mister Roberts is a pleasant diversion but not a lot more. The story of the most boring ship in the WWII-era Navy (a lowly cargo ship), we find its denizens desperate for action, resorting to pulling practical jokes for kicks. Among them are Jack Lemmon (who won an Oscar for a trivial role) and Henry Fonda, who proves unilaterally that he was not made for comedy, but James Cagney's crazed captain steals the show. The last half-hour of the film is depressing.

The Quiet Man Review


Weak
John Ford and John Wayne conspired to make what is widely regarded as one of their finest films... and it's not a western.

The Quiet Man is as simple as its title. A man with a dark past (Wayne) returns to his homeland in Ireland to reclaim his birthright, falling in love (with local lass Maureen O'Hara) and encountering ornery locals (namely her brother) along the way.

Continue reading: The Quiet Man Review

It's a Wonderful Life Review


Excellent
Come now, what on earth am I going to say about one of the most beloved films ever made? Something about how it was originally coined on a Christmas Card? About how a clerical error resulted in it not being copyrighted and contributing to its ubiquity on television -- since it was royalty-free? Or should I just go ahead and tell the few people on earth who haven't seen it what it's all about.

Okay kids, if you don't have a TV, It's a Wonderful Life tells us about George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), who lives and loves his small town of Bedford Falls so much he'd die for it. And sure enough, when his tiny Building & Loan (aka bank) starts to fail -- thanks to the malicious influence of the local tycoon (Lionel Barrymore) -- George heads for his local bridge to end it all.

Continue reading: It's a Wonderful Life Review

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