Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

The American Shakespeare

I can buy the complete works of Ingmar Bergman on DVD- including some real stinkers- and I can buy the complete works of Akira Kurosawa on DVD- including some things that'll put you to sleep- but if I want to own the complete works of John Ford on DVD I can go whistle.

John Ford is the greatest American moviemaker. Only Welles competes for that title and Welles is an honorary European. So how come the only films of his that are available on DVD are those that can be marketed as belonging to the oeuvre of John Wayne or the oeuvre of Jimmy Stewart and suchlike? Why can't I buy copies of Wagonmaster or The Sun Shines Bright? Why isn't there a John Ford Collection?

I watched Fort Apache last night. Fort Apache is a great movie. It's as multi-layered as a Shakespeare play. It's this deep, deep meditation on the conquest of the West and the nature of the military and what it means to be an American.  As early as 1948 (long before westerns started to be "revisionist")  it was dealing with issues of genocide, class and gender and the shittiness of men like Custer and what it means to be "civilised". And of course- to top it all-  it's exciting and funny and beautiful to look at. 

Aaaah- Monument Valley!

Fort Apache is easily as good a movie as The Seven Samurai (which it inspired). I'd be inclined to say it was better.  But you wouldn't know it from the way it gets packaged and sold.
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