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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford » User review

Why?

  • Jan 9, 2000
Rating:
+4
I was eager to read this biography because I have seen most of the films directed by John Ford and was interested in knowing more about "his life and times." I learned a great deal. Eyman provides a wealth of information. However, given Richard Schickel's observation that Ford was a director who "delighted in in cruelty, publicly humiliating his casts and crews, a man who carried petty grudges for punishing decades and someone whose wihdrawals and silences profoundly damaged his family," I had hoped that Eyman would explain the reasons for so many of Ford's failed human relationships. Perhaps the title of one of my favorite Ford films -- They Were Expendable -- suggests one of them. Does Eyman agree with Schickel? Even if he does, he fails to reveal in this otherwise solid biography what Schickel calls "the complicated truth" about John Ford.

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About the reviewer
Robert Morris ()
Ranked #169
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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Wiki

Borrowing his title from dialogue in John Ford's classic Western,The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance("When the legend becomes fact, print the legend"), Scott Eyman heeds this advice in his splendid study of Ford, finding a convincing balance between the gruff image Ford cultivated and the sensitive artist that Ford truly was. The result is a to-date definitive biography, occasionally prone to indelicate critical assessment while benefiting greatly from Eyman's full access to the Ford family archives. Arguably the greatest American filmmaker of the 20th century, Ford protected himself with a façade of belligerence yet engendered more loyalty among his crew and stock players (notably John Wayne and Ward Bond) than any other director. Eyman illuminates the Ford legend while focusing on fact--on a complex genius who would berate even the most vulnerable actor and then "apologize without apologizing," a binge drinker who never let alcohol interfere with his closely-guarded artistry, and a stalwart Navy captain whose service in World War II became his primary source of pride.

Print the Legend essentially confirms Ford's brief affair with Katharine Hepburn, but Eyman emphasizes Ford's deep, abiding affection for his wife, Mary, who valiantly tolerated his absolute devotion to filmmaking. While hundreds of interviews yield a comprehensive account of Ford's working methods (which the director was loathe to discuss), Eyman expertly navigates around Ford's own penchant for ...

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Details

ISBN-10: 0684811618
ISBN-13: 978-0684811611
Author: Scott Eyman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

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