films seen
average score
USA - 79 years old
R.I.P. (1894 - 1973)
more info

A quintessential classic American director who is best known for his overbearing sentimentality and his western collaborations with John Wayne. I'm not a fan, but if you care about classic cinema, there really is no way around Ford.


Undercover: How to Operate behind Enemy Lines

How to Operate behind Enemy Lines
1943 / 62m - USA
Drama, War
Undercover: How to Operate behind Enemy Lines poster


1953 / 116m - USA
Romance, Adventure
Mogambo poster

The Quiet Man

1952 / 129m - USA
Drama, Romance
The Quiet Man poster

John Ford didn't just direct westerns, apparently he also made some veritable dramas. Judging by The Quiet Man, he favored the type of drama that was about as subtle as your average western. I'm not really sure how Ford envisioned this romance to turn out, but if he purposely wanted to spend two hours with a dreadful couple, then this film was a big success.

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Thornton returns to his home village after a long stay in the US. There he runs into Mary Kate, a fierce and headstrong woman who puts Thornton to work when he tries to court her. Thornton carries a dark secret with him though, a past he has been outrunning without too much success.

The performances are laughable. Wayne's contorted face is a hoot, Maureen O'Hara acts as if she was cast for a silent film. The plot is utterly simple, neither the drama, romance nor the comedy ever hit home and the runtime is ridiculous. The Quiet Man is a hopelessly outdated film, best to forget this one as quickly as possible.

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

1949 / 104m - USA
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon poster

John Ford and John Wayne, that means you better brace yourself for some oldskool western fun. That is, if you like westerns. If you're like me, and you can't stand the genre, seeing these names together is certainly less thrilling. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is one of their vintage collaborations, so it's no surprise this didn't do anything for me.

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Captain Brittles is on the verge of retirement, but the threat of an Indian attack is looming. He is sent out to investigate the situation, but he also has to evacuate some women, which makes his job that much more difficult. When the Indians attack, Brittles will have to sneak back to camp to get reinforcements.

This is little more than just another cowboys and Indians story. Ford's direction is cheesy, Wayne is a dud and the added comedy with the women present is pretty terrible. I simply don't get the appeal of these films, it's a good thing then that their popularity seems to be slowly waning.

How Green Was My Valley

1941 / 118m - USA
How Green Was My Valley poster

If you want to trace the history of Hollywood kitsch and sentiment, there's no way you can pass up the films of John Ford. This quintessential classics director revels in cheese and exaggerated drama, How Green Was My Valley is another perfect example. To each their own I guess.

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Ford leaves America for a small miner's town in Wales. The film focuses on a big miner family in the early 1900s, as the young boys have their own ideas of what the world should look like, the father is stern and strict, and social turmoil plagues the country. And in true Hollywood fashion, there's also a bit of action at the end.

The finale isn't all that bad and would've made for a good thriller, but the drama that comes before is hard to watch and really drags the film down. The performances are poor, the soundtrack is bad, it's only the cinematography that manages to stand out when the plot gets a bit more exciting.

The Grapes of Wrath

1940 / 129m - USA
The Grapes of Wrath poster


1939 / 96m - USA
Drama, Adventure, Western
Stagecoach poster

I don't care much for the work of John Ford, I don't care much for westerns. No surprise then that Stagecoach really didn't do much for me. There are some decent moments when the action dies down a little, but the typical cowboys and Indians nonsense is something I just can't get myself to like.

The Iron Horse

1924 / 150m - USA
The Iron Horse poster

John Ford's 150-minute silent western epos about the construction of the transcontinental railway running through the USA, including some extra schmaltzy drama. Whether this event was best served by a rather bloated, 2.5-hour silent film is debatable, but that's what we're faced with.

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When Brandon witnesses the death of his father, he is deeply hurt. It was his father's dream to build a railway that would run all the way through the US. When Brandon is old enough to be his own man, he puts all his efforts into realizing his father's dream, but there are many that would love to see him fail.

People back then were slow readers, so you'll be watching a lot of bland intertitles. The story isn't really that interesting, the drama is highly exaggerated and the runtime is excessive. It's not quite the worst of its kind and I'm sure a film like this was more of an event back in 1924, but watching it now, it's just an endlessly dull experience.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

1962 / 123m - USA
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance poster

A Ford western that tries to break out of its typical genre mold. Instead of focusing on tough guys, gun fights and robberies, Ford adds a more historical/political angle to the film. At least that's what he tries to do, because many of the typical western elements are still present, and they don't mix very well with the more serious subject.

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Everyone is a walking cliché, down to the most insignificant character. From the upright, studious and stiff James Stewart and boorish, macho John Wayne, to the villainous and crude Lee Marvin, none of them manage to bring any kind of humanity to their performance. The whole cast is just terrible across the board.

The first hour it's almost like watching a farce, with simplistic comedy and crummy banter. The second hour tries to squeeze in the shift from the Wild West to a more democratic society, but everything is so unsubtle and on the nose that you have to wonder why Ford even bothered. Hopelessly outdated.

The Searchers

1956 / 119m - USA
The Searchers poster

Wagon Master

1950 / 86m - USA
Wagon Master poster

An archetypical John Ford western. As you probably know by now, I'm not a western, nor a John Ford fan, but somehow these films keep popping up on leading recommendation lists. If you ever needed proof of a male/Western bias steering these lists, look no further than a film like Wagon Master.

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The story is as basic as it gets. A convoy is traveling from point A to B. The road is perilous and all kinds of nefarious people and gangs are looking to mess up their travel plans. So the convoy hires some protection, two young drifters who are willing to safeguard them for a price.

The songs and music are horrendous, the black and white cinematography looks drab, performances are very bland, and I simply don't care much for the western setting. The film is little more than a stack of clichés, which is nice if you're able to appreciate the genre. Personally, I found it a terrible waste of time.

My Darling Clementine

1946 / 97m - USA
Drama, Western
My Darling Clementine poster

The most remarkable thing about My Darling Clementine is how unremarkable a film it is, especially considering its stellar reputation. It's little more than a simple genre flick, a western with all the usual ingredients (though a bit low on action and tilting more to the drama side) that simply goes through the motions.

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I'm not a fan of westerns, so I didn't get much out of it, not in the least because Ford takes it very slow and spends oodles of time on uninteresting characters and a tepid plot. That did give me some more time to look for other elements that might've set this one apart from its peers, but I found nothing.

Performances are pretty over-the-top, the cinematography is drab (the framing in particular felt very cramped) and the music sounded horrible. At the very end we get a shoot-out, but even that felt basic. I'm sure it's a solid film for fans of the genre, but apart from the US' cultural dominance over the film business I can see no reason why people make such a big deal of this film.