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Scott Allen Nollen on Three Bad Men:John Ford, John Wayne, & Ward Bond

Past chats with our guests.

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Dwayne Epstein
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Re: The Q & A for Scott Allen Nollen on Sat. 2/8 & Sun. 2/9

Postby Dwayne Epstein » February 8th, 2014, 1:56 pm

Hi Scott,
Allow me to be one of the last to welcome you to Silver Screen Oasis. I was a guest a few months back answering queries about my bio on Lee Marvin and like me, you may have already discovered what a knowledgeable and devoted group of classic movie fans there are here.
I haven't read your book (yet!) but I admire the subject matter greatly. Can you impart some thoughts on what Ford thought of filmmakers of the late 60s and early 70s, such as Peckinpah and the like? Thanks again, and welcome!

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Re: The Q & A for Scott Allen Nollen on Sat. 2/8 & Sun. 2/9

Postby Scott_Nollen » February 8th, 2014, 2:49 pm

Yes, I think Bond was a bit progressive regarding race relations. I believe he considered people as individuals, pure and simple. As to his interest in music, he loved to play the piano and sing, especially when with friends and at parties, where he could perform his impressions, but I doubt if he considered it as a career. He initially began acting as a way to earn money so he could complete his four-year degree, but then realized he was good at it. He was a natural performer, but did learn a lot as he worked. Watching THE BIG TRAIL gives a good example of his "green" acting (not knowing what to do with his hands, for example), but he wasn't unsure for long. He began working so much and played so many small parts initially that he probably didn't have time to think too much about his characters. He just did it. He loved attention and found that acting was a great way to get noticed. His naturalistic and believable performances are a testament to his innate talent and his sharp powers of observation. Of course he had a great mentor in Ford, and was fortunate to work with so many other fine directors and nearly every major actor in Hollywood.

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Re: The Q & A for Scott Allen Nollen on Sat. 2/8 & Sun. 2/9

Postby Scott_Nollen » February 8th, 2014, 3:07 pm

Hello, Dwayne. Lee Marvin: a truly great subject for a book. I hope it's doing well for you! As to Ford's appreciation of 60s directors, he didn't really talk about the subject much. I know that he really didn't like some of the technical innovations, such as widescreen. He preferred shooting in the traditional screen ratio and in black and white. He didn't watch a lot of films, and during his latter days, he enjoyed such television programs as HOGAN'S HEROES as a way to relax. (He wasn't overly fond of TV Westerns.) Ford didn't really study the work of others (aside from Murnau during the late '20s), as he was a natural filmmaker and "always knew where to put the camera." Having learned by doing (inspired by his brother Francis, sadly a nearly forgotten film pioneer), the idea of film schools was alien to him. As to Peckinpah, I don't recall Ford mentioning him directly. Toward the end of his life, Ford longed to keep making films himself, and tried to tackle contemporary subjects, but didn't have any opportunities after SEVEN WOMEN. He really was quite frustrated with the state of Hollywood toward the end of his life.

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Re: The Q & A for Scott Allen Nollen on Sat. 2/8 & Sun. 2/9

Postby Dwayne Epstein » February 8th, 2014, 4:03 pm

Thanks for the VERY impressive response to my query as it confirms my suspicions about the great man's frustrations about Hollywood in his later days. I appreciate your kind words about my Marvin bio, by the way. Thankfully, it's still selling as I hope yours is, as well. Feel free to check out on Amazon as Lee Marvin Point Blank. I was able to include some Ford, Wayne & Bond anecdotes via my interview with Woody Strode, Lee's first wife Betty and Strother Martin's friend, L.Q. Jones. Enjoy your time at Silver Screen Oasis. I know I did!

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Rita Hayworth
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Re: The Q & A for Scott Allen Nollen on Sat. 2/8 & Sun. 2/9

Postby Rita Hayworth » February 8th, 2014, 4:05 pm

Scott,

I did not know that John Ford was a big fan of HOGAN'S HEROES and I was surprised to read in your last post that Ford wasn't fond with WIDESCREEN - Why is that Scott? ... Care to explain that?

I love HOGAN'S HEROES!

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Re: The Q & A for Scott Allen Nollen on Sat. 2/8 & Sun. 2/9

Postby MissGoddess » February 8th, 2014, 4:13 pm

Hi, Scott! I can't tell you how happy I am you were able to join us, here! There have already been so many wonderful and thought-provoking questions asked, I'm afraid mine are rather mundane yet they are the kind that tell me a little bit about people.

Besides this terrific triple-threat biography, you've written about many illustrious figures in entertainment. Can I ask which is your personal favorite subject, either in terms of their work or the enjoyment you got out of writing/researching them?

Did Ward Bond ever say which was his favorite of all the movies or roles he played?

What is your favorite Bond performance?


Thank you again! I continue to mention your book all I can to fellow Fordies. :)

April Lane
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Re: The Q & A for Scott Allen Nollen on Sat. 2/8 & Sun. 2/9

Postby Scott_Nollen » February 8th, 2014, 5:32 pm

First of all, Ford didn't care for widescreen because he said something like, "Now there's more space that I have to fill up!" Ford's compositions in the standard 1:33 ratio are often like a shot in the widescreen format: by using depth as well as width, he often fills the frame with a large number of characters (the kind of shot you'd associate more with a Cinemascope image). Speaking of HOGAN'S HEROES, sometimes the visual style of this show includes such shots, where the entire ensemble cast is strategically placed within the 1:33 ratio. I would like to think that Ford appreciated HOGAN'S as much for its style as for its World War II setting and wonderful cast.

As to the favorite of my books, I've done so many at this point, it's hard to say. I think as far as research is concerned, my favorite experience has been BORIS KARLOFF: A GENTLEMAN'S LIFE, because I was able to spend so much time with Karloff's daughter, Sara, and I was the first person to search through all of Boris' papers and personal materials. As far as satisfaction with the final result, THREE BAD MEN probably is my favorite: John Ford is my cinematic hero, and Ward Bond has always been my favorite character actor. Bond never really named a favorite part, but Major Adams in WAGON TRAIN certainly was a most satisfying, fully realized role for him--one that he was able to keep working on over time. I have several Bond favorites for various reasons, but his alternately rousing and moving John L. Sullivan in GENTLEMAN JIM is right at the top of the list. I also really enjoy his priest in THE QUIET MAN and Major Adams in many of the WAGON TRAIN episodes.

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Re: The Q & A for Scott Allen Nollen on Sat. 2/8 & Sun. 2/9

Postby Scott_Nollen » February 8th, 2014, 5:35 pm

Thanks for your comments, Dwayne. I wish I could have interviewed the mighty Woody Strode! What an incredible human being.

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Rita Hayworth
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Re: The Q & A for Scott Allen Nollen on Sat. 2/8 & Sun. 2/9

Postby Rita Hayworth » February 8th, 2014, 6:31 pm

Scott,

Thanks for the great explanation of why Ford did not care for the WIDESCREEN aspects of filmmaking - and I do appreciate it very much. I will try to come up more questions later on.

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Re: The Q & A for Scott Allen Nollen on Sat. 2/8 & Sun. 2/9

Postby MissGoddess » February 8th, 2014, 6:52 pm

Scott_Nollen wrote:
As to the favorite of my books, I've done so many at this point, it's hard to say. I think as far as research is concerned, my favorite experience has been BORIS KARLOFF: A GENTLEMAN'S LIFE, because I was able to spend so much time with Karloff's daughter, Sara, and I was the first person to search through all of Boris' papers and personal materials. As far as satisfaction with the final result, THREE BAD MEN probably is my favorite: John Ford is my cinematic hero, and Ward Bond has always been my favorite character actor. Bond never really named a favorite part, but Major Adams in WAGON TRAIN certainly was a most satisfying, fully realized role for him--one that he was able to keep working on over time. I have several Bond favorites for various reasons, but his alternately rousing and moving John L. Sullivan in GENTLEMAN JIM is right at the top of the list. I also really enjoy his priest in THE QUIET MAN and Major Adams in many of the WAGON TRAIN episodes.


That time spent with Sara must have been extraordinary. Her father was so much more than a "horror movie" actor. he was a brilliant actor, period.

Gentleman Jim featured a performance by Bond that really enriched that movie with emotion and humanity. The humor and mischief he brought to the priest in The Quiet Man humanized the role. I've always admired his character in ON DANGEROUS GROUND because it is, again, so human---flawed, yet not evil. He is bent on a murderous path but you cannot help but feel his pain. He's a man acting on pure adrenaline over what has happened. Then he transitions nicely, coming to his senses and revealing the man that everyone in the community already knew. He was, temporarily, a mirror of Jim Wilson's (Robert Ryan) own tortured personality, bent on righting perceived wrongs in a violent way.
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
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Re: The Q & A for Scott Allen Nollen on Sat. 2/8 & Sun. 2/9

Postby Scott_Nollen » February 8th, 2014, 8:12 pm

Thanks for the great comments about ON DANGEROUS GROUND, one of my all-time favorite films. I always cringe a little when I see Bond struggling to run in the snow, as his bad leg injury had to be hurting terribly. His character is quite well developed in the film. I also like Nicholas Ray, and Robert Ryan has long been a favorite actor of mine. Such controlled power in that man.

As to Sara Karloff, yes, that was extraordinary. We became very close during that time, and I will never forget how wonderful that was. Boris was a splendid actor, and his career is a lot more wide-ranging than many people think, with work in film, TV, radio, spoken-word recordings, and all his fine stage work.

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Re: The Q & A for Scott Allen Nollen on Sat. 2/8 & Sun. 2/9

Postby rohanaka » February 9th, 2014, 12:45 am

Hello Mr. Nollen,

As the least educated among most of the folk who post here (at least in terms of facts and personal info about all three "bad" men), I won't trouble you by asking you anything.. I wouldn't know where to begin. ha. :) So instead I will just interrupt long enough to say how much I am enjoying getting to read all the OTHER questions and the answers you are providing here. And if I may add, these 'Bad Men" are among my personal favorites when it comes to movies, and filmmaking in general, so it really has been a treat to look in on what everyone has had to say here.

Thanks very much for taking your time, Mr. Nollen. And thanks for the fun read, too!

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Re: The Q & A for Scott Allen Nollen on Sat. 2/8 & Sun. 2/9

Postby Scott_Nollen » February 9th, 2014, 2:27 am

Thank you for your kind comments. It's been a true pleasure responding to so many excellent questions from so many learned film folk. I look forward to doing it again all day Sunday, so bring it on! I'll still be here!

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Re: The Q & A for Scott Allen Nollen on Sat. 2/8 & Sun. 2/9

Postby moira finnie » February 9th, 2014, 11:23 am

Scott, thanks for coming back for another day of helping us to understand the "Three Bad Men"!

I particularly want to thank you (I think) for introducing me through your book to one of the few films headlined by Ward Bond--Adolf Hitler: Dead or Alive (1942), which appears to be one of the more demented propaganda films ever made during WWII. I hope that you will comment on what prompted the actor to take such roles--was it a need for money? The desire for a leading role? Did he ever have a real agent helping him to plan his career moves?

Perhaps Adolf Hitler: Dead or Alive (1942) was a visceral, almost child-like response to the tragedy at Pearl Harbor, but I genuinely laughed out loud at Bond's ebullient performance several times during its 70+ minutes. Ward plays a recently sprung gangster out to get Der Fuhrer for a big payday (until things turn disturbingly real toward the end). If anyone else is interested in seeing one of Ward's "lost" films, you can see it here:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYhyUlVxmHw[/youtube]

At the other end of the perspective in his career is Bond's beautiful performance in The Long Voyage Home (1940). As fond as I am of this film, I never cease to be moved by his character of Yank, a roaring boy whose high animal spirits culminate in one of the actor's best moments on screen (which I won't divulge to spare those who haven't seen this). How did Ford coax, encourage or browbeat this performance from Ward Bond?
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Re: The Q & A for Scott Allen Nollen on Sat. 2/8 & Sun. 2/9

Postby Scott_Nollen » February 9th, 2014, 11:49 am

It's great to be here again today!

I, too, find HITLER: DEAD OR ALIVE very entertaining, especially Bond's rip-roaring speech at the end. Ward seems not to have turned down roles, and was never afraid to take on any kind of part. HITLER is the only feature film in which he receives top billing, so I'm sure that appealed to him. Also, he was working with two old colleagues, Paul Fix and Warren Hymer, as the other two gangsters-turned-Allied assassins.

THE LONG VOYAGE HOME is such a fine film, and I, too, love the Yank character. I don't think it took too much coaxing by Ford to get that moving performance from Bond, as the man was just that talented as an actor. His big scene really is an emotional highlight. I never get tired of seeing that character and film.


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