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MissGoddess
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Postby MissGoddess » October 17th, 2007, 1:56 pm

"Lean and elegant" like Coop. Too bad he's only a German Shepherd or I'd ask you to pass along my phone number. I do like that Ford had his loyalties to Wayne and others---I don't know why, but that appeals to me more than someone who is always "fair".

I haven't read your Lubitsch book yet (it IS in the mail, I swear that's the truth) but let me cheat a little and ask this: if Lubitsch had lived on longer, do you think he still had some masterpieces in him left to create. or was he too much a creature of those heady days known as PC (pre-code)? I think Cluny Brown was wonderful, but from what little I sense about him I don't see Lubitsch being as happy and freely creative the way things were going in the world and Hollywood from 1950 on. It's seems almost a miracle Billy Wilder was able to make Love in the Afternoon in 1957, practically the last Lubitsch film ever made by anyone.

And if I may be so bold as to rob you of a couple more minutes of your fast-ebbing life, would you mind sharing what your favorite John Ford and Ernst Lubitsch movies are? (Not necessarily those you think are the best, just the ones you have the most affection for).

Grazie,

Miss G

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Postby Scott_Eyman » October 17th, 2007, 2:52 pm

MissGoddess"]"Lean and elegant" like Coop. Too bad he's only a German Shepherd or I'd ask you to pass along my phone number. I do like that Ford had his loyalties to Wayne and others---I don't know why, but that appeals to me more than someone who is always "fair".

I haven't read your Lubitsch book yet (it IS in the mail, I swear that's the truth) but let me cheat a little and ask this: if Lubitsch had lived on longer, do you think he still had some masterpieces in him left to create. or was he too much a creature of those heady days known as PC (pre-code)? I think Cluny Brown was wonderful, but from what little I sense about him I don't see Lubitsch being as happy and freely creative the way things were going in the world and Hollywood from 1950 on. It's seems almost a miracle Billy Wilder was able to make Love in the Afternoon in 1957, practically the last Lubitsch film ever made by anyone.

And if I may be so bold as to rob you of a couple more minutes of your fast-ebbing life, would you mind sharing what your favorite John Ford and Ernst Lubitsch movies are? (Not necessarily those you think are the best, just the ones you have the most affection for).

Grazie,

Miss G

"Only a German Shepherd"! Clearly, you've never owned one.
I think Lubitsch would have done just fine in the '50s. Remember, he was a young-ish man when he died, 55 or 56, and his basic genre of romantic comedy never goes out of style...unlike, say, westerns. So he could have kept working.
I like Cluny Brown, too, although I think it plays a little long, unlike most Lubitsch movies. Had his health not broken, and he had a normal life span, I think it's safe to assume that he would have worked with Audrey Hepburn, David Niven and a few other people who inhabited the same psychic universe he did. Maybe he and Cary Grant might even have gotten together!
My favorite Lubitsch pictures? Supremely, The Shop Around the Corner, which seems to me to be as close to perfect as anything ever made in Hollywood. Followed by To Be Or Not To Be, and Trouble in Paradise, the order depending on whichever one I've seen most recently.
For Ford, I return most often to, in no particular order, How Green Was My Valley, Stagecoach, My Darling Clementine, Hangman's House, The Searchers. Landscape and melancholy, in just about equal measure.

S.E.

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Postby Bogie » October 17th, 2007, 3:19 pm

Gee...Mr. E didn't answer my questions :(

I'll repost:

Hello Mr. Eyman

I haven't gotten a chance to read any of your books so forgive me if this question is silly or anything. I'm interested in MGM and Meyer so I looked at the Wikipedia entry on him (which I know can be fraught with errors) Anyways I noticed that Meyer and Schary had their problems and it got to the point where Meyer laid down an ultimatum to Loews which subsequently got him fired. Apparently Meyer tried some board room shenanigans that didn't work out. Could you give some insight and further information regarding that?

Also was the decline of MGM before Schary's entry totally Meyer's fault? Was Meyer too stubborn change with the times or did he try anything to get MGM back on track?

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Postby moira finnie » October 18th, 2007, 7:30 am

Hi Mr. Eyman,
In addition to the question resubmitted by SPTO above this one, there are 2 questions below that were lost in the shuffle over the course of the last 3 days and are now buried on page 2 of the thread that you are using. Would it be possible for you to please address these when you have time?
Thank you.
Moira

1.)
Hello Mr. Eyman,
Could you please discuss the politics of Mr. Ford's films, and the run - ins that may have occurred with the studio head, say Mr. Zanuck on The Grapes of Wrath, and the removal of the lynching in Judge Priest, and one more if you please, Mr. Ford's attitude in regard to the blacklist. THANK YOU.
Ken123


2.)
Mr Eyman,
Thanks so much for joining us this week!
With the new box set of Ford's Fox films coming this December and TCM running The Iron Horse, I was wondering if you could talk a bit about the making of the film and how it influenced the westerns that came after it.
Thank you,
_________________
Lynn in Sherman Oaks
www.classiclasvegas.com

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Scott_Eyman
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Postby Scott_Eyman » October 18th, 2007, 10:03 am

Gee...Mr. E didn't answer my questions :(

I'll repost:

Hello Mr. Eyman

I haven't gotten a chance to read any of your books so forgive me if this question is silly or anything. I'm interested in MGM and Meyer so I looked at the Wikipedia entry on him (which I know can be fraught with errors) Anyways I noticed that Meyer and Schary had their problems and it got to the point where Meyer laid down an ultimatum to Loews which subsequently got him fired. Apparently Meyer tried some board room shenanigans that didn't work out. Could you give some insight and further information regarding that?

Also was the decline of MGM before Schary's entry totally Meyer's fault? Was Meyer too stubborn change with the times or did he try anything to get MGM back on track?

Oops...sorry.
Mayer's demise at MGM is complicated, because the seeds were planted 25 years earlier. The short version: Mayer and Loew's chairman Nick Schenck never liked each other. As long as MGM was successful, Schenck couldn't really do anything. But after the war, tastes and styles changed, and MGM began to have both creative and commercial problems. One year they actually lost money - for the first time in their history.
Schenck brought in Dore Schary, who had just been canned by Howard Hughes at RKO, to run production. Mayer was kicked upstairs to an emeritus position.
Initially, Mayer and Schary got along, and initially, Schary's pictures did well. But they were such completely different men - see an earlier post - that the explosion was bound to come.
Finally, after a couple of years, Mayer issued an ultimatum to Schenck that it was either Schary or him. Choose. Of course, Schenck chose Schary. Mayer left the studio and never made another movie. Schary proceeded to drive the studio into the ground and was canned in 1956. Schenck "retired" shortly thereafter.
As to whether the studio would have done better with Mayer staying...maybe marginally, but not radically. The genres in which MGM specialized - musicals, glossy star vehicles etc - were slowly dying. Mayer was far more of a showman than Schary, and could probably have made some big, splashy pictures that could have staved off things a little longer, but ultimately he was too old and too set in his ways.

S.E.

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Postby Scott_Eyman » October 18th, 2007, 10:20 am

Hi Mr. Eyman,
In addition to the question resubmitted by SPTO above this one, there are 2 questions below that were lost in the shuffle over the course of the last 3 days and are now buried on page 2 of the thread that you are using. Would it be possible for you to please address these when you have time?
Thank you.
Moira

Hello Mr. Eyman,
Could you please discuss the politics of Mr. Ford's films, and the run - ins that may have occurred with the studio head, say Mr. Zanuck on The Grapes of Wrath, and the removal of the lynching in Judge Priest, and one more if you please, Mr. Ford's attitude in regard to the blacklist. THANK YOU.
Ken123[/quote]

2. Mr Eyman,
Thanks so much for joining us this week!
With the new box set of Ford's Fox films coming this December and TCM running The Iron Horse, I was wondering if you could talk a bit about the making of the film and how it influenced the westerns that came after it.
Thank you,
_________________
Lynn in Sherman Oaks
www.classiclasvegas.com [/quote][/quote]

In order:
For the most part, Ford and Zanuck worked very effectively together. Each man respected the other, and they apparently never had a cross word until My Darling Clementine, when Ford disagreed with some very minor changes Zanuck made - having Earp kiss Clementine on the cheek at the end, for instance. I strongly suspect that the John Ford of 1939 wouldn't have minded, but the John Ford of 1946 did - in the intervening years he had gone to war, run his own film unit, commanded a large group of men to do things his way. Suddenly having to go back to the position of employee must have been galling for him, and led him to form Argosy Productions with Merian Cooper.
Ford's attitude toward the HUAC period is complicated - he led an insurrection that toppled Cecil B. DeMille's attempt to impose a loyalty oath on the Director's Guild, but at the same time he was beginning a political shift to the right. In the 30s, he was very Popular Front oriented, a strict FDR/New Deal man. In the '50s, he voted for Eisenhower, because he got to know him and like him during WWII, and it was back to the Democrats and Jack Kennedy - an Irishman! - in 1960. But Vietnam and war protestors turned him to the Republicans and Nixon at the end of his life.
Whatever party he voted for, though, it's fair to say that Ford was always profoundly democratic in his attitudes toward people.

As far as The Iron Horse is concerned, most of the movie was shot outdoors in Nevada in freezing conditions. The company lived in boxcars and on the trains they were using. A very unpleasant shoot environmentally, a very pleasant shoot emotionally, because everyone involved sensed they were making something special.
To wit: the first western epic. There had been great westerns before The Iron Horse - check out William S. Hart's Hell's Hinges - but none on the scale and the length of The Iron Horse. (The Covered Wagon, its predecessor, whose success inspired Fox to put The Iron Horse into production, is a pedantic, slightly dull movie by comparison, although, to be fair, only a cut-down version survives.)
The Iron Horse served as a template for the winning-of-the-west western. DeMille made several epics in that style later in the 30s, and it was very influential in its time. It also established Ford as a major director who could mingle the epic with the intimate, a plateau he never really descended from.

S.E.

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Postby MissGoddess » October 18th, 2007, 11:09 am

We've only got you for two more days! What can I think to ask next...by the way, I enjoyed your post about Mayer and the whole Schenck/Schary thing. I just received your Mayer book (and Speed of Sound) so I'm looking forward to reading it more than ever (after I finish Sterling Hayden's Wanderer).

Now to get to my question. I've always been curious about Ford's wife Mary. In the few books I've read she comes across as a shadowy figure at most, and I wonder about her and their relationship--was she crazy in love with him to stay with him all through thick and thin (with lots of thin)? I am just trying to picture in my mind what kind of woman it would take to stay married to a prickly character like that. Was she tough? Was she friendly and warm or distant? When I saw the footage of her on the Araner and she spoke of going over to the Japanese fishing boat to poke around at Ford's instigation, I had to admire her willingness and gumption to go along with him on such a "mission". It made me think she must have cared alot more about him, or about the same things he cared about, than I previously thought. Didn't she come from a "posh" family? Do you think he was somewhat in awe of her because of that? OK that's too many questions but I have never formed any clear picture of what Mary Ford's personality was like and I admit she continues to pique my curiosity.

Greetings to "Coop", and thanks in advance for your response.

Miss G(ossip)

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Postby Scott_Eyman » October 18th, 2007, 12:45 pm

"MissGoddess"]We've only got you for two more days! What can I think to ask next...by the way, I enjoyed your post about Mayer and the whole Schenck/Schary thing. I just received your Mayer book (and Speed of Sound) so I'm looking forward to reading it more than ever (after I finish Sterling Hayden's Wanderer).

Now to get to my question. I've always been curious about Ford's wife Mary. In the few books I've read she comes across as a shadowy figure at most, and I wonder about her and their relationship--was she crazy in love with him to stay with him all through thick and thin (with lots of thin)? I am just trying to picture in my mind what kind of woman it would take to stay married to a prickly character like that. Was she tough? Was she friendly and warm or distant? When I saw the footage of her on the Araner and she spoke of going over to the Japanese fishing boat to poke around at Ford's instigation, I had to admire her willingness and gumption to go along with him on such a "mission". It made me think she must have cared alot more about him, or about the same things he cared about, than I previously thought. Didn't she come from a "posh" family? Do you think he was somewhat in awe of her because of that? OK that's too many questions but I have never formed any clear picture of what Mary Ford's personality was like and I admit she continues to pique my curiosity.

Greetings to "Coop", and thanks in advance for your response.

Miss G

Miss G,

Mary was tough and funny. Yes, she came from Carolina - I think - aristocracy all the way back to the Revolution. And yes, since Ford was shanty Irish he had perhaps too great a respect for bloodlines. By profession she was a nurse, which probably came in handy - she was patient with his idiosyncracies, as any woman who was going to play a long distance game with Ford had to be. She also loved being Mrs. John Ford, loved the Araner (Ford's schooner), loved the summers in Hawaii, which is why, despite the affair with Kate Hepburn, he would never have been able to get a divorce. That's assuming that he could have gotten past his Catholicism to ask for one.
Basically, I think it was a good marriage - not for me, and maybe not for you, but it worked for them, if you know what I mean. They were together for more than 50 years, and they're still together at Holy Cross Cemetery, and that counts for something.

S.E.

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Postby MikeBSG » October 18th, 2007, 1:18 pm

How did John Ford get along with James Stewart? I remember reading there was a tension because Ford felt he couldn't pull all the tricks on Stewart that he could on one of his regulars, like John Wayne for example.

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Postby Scott_Eyman » October 18th, 2007, 2:12 pm

How did John Ford get along with James Stewart? I remember reading there was a tension because Ford felt he couldn't pull all the tricks on Stewart that he could on one of his regulars, like John Wayne for example.

They were friendly, but not intimate. Stewart did three films for Ford in just five or so years, and then Ford stopped making movies, so they clearly were sympatico, but they didn't socialize, as Ford and Wayne habitually did. Nothing surprising about that; they were both older, with set, but not overlapping social circles. And I'm sure Ford respected Stewart, although he could and did put him on the defensive - the story Stewart tells in the Bogdanovich documentary proves that...

S.E.

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Postby MissGoddess » October 18th, 2007, 3:08 pm

filmfriend wrote:"
Miss G,

Mary was tough and funny. Yes, she came from Carolina - I think - aristocracy all the way back to the Revolution. And yes, since Ford was shanty Irish he had perhaps too great a respect for bloodlines. By profession she was a nurse, which probably came in handy - she was patient with his idiosyncracies, as any woman who was going to play a long distance game with Ford had to be. She also loved being Mrs. John Ford, loved the Araner (Ford's schooner), loved the summers in Hawaii, which is why, despite the affair with Kate Hepburn, he would never have been able to get a divorce. That's assuming that he could have gotten past his Catholicism to ask for one.
Basically, I think it was a good marriage - not for me, and maybe not for you, but it worked for them, if you know what I mean. They were together for more than 50 years, and they're still together at Holy Cross Cemetery, and that counts for something.

S.E.


Thanks so much, Mr E! I liked reading that---I wanted to believe they had a real marriage in their own terms, that's wonderful. I didn't know she loved the boat, too, that's points for her. She seemed very down to earth in the little bit of home movies I saw. A nice face.

By the way, alot of us are sooooo excited about the upcoming Ford at Fox set and I was wondering if you participated in the Becoming John Ford documentary as well?

Miss G

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Postby Lzcutter » October 18th, 2007, 3:17 pm

Hey, Mr Eyman,

Thanks so much for answering my question concerning The Iron Horse. I really appreciate it, especially being from Nevada and all.

I was wondering if you could talk a bit about The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. It is one of my favorite Ford westerns and I love that the film is shot in black and white. I love the whole myth vs reality as well as the iintense memory play.

Did Ford intend for this to be his last western? Also, I was hoping you could share some of your thoughts about the film. We've had some lively debates here about the film and I look forward to your thoughts!
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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Postby moira finnie » October 19th, 2007, 6:56 am

I've a couple of questions too:
1.) In "Mary Pickford, America's Sweetheart" you trace the way that the actress took her archetypal character of the sweet and vulnerable yet spunky girl as far as she could go on film, and contrasted that with her usually sound business sense off screen.

Do you think that her phenomenal success led her to became less able to listen to advice from others as time went on?

2.) Also, I recently saw Mary Pickford's first talkie, Coquette (1929) for the first time, in which she played a character who is a sensual young woman, for once, even though she was fighting Father Time and the new Talkie technology that pitched her voice very high and made filming alot more complicated. It was sad to see Pickford, who could be so effective in conveying several, subtle emotions at once in her silent films, playing a fairly one note, borderline hysterical character. At the time, I believe that you quote Douglas Fairbanks as commenting that she really should've taken voice lessons, but wouldn't listen to such advice.

Do you think that by this point in her career she could've made a more successful transition to sound movies?

3.) I love John Ford's movies, but always winced a bit at two things: --those long, buffoonish "comic" sequences that he almost always inserted into his movies.
--his portrayal of almost all Englishmen as pompous and incompetent twits.

Did anyone such as a screenwriter or producer ever try to suggest to Ford that the horseplay stuff had gotten old and do you think that his view of the English softened a bit as he grew older?

Thank you.

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Postby mongoII » October 19th, 2007, 9:32 am

Good day, Mr. Eyman.

Any truth to the fact that Mary Pickford intended to have all her films destroyed after her death?

What is your take on the Maureen O'Hara book 'Tis Herself', especially her recollections of John Ford?

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Postby Scott_Eyman » October 19th, 2007, 10:27 am

Good day, Mr. Eyman.

Any truth to the fact that Mary Pickford intended to have all her films destroyed after her death?

What is your take on the Maureen O'Hara book 'Tis Herself', especially her recollections of John Ford?

The Pickford story is true, although I imagine it was said when Mary was deep in a bottle.

As for the O'Hara book. I assume you're referring to her imputations of a closeted homosexuality. I thought about it long and hard - ahem! - when the book came out and since. I talked to several members of the Ford family about it.
My basic conclusion is that, while it might be theoretically possible for someone to give no particular hint of secret sexual impulses for 70-odd years - our practical experience of the world actually indicates otherwise, but for the sake of argument, let's agree it's at least theoretically possible - it would almost certainly come out someplace - in the work, for instance. And try as I might, I see nothing in Ford's work to indicate any such thing. I see poetry, of course, and religiosity as well as religion, occasional boredom, and complicated feelings about women, but I see no trace of repressed homosexuality. Nor did any of the people that worked with him for 30 and 40 years.
Which brings up all the questions O'Hara never addresses in her book - the love letters from Ford, for instance, which I have no doubt are legitimate. They have his wording and his punctuation. Well, which is it - straight or gay? Or both? Having thrown this large log on the bonfire, it would seem to me she would have a responsibility to address the contradictions in her own book, but she doesn't deal with it. And her own habit of impugning her husband as a homosexual - what does that say about her?
Finally, there's the issue of her anger at Ford, which is a not-quite surreptitious through-line of the book.
I know Maureen O'Hara, and it's entirely possible that she believes the story is true. But she's an actress, and it's her business to make ridiculous moments believable - a story invented to sell books, for instance.

S.E.


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