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

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

Postby moira finnie » February 8th, 2014, 10:32 am

Thanks for your reply to my earlier question.
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One of the aspects of your book that was most interesting was the way that you traced the evolution of the political views of each of your subjects. Was there a person(s) or incident(s) in their own lives that influenced the conservatism of Ward Bond, John Wayne's gradual drift to the right, and Ford's sometimes hard-to-categorize political views?

Why do you believe that John Ford joined The Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, the organization that espoused ideas that helped to bolster McCarthyism and The Blacklist--an action that appears to contradict Ford's behavior in The Director's Guild around the same time?
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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, 10:48 am

Those are some really tough questions, and I did my best to address them in the book. Bond always seems to have been conservative, whereas Wayne, while in college, espoused liberal views, and then drifted to the right. In the 1930s, influenced by his cousin Liam O'Flaherty, author of THE INFORMER, Ford directly referred to his politics as "leftist," and this is certainly reflected in some of his films at the time. THE GRAPES OF WRATH, of course, is an obvious depiction of his liberal tendencies. His joining the MPA really was prompted by his refusal to allow Wayne and Bond to be active in an organization in which he didn't take part--absolutely the tenets espoused by members of the MPA run counter to Pappy's stand in the DGA. I think it could be said that Ford's politics always (inwardly) were toward the left, but his outward appearance may have been more conservative at times. Ford's liberal acceptance of and friendship with Native Americans and African Americans certainly were ahead of their time.

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

Postby knitwit45 » February 8th, 2014, 10:52 am

Hello, and thanks for spending time with us. In the first photo posted here, the men are on board a fishing boat, one of them crouching down. Is that Henry Fonda? Sure looks like him.

Best of luck with your book, it is going to be on my bookshelf soon!
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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, 11:00 am

Thanks for your question! Yes, that is good ol' Hank Fonda crouching down there. This was taken on one of Ford's legendary fishing and carousing excursions with his favorite pals. The photo at one time belonged to Fonda. I'll certainly appreciate it if my book winds up on your bookshelf!

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

Postby CineMaven » February 8th, 2014, 11:20 am

Hi there Mr. Nollen, and welcome to the Oasis. Ward Bond definitely has some groupies amongst the ladies here. (( :oops: )) Would you know if his being mostly a supporting player to John Wayne affected their friendship at all...competitiveness as actors? Was he just happy to be in the sandbox with Wayne and Ford. Or is it that everyone puts their pants on, one leg at a time?

* * * * *

Also, I was curious as to what might've been Bond's and Wayne's relationship with Woody Strode? I think I've heard Strode was a companion to Ford near the end of his life. Thanxx for your time. :)
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Re: The Q & A for Scott Allen Nollen on Sat. 2/8 & Sun. 2/9

Postby JackFavell » February 8th, 2014, 11:31 am

Hi, Mr. Nollen! I am so glad you are visiting today and we hope you will visit us again in future. Thank you SO MUCH for writing your book about these three 'bad' men. :D

I have read almost nothing about Ward Bond EXCEPT those quips by the guys he worked with - calling him a jerk who thought himself a great womanizer and the like. Did you find out anything about Bond, or about the other two men for that matter, that really surprised you?

Bond probably worked with Ford more than any other single actor. Why did Ford keep him on board if he was such a blowhard? What caused them to become friends in the first place?

Can you tell me anything about Bond that would lead you to think differently about him - maybe his politics were conservative but his friendships were liberal for instance (I'm just guessing here, that could be way off the beam)? Just wondering if he exhibited a warmth or kind-heartedness that was not so conservative? Or was he really not very nice in real life? Did any of Ford's liberalism rub off on Bond?

I've read a few of John Wayne's letters, thanks to some auctions that took place a year or so ago of Wayne memorabilia. The character of the man that emerged from reading those letters completely floored me. He seemed terribly thoughtful about politics, and humorously set friends with liberal beliefs at ease, chatting in such a good-natured way about serious issues. I have thought Wayne was underestimated as an actor for about 8 years now, but after reading those letters, I think people have seriously misunderstood his conservative values. Did you find this to be the case in re-evaluating Wayne's politics?

I am a huge John Ford fan. His movies are very complex, like the man, and sometimes it takes multiple viewings to understand underlying tones and meaning in his work. Did you find anything about Ford that showed that he purposely layered his films in such a way, making an artistic statement rather than just doing 'a job of work'? He would eviscerate me for even asking you this question I know, but I find him the deepest thinking of all the directors. I'd love to know that he, on some level, knew he was making art. :D

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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, 11:35 am

There really was no outward "competition" between Wayne and Bond, and Ward always seemed to enjoy being a working actor. Bond proved far more versatile than Wayne, and he played a staggering array of character parts for nearly every great Hollywood director. Duke and Ward always maintained their friendship, and often played (sometimes dangerous) practical jokes on one another. After the death of Bond, Woody Strode became Ford's best friend, and was his constant companion for several months when Ford needed both moral and physical support for his failing health. Ford and Strode definitely were very close. Bond really didn't have any interaction with Woody, since he died in 1960, when Ford was involved in SERGEANT RUTLEDGE and the beginning of his real relationship with Strode. Wayne definitely didn't get along with Strode during the making of THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, and this may have been caused, in part, by Pappy's acceptance of Woody as his new best friend. In any event, Duke became very angry at Woody during the shooting of a scene, during which they actually tangled physically and had to be separated.

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

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » February 8th, 2014, 11:41 am

We are so happy you have consented to a Question and Answer session here at the SSO. I appreciated the modus operandi of Ward Bond. Finding a way to bring to light more of Bond's life and choice of vocation is indeed a worthy endeavor.

I find that Ford's contrariness, and his ability to reverse a natural fondness for someone by denigrating and complaining about someone in front of others is quite peculiarly Irish in the sense of my own personal experience as the child of a long line of feisty characters trickling in to America from County Cork. On the set of Wee Willie Winkie, according to Shirley Temple's autobiography, Child Star, Temple was hard pressed to charm Ford, who was not at all enthusiastic about working with a young actress of Temple's stature. The director commented to Temple, or within her earshot, that "Working with a child is a most horrible thing." Ford was irked by her shutting down filming because she needed to take her 4th grade examinations, her skill at observation of his ability to light his pipe, and other events considered by Ford as minor effronteries.

But he was ultimately swayed and impressed by her execution of a dangerous stunt amid stampeding horses, and Temple and Ford forged a friendship that ultimately led Temple to name Ford as the godfather of her daughter, Susan. Ford even commented about Shirley, "Nice kid, that." Ford and Temple again teamed on Fort Apache, and Ford called for extra love scenes between Temple and John Agar that Ford knew he wouldn't use in the final cut just to keep up the "morale of the youngsters."

Can you think of anyone else that Ford worked with or someone who was a personal acquaintance who managed to yank Ford out of his protective layer of irascilbility besides Temple and maybe intermittently Maureen O'Hara?

Thank you, Mr. Nolen, so much for visiting us here at the Silver Screen Oasis.
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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, 11:48 am

You've asked some difficult questions, and hopefully I've answered them satisfactorily in my book! The quips about Bond are quite superficial. Yes, he could be a blowhard, but this was just one outward aspect of a very complex man. His politics were conservative but he was quite liberal in terms of accepting human beings. He loved jazz, and was friends with Ethel Waters and often hung out with the African American members of Ford's crews. His other favorite singer/musicians were Louis Armstrong and Nat "King" Cole, both of whom he often imitated. Ford always loved having Bond around, because he was both a fine natural actor and ultimately very easygoing and could take everything the director dished out. And Wayne could and did have very intelligent conversations about his political views, and usually respected the opinions of others. During the research and writing of my book, I was surprised by many things about all three men, but particularly about Bond. I was very fortunate in acquiring some great primary materials such as handwritten letters by Bond, as well as some by Ford (and copies of letters and telegrams written by Wayne). The Bond letters provided much information about his days at college and the very beginnings of his film career. One surprise was that Bond already was suffering from alcoholism while in college--an affliction that obviously was not helpful with his epilepsy, which he did his best to keep secret. I also discovered details about the auto accident that seriously affected him for the last 15 years of his life--the results of which can easily be seen in several episodes of WAGON TRAIN in which he uses crutches or a cane. To make a long story short, I think you'll find lots of surprises about all three men in the book. Thanks very much for your interest.

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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, 11:57 am

Thanks very much, Sue. I appreciate your comments about Shirley Temple, since I am an admirer of her early films, which are wonderful to watch and so important in the culture of the Great Depression. Yes, Darryl Zanuck thought he would punish Ford by forcing him to direct a Temple film, but she ultimately earned Pappy's respect. WEE WILLIE WINKIE is Shirley's (and my) favorite of her films, and a really underrated masterpiece by Ford. He indeed reteamed her with the great Victor McLaglen in FORT APACHE. There really aren't any obvious incidents involving Ford giving compliments, except for a whisper to Wayne while shooting STAGECOACH. Pappy of course loved Maureen O'Hara, but he actually punched her out on one occasion. He also told his lifelong friend Olive Carey to go f*** herself! I think you're correct about the irascible "Irishness," and I'm sure Pappy wouldn't mind if we attributed his cantankerousness to that very fact.

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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, 12:02 pm

Scott_Nollen wrote: Wayne definitely didn't get along with Strode during the making of THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, and this may have been caused, in part, by Pappy's acceptance of Woody as his new best friend. In any event, Duke became very angry at Woody during the shooting of a scene, during which they actually tangled physically and had to be separated.


Scott,

Welcome to SSO, I was reading this thread for the 2nd time today and this portion of this post caught my ATTENTION here and I was surprised to learn that John Wayne didn't get along with Woody Strode at all during the making of THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE. I never knew that John Wayne was a temperament fellow with his fellow actors/actresses that he worked with. I've might be gullible to learn this but I was surprised to read this and I was wondering can you shed more light into this?

That's is my question to you, Scott!

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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, 12:07 pm

Like Ford and Bond, Wayne had a problem with alcohol, which often made him difficult to get along with, sometimes with friends and sometimes with his wives. He could get quite violent at times, as do so many people who tend to abuse alcohol. Most of the time, though, Wayne was a good friend and comported himself respectfully. The book goes into great detail about Duke's behavior, as it does with the other two men, also. Thanks for your question!

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

Postby Lzcutter » February 8th, 2014, 12:25 pm

Thank you so much for joining us this weekend, Mr. Nollen!

I am a big fan of all three men and like you, Ford has been my favorite director for more years than I can remember.

A follow up question of sorts to Moira's regarding Ford, Cecil B. DeMille and their confrontation at the DGA over DeMille's organized attempts to oust Joe Mankiewicz and his whisper campaign against Mankiewicz. DeMille wanted all members to have to sign loyalty oaths. Mankiewicz opposed this idea and DeMille and his supporters started talking that Mankiewicz was a Communist.

When we think of loyalty oaths today, we think of individuals signing a document saying they pledge their support and loyalty to America.

But, from other writings I have read, DeMille and his supporters wanted DGA members to have to sign loyalty oaths at the completion of each film basically saying that they had investigated every cast and crew member and their political beliefs and report which ones were "suspicious" so that the DGA could keep a list of writers (especially), cast and crew who were "loyal" to America. Is this in fact, what DeMille wanted?

Ford basically introduced himself, "I'm John Ford, I make westerns" and then went for the jugular and berated what DeMille was trying to do because DeMille didn't like Mankiewicz or his politics.

How did Wayne and Bond react when they heard that Ford had stood up to DeMille and come out in support of Mankiewicz?

Also, does audio of the confrontation really exist? I could have sworn years ago I heard it in a documentary but since then there have been conflicting reports that it actually exists.
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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, 12:33 pm

Yes, DeMille's views bordered on paranoid, and he actually wanted to push the issue to a truly un-Constitutional level. I have not heard (or heard of) an actual recording of Ford's response, but it would be wonderful if such an artifact exists. I could find no actual responses made by Wayne or Bond to Ford's stance. I imagine they may have sided with DeMille, but they would not have taken such a bold step to confront Pappy about it. His response certainly would have been quite abusive, and may actually have caused a rift between them. The three of them didn't really discuss politics at any length. Their occasional comments never really caused a confrontation.

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

Postby moira finnie » February 8th, 2014, 1:35 pm

Scott, one of the revelations (for me, at least) about Ward Bond in your book was that he was, as you mentioned above, such a fan of jazz, admiring Ethel Waters, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong enormously. Waters even credited Bond with her casting in Pinky (1949), initially a Ford project. Given his rapport with these African-American artists, do you think that Bond was racially progressive for his day?

Initially studying engineering in college prior to his involvement with the movies, do you think that he ever entertained thoughts of pursuing another career, such as that of a musician?

You mention more than once that it is hard to find a badly acted performance given by Ward Bond. His career never seemed to have much buildup by any studio (he didn't stay under contract anywhere long enough), but he was remarkable in the variety of parts he could play from truly harrowing characters (Wild Boys of the Road, Fury, The Mortal Storm, On Dangerous Ground) to those who were warmly human (Gentleman Jim, It's a Wonderful Life, The Quiet Man, Wagon Master) and several shades in between. Did he simply learn by doing, was he a quick study, or just a natural as an actor?
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