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Saturday, August 03, 2013

Barry has reel one of Stagecoach, a 1939 movie introducing an American Movie Star to viewers in a sudden strange cross focus dolly ending with a close-up.  It's John Wayne, folks, Marion Morrison, back in the saddle after nine years following his under-appreciated effort in a 1930 movie, The Big Trail, made him seem to all but John Ford like a lost cause.

When I watched the projected movie reel I saw a high contrast weathered print, with its many double spaced dots signifying reel ends or breaks, perhaps for commercials.  The black and white shadows are breathtaking, and so beautiful, featuring the monument valley, at the border of Idaho (it's Utah) and Arizona ... The natural buildings (sandstone) are backdrops in many John Ford westerns.  John Ford's composition, almost like a Turner painting... oh, I don't remember the painter of Nighthawks at the Diner (all right, Edward Hopper)...sparse interiors, screen backdrops with authentic exterior photography.

I reached the point where the stagecoach passengers are abandoned at the last outpost, with their host's Apache wife and Geronimo in the distance.   There's the soldier of the south in love with the pregnant wife in search of her husband; the embezzler banker; there's kid John Wayne bent on avenging the death of his brother enamored and respectful of the woman of easy virtue... the pregnant wife in search of ... the sheriff, Andy Devine of the thong rind. Uh.  written by Dudley not Murphy and Ben Hecht.

16mm is so mysterious, that it produces the illusion that we are witnessing the quality of an original image four times its size (if I properly multiply the screen space to 35mm).  I read probably only the wikipedia entries that appear at the top of all search terms these days.   There's an Irish component to these cinema achievements. My main point of reference for John Ford is The Grapes of Wrath, which, despite its frustration of the common man,  always looks so mysterious.  He marks a height of achievement in the magic of celluloid.

So that's it.  It's a form of ritual to run movie film, and it's probably the only way to engage me in Stagecoach.

Howard Hawks was a more appealing purveyor of John Wayne's world with Rio Bravo and Red River.
Did John Huston ever work with John Wayne?
But John Ford made the Searchers... and The Quiet Man.

The Austerity of the Scottish Irish Presbyterian Masons...

What a perfectly random and incomplete movie experience.

The update is that Film Comment quotes Quentin Tarrantino saying he hates John Ford, placing him on the other side of the friend/enemy equation in which he seems to suggest is a valid way to live your life.  My fondness for the Tarrantino western began after it was over.  I hated it more and more until, by the end it had achieve a new level of surreal greatness, and, like his other movies, I love it.  My fluctuating passions as a passive audience member rage loudly within me.  They always have.  I could feel the passion radiating outward, but in a most neutered and disparate way, in pure and safe anonymity.  I really felt one with the great effort as I simply sat there watching it.     
While in London we saw a timely show called The Same Deep Water as Me by Nick Payne, exploring the tightrope walk of personal injury claims in a country that is somewhat new to them, No Pay, No Fee, with costs to the loser who contests.  Do what you have to do.  You made your mistakes.  Others don't much care.  The smaller the individual the more lax the spirit of integrity.  Stay small and under the radar.   Take command of the situation.  The command:  Look at me!  And as I did I stopped crying.  The Office really is shutting down moving to a partnership in Flushing.  The runner are interested, and the ads are important.