By Joseph McBride
Bios in this period became exhaustive triple decker affairs (“biographie à l’Américaine,” as the French call it), written by critics who often had interviewed their subjects extensively in the ’60s as young auteurist critics (as Peter Bogdanovich did with John Ford) and were plowing three decades of accumulated thought and research into their richly detailed, sometimes definitive accounts. Joseph McBride, author of Searching for John Ford, knew Ford well and co-wrote a monograph of his work in 1970 (“You certainly picked a dull subject!” Ford told him).
He spent the next three decades on a research odyssey through Ford’s life, family and work, resulting in this 800-page blockbuster. It covers his directing, history as a co-founder of the Directors Guild, politics, and his wildly contradictory personality, and valiantly attempts to separate Ford’s many masks from his actual visage.
All the while, through in-depth interviews with collaborators we come more fully to understand Ford’s complex, often instinctive work methods as one of the greatest American directors.
Review written by John Patterson.