Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

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domino harvey
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#101 Post by domino harvey » Thu Oct 11, 2018 3:59 pm

You are both nuts. I'll just leave this here
domino harvey wrote:
Mon May 09, 2011 8:19 pm
the Horse Soldiers (John Ford 1959) Well, Sgt Rutledge was, like Gentleman's Agreement, a well-made but stupid film, but this a poorly-made stupid one. John Wayne has rallied against some crazy things in his films, but really, doctors? We're really gonna sit here and watch the Duke say ignorant shit about doctors for a couple hours? And though Ford's women are never as easily pegged as Hawks', God only knows what he saw in Constance Towers that led him to cast her back to back here (same question goes for Fuller, sorry).

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knives
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#102 Post by knives » Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:37 pm

Like I said, totally sympthetic though I didn't take the film as being anti-doctor.

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Rayon Vert
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#103 Post by Rayon Vert » Thu Oct 11, 2018 7:58 pm

Is it me or is there a doctor in every single Ford film? Feels like it anyway...

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knives
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#104 Post by knives » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:11 pm

There are dozens without though as an occupation it is weirdly common.

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domino harvey
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#105 Post by domino harvey » Thu Oct 11, 2018 11:47 pm

Surprisingly, the only Ford movie without a doctor in it is Doctor Bull

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movielocke
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#106 Post by movielocke » Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:19 pm

deeply disappointed in my revisit of Prisoner of Shark Island which has a good prologue and a fantastic escape sequence with striking photography and editing, but I just couldn't get past the full throated endorsement/enforcement of white supremacy in putting down the "mutiny" nor the overall odor of confederate apologia that celebrating Mudd entails (not to mention the radical lying involved in misrepresenting him as a wronged man), tumbled out of my top ten and off my list.

pleasantly surprised by my revisit of The Informer which I remembered mostly as a rip-off of M, but is far more nuanced than that. Seeing a major hollywood production like this film in the mid thirties really is completely remarkable compared to most other A-list Hollywood work, even that from Ford (Arrowsmith anyone?). The film is absurdly beautiful, foggy, inky every moment just stunning to watch. And it is so sad and and simultaneously big hearted, Gypo's celebratory downfall contrasted against the grim-ness of the titular crime and the brutal necessities of the IRA reacting to it. I was most surprised at how realist the film feels in having compassion for Gypo while also laying out all the economic background driving him to that initial decision, the film is steeped in poverty and is totally aware of it. That makes it so unique feeling, because it's an expressionist film with a realist bent and just really remarkable to enjoy. Even the church is no solace here, because Gypo receives no absolution from the church, only from a fellow impoverished victim.

Riffing off that church moment, I'm trying to think of examples with priests in Ford films, and for all that catholicism is a constant presence in Ford's films, it's fairly uncommon to ever have any priests, or a voice-of-the-church within the film, the catholicism of the characters and the societies they live in are the ways in which catholicism manifests itself.

I also managed to choke down a repeat viewing of How the West Was Won finally watching that smilebox version on the bluray (very cool effect that works incredibly well, particularly upscaled to 4K, it creates an incredible illusion of depth), and boy it is a turgid mess of a film. The first story with Malden and Stewart is far and away the best, but Ford's short and sweet (four scenes total I think?) Civil War segment is also pretty good (and very Ford like in the performances, the only sad and downbeat elements in an otherwise celebratory film). The other three segments are more different levels of bad, rarely rising above the mediocre, in spite of frequently excellent visuals. The fording of the stream by the covered wagons in particular is fairly meh and a good point of comparison, Ford made the fording sequence in Wagon Train so superb and stunning in how memorable it was, and here it's just a blah bit in passing.

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knives
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#107 Post by knives » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:36 pm

I think it is a real stretch to say that the film full throatedly endorses or enforces white supremacy. Obviously given the nature of the crime it skirts with the civil war, but that's about it.

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movielocke
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#108 Post by movielocke » Mon Oct 15, 2018 5:59 pm

Really? A white prisoner (former slave-lord) is under the authority of black prison guards, yet the white prisoner is taken out of solitary confinement and given authority over the prison guards, with the instructions to get them in line. and he does so by asserting his supremacy over them and threatening them with murder and torture etc. The black prison guards are universally portrayed as ignorant and childlike, enthusiastic to set themselves back into their rightful place of subservience and glad to have a master's hand to show them the way. "that's a southern man right there, he means it" one of them says.

And just the general monstrosity that in a situation with black prison guards over white prisoners... it is the ?prison guards? that revolt and must be put down? what? that is to say that literally our society will contort narrative by any means necessary to put black characters in the wrong. Heads I win, tails you lose.

It's the film's signature scene, and watching it a second time, it was clear it was all about Mudd's supremacy over the guards and reasserting the "natural" order of things.

Later on in the film he also is pretty nasty when forcing the black prison guards to fire cannon on union supply ships at anchor... to force the ships to land? what?

None of it makes any sense, because it is ideological, rather than logical.

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domino harvey
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#109 Post by domino harvey » Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:05 pm

I guess I would ask you the same thing I'd ask one of my students when they to go this route: your assessment is fair in that it's based on the evidence in the text, but are you being charitable in your approach? You have a long history now of focusing on notions of white supremacy in studio films, which seems like such a losing angle anyways (are you really expecting heightened racial volition in the 30s, the era before the NAACP and other groups reached an agreement with studios to improve representation in return for a move away from racially-segregated film industries), but does it have to be the worst possible reading every time?

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movielocke
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#110 Post by movielocke » Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:49 pm

No it doesn't have to be the worst possible reading, but the scene came across particularly nasty to me during this viewing. When I watched it a dozen years ago, it made no impression, I didn't even remember that it existed. But this is a particularly bad scene, the power dynamics and its placement in the film: his bringing the black prison guards to heel is meant to be a climactic triumphant character moment: when the hero brought low is back on top.

I think it's important to frankly explicate these issues, because they are issues that in so dissecting the text, we can start to understand the mechanisms by which our society creates and enforces certain expectations and norms. In other words, I'm enthusiastic to interrogate the "common sense" of the status quo.

But if I wanted to go the worst possible reading all the time, I'd take something like the representations of Donna Reed's character in They Were Expendable and have a fit saying it ruins the whole film, but that would be wildly off base. Sure there is cultural baggage in the way women are represented as prizes, or are represented as desirable only when they perform femininity in a socially approved ways, but that would also be discarding the possibility that Donna Reed's character has agency within the world of the film. And we would not want to dismiss that agency in order to persue an ideological argument. And that sort of reading would be wildly wrong for the film, taking small characteristics of a minor subplot and blowing it way out of proportion while ignoring the rest of the text.

With Prisoner of Shark Island, I'm calling out a crucial scene not a small subplot: the hero uses his experience as a slavelord to assert his dominance over the prison guards which is also the climax of his character arc throughout the film. And within the rest of the text is a film that is actively participating in the postwar confederate campaign that rewrites history, in this particular instance attempting to rehabilitate the image of one of Booth's co conspirators with the false representation of the trials: establishing the confederate assassins as victims lacking any real due process (kinda like the recent howling re Kavanaugh). the film also portrays the ante-bellum south as happy (former) slaves contented to loyally serve their plantation master, and that is never a good look. All this is to say that on this viewing, I found race and race relations to undergird the entire film, much as I thought poverty undergirds how I understand The Informer.

Now I do not actually think the film or any writers or film makers were malicious in what they wrought, rather what I'm trying to communicate is that the mechanisms they used, reflect and reinforced a cultural "common sense" that is often invisible to those presenting it and those receiving it.

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Shrew
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#111 Post by Shrew » Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:28 pm

Prisoner of Shark Island endorsing white supremacy is a stretch, but confederate apologia is dead on. The film isn’t arguing for racial/biological superiority, but the mutiny scene fits together with the former slave who can’t quit his old master and the early scene of Mudd winning the attention of his former slaves from a rabble-rousing carpet bagger trying to convince them to vote. It supposes a hierarchy where blacks need good white men to tell them what to do. Like movielocke, I liked the opening (the scenes of Baxter and Stuart’s married bliss in particular) and the escape sequence. I’d also praise the hanging sequence. But the way the film jumps around through the imprisonment makes the pacing feel slack, or maybe it’s that the big setpieces so dominate the film that everything else just seems dull. Either way, the film didn’t do much for me, and the racial/confederate stuff didn’t help.

Maybe I’m just sensitive due to watching so many Fords sympathizing with the South so close together. This came after the Rogers films and repeated grievances about burning Atlanta and Shenandoah in the later films, so I was admittedly fed up with it. Most of this is the genre and historical feelings of the time more than anything from Ford though. One of my favorite things about Stagecoach is the critique of Southern chivalry in the form of Hatfield. The great climax of that film isn’t just the fight with the Apaches, it’s that shot of Hatfield’s gun next to the oblivious Mrs. Mallory. It recalls the climax of Birth of a Nation, but while Griffith portrays the act of killing a woman to save her from another race as some grand tragic sacrifice, Ford’s version reads as nothing but horror.

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