How much did you know?
It may come as a bit of a shock to hear that not all critics are as enthralled with John Ford’s work (some 145 credits over a 60-year period, by the way) as we are. But, alas, it’s true.
The visual poetry so often attributed to Ford seems to me claptrap, writed British critic David Thomson, who found the director to be bigoted, grandiloquent and maudlin.
Enough said that we couldn’t disagree more.
Now, on the the answers to our John Ford Quiz.
1) Question: Ford won four best director Academy Awards, a record that still stands. But he ALSO won two more Oscars for a) art direction; b) special effects; c) cinematography; or d) documentary direction.
Answer: Ford was cited as best director for 1935’s The Informer, 1940’s The Grapes of Wrath, 1941’s How Green Was My Valley and 1952’s The Quiet Man. He also won documentarian awards for 1942’s The Battle of Midway and for 1943’s December 7.
2) Question: Many if not all Ford westerns were shot in Monument Valley, his unforgettable signature setting. Where exactly is Monument Valley located? a) in New Mexico; b) in Eastern California; c) in New Jersey; or d) on the border of Arizona and Utah.
Answer: d) the Arizona-Utah border.
3) Question: Ford famously referred to one of his actors as “a big idiot” and punched out another. Who are these besieged actors? a) Ward Bond and Ken Curtis; b) Ben Johnson and Victor McLaglen; c) John Wayne and Henry Fonda; or d) Woody Strode and Tom Tyler.
Answer: (c) The irascible Ford referred mockingly to Wayne as “a big idiot” (the two had a complicated, emotional relationship), and punched out Henry Fonda on the set of 1955’s Mister Roberts. What prompted the latter has been forgotten.
4) Question: One of the two studio mainstays Ford worked with at 20th Century Fox in the 1930’s was Shirley Temple. Who was is the other? a) Betty Grable; b) Alice Faye; c) Katharine Hepburn; or d) Will Rogers.
Answer: d) Will Rogers.
5) Question: Orson Welles and Ford are considered the two directors who most influences American films in the 20th century. Yet, they not get along neither personally nor professionally. a) True; or b) False.
Answer: b) False. Welles considered Ford the best director of all time. His admiration was boundless.