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Sunday, March 04, 2018

John Ford Builds A Railroad


The Iron Horse (1924) A Pioneer Outdoor Epic

The picture that demonstrated Jack Ford's fitness to direct epics. There was always question as to how large a canvas meg staff could handle, Ford settling his for all time with a trek west that outdid The Covered Wagon, its record for bigness a short-lived one thanks to roar of this Iron Horse. The story, even if hackneyed, mattered less. People would remember track being laid and vista of mass attack by redskins, this being what best movies were, after all, about. I bet lots went back and saw this repeated times. Ford ramrodded hardship locations where pic-making was near-tough as pioneers themselves had it. There was great pride to be had for coming back from ordeal like this intact.


Ford would recall the Iron Horse experience as happiest of a long career. Here was spectacle that justified roadshowing, William Fox able to prop many a programmer by using The Iron Horse to sell a season of block-booking. Using historic figures lent authority: Abe Lincoln even turns up to witness birth of the transcontinental dream. It's written that Ford devised vignettes as they went along, the script, as it were, conserved in his head rather than on paper. I'll assume this is true, having heard no one yet who disputes it. How many directors could juggle so much manpower and supply, with such investment at stake? I for one can't imagine how he slept a night. The man obviously handled stress well. The Iron Horse is out with a good print on Fox DVD.

2 Comments:

Blogger radiotelefonia said...

The DVD version is deplorable, visually good but feels too slow and features an uninspired and pretentious score... it is better to get Killiam version instead, with the original tints and a far better music score by William Perry.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3bFOhX4JVg

11:41 PM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

Well, one director who could handle it is Griffith.

8:34 PM  

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