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TCM Greatest Classic Legends Collection: John Ford Westerns [2 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Closed Captioned

Synopsis

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
The second of John Ford's "Cavalry Trilogy," this film stars John Wayne as Cavalry Captain Nathan Brittles. In his last days before his compulsory retirement, Brittles must face the possibility of a full-scale attack from the Arapahos, fomented by the recent defeat of General Custer and by double-dealing Indian agents. ~ Iotis Erlewine, Rovi

The Three Godfathers
John Ford had already directed one of the three previous film versions of Peter Kyne's novel under the title Marked Men (1919) with his mentor Harry Carey, a great cowboy star of the silent era who had recently died. It's not difficult to see how the story's sentimentality and Christian symbolism might have appealed to the director's sensibility. John Wayne stars as Bob Hightower, the leader of a trio of thieves who rob a bank in Arizona and take off with the posse of Sheriff Buck Sweet (Ward Bond) in close pursuit. Although they need to stop to water their horses and care for the wounds of Abilene (Harry Carey Jr.), their accurate suspicion that the sheriff is laying an ambush for them at the Mohave water tank leads the gang toward the more distant Terrapin tanks. However, en route, they're waylaid by a terrible sandstorm which scatters their horses. Forced to go on foot, they come upon a lone woman (Mildred Natwick) in a covered wagon who is about to give birth. She dies in childbirth, but not before extracting a promise from the three to take care of her child. Under a blistering sun, they head for New Jerusalem. ~ Michael Costello, Rovi

Wagon Master
Wagon Master, splendidly directed by John Ford, is a superlative western. The film is the outwardly simple tale of a Mormon wagon train headed for Utah. Along the way, the group, led by Elder Wiggs (Ward Bond) hook up with two horse traders Travis Blue (Ben Johnson) and Sandy Owens (Harry Carey Jr), the members of a traveling medicine show and a tribe of Navajo Indians. The group is threatened by a gang, known as the Clegg family, who have robbed an express office and murdered the clerk. This wonderful film emphasizes the virtues of solidarity, sacrifice and tolerance, and shows John Ford at his most masterful, in total control of the production from the casting to the bit players to the grandeur and scope of the visual compositions. The film, with its breathtaking scenery, brilliant performances by a cast of character actors, and an engaging sense of humor, is a superlative example of the American western. Wagonmaster inspired the television series Wagon Train and was also shown in a computer-colorized version ~ Linda Rasmussen, Rovi

Cheyenne Autumn
John Ford's last western film, Cheyenne Autumn was allegedly produced to compensate for the hundreds of Native Americans who had bitten the dust in Ford's earlier films (that was the director's story, anyway). Set in 1887, the film recounts the defiant migration of 300 Cheyennes from their reservation in Oklahoma territory to their original home in Wyoming. They have done this at the behest of chiefs Little Wolf (Ricardo Montalban) and Dull Knife (Gilbert Roland), peaceful souls who have been driven to desperate measures because the US government has ignored their pleas for food and shelter. Since the Cheyennes' trek is in defiance of their treaty, Captain Thomas Archer (Richard Widmark), who agrees with the Indians in principle, reluctantly leads his troops in pursuit of the tribe. While there was never any intention to shed blood, the white press finds it politically expedient to distort the Cheyennes' action into a declaration of war. Thanks to the cruelties of such chauvinistic whites as Captain Oscar Wessels (Karl Malden), the Cheyennes are forced to defend themselves--and whenever Indians take arms against whites in the 1880s, it's usually misrepresented as a massacre. Only the intervention of US secretary of the interior Carl Schurz (Edward G. Robinson) prevents the hostilities from erupting into wholesale bloodshed. Based on a novel by Mari Sandoz, Cheyenne Autumn is a cinematic elegy--not only for the beleaguered Cheyennes, but for John Ford's fifty years in pictures. It is weakest when arbitrarily throwing in a wearisome romance between Richard Widmark and pacifistic schoolmarm Carroll Baker, who out of sympathy for the Indians has joined them in their 1500-mile westward journey. When the Warner Bros. people decided that the film ran too long, they chopped out the wholly unnecessary but very funny episode involving a poker-obsessed Wyatt Earp (James Stewart). Contrary to popular belief, this episode was included in the earliest non-roadshow prints of Cheyenne Autumn; the scene was excised only when the film went into its second and third runs in 1966 (it has since been restored). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • John Wayne
    John Wayne - Capt. Nathan Brittles
  • Joanne Dru
    Joanne Dru - Olivia Dandridge
  • John Agar
    John Agar - Lt. Flint Cohill
  • Ben Johnson
    Ben Johnson - Sgt. Tyree
  • Victor McLaglen
    Victor McLaglen - Sgt. Quincannon
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